Ambergris Caye’s sleepy sister, Caye Caulker offers a calming and laidback respite to today’s busy lifestyle. Located on the doorstep of the world’s second largest barrier reef, and with no cars or paved roads, combined with the overabundance of casual oceanfront bars and restaurants, Caye Caulker provides the perfect relaxing getaway for those willing to “Go Slow”.
Location and How To Get There
- There are two ways in which to reach Caye Caulker – by air or by sea – both options of which can be undertaken after arrival into Belize City International Airport. By sea is a little cheaper, although maybe takes a little longer but is more economical especially if you are travelling as a big group or family. If you are transiting from another place in Belize, there are various flights to Caye Caulker through the smaller domestic airlines, Tropic Air and Maya Air, although you may have to make a short stop in Belize City on the way.
- By sea: If you are coming from Belize International Airport, take a 20 minute cab to the water taxi terminal and purchase a ticket to Caye Caulker through the San Pedro Express water taxi – on a nice day you can sit up top and enjoy a pleasant ferry ride, the journey is about an hour and it’s pretty fun. If the weather is bad, you may be transported in a smaller covered boat that can get quite warm and uncomfortable inside if it is full – I recommend taking Dramamine if you suffer from motion sickness!
- By air – Belize is serviced by Maya Air and Tropic Air which connect a lot of destinations within the country – including Placencia, Dangriga, San Pedro and Caye Caulker. It’s worth booking these tickets early as the planes are small and fill up fast, especially during high season. Often, if you arrive early for your flight, if there is room, they will bump you to an earlier flight. Flights from Belize City to Cay Caulker are a short 15 minute flight and well worth it for the views!
Where to Stay
- Weezies Ocean Front – this clean, contemporary hotel offers supreme oceanfront rooms and self-contained cottages that share a pool a few blocks back from the beach. Featuring a private dock, beautiful swimming pool, onsite bar and restaurant, this hotel really has everything you could wish for. Just far enough from town to enjoy a quieter atmosphere, but close enough that you can walk or cycle to the local bars and restaurants in a manner of minutes. If you contact the concierge beforehand, they can also coordinate and organise someone to pick you up at the airport and take you to the ferry dock, and have someone waiting to meet you the other side in Caye Caulker in a golf cart to take you to the hotel, for a small fee of $30 mainland taxi and $5 for the golf cart taxi. The distance from the ferry dock is definitely walkable, but if you have luggage, it’s worth the $5 for them to pick you up and give you the lay of the land before dropping you off at the accommodation.
- Barefoot Beach Belize Resort – just a short 5 minute walk from the village, this small hotel offers a range of accommodations that are fairly basic, but are air conditioned and have everything you might need for a short trip; and great for the budget conscious. The room rates include complimentary bicycle hire, which allows you to get anywhere on the island in a matter of minutes! The hotel features an outdoor pool, beach area and BBQ facilities.
- Colinda Cabanas – these beautifully appointed beach front cabins are located just a short walk from a plethora of bars and restaurants. Rates include the rent of bicycles and kayaks for use from the private swimming deck; the best rooms offer unparalleled panoramic views across the ocean.
Where To Eat
- Ice n Beans – this oceanfront cafe is always buzzing – and for good reason! Featuring an extensive coffee and smoothie menu, deletable breakfast bagels and sandwiches, gluten free options and free samples, it’s no wonder it is frequented by locals and tourists alike!
- Bambooze – with prime location right on the oceanfront, and trendy swings to sit at for dinner, it is worth a visit for sunset! Be sure to try their nightly specials!
- Taco Xpress – located down one of the smaller side streets, this taco restaurant is not to be missed! Featuring an extensive taco menu for a very reasonable price, this really is a hidden gem of Caye Caulker. Pick a high top table streetside for the ultimate people watching spot!
- Food Republic – wonderfully decorated inside, this fine eatery has a great menu with lots of seafood and ceviche options
- Glenda’s – a favourite among locals, you will need to get here early to secure a spot as they are often sold out as early as 7.15am. The cinnamon rolls are island-renowned and you can smell them for many blocks wide!
- Amor Y Cafe – Only open for breakfast, this place is not to be missed! Wonderful service, and an extensive menu, it will suit any tastes!
Where To Drink
- Lazy Lizard – it’s easy to spend a whole day here – with tables in the water, a jumping platform, an extensive cocktail and snacks menu and 360 views of the Split, there’s a reason why this is usually top on my people’s list when visiting the island. Arrive early for the best tables.
- Sip n Dip – located close to “The Split” this waterfront bar and eatery guarantees a good time – with tables and loungers in the water, an upbeat music playlist and a drinks menu to suit every taste, it’s a great place to spend the afternoon.
