Caye Caulker is located off the coast of Belize, 1.6 km(1 mi) west of the Barrier Reef. It has a length of about 8.2 km (5 mi) and a population of 1,300.
This small island is popular for its cheap prices, and abundance of bars and restaurants. The beaches aren’t that good, but there are many docks where you can sit under the sun on a plastic chair, or hang out at the restaurants near the ocean. Also, you can take a walk down to “The Split”, a popular swimming area. After that, if you’re thirsty, then you can go to The Lazy Lizard Bar near the water.
In the town you’ll find only 3 sandy roads. Front Street runs along the east coast, Back Street along the west coast, and Middle Street between them. The best places from the island are along Front Street and the west coast.
The local cultural influences are Mestizo, Garifuna and Creole.
Caye Caulker - Belize - Google-Earth
There is an airport at the southern end of the island called Caye Caulker Airport. Local planes which leave from the international airport cost around $60-70 one-way, and it only takes 10-15 min to reach their destination. They also leave from the Belize City Municipal Airport for a lower cost.
Travelers from Mexico can fly from Corozal, which is 20 min from the Mexican border at Chetumal. If there’s demand, the flights will stop in Caye Caulker and Ambergris, and will save you the 4 hours bus ride to Belize City.
From Belize City to Caye Caulker you can take a Water Taxi, which have frequent runs to the island everyday. It takes 45 min to reach Caye, and after that they continue to San Pedro. You should sit towards the back of the boat for a smoother ride because on windy days, the trip can be a little rough.
Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association – $20Bz one-way, or $35Bz round-trip. (Check their website for departures). Caye Caulker Water Taxi is located at the foot of the Swing Bridge in Belize City.
San Pedro Belize Express – $20Bz one-way and $35Bz round-trip. (Check their website for departures). San Pedro Belize Express is located inside the Brown Sugar Terminal in Belize City.
From Mexico, you can take a boat from Chetumal to San Pedro and then to Caye Caulker. It runs everyday at 3PM and 3:30PM, for $25 and it takes 2.5 hours. Although it costs double, this is a better option than going to Belize City and catching a boat there. You can buy tickets at the Maritime Terminal, Muelle Fiscal or at Chetumal Ado terminal.
Caye Caulker - Belize
There are just a few cars on the island, so locals travel with golf carts, bicycles or on foot. You can go around the entire island with a golf cart in just 30 min. And bicycles can be rented from many places on the island. You can find golf carts at C&N Golf Cart Rentals and Caye Caulker Golf Cart Rentals.
The northern 100 acres of the island are covered with the Forest Reserve, which is a dense mangrove forest. Sometimes, the local Audubon group organizes morning bird watching tours.
Caye Caulker Marine Reserve is known as the local reef, which is close enough so you can see the waves breaking on it from the island itself.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve is located 6.4 km (4 mi) south of San Pedri, Ambergris Caye. It has more mature marine life because it was protected for longer than the local reef. It’s also further away than the local reef.
In Shark and Ray Alley you’ll see tour operator that throw food in the water in order to attract southern sting rays and nurse sharks. If you’re quick, you can touch them, or even swim with them. Nurse sharks are territorial, so they are very used to humans, but they can also bite.
Another place to visit is the Blue Hole, which is a 40m deep circular hole in the ocean, with many sharks, fish and corals. It’s also the most famous place in Belize where you can dive, and it’s just an hour boat ride from Caye Caulker.
Caye Caulker - Belize
Although it’s a small Caribbean island, its motto is “Go Slow”, and this is what you should do, because it’s a perfect place to relax and spend a few days away from travelling around the rest of Central America.
You can go to The Lazy Lizard, a bar located at “the split” near the island’s only beach, but you won’t find any sand here. This “beach” is surrounded by cement sea walls, it was damaged by hurricanes but it’s in the same condition as in 1961. On the walls there are people who catch a tan, and if it’s too hot, they go in the water or to the Lazy Lizard.
