Caye Caulker, Belize
Updated: Feb 26, 2019
(Pronounced more like 'key corker')
It’s a tiny little sand island off the coast of Belize and it is the ultimate chill out zone! Their saying is ‘go slow’ you’ll literally hear this 100 times a day, people will judge you for walking too fast!
How to get there
After a week in Mexico and practicing my very weak Spanish, we took the over night bus from Riviera Maya down to Belize city which was about 7 hours and as it wasn’t too busy, the journey was quite comfortable. You can also go from Cancun City or Cancun Airport. You can buy tickets at the bus station or reserve them online but either way you have to pay in cash at the bus station unless you have a Mexican credit card. The website is also completely in Spanish but if I managed I’m sure you can too! You can of course always fly into Belize City from most places but there are currently no direct flights from the UK.
We were shocked at what a difference there was between the neighbouring countries. Belize has much more of a Caribbean vibe than other places in Central America and I’m pretty sure they have their own language although english is most widely spoken. At the bus station we took a taxi to the ferry and got a one way ticket to Caye Caulker. It works out cheaper to get a return but we were actually travelling on from Caye Caulker back to Mexico through Chetumal which is another way you could travel to Belize if you don’t mind long boat rides. (About 4 hours including border crossing etc Around $15 one way, $20 return something like that.) There’s a ferry about every hour, some faster than others.
This is really the only place we went to in Belize so not much to compare it to but it’s definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve been too.
Be aware that if you travel by land anywhere in Central America you're going to spend lots on border fees, even if you are only leaving the country for a couple of days and returning they will still charge you for every entrance and exit. Is it fair? No. Probably not even legal. But can you do anything about it? No, not really unless you’re fluent in Spanish and even then probably not. So just have some spare cash. Pretty much everywhere will accept dollars and don’t forget to weigh up this cost compared to flights as you usually don’t need to pay if you travel by air. I won’t bore you with exactly how much we paid in each country mostly because it probably changes every day, but I just wouldn’t bother trying to argue it. It started to annoy me when people did as it would slow down the group and they were never successful. Let’s just say it was probably more than I spent on food and drink my entire month in Central America.
When we arrived at Caye Caulker there’s no cars and the only way to get around is walking or golf buggy, in the heat with our back pack we chose the latter, it seems like everywhere you go on the island the flat price is $5. Although sometimes people will just let you jump in if you are walking that way anyway. Down to you if you accept obviously but to me everywhere seemed incredibly safe. The locals were so happy, friendly and welcoming people, and on such a small island everyone seems to know each other.
Where to stay.
Although I wouldn’t recommend where I stayed as it was a bit far out, (the island is tiny but even a 15 minute walk in the heat can take it out of you). While we were there we picked out the places we would stay when we returned. As close to The Split as possible is probably where I would choose next time. The Split is where a hurricane in 1970 literally split the island in half. It’s close enough to swim from one side to the other but apparently the current is pretty strong. There’s a free boat ran by Koko king that will take you from one side to the other pretty much right through the night. Koko King is basically all that is there along with a few local houses. (At time of writing).
Where to eat/ drink
Koko King - Wow what a place. We came here almost every night and each time was different. We actually got speaking to the British woman who owned it with her Belizean husband and they’ve got it just right. Everything you could possibly want in a beach bar, from the food, multiple bars, free boat rides, Instagramable swings, hammocks, inflatables and rubber tubes in the water and even a cinema screen in the sea! The first night we went it happened to be during shark week and we ended up sitting in rubber tubes in the sea watching back to back shark related films as the sun was setting, with a Belkin in one hand and a plate of chicken wings in the other. Can you think of a better place to spend an evening? Our next visit was a lot less relaxing and was more like a smaller more classy version of a full moon party. My favourite part of this night was asking what was sold at the pop up bar. The answer was white rum, dark rum, coconut rum or overproof rum. So if you don’t like rum, stay away from the pop up bars! There’s also a pretty classy looking pool area during the day with big fancy beds but obviously being backpackers we were much more at home laying our towels on the sand. It’s probably worth saying the rule is that the boat is free if you spend at least $15pp and most times we did anyway but no one ever checked!
Another popular place is the Lazy Lizard they also hold their own full moon parties and again the sunset is unrivalled. I would personally try their famous lizard juice which is a kind of green slush and of course rum. Beware they will turn your tongue green! The food here is also pretty good although the chicken wings are very hot but we found this in most places in Belize!
Sip and dip - This was closed every time we went. Their opening hours are basically just whenever the staff feel like coming in which apparently is quiet normal in Caye Caulker. But you can still hang out in the sea hammocks when its closed so no complaints!
What to do
The Blue Hole debate! This was something I struggled with. Really it was the only reason we came to Belize but when we got there we realised that not only was it expensive, but people who had been actually said it wasn't all that great and that there are much better dive sites that are much cheaper to do. Apparently as the water is so deep, it gets dark pretty quickly and theres not all that much to see. Then of course theres Nitrogen Narcosis to deal with which might be your thing but we eventually decided to spend the money elsewhere. Controversial I know!
Our hotel and I think most others on the island, offered free kayaks and bike hire which is a very fun way to spend an afternoon, just keep an eye on the currents as they can get quite strong and kayaking out to watch the sunset seems like a fantastic idea at the time but kayaking back in the dark fighting against the currents (slightly drunk) is not great fun!
Puppies! Along the 1st street there's a small animal shelter where you can go and play with puppies and kittens for a small donation. We spent a very long afternoon here, hearing about how each of the dogs had ended up there and convincing each other that it wouldn't be feasible to take them with us on our travels. It seems like a really good cause that could use some help so if you have time to stop by its called Caye Caulker Animal Shelter.
Overall Caye Caulker and Belize in general is a beautiful under rated place. I would definitely recommend it especially on a trip across Central America. A lot of people skip it as it is slightly more expensive than it's neighbours but I really think you would be missing out!
Let me know about your experience or any questions about this wonderful island and click here to search for hotels in Caye Caulker using my Affiliate link!