Belize it or not: Top 10 Things to Do on Caye Caulker

Posted on November 19, 2009 by

Hopping over from Guatemala to the Caribbean coast of Belize, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t welcome the transition. From grinding on the chaotic and bumpy streets of Northern Guatemala, we arrived to the breezy reggae beats and killer beaches on Caye Caulker. I threw my hands in the sky and let the wind take me.

A laid back beach

Caye Caulker is the Caribbean without pretentious hotels and snobbish holidaymakers. Put a bunch of hippies, laid-back hostels and clear sea – that’s Caye Caulker. There are no roads, no pollution, no loud noises. Just soft winds, light music and the endless sea. For those who want to get to know the island inside out, here are 10 ways to do so.

1. Snorkeling with Sharks

You heard me. You get to literally swim around schools of nurse sharks and large stingrays at the famed Shark-Ray Alley. Don’t worry, they don’t bite.Visibility in the water is as clear as it can get and snorkeling conditions are close to perfect.  Snorkeling trips that take you out here also bring you to nearby Hol-Chan marine reserve. Marine life is proliferate herewe even got to swim beside a manatee. A surreal experience as the giant slowly glides past you.

Shark Ray Alley

2. Wish Willy’s BBQ Seafood

BBQ Seafood on Belize is like paella in Spain – the best thing ever. Wish Willy’s on Caye Caulker definitely stands out as the cheapest, tastiest and most characteristic. Talking about personality, Wish Willy’s tops everyone else; the friendly owner welcomes everyone like an old friend. Try the seafood buffet, with lobster, fish, meat included for 35 Belizean Dollar.

Grilled lobster at Wish Willy's

The crowd - backpackers

3. Diving the Blue Hole

This submarine cave is legendary. If you’re a diver, you’re not leaving without diving the Great Blue Hole. The circular Blue Hole is over 330m in diameter and 120m deep. From the air, the round patch of dark blue waters surrounded by shallow turquoise sea looks unbelievable. It was formed when the roof of a limestone cave system collapsed during the ice age. A natural phenomenon as it is,  submerging as deep as 45m amongst stalactites is wild. Warning – not for beginners.

The Blue Hole - Photo by Nat Geo

4. Chilling at the Split

The Belizeans’ cheery attitude show turned the result of a disaster into something beautiful. The Split was formed in 1961 when Hurricane Hattie hit, splitting Caye Caulker in two. At the northern end of Front Street, it’s a popular place to chill, snorkel and hang out. The shallow waters are clear, refreshing and full of marine life.

Chilling at the Split

What's left of the old pier

5. Grooving to Reggae

Knock back a Belikin (local beer) or two at I&I Reggae Bar on the southern end of the caye. There’s nothing like this hippie haven – swings hanging from the ceiling, hammocks on the rooftop, oh and a perfect spot to catch the sunset. Ask around, and all the locals will point you in this direction. It’s got good vibes baby!

6. Sunset Sailing

Sailing off into the wind, with rum punch and shrimp cerviche in hand and a Rastafarian captain – the sunset sails are a great way to get under Belize’s skin. Instead of bus-ing it, 4-day sailboat trips are also an excellent alternative to get from Caye Caulker to other parts of Belize. Ragga Muffin Tours arrange overnight sailboat trips to Placencia. What’s on the itinerary? Fishing, chilling, island-hopping and fresh seafood everyday.

Alternatively, daytrips on the sailboats can also be organized, with snorkeling at Shark Ray Alley included.

Sailboat

7. Trying Street Tacos

Oh street food’s always tops on my list of getting to know a country. Tacos stands are set up across the marine terminal where the main pier is at. These are usually really cheap, 3 tacos for 2 Belizean dollars. At San Pedro, a bigger town on Ambergris Caye, the town’s plaza is lined with tons of tacos stands, in true Mexican style.

Street tacos

8. Kayaking to the Northern Mangrove Reserve

The northern end of Caye Caulker is uninhabited, occupied by dense mangrove swamps. Kayaking to the mangrove reserve makes for a fun excursion, especially in the mornings when birdlife is rich. Tsunami Adventures arrange kayaking trips for B$15 first hour and B$10 for subsequent hours.

Kayaking

9. Riding A Golf Cart

While there aren’t any golf courses on Caye Caulker, you’ll see golf carts all over the island. These carts are the islanders’ main mode of transport – there are no cars or scooters on Caye Caulker; just picture how clean the air is without any pollution.

