From the Caye Caulker message board:
Posted by Goran Matesic on December 18, 2000 at 18:45:12:

Just got back from what I would consider a trip of a lifetime from Caye Caulker.
Tracy and I
went to Caye Caulker to get married and we dragged along 20 of our friends
and relatives
for the trip. We had a pretty good idea of what to expect from early pictures
that were
posted showing the devastation caused by Hurricane Keith. I must admit that I
was a little
unsettled as we drove through the back streets on our golf cart from the air
strip to see
some of the real damage caused and also what I would call exposure of junk
that is
probably normally hidden by dense vegetation. Lets not forget that this is a
"lowish" budget
island and the shanty shacks are for me, part of the "island charm" and
experience - it's not
Cancun (and lets thank christ for that). Personally I would have gone to Club
Med if I
wanted a bullshit cultural vacuum vacation.

For the record I will post a couple of photo's soon of what the island looks like
right now,
give me a few days.

As far as the trees are concerned my estimation of trees lost compared to some
of the pre
hurricane photo's on this web site are about 50% to 60% of palm trees gone
and probably
close to 80% of ground vegetation (including the mangroves at the back of the
island which
took the brunt of the hurricane, the mangroves look really sad, totally stripped
vegetation and full of trash up to a meter above sea level- to be fair you only
notice this
damage from a kayak as you cruise the back of the island). Sound bad, well it's
not, the
island has lost none of it's charm from a visual stand point. If your like me and
you have
never been there before you would not know the difference, the front of the
island is really
cleaned up and it is slowly working it's way back to the lee side. It just seems
like an island
with sparse vegetation, it's NOT a barren hell hole, anyway, a picture tells a
words and I'll get on it soon.

To anyone out there who is put off by this information on the vegetation -
don't be because
you will be missing the whole point of the Caye Caulker experience. I have
never met a
more beautiful bunch of people in one location, I can't tell you how many great
people we
met, the generosity and spirit of the locals is something that we should all learn
Almost everyone we came in contact with was helpful, friendly and genuinely
pleased that
we were there.

The snorkelling is just great, although a boat excursion or long slog out to the
reef on a sea
kayak is really the only option for quality snorkelling (nothing much to look at
right off the
beach or at the split - there is also construction debri underwater at the split
which ruins
the experience. Clarity is ordinary as well).

One of our group is a keen diver who has dived extensively in the Caribbean,
Australia and
Mexico, he did the blue hole dive trip that included three dives at different
locations he
described two of the dives as the best dives he had ever experienced.

One little note of warning there is a quite a bit of construction going on, as the
locals are
repairing or improving their housing and/or business', be prepared for the odd
chainsaw or
power drill in the morning. I got the impression that most of the work has
already been
completed and if you plan to travel anytime in January I'd say all hurricane work
would have
been complete and it will be back to general maintenance and repair only.

I believe almost all the restaurants and bars were up and running with only a
few still under
re-construction or waiting on more tourists to arrive before the doors open. I'd
hate to pick
highlights of the bars and restaurants each had their own special charm and we
trully did
not have a bad meal whilst on the island.

So if you have any doubts about an upcoming trip to Caye Caulker, don't worry,
the things
that make this island special can never be destroyed by a hurricane, if your
destination is decided upon by a head count of palm trees, I'm afraid you are
going to miss
a very special experience, if you love the culture of Central America and the
Carribean, if
you love sand lined streets, if you love sand floors in bars and restaurants, if
you love warm
azure blue water, if you love not 'breaking the bank' every time you order a
drink, if you love
to party, if you love to be mellow, if you love to swim with rays and 'cuddly'
sharks, if you
love free diving through underwater caves, if you love the sun - IT'S ALL STILL

Special thanks to Tina, Wendy, Diane, Ilna, Maurice, Todd, Barbara, Heather,
Mary Joe,
Janice, Happy Harry, your hospitality will never be forgotten. I can't mention
everyone else
but thank you all for making us feel so special.

As a final note although we may not have seen Caye Caulker at it's prettiest
everyone of
our 20 guests can't wait to get back there and do it all again!!!