Taking It Easy in Caye Caulker
Situated off the mainland Belize coast, Caye Caulker is an island that truly lives up to its reputation as a relaxed paradise destination. It’s a vacation lover’s fantasy come to life, with traffic-free roads, friendly locals, and stunning scenery that seems to beckon adventure at every turn.
The Early Days
A former fishing settlement, Caye Caulker was inhabited by Mestizo refugees, who were individuals of mixed Maya and Spanish descent that fled to Belize during the Caste War of Yucatán. In the early 20th century, the area became home to a number of lobster fisheries, and in subsequent decades it became popular for fish exportation. Although the island remains firmly committed to these early roots — fishing remains a vital industry in the community — it is largely renowned today as a modern tourist destination for travelers seeking a genuine respite from everyday life.
If you’re in search of serious solitude, head out on foot and enjoy the fresh air as you step beneath the lush palm and sea almond trees that soar above.
The Unpretentious Holiday
There are plenty of places to go if you want to mingle with large crowds, spend your time in hoity-toity resort hotels, and make like a five-star jetsetter. Caye Caulker is not that place — and that’s precisely why so many are drawn to it. The placid destination lacks the pretentiousness of many other island destinations. It’s essentially a celebration of nature, and it affords visitors the opportunity to tap into a certain undiscovered serenity. You’ll feel at one with your surroundings when you take in the gently lapping waves, the crystal clear waters, and the gentle breeze as it tickles your skin. In the background, reggae music sets the soundtrack for your vacation. Here, life is all about having fun, letting loose, and losing yourself in the moment. It’s easy to do, whether you’re taking a dip in the water or chatting with a friendly local at a taco stand.
Thing to Do
You won’t have a hard time finding things to do in any part of Belize, but Caye Caulker affords you the types of opportunities you might otherwise only dream of experiencing. Perhaps the most noteworthy is a visit to the Split, which is visually representative of a broader perspective that the people of Caye Caulker had when Hurricane Hattie virtually split the island in two in 1961. No longer a hallmark of tragedy, the Split is a popular haunt for tourists and locals alike. People come to relax, snorkel, mingle, and sip cool cocktails at the many beach bars in the area.
One With Nature
You won’t want to leave once you immerse yourself in Caye Caulker’s pleasantly warm waters. There are plenty of dive boats available to book for multi-hour or day-long diving and snorkeling excursions, where you can marvel at the beautiful tropical fish. You can also hop on a bike and explore the area’s three main roads: Front, Middle, and Back Streets. If you’re in search of serious solitude, head out on foot and enjoy the fresh air as you step beneath the lush palm and sea almond trees that soar above. You won’t come across any vehicles here — only occasional golf carts and plenty of fellow foot travelers. You’ll also want to book a tour to the nearby Hol Chan Marine Reserve, situated off the southern Ambergris Caye coast, to experience more than 160 different fish species.
Where to Stay
There are only 2,000 inhabitants in total on the island, which makes it a particularly low-key, budget-friendly holiday destination. You won’t see any of the popular chain hotels here, nor are there any lavish all-inclusive resorts to be found. Instead, there are approximately 40 reasonably priced hotels and hostels that feature the basic creature comforts of home. Some have air conditioning, but many are equipped only with fans. The goal is to maintain a sense of ease that people expect of the island.
The Culture Beat
Don’t be caught off guard when you first arrive in Caye Caulker. The unspoken motto here is to take it slow, and you’ll quickly become accustomed to this laid-back way of life. Along Front Street, you can mingle with souvenir shop owners and snag a cute tiki statue to take home. Wander to an adjacent road and you can enjoy some fresh fruit as you get to know your fellow tourists. There are plenty of lively-meets-chill bars on the island that regularly blast reggae music, along with street food stands peddling authentic island cuisine.
If you’re traveling to Belize, you’ll appreciate the convenience that the San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi Limited provides. Enjoy safe, comfortable transportation from island to island so that you can explore the country’s natural wonders easily.
In front of the police Station