10. Mingle with the Locals

Belizeans are one of the friendliest buncha people around – they ain’t called the Caribbean for nothing. They love making jokes, chatting anyone up on the streets and just having a good time. We had dinner with our boat man, he told us stories about Caye Caulker and how it was lk growing up here. Like they say, the best way to know a country is through its people.

tn_IMG_5899

Caye Caulker is one of my favorite places in the world, there’s really nothing like it anywhere else. Wooden pier

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Sometimes life really is a beach, especially on Belize. It’s hard to believe what Caye Caulker does to you. It turns you into a hippie! No war, only positivity and goodness in your mind. Oh, a joint or two does the trick too. I’m going back there someday – with my reggae music, a dreadlocks wig and a fake Caribbean accent. Wanna join me?

 

 

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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is the co-founder of WildJunket. As a professional travel writer with a special interest in offgrid destinations and adventure travel, she scours through the world in search for a slice of undiscovered paradise. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Guatemala, swam with sealions in the Galapagos and built a school in Tanzania.

29 Responses to “Belize it or not: Top 10 Things to Do on Caye Caulker”

  1. Carmel November 19, 2009 3:52 pm #

    Oh wow, I cant believe that snorkling, and they definetely dont bite?

    • Nellie November 20, 2009 9:53 am #

      yeh they really don't. They're nurse sharks, not big whites. At Shark Ray Alley, there're also tons of manta rays that glide by you with no qualms. The unfortunate thing is that they bring tourists out there, and guides tend to feed the sharks and make it all seem abit like being in the aquarium. Nonetheless, they really take good care of their nature park, and it's an incredible experience getting so close to the marine life.

      • Carmel November 20, 2009 5:26 pm #

        I bet it is, and there seems to be so many of them aswel, Id love to think I wouldnt panic but Im pretty sure I would :)

  2. nomadic matt November 23, 2009 2:20 pm #

    The split looks just as good as it did when I went to belize but wish willy's as sure blown up! When I went there 3 yrs ago, you either got fish or chicken and there was no buffet and a lot less people.

    • Nellie December 1, 2009 10:35 am #

      Sad to hear that, but that's what happens when tourism develops. Even Caye Caulker, relatively less touristy than most places in the region, is getting more and more hyped and receiving more travelers by the day. :( Let's think of the bright side – it's good for the Belizean economy and the local folks.

  3. Spot January 17, 2010 4:35 pm #

    Perhaps the most beautiful natural sight I've seen in my life was off of Caye Caulker. It was an overnight sailing trip. There were absolutely no clouds and no wind. The sea was like glass and reflected the bright stars above such that it was impossible to tell where the sky stopped and the Caribbean began. It was exactly like being on a sailboat in the middle of the universe.

  4. Justin Jones January 27, 2010 9:37 am #

    Hey there! great website, great writing, and what a great little traveler you are! I'm a bit of nomad myself (check me out at http://www.JustinWasHere.com) and have done a bit of travel writing too. I'm actually researching a book right now and i found this post very helpful for the Belize section — so thanks! I'll definitely add you to my blogroll when i get around to it! hope to run into you somewhere in the world! keep it up!
    -Justin

    • admin February 1, 2010 5:47 pm #

      Hey Justin, wow compliments coming from another travel writer – I really appreciate that! Thanks and I’m glad it was of help. I did some guidebook writing in Guatemala as well, what book are you researching for? I’ll be checking out your travels as well, stay in touch.

  5. ayngelina July 8, 2010 9:25 pm #

    I really didn’t like Caye Caulker at all, felt it was too touristy for my RTW. That said, you did a great round up of what to do there and the taco woman really is a highlight there and should not be missed.

  6. Diverse Belize March 1, 2011 3:35 am #

    Loved this post.. i will share it on facebook tomorrow! ;)
    http://facebook.com/diversebelize
    @diversebelize

  7. Pauline Fisk September 6, 2011 2:46 am #

    I visited Caye Caulker in 2008 whilst in Belize researching for a novel about gap year volunteering(In the Trees, published by Faber& Faber). I agree with all you’ve said, especially about the people. Look up Oasi Apartments with their lush, green garden and Tina’s Backpacker Hostel which was great for hammocks, good company and lovely seafront location. An early morning bird walk with a lady called Dorothy who lives down in the mangroves in the littoral forest at the south of the island was pretty special too.

  8. Teporah October 1, 2012 1:54 am #

    I loved Cay Caulker, thanks for bringing back the memories

  9. Gertrude A. Blanco April 25, 2013 10:08 pm #

    I would love to see more of the place. My new vacation yonder is all about seeking places that is seldom known to all.

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