On our current trip, we’ve had the pleasure of spending time on more than a few Caribbean islands. All have, as you can imagine, been enjoyable and have had their own unique flavor, but so far we’ve only been to one where “island time” seemed to be overpowering, and that would be Caye Caulker in Belize.
Great advice !
Getting to Caye Caulker from Mexico was a fun adventure. It was a 3-hour bus ride from Tulum, Mexico to the port city of Chetumal (1st class bus costs about $15.65 USD), and then a similar duration is spent on a small “water taxi” bumping over the choppy water between the two countries. After entering Belize at San Pedro, you then climb into an even smaller boat for the short ride to Caye. There are no paved streets, and you will see so many people walking barefoot that your feet begin to beckon for freedom, even if you’re only wearing sandals. Then confusion sets in as you try to locate your lodging without the benefit of street signs. But the island is only about 8 km long and less than 2 km wide, so how lost can you really get?
A leisurely mode of transportation to match the pace of life
There are a few supermarkets on the island. When shopping if the refrigerators are dark, feel free to switch the lights back on, and if you’re needing a chocolate bar fix make sure you buy them from the coolers, otherwise you’ll just be licking your treat off the wrapper. Snickers mush just doesn’t taste as good as its normal state. Bring your own sunscreen and bug spray because you won’t find them for cheap here. A pound of lobster is cheaper than a small bottle of insect repellant, and Belizean mosquitoes are so hardy they will fly and bite you even in the middle of a tropical downpour.
If you enjoy Chinese food, you will have several options on the island, but truly Caye Caulker is a lobster lover’s paradise. For breakfast one can get “lobster eggs” (lobster meat scrambled with eggs) and pancakes for $4 USD. You can easily find whole lobsters as thick as a body builder’s biceps, and they will have been recently plucked from the sea. Naturally, there are many other seafood choices as well.
Caye Caulker has a reputation for being the cheapest place to visit in Belize, and it certainly lives up to that! But its small stature also gently coaxes you into slowing down. The flow of the local Creole language puts a smile on your face. It’s an island where pedestrians and bicycles are the #1 mode of transportation. Lazily hanging hammocks are temptresses that enshroud you and suggest you stay just a little longer as you feel your eyelids slowly closing. The people are friendly and seem to smile at you as if they know the transformation that’s taking place within you. After only 1 full day here, you’ll probably find yourself saying “If this is Belize, I’m in love.”
Lobster is always on the menu
If you end up being able to escape the grip of the hammocks, there are great excursions to nearby reefs and marine preserves where you can swim with nurse sharks, rays, and even manatee. There are several notable scuba trips as well, including the famous Blue Hole (expect to pay between $150-180 USD per person). Deep sea fishers are well rewarded by the surrounding clear, warm waters.
Most likely the only complaint you’ll ever hear about Caye Caulker is that people didn’t have enough time to spend there.