The official motto of Caye Caulker is “Go Slow.” Stress just isn’t a thing on the island. No matter what happens, there is no need to rush. The island enjoys a thoroughly Caribbean way of life and yet it is surprisingly little-known. No cruise ships stop here, there is no airport and only small boats service the island. Essentially it is a perfect little wedge of paradise, and even though you have to “Go Slow” when you’re there, I’d urge you to get there pretty damn quick before it gets ruined. Here’s how:
Pretty simple really, you get a boat. We got a “Water Taxi” (AKA a boat) from Chetumal in Mexico, which took about 3 hours via San Pedro in Ambergis Caye. It set us back about US$50 and was a piece of cake. The boats also go from Belize City a few times a day.
This is even easier: You walk. Caye Caulker is tiny, about a mile end to end so there is really no need for any other transport. However, if you fancy it, there are plenty of places to rent bikes on the island, including most hostels. Lastly, if you are really lazy/unfit/it is pissing it down and you have a massive rucksack, you can jump in a “taxi.” These are in fact golf buggies, if you are lucky they have rain covers on them like giant prams. I have no idea how much they cost since I am too proud to admit I struggle with my bag.
There are loads of options for such a small island. We stayed in an AirBnB cabin in the north of the island near the Split (so named because the island split in two here after a particularly fierce hurricane in the 60s) and it was a cosy little place, but Christ it was loud when it rained. I still believe that AirBnb provided better options than hostels though, purely because of the price for what you get.
I might have mentioned this, but on Caye Caulker you have to Go Slow. Consequently activities are at a bit of a premium. That said, there are a few things to do:
- Snorkelling: There are an array of snorkel tours on the island and, while they might seem expensive, some of the things you can see are unbelievable. We got up close and personal with Nurse Sharks, Loggerhead Turtles, giant Manta Rays and Moray Eels, as well as more fish than you could possibly name. We did our tour with the Caveman (ask for him on the island, everyone knows him) and it was BZ$130 (US$65, regardless of exchange rate it’s always 2 Belize dollars to 1 US). We got a full day, 6 snorkel sites and 2 other stops as well as our lunch and couldn’t recommend it enough.
- Diving: Confession time, we didn’t dive. Due to the adverse weather we wanted to make the most of our sunny days on the island, so after snorkelling we felt like we’d seen enough marine life to deserve a beach day. However, the barrier reef in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve was unreal and would have justified a dive day. You can also head to the Blue Hole from here too.
- Chilling: Is this an activity? Truthfully, I don’t know, but you honestly have to do it on the island. On a sunny day, it is baking hot and you will not want to do a thing. Go find a pier, get a coconut (stick some rum in it if you’re feeling devilish) and soak up the sun.
- Kayaking: There are loads of places you can rent a kayak from for half a day. Take one, gently paddle up and down the West coast of the island (it’s flatter and easier than the East coast) and keep your eyes peeled for the amazing marine life; seahorses, tarpons, even the odd crocodile. Try and finish by sunset and treat yourself to a happy hour cocktail at the Lazy Lizard at the Split.
Food & Drink
Right, first thing to note is that eating and drinking in Caye Caulker is not cheap. And you can’t counteract this by cooking yourself because the supermarkets are outrageously pricey (see the budget tips below). However these are the places we found that are worth it:
- Wish Willy’s Grill: We are definitely a bit biased because our accommodation was based at Wish Willy’s, but seriously this man can cook. BZ$20 for a lobster? Hell yeah.
- Chef Kareem’s Unbelizeable Lunch: Almost worth it for the pun alone, if it wasn’t for the fact that you see that pun 10 times a day. Made more worthwhile by the lobster skewers that are literally life-changing, and the BBQ chicken stickier than a bath in a glue factory. Sadie is adamant that the lobster skewers are the best food she has eaten this trip.
- Errolyn’s House of Fry Jacks: You ever heard of a fry-jack? Nah, me neither. But you’re about to. They are essentially deep fried toasties with breakfast ingredients in them. Yes, it is as good as it sounds, and even better they cost less than BZ$4.
- Terry’s Grill: Get the jerk chicken and thank me later.
There is no escaping the fact that Caye Caulker is expensive. This is because everything – literally – has to be imported. There are a few things you can do to combat this though:
- Drink at happy hour. There are happy hours all over the island form about 4-8pm. 2 for 1 cocktails is a winner. A side note – be careful that your drinks are in the happy hour or you might end up stung.
- Bring snacks with you. Trust me on this one. A bag of Doritos will set you back about BZ$20, if you get snacky like I do, bring some food from a cheaper place.
- Learn to like rum. You can buy rum in little plastic bottles (classy) for next to nothing in the supermarkets. Mixers are more expensive, but pouring some into a fresh coconut is pretty special.