Set off the coast of Belize, Caye Caulker is paradise. It’s small, it’s beautiful, it’s youthful. Everyone here is friendly, and no one moves quickly. There are no cars, only little golf carts, and the island’s motto is “Go Slow.” The tempo will have you running on island time before you know it.
Years ago, the island was a lot bigger, but after Hurricane Hattie ripped through here in 1961 villagers dredged a waterway by hand after the hurricane opened a passage a few inches deep so dugout canoes could go past. Over time, the increased flow of tidal water enlarged the opening through erosion to its present 20 feet deep. This creates a rapid channel through the north and south part of the island that makes for great swimming and snorkeling as fish move through the water.
There’s not much to do on the island itself. This is a place where you 100% want to come here just to relax. There’s plenty of beaches, guesthouses, and even a club that opens at night for locals and tourists but, beyond that, everything involves the water!
Here are some things to do on Caye Caulker:
Hang Out with some Manatees
Manatees are huge, docile (but highly endangered) animals. There are many tours on the island that take you to nearby Swallow Caye where you can see them in a responsible way. It’s really stunning. Entrance into Swallow Caye is 10 BZD, but it’s usually included in the price of a tour. A half-day tour range from 75-100 BZD.
Chill on the Split
The Split is where all the action is. Though the island has a great eastward facing beach, everyone walks down to the Split. There’s a small beach there, and the old dock provides an excellent place to sprawl your towel out. The young and the pale come out here to sun and snorkel all day, with a nearby bar serving ice cold drinks and music.
Visit Caye Caulker Forest Reserve
This reserve takes up 100 acres of the island and is comprised of mostly red, black, and white mangrove. It is home to a plethora of sea, plant, and bird life. I highly recommend kayaking around. You can usually rent kayaks at your accommodation but, if not, Chocolate’s Gift Shop has good prices.
Visit 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 as they are used to human contact. A ton of tours and boaters will take you. You can see Shark Ray Alley on a snorkeling or diving excursion. Snorkeling trips start from about $65 BZD.
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.
With great beaches, atmosphere, a kicking nightlife, great seafood, and “The Split”, no trip to Belize is complete without a visit to Caye Caulker. A lot of people head to the more upscale Ambergris Caye, but Caye Caulker is the better pick of the two.
Book Your Trip to Caye Caulker: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. I never ever go on a trip without it. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. You should too.
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Note: This article was originally published in 2008.