Caye Caulker is a gorgeous island, which, I fell in love with the minute I stepped off the boat. A combination of clear water, white sand and welcoming locals, I knew I would have a wonderful stay before I’d even left the pier.
It’s popular with backpackers looking to sample the laid back atmosphere of Belize but reluctant to pay the expensive prices on nearby Caye Ambergris. Luckily for me, this beautiful island has the best of both worlds with a great mix of budget/luxury accommodation and eats. If you have read my previous blogs you will know that I like my luxury!
Don’t come here if you like a fast paced lifestyle, as nobody is in a rush on Caye Caulker! The laid back living was just what I needed, and if I didn’t have Machu Picchu pre- booked in Peru I would have definitely changed my flights to stay longer!
Diving and snorkeling are popular here due to the nearby Belize Barrier Reef and world-class dive sites like the Blue Hole Natural Monument. It’s a great place for experienced divers and keen fishermen!
Lots of people come here just to relax on the beach, get a tan, eat food, and spend the evenings dancing at one of the reggae bars. All you need is a good book, a pair of sandals and sarong! Smart attire is most definitely not needed on this island! Laze around, feed some Tarpons and swing in some hammocks, that’s what island life is all about!
Sea Dreams Hotel is the best place on the island! I would 100% recommend it to anybody traveling to Caye Caulker. Take a look at my blog on the hotel HERE and see for yourself why Sea Dreams is such a wonderful place.
When considering where to stay, it’s important to factor in a few things. When you choose budget, you generally don’t get a nice breakfast included, wifi, toiletries, bike hire, paddle boards… etc. So when you add up these few things, sometimes it’s better to pay the additional cost for a more luxurious type of accommodation.
If you are backpacking and on an extremely tight budget then dorm rooms with 6 beds cost around 30 BZD per night. A private room in a hostel with a shared bathroom ranges from 40-70 BZD per night. Most hostels here offer free linen and wifi. Sophie’s Guest Rooms is located in on the beach and has a good reputation in the backpacker world. Dirty McNasty is another option although the rooms are extremely basic. This place is more for the party people!
The food here is seriously amazing! I was in Caye Caulker during lobster season and ate like a queen on a daily basis!
Most restaurants cost between 15-25 BZD per main meal, with breakfast usually coming in at 10 BZD in a café. Fast food is about 8 BZD but most importantly you should try the BBQ street food! There is a guy called Brandon which barbeques the best chicken skewers on the island! I have no idea what is in his marinade but it was good enough for me to eat every single day! He has got a big friendly smile and dreadlocks! The island is tiny so you can’t miss him!
There are couple of taco stalls, which are extremely cheap and super yummy! A quick and easy lunch option to have on the beach!
Wish Willy’s is apparently the best restaurant on the island and seems to be a real local icon. I never actually ate there because by dinner time I had usually had a few rum punches so food went out of the window! It is one place that I wish I had tried though because of the multiple high recommendations.
For desert, ‘The Cake Lady‘ is a must! She is famous on the island and is even on Trip advisor! She is located behind the Sports bar and has a little stall set up with a range of awesome cakes! I recommend the rum cake and the banana bread! It’s only 5 BZD for a huge slice! Opposite the cake lady is the best quesadilla stall on the island so you could even double up and grab dinner and desert together for less than 15 BZD.
There isn’t a huge grocery store on the island but you can generally get what you need for extremely cheap cooking should you choose to. You could do a weeks food shop for 100 BZD!
There aren’t any cars or scooters on the island as it’s pretty small and easily walkable. Biking is another fun option and if you stay at Sea Dreams then bikes are complimentary for guests.
Another form of transport is golf carts, which cost about 25 BZD an hour or 125 BZD a day. Water taxis will take you to the mainland for $US30-40 for a round-trip. Booking a round trip at the dock in Belize City is more expensive than booking at a tour desk in Caye Caulker.
Things to do:
Diving The Blue Hole:
This submarine cave is legendary. If you’re a diver, you’re not leaving without diving the Great Blue Hole. The circular Blue Hole is over 330m in diameter and 120m deep. From the air, the round patch of dark blue waters surrounded by shallow turquoise sea looks unbelievable. It was formed when the roof of a limestone cave system collapsed during the ice age. A natural phenomenon as it is, submerging as deep as 45m amongst stalactites is wild. Warning – diving here isn’t for beginners, however open water divers are welcome. Advanced divers and above levels go to 40 meters. Depending on experience and your last dive, a refresher course prior to heading out to the blue hole may be required. Contact Frenchies for more information. Frenchies is extremely popular so it is a good idea to pre- book online if you have a specific date in mind, and when you arrive on the island you can pop in and discuss a refresher course if you feel like it, which maybe a good idea.
Snorkeling with sharks:
Yes you did read that correctly. You get to literally swim around schools of nurse sharks and large stingrays at the famed Shark Ray Alley. Don’t worry, they don’t bite! Visibility in the water is as clear as it can get and snorkeling conditions are close to perfect. Snorkeling trips that take you out here also bring you to nearby Hol-Chan Marine Reserve where it’s common to swim with a Manatee!
Sailing off into the wind, with rum punch and shrimp cerviche in hand and a Rastafarian captain – the sunset sails are a great way to get into Island life.
Ragamuffin Tours organise a range if great trips. Day excursions on the sailboats with snorkeling at Shark Ray Alley included.
Additionally an overnight sailboat trips to Placencia is a cracking choice. What’s on the itinerary? Fishing, chilling, island-hopping and fresh seafood everyday. Bliss!
Relax by the split:
The Belizeans’ positive attitude turned the result of a disaster into something beautiful. The Split was formed in 1961 when Hurricane Hattie hit, splitting in Caye Caulker in two. At the northern end of Front Street, it’s a popular place to chill, snorkel and hang out. The shallow waters are clear, refreshing and full of marine life. My favourite bar Sip ‘n’ Dip is close to the split which has good music, a decent choice of liquor and hammocks in the ocean to cool down in a relaxing environment.
Sea Dreams Hotel is located close to the split with a cracking Sunset from their rooftop.
Head out for a drink:
The Sport Bar is the main place to drink, with a live DJ and good vibe. Most people will head here and it’s usually the busiest bar of the evening. Margarita Mike’s on the beachfront is a cool place for a cocktail too!
Take a day trip to the Lamanai Mayan ruins. The boat trip on the river was wonderful, I felt alive! Our guide ‘King David‘ was wonderful and gave us lots of wonderful information about the country. The one thing that was slightly annoying about our tour was that we were advised to get the first boat from Caye Caulker to Belize City to start our tour but we had to wait for nearly two hours for a cruise ship to arrive which had others joining our tour. It wasn’t all that bad though as we went for breakfast and took some photographs of the famous Belize sign. If you are planning on staying in Belize City, I would honestly do one night only!! The Radisson is a good option but like I said earlier, there really isn’t much to do unless you find some tours. This would be a good time to do the Mayan Ruins to save going to and from Caye Caulker.
Go for a massage:
Relax with a massage on the beach only 100m right to Margarita Mike’s. She is a qualified chiropractor too and extremely knowledgeable. Some massage therapists seem to have a magic touch, and she really has! She is slightly more expensive than other places on the island however she is a certified therapist and well worth every dollar. I went three days in the row!
All in all, Caye Caulker is the perfect destination to relax and enjoy the ocean. It is much more appealing that Belize City, which really doesn’t have much appeal.
As I was leaving the island I felt extremely sad! I certainly wasn’t ready to leave. Some places just have that hold on you, where others are fun but you feel ready to move on. I could of lay in my hammock forever on Caye Caulker and will definitely return when visiting this side of the world again!