- Northside Beach Club – this off the beaten path bar is located on northern Caye Caulker and requires the use of their complimentary boat transfer from the main island to visit – if you spend money once you are there, the shuttle is free. Showcasing frequent events such as sushi nights, Full Moon Parties and DJ nights, you can understand why it can get pretty busy. There is also a hotel onsite, whereby guests have access to the preferred beach lounges and palapas on the beach. That being said, there are still plenty of areas for non-hotel guests to sit and relax, including in-water tables! Take advantage of the happy hour whereby the pitchers of cocktails are half price!
What To Do
- Snorkel with Sharks and explore Hol Chan Marine Reserve – there is no shortage of tour companies on the island to take you on snorkelling trips to see some of the best marine wildlife and to the second largest Barrier Reef after Australia. It’s easy to walk along the waterfront in town and book one of the local tour companies as you are going by. If you’re up for an adventure, Raggamuffin Tours offers overnight sailing tours that stop off at some of the deserted cayes.
- Spend the day at Lazy Lizard – located at the tippy tip part of the northern part of South Caye Caulker, at the famous “Split” , whereby a hurricane created a large rift between North and South Caye Caulker that used to be walkable at low tide. Now there are a few locals who ferry tourists over the Split throughout the day. The Lazy Lizard is known for its overwater tables, diving platform, continuous music, extensive cocktail menu and all around good vibes. Arrive early for the best seats.
- Feed the tarpons – located on the east side of the island is a public dock where you can feed the tarpons straight from the dock!
- Rent a bicycle and explore the island – be far, the best method of transportation to explore the island! For about $5 a day you can rent a bicycle and take nearly any track around the island! Some of the paths south of the island are unsuitable for golf carts, which is where a bike would be best suited. I rented one for the entirety of my stay and it was the best decision ever, not that i couldn’t have easily walked it, but a 25 minute walk to Ice n Beans in the morning turned into a 7 minute bicycle ride! The only time when I think a golf cart would be more suitable is if you have a larger group, or children – or if there is rain forecast! We definitely got caught out a few times in rainy season! But nothing that doesn’t make or a good story! – or a short bar stop on the way home to avoid the downpour!
- Browse the craft market – located oceanfront and in the centre of the village, there are multiple craft stands from local artisans that make for a great place to pick up some one-of-a-kind art pieces or souvenirs for friends and family back home!
- Take a day trip to Ambergris Caye – the water taxis make multiple trips daily between the two island, and with Ambergris Caye being just half an hour by boat, a trip here is definitely warranted if you plan to spend a good few days on the islands. I would recommend renting a golf cart when in Ambergris Caye – the island is a lot more spread out and busy than Caye Caulker – if you have the time I recommend taking a golf cart up to Secret beach (although not so secret anymore, about a 45 minute ride from the centre of town).
- Take the boat to Northside Beach Club – providing complimentary shuttles to mainland South Caye Caulker if you spend money at the beach club, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon- especially if you coordinate it with their notorious happy hour (when you can pick up a pitcher of rum punch for $20USD!). The best loungers are reserved for hotel guests but you can still easily nab beachfront seats or one of their tables in the water! Their monthly Full Moon parties are not to be missed!
Tips and Trips for your first trip to Caye Caulker
- Pick up some Marie Sharp’s hot sauce before heading home – there is a huge variety of different sauces, jams and jellies, and something to suit every taste bud! You will find it next to most condiments at nearly every restaurant on the island – it’s definitely worth taking a bottle or two home, they make good gifts also. They are cheapest at some of the local supermarkets but can also be found at the airport if you are hard pushed on space or weight.
- Pack your patience and go slow! Caye Caulker adopted the slogan, “go slow” which is not just a recommendation for motorists, but also for the pace of life on the island. Most things are on “island time”.
- There are no cars on the island (except for the odd work truck), just golf carts and bicycles, which makes for a very chilled and easy going vibe. Both modes of transport can be rented for a very reasonable daily or weekly rate.
Caye Caulker may be ten years behind its bigger sister, Ambergris Caye, but that’s part of its charm, and the reason why this small island attracts travellers looking for the laidback lifestyle year after year. From the moment I stepped onto the island, I instantly felt myself relaxing and stress leaving my body – a state that I found myself in for my entire visit. There is no doubt that I will return to this little piece of paradise, I just hope it retains its charm and ambience for years to come. If you are seeking a vacation where your only decision of the day is which waterfront bar to visit, this is the island for you!
Interested in extending your stay beyond Caye Caulker? Find My Ultimate 2 Week Belize Itinerary here. Up for an adventure? Read “The $80 Overwater Bungalow You Need To Add To Your Bucket List” – located in Belize!
You can find out more about my stay on my “Caye Caulker” Highlights on Instagram @chase.the.rainbows.
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