Snorkelling and diving
There are many operators who offer diving and snorkeling services. Close to the island is Hol Chan Marine Reserve, 30 min away from it, but you can also go a bit further to the Spanish Bay or Caye Chapel, and even further there is Turneffe Atoll or the famous Blue Hole.
Numerous local businesses offer “half-day” snorkeling tours for $40Bz per person. The tours usually leave at 10:30AM and 2:30PM and they go to the local reef, the Coral Garden or Shark and Ray Alley.
Looking out towards the reef
For $100-110BZ you can go to longer snorkeling tours which leave around 10AM and return around 4:30PM. You can go with these tours to the Coral Garden, Shark and Ray Alley, and Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Some tours include lunch, snacks and a Rum Punch “happy hour”, but you should check first if they include all of these, and also the condition of the equipment should be checked.
Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary is a Manatee reserve near Belize City, due to the efforts of a Caye Caulker local named Chocolate. Guided tours are offered to the Manatee reserve almost everyday, but you can’t swim with the manatees in the sanctuary, and in some days they are very difficult to be seen. Some tours even include snorkeling stops. There are other local areas where manatees can be seen in the summer months such as Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The young manatees swim close to tourists, but the more mature ones prefer to keep the distance.
Chocolate (tours), (At the north end of Front Street, near Ragamuffin Tours). Tours to Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary and manatee habitats that normally run every 2nd day.
One of the best tours is made by Carlos Tours. It’s located next to Café Amore, 1 block south of the Sandbox restaurant, and it’s an eco friendly tour. There are 4 stops on the tour: Hol Chan Marine Reserve, San Pedro on Ambergris Caye for lunch (on your own), Shark-Ray Alley, and Coral Gardens. It costs $90Bz for tour, and Carlos takes underwater photos during the trip which you can receive on a CD from him. This is much more economical than buying an underwater disposable camera for $30Bz.
Red Mangrove Eco Adventures, Front Street, Caye Caulker. Eco friendly small group snorkel tours to local sites and Turneffe Atoll.
If you want a tour to more distant locations you can go to Seagull Adventures, which can take you to the Blue Hole for $230Bz or Tourneffe Atoll for $120Bz, and many other places. Tours are usually made around 6 PM, because the owner is gone on snorkeling trips, so that’s you should contact her a few days in advance.
Juni’s, sailing/snorkling trips to Hol Chan Marine Reserve offers an authentic experience on a beautiful self built sailing boat for small groups to maximum of 6 people. This is a tour only for those who respect the ocean, the fish and the locals. You won’t find 20+ people which like drinking and smoking on this boat, but if you want this on a tour than go to Raggamuffin instead. Juni is in his office behind the police station before 9:30AM and after 5:30 PM, or at his boat Trinity at the dock.
Caye Caulker - Belize
The island is famous for its diving shops, but you should contact them with a few days in advance in order to find out their schedule. The dive shops are PADI certified and they offer recreational diving and open water courses. The dives are done in the ocean, and the certification includes 2 shallow-water dives and 4 open-water dives, during a period of 3-4 days.
All the local dive shops offer dive trips to Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the Blue Hole, Spanish Bay, Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, Turneffe Elbow and Turneffe North.
Belize Diving Services, (Near the soccer field in the northern half of the town). PADI Resort facility. Small groups, safety conscious and is the only dive shop to offer technical diving services.
Big Fish Diving, (Located at the southern part of the island opposite of Quan’s Shopping Center). PADI Certified.
Frenchies, (Located in the northern part of the island towards the Split). Run by a Belizean. Very friendly and laid back. PADI Certified.
Scuba Sensation, (Located in the middle of the island before the police station). PADI Certified.
If you want to go to other places than the ones provided by local shops, then you can choose operators nearby Ambergris Caye. The trips have various costs according to the distance from Caye Caulker:
Local dives (Hol Chan, Spanish Bay): $US90 (2 tank dives)
Turneffe Atoll: $US150 (3 tank dives)
Blue Hole: $US150 (3 tank dives) plus $US40 park permit
Caye Caulker - Belize
Tsunami Adventures, extreme north end of Front Street. This is the perfect way to explore the northern mangrove forest. In order to avoid the wind, you should head for the west side of the island for smoother water. The cost for a two-person kayak is $15Bz per hour for the first hour, and $10Bz for each additional hour.
