A vibrant and dynamic hotspot against the backdrop of tropical paradise...

I didn't know what to expect when visiting San Pedro Island in Belize. I knew coastal Belize is widely regarded as a 'tropical paradise' and that it had one of the largest reef systems in the world. But, aside from that, I knew surprisingly little about the country or island going into the trip.

Photographically speaking, it isn't what I was expecting. I was expecting calm, quiet, and chill tropical beaches with a relaxed, Caribbean vibe. That is, apparently, more the vibe of the nearby island, Caye Caulker. San Pedro Island is where people go to party and 'let loose'. With a vibrant night-life and thriving tourism industry, San Pedro Island has a very distinct feel and vibe, unlike any other place I've ever been.

Golf cart is, surprisingly, the primary mode of transportation. It is nearly impossible to do any street photography at all without golf carts everywhere in the frame. You really have to lean into this or prepare to be frustrated. I preferred taking street photographs at night in part because of this. Not only is night travel and night street photography my all time favorite genre of photography to practice, but at night, in San Pedro, the golf carts also added interesting compositional elements to photographs with their lights. They looked less pedestrian and touristy and added drama and dynamism to the scene.

In each of these images, the golf carts or the lights from the golf carts add a compositional element to the photograph. Or, in some cases, the golf carts themselves are the subjects of the photographs. In the daytime, this just didn't work. During the day, the golf carts were a real eye sore and I wasn't able to find a way to take effective street photographs during the day as a result.


Beaches ended up being a real source of disappointment for me in San Pedro Island. I was hoping to capture pristine, palm tree dotted tropical beaches with white sand and crystal blue water. Again, that is something more suited to the neighboring Caye Caulker island. On San Pedro Island, there's a beach called "Secret Beach," which, if its name is to be taken at face value, sounds like a secluded and serene tropical beach. It's the exact and total opposite. It's a densely clustered collection of beach-front bars and clubs with loud music and aggressive and pushy ushers and vendors.

There are still beautiful beaches on San Pedro Island, they just take a little more effort to seek out, and they're often associated with a resort, though the beaches remain open to the public.


San Pedro Island was a fantastic place and a wonderful experience. It was surprisingly expensive, eye wateringly so at times, probably in large part because it's an island. It also lacked a certain tranquility and calm, but it more than made up for it with vibrancy and dynamism; it had an exciting and energetic vibe and a night life to match. Next time, I'll give the neighboring island Caye Caulker a try for a more typically natural tropical landscape photography experience.