Caye Caulker Travel Guide
For years, Caye Caulker has been popular with backpackers looking to sample the laid back atmosphere of Belize but reluctant to pay the expensive prices on nearby Caye Ambergris. The Rastafarian culture and Caribbean influences are obvious on this small island. You can see that on how slow paced life moves here. No one is in a rush and travelers end up extending their trips. Diving and snorkeling are popular here due to the nearby Belize Barrier Reef and world class dive sites like the Blue Hole Natural Monument. However, most 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. This travel guide can help you plan your trip but remember this one thing: you’ll stay longer so don’t come here if you are in a rush. You may not want to leave.
Hostel prices – Dorm rooms usually cost around $15 USD per night. A private room in a hostel will cost you around $25 USD per night.
Budget hotel prices – Single rooms cost $30 USD in a budget hotel with a shared bathroom. Expect doubles to start at $50 USD.
Average cost of food – Most restaurants cost between $7-11 USD for a main meal, with breakfast usually coming in at $3 USD in a café. Make sure you eat at Wish Willy’s, the best restaurant on the island and a local icon. You get a great chicken or fish meal there, and it comes with a drink.
Transportation costs – Golf cart taxis are the way to get round the island and cost $2.50 USD per person to rent. Water taxis will take you to the mainland for around $17.50 USD for a round-trip. Otherwise, the island is pretty small and easily walkable.
Money Saving Tips
Shop around – There are many dive companies on Caye Caulker so be sure to shop around. Most will give you a free dive in the hopes of getting you to sign up for their PADI certification course.
Snorkel the Split – If you snorkel the Split, you’ll be able to see a wide variety of fish without paying money for an expensive tour to the reef. Same animals, cheaper price.
Top Things to See and Do in Caye Caulker
Lobsterfest – July marks Lobsterfest, the festival honoring all things crustacean. Tourists and locals alike enjoy contests, food, cocktails, and music by top DJs and local bands. There’s also the chance to try every conceivable lobster dish from lobster ice cream to lobster ceviche.
The Split – Hurricanes ripped through the island in the 1960’s and 90’s forming “the split” which divides the island. On one side of the split are the mangroves of the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve and on the other side you’ll find, well, the inhabited part of the island. The Split is great for lounging around, swimming, snorkeling, and just having a drink.
Manatee watching – Also known as the “sea cow”, manatees are huge, docile but highly endangered animals. There are many tours on the island which will take you to Shallow Caye, an ideal manatee spotting site.
Shark Ray Alley – Snorkelers flock to Shark Ray Alley for the chance to get up close and personal with nurse sharks and rays at feeding time. You can pose for pictures, pet them, and even get in a swim swim as they are used to human contact.
Go snorkeling – The Belize Barrier Reef is just a few minutes from the shores and provides an ideal underwater world for snorkelers to explore. The different kinds of coral and species of fish are amazing, but it’s best to go with a guide who can point out all the animals. The marine reserve is also a popular spot for snorkelers.
Go diving – Caye Caulker and its surrounding areas are a diver’s paradise. There is the barrier reef, as well as Blue Hole Natural Monument and Half Moon Caye. The Blue Hole is a 1000ft x400ft deep hole with a cave and is one of the most popular dive sites in the world.
Windsurfing – Year round winds and warm shallow waters make windsurfing big here. If you’re experienced, then board rental will cost $40 USD, but if you’re a newbie, you can add a beginner’s lesson for an extra $40 USD. Kitesurfing is a recent addition to the island, with lessons and board rental also available.
Go kayaking – Sea kayaks are available to rent, and you can head to the northern island, past the Split to explore the mangroves.
Take a stroll on Front Street – There are only three ‘real’ streets here, and Front Street happens to be where all of the ‘action’ is. Here you can find restaurants, bar shacks, local artisans selling various crafts, and an odd supermarket.
See the South End – The southern end is an area rich in crocodiles, bird-nesting, and just natural beauty. If you are feeling really adventurous, swimming at this end of the island offers a wide array of anemones, sponges, gorgonians, fish, and more. Most people don’t visit here, so you’ll have the area all to yourself.