In my previous posts about diving in Belize (here and there), I mentioned a little lovely island named Caye Caulker. The tiny coral island is 8 km / 5 miles long and 1.6 km / a mile wide, located off the coast of the tiny country of Belize. A marvelous, laid-back ambient with smooth reggae sounds will be awaiting you here. Are you ready for a virtual tour? So, buckle up for the ride and relax.
Assuming you've just arrived in Belize City, you will first need to catch a water taxi to Caye Caulker, unless you are willing to fork out a small fortune for a short flight. Locals claim that San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi is more reliable. Ask someone where they are located. A short walk later in the heat, you will already find it. Have you found the water taxi pier now? Then leave your luggage with the guys there at the entrance of the market place, they will carry and stow it on the boat for you. After buying your ticket, you will probably still have time for a Belikin beer or two. Enjoy your beer and relax in the shade, let your worries flow away with the soft breeze. The boarding will start soon. Don't worry.Boarding now? Get a seat towards the back of the boat in the shade. You don't want to get seasick, or burn up in the sun. About 45 minutes a hopefully-smooth ride later, you will approach the dock on Caye Caulker. Make sure to take your personal belongings with you. You may leave your shoes behind, no problem. If not already done, take off your stress; leave it on the boat like a t-shirt. Don't worry about the checked luggage; they will bring it to the beach for you. Do you feel the sand underneath your feet now? Welcome to the island!
On Caye Caulker, there are no paved roads, no cars, no fumes, just white sandy streets. As such, everyone gets around on golf carts, bicycle or (bare)foot. By now, you must have been surrounded by many golf cart drivers asking if you need a ride. If you have heavy luggage, you may want to take up on that offer for 5 BZD (total cost of a ride, 1 USD = 2 BZD). Enjoy the breeze and the very first reggae beats coming out the palm trees, while driving slowly on the sandy roads.
You must have already realized that the motto of Caye Caulker is 'go slow', a traffic sign which is taken seriously.
The island is small, thus you booked your accommodation prior to your arrival, and you are now in your room, ideally with an ocean view and a hammock. For this purpose, I would recommend Mara's Place, just steps away from the Split, with a private dock, and each unit has its own balcony (and hammock of course). Some rooms have better views, others not. But the private dock with hammocks and candy colored chairs would make up for the not-so-optimal view of some rooms.
Do you already feel worlds away from wherever you are coming? You should...Sit down and relax until you are there.
Feeling tired? I think you deserved a nap in the shade with balmy breezes. Pick one of the many spots to swing on a hammock and enjoy the breeze.
Feeling fresh now? If you are ready for a stroll, let's have a quick look what's happening at the Split.
The Split is said to be the place to be on Caye Caulker, which takes its name from the narrow channel that literally splits the island. You will find some of the clearest turquoise water you have ever seen here, and honestly this is the only place you can enter the water on Caye Caulker. Due to sea grass, there aren't really any proper beaches to speak of, but plenty of docks are spread around the island where you can get your sun on.
At the Split sits the Lazy Lizard Bar & Grill where you can grab a drink, hang out and listen to some reggae beats. Are you getting hungry? Let's check out what the endless restaurants have to offer.
Not far from the Split, on a side street, you will see the sign to Wish Willy's place. The name sounds interesting, no? Et voilà, a cute hangout area at the backyard of Willy, a rasta man living up to rasta way of life. There is no menu here, wish whatever you want; he will grill it up for you.
Willy might need longer than usual to cook your dish, but you will be satisfied. Relax, grab another Belikin or rum punch and soak up the Rastafarian flair.
It should not be yet too late to watch the first sunset on the island. You just need to roll from Wish Willy's westwards. Look, one of these guys might be you...
Enjoy the sunset as long as you can. Surprisingly this side of the island is not windy at all, so remember to apply insect repellent.
Have you sunken the sun now? I know, it is not yet too late, but unless it is weekend, there is not much of a night life to speak of here. With the sun itself, the people on the streets disappear too. Even the famous Lazy Lizard shutters its doors already at 9 pm. Let's simply enjoy a beer or two under the stars and go to bed early. The next day will start anyway quite early. You possibly won't get up for the sunrise, but you will gradually be awake before 8 am for a beautiful day with the sun shining hot and bright.
Let's walk around and find a place to have breakfast. Options are countless. For something cheap, 'Get Hooked Up' across the bank offers delicious fry-jacks, and next to it, a juice bar offers a liter of fresh juice for 5 BZD. Find a spot on the beach, or an ocean front picnic table to enjoy your breakfast.
Whenever you find a place to relax, don't pass by without taking advantage of. Even the dogs love to chill out and nap here.
Do you need a bit of action now? Sooner or later, you will walk past many activity shops and activities to pick from are plenty: kite surfing, kayaking, fly-boarding, fishing and so on...practically only limited by your budget. One of the popular things to do here is diving and snorkeling, given the reef is just minutes away by boat. Remember, you have been already watching the waves breaking at the reef while swinging on your hammock.
For diving, I can highly recommend Frenchie's, the only dive shop which sits over the water and it is locally owned. If you have not given diving much thought yet, there is no better place to give it a shot. Sign up for a dive tour or course. You won't regret it.
I spent a week on the island doing every day more or less the same thing: lazing around, diving, snorkeling, watching the sunset, and strolling through the small but charming island. And from the first moment on I felt home and welcome. There are no hassles here, no aggressive vendors: 'No Shirt, No Shoes…No Problem.' Nothing seems to be a problem here. Everyone lives in peace with a big smile on their face and heart. A place to literally live and rest in peace. Even the dead souls must be resting with a smile here.
I obviously fell in love with this little island, its laid-back atmosphere, azure waters, fantastic barrier reef at its doorstep, lovely people, rasta way of life, ocean scent brought by the balmy breezes, fresh seafood and more...I hope you will all stay as you are, and won't get spoiled by mass tourism.
If you ever happen to go there, take good care of my baby...!