Katie and I spent 4 relaxing nights on the island of Caye Caulker, a 6 mile by one mile island off the coast of Belize City in the Caribbean Sea. I had actually read about the island beforehand on my favorite blogger Alex in Wanderland’s site, and decided it would be the perfect spot for our tropical getaway.
We booked accommodation through Airbnb, and got credit for our stay through recommendation from a friend (you can get credit towards your first stay from me here!). We found Colinda’s Cabanas, which are located about 5 minutes south of the pier. The cabanas are all situated on stilts, and are grouped around a small dock right on the water. Some of the larger cabanas have a hot plate and a small air conditioning unit in the bedroom, but the smaller ones just have beds, a bathroom, a mini-fridge and coffee maker. Our cabana had two chairs and a large hammock on the porch, as well as two fans inside. The evenings cooled off enough that, with the fans going, sleeping was very comfortable. Colinda’s provided bikes and bike locks for each cabana to use for free, as well as snorkel gear and kayaks. Overall we were extremely happy with Colinda’s for our stay on Caye Caulker. The bright colors and relaxing vibe combined with Juan and his wife’s generous assistance with my ankle situation made Colinda’s the perfect spot for our island vacation.
As I mentioned before, Caye Caulker is only 6 miles long and one mile wide. It’s located just south of the more popular, touristy San Pedro Island, or Ambergris Caye. We had originally planned on taking the ferry to Ambergris one of the days while we were on Caye Caulker, just to check it out, but everyone we spoke to said they liked Caye Caulker way more than San Pedro, and that they wished they had come to Caye Caulker sooner. We were loving the relaxed, laid back vibe of Caye Caulker, and decided to skip the touristy San Pedro Island this time. Caye Caulker is very underdeveloped; there are no paved roads on the island, just dirt, gravel and sand, and no vehicles other than golf carts and bicycles. There are a few food marts on the island, but they have a very limited selection. If you want to cook your own food, I’d suggest stopping at a grocery store on San Pedro or in Belize City before going to Caye Caulker.
There are a few bars and restaurants on the island, as well as a plethora of dive and snorkel outfits. Our first evening on Caye Caulker we had dinner at Rose’s Grill, a spot known for their fresh seafood and reasonable prices. After we locked up our bikes, we were greeted at the entrance by a man who showed us the night’s specials on large iced platters in front of him. The options included triggerfish skewers, barracudda steaks, conch, king crab legs, and whole red snappers. I chose the triggerfish and Katie had the snapper, and both meals came with two sides. We both had a cocktail with our meal, and when the bill came, we only spent $25 US each including tip. Not bad for a fresh fish meal and a drink! The exchange rate between US and Belize dollars is very easy as well, and they take both forms of currency. Right now one US dollar equals two Belize dollars. Very simple!! One of the more popular evening bars is a place called the Reggae Bar on Middle Street. It’s know as the “after hours spot” because it’s open til 1am whereas everywhere else on the island closes at midnight. Katie went with our friends from LA one night but I stayed at the cabana because my ankle was hurting. The vibe was island/reggae and all of the seats at this rooftop bar were actually swings. It sounded like a lot of fun but Katie told me that after dark, the friendly island hospitality kind of disappeared and was replaced by some pretty shady characters. She and the other girls felt a little uncomfortable and were glad to have another island friend ride with them back to their hostel when the night was over.
The highlight of our island time was the day we spent at the Lazy Lizard, a reggae bar located right on The Split. We rode our bikes up to the northern most point on the island, where the Lazy Lizard is located at the gap between the southern inhabited portion of Caye Caulker, and the northern part of the island. There’s not much beach to speak of on Caye Caulker, but at the Lazy Lizard, they have two piers built around the bar for people to lay out on, and then you can dive right in off the dock. That actually ended up being more beneficial for me since we found a spot to sit right near the stairs into the water, so I didn’t have to do an awkward one-legged hop down a long beach to get to the water. There was a waitress who came around all afternoon to serve drinks and snacks to the people laying out, and you could walk up to the bar to get drink as well. The piers were located over some of the clearest, most turquoise water I’ve ever seen, and Katie and I got in to swim around and cool off several times throughout the day. There was also an area that had cornhole games set up, horseshoes, and even some tables and umbrellas submerged in the water by the stairs so you could enjoy your Belikin beers in the Caribbean Sea. Our day spent at the Lazy Lizard was my second favorite day of vacation- I found my slice of paradise right there on that pier.
Despite being known as a lazy, laid back island, there are still a few other things to do with your beach days. The number of dive and snorkel companies is surprising considering there’s only a mile or two of road for them to set up shop on. Most of them offer full and half day trips to local spots including the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, as well as longer, more expensive trips to Turneffe Atoll, Lighthouse Caye and World Heritage Site, the Blue Hole. I’ll go into more detail about our snorkel trip in an upcoming post so stay tuned! You can also rent kayaks (if your rental doesn’t provide them like ours did), stand up paddle board, or jet ski for a reasonable price. Finally, you can “adopt” a dog for the day from the island’s animal shelter. We weren’t able to do this because with my crutches it would have made it difficult for me to hold a leash, but anyone can go in and rent a dog for however long you’d like and hang out with it for the day! If you’re missing your pet back home, this is the perfect opportunity for some cute animal snuggles, plus you’re helping the shelter by providing free exercise for their animals. It’s a win win.
I was won over quickly by Caye Caulker, and its definitely a spot I’m going to return to in the future. I’d love to bring Julio back once we get our dive certifications and take a trip out to the Blue Hole. Caye Caulker is the perfect island getaway because it’s not touristy at all- it’s more of a backpacker destination where you can have a tropical vacation for a fraction of the cost. You won’t find expensive resorts or crazy clubs here, but that’s part of their charm. Caye Caulker has remained a little known slice of heaven in the Caribbean Sea, and I hope it stays that way forever.