There are other activities that can be done on the island.
Ragga Muffin offers three days sailing trips. It’s a wonderful experience to fish your own meal, sleep on little islands or snorkle around them.
Tours to Maya ruins (on the mainland).
Cave tubing (on the mainland).
The Manatee watching tours include a short visit to St. George’s Caye and a snorkeling stop at Sergeant’s Caye. You’ll find many tour operators who do manatee watching trips in San Pedro, Caye Caulker and Belize City. Also, you can visit Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary. In July of 2002, 9,000 acres of sea and mangrove became a protected area.
Caye Caulker - Belize
Most shops accept US Dollars, and although the prices are posted in Belizian dollars, you should always confirm this with the seller, because US$1 equals $2 Belizian. If you want to withdraw money from your card, than you can use the ATM for foreign cards, because one of them only accepts local cards. You should stock up on your money because on weekends, ATMs run out of money.
Along the Front Street you can find gift shops that sell hammocks, t-shirts and souvenirs, but along the main street there are vendors who sell crafts and jewelry.
Caribbean Colors Art Gallery, Front Street. Art gallery on Caye Caulker.
Chocolate’s Gift Shop, Front Street near the split. Sells beautiful sarongs and clothing from Bali. Nice sarongs and silver jewelry.
Chan’s Mini Mart, Middle Street. For your grocery needs during your stay in Caye Caulker.
On the Middle Street there is Auntie’s Fast Food. Here you can find delicious Belizean and Chinese food like Stew Chicken, Baked Chicken , Rice and Bean at low prices.
Next to Rasta Rasta there is Bamboo Grill which has good fish and shrimp dishes, but also chicken.
You can find bacon, eggs, cinnamon roll and coffee for just $US3.5 at Glenda’s.
Near the Front Pier is the Sandbox, with good food at reasonable prices. Here is the only place from the island where you can find a veggie burger.
Femi’s Bar and Lounge, Front Street, a little south of the Lazy Lizard has great lunch, dinner, and drink specials on a pier overhanging the sea.
Fran’s – Roger’s sister, her fare is similar to that of Jolly Roger’s, for the same price and it’s located across the street from the Miramar Hotel.
Caye Caulker Bakery, Back Street, just North of Chan’s Grocery, opens at 7:30AM and serves a mixture of sweet and savory foods. The ham and cheese turnover (if available) is very delicious and is a filling breakfast on its own.
Pirates located near the supermarkets offer cheap food for the budget traveler. A generous portion of Chicken and Chips can be had for $7Bz.
Caye Caulker - Belize
Agave, Front Street, north of Dock Street. Bar and grill offering contemporary seafood dishes for between $20Bz-$40Bz edit
Amor y Café is owned by a Dutch woman, and it’s a great (though small) breakfast place on Front Street just south of Dock Street. They offer home-made bread, yoghurt and fruit juices.
Jolly Roger, Front Street. For $25Bz you can get catch of the day (lobster, snapper, baracuda) with mashed potatoes, garlic bread, rum punch and a small desert. There’s delicious grilled seafood (like everywhere else), but the lack of hygiene and running water means you need a robust digestive system and a bit of luck if you want to avoid food poisoning.
Don Corleone, Front Street. Italian restaurant.
Habaneros, Front Street. Lunch and dinner.
There aren’t many options in regards to partying in the night, but during holidays and long weekends, events and dances are held on the island.
I&I Reggae Bar is a nice spot where you can meet with friends or new ones. Here you can relax on a hammock or just swing with a cocktail. The whole island can be seen from the top deck at night.
Oceanside Night Club, (On the front street). Karaoke nights Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and Lady’s Nights. Has dancing and/or live music from time to time, and can be a popular destination on weekend nights before midnight.
In 1961, the island was split in two by the hurricane Hattie. Next to the split there is the bar Lazy Lizard which is a nice place to spend time watching large tarpons and rays swimming by. At 5PM starts happy hour and for $5Bz you can have two rum drinks. I recommend the “Panty Ripper” which is included in this deal.
The Sports Bat is across Rasta Pasta and the Police Station. Occasionally it has live music, and some of their TVs are tuned on ESPN. Their food is good and it’s a cool place to drink a beer while hiding from the burning son.
Sunset View is a disco on the back side of the island, north of the soccer field. It is only open from 11PM on weekends, but you will see a different side of the island. DJs spin reggae, punta, and other caribbean music in a surprisingly large room. There aren’t many tourists, but it’s a good place if you like music and drinking.
Yuma’s House Belize ((also known as Tina’s Backpacker’s Hostel)), is located on the east side of the island, is the islands hostel, between 2 of the water taxis on the beach. The rooms have been renovated and it has new management.
For US$20-30 per night, you can find other lodging facilities. Rental companies charge US$60 or more per night, so don’t use them.
Da Real McCaw is a great place, with quiet and hammocks on porches right across from beach. US$150-210 for two beds.
Blue Wave Guesthouse, (Near the split, across from Ragamuffin Tours). It has rooms with balcony, cable TV and private bathroom. Nice and new for $60Bz per night.
Chila’s Cabin, Caye Caulker, Belize (On the northern part of the island towards the split next to Don Corleone), +501 630 3668. Low cost, near the sea. Nice sea view, private hot/cold shower, cable TV, fridge, coffee pot, microwave, toaster, balcony with hammock. Split unit A/C, 1 double bed, Wi-Fi and complementary bicycles. Suited for a couple or a single person and it’s safe for females traveling alone. US$55.
Colinda Cabanas (Previously known as Lorraines Guest House), (Beside The Anchorage Resort, a 10 min walk south along the beach from the water taxi), +501 226 0383. Check in: 12 noon; check out: 10AM. In 2011 it was renovated and renamed Colinda Cabanas. It has a beachfront location facing the reef with frequent easterly breeze. All bathrooms have hot and cold reverse osmosis purified water. The community kitchen should be completed by 1 December 2011. A 175 ft dock with palapa and hammocks, safe swimming area. Private ocean view cabana-US$25, A/C beachfront suite-US$100.
The Tropics Hotel is for those who don’t mind spending some money. A “Sunset” room costs $55Bz and it has shower and two double beds.
Oasi is a 3-room guest house located south of downtown, near the airstrip. Each suite has a kitchen, porch with hammock and free use of bicycles.
Iguana Reef Inn is a hotel with private pool, beach, dock, free continental breakfasts, safes and small refrigerators in each room, A/C and shower. They have their own bar, but children under 10 years old are not allowed in.
Tree Tops Guesthouse, (just before Tom’s Hotel), +501 226 0240. Check in: 1PM; Check out: 11AM. It has very clean and comfortable rooms, with charming garden just 50 yards from the waters edge, for US$55-110.
Anchorage Hotel. This hotel is located on the southern point of town, and it has the nicest beach on the island. The rooms (with air conditioning, TV, hot water and fridge) are all in one concrete building and have a great ocean view for US$50-60.
Caye Caulker - Belize
Although Caye Caulker has internet access, the island is served by a single hard line to the mainland and is therefore prone to bandwidth problems and interruptions.
There are a few internet cafes and wifi hotspots on the island such as Cayeboard Connection (opened from 8AM-9PM) and Caye Caulker Cyber Cafe (opened from 8AM-10PM).
The Island Link Internet Cafe & Ice Cream Parlor is open from 8AM-9PM. Here they have delicious ice creams and is owned by a local Caye Caulker native.
Young’s Internet Cafe on the back street
You can take water taxis which leave the island for Belize City from the morning to the end of the day.