5 Nights On Beautiful Caye Caulker
Caye Caulker is a small tropical island located in the Central American country of Belize. The island is best known for its extremely laid back/lazy atmosphere where their pervasive motto is "Go Slow" as much as they're known for their delicious rum punch. It's a place to escape the hustle and bustle where you don't feel at all guilty to do nothing but relax and get the most authentic "vacation" feel possible.
Making your way to Caye Caulker is relatively simple and hassle free. If you are coming from Mexico you will at some point end up in Chetumal, a small Mexican town at the southern border. The ADO buses take you to Chetumal from Cancun, Playa Del Carmen or Tulum and take between 3-5 hours, depending where you get on.
When you arrive at the ADO bus station in Chetumal you have the option to either jump on another bus to Belize City (which is where you'd get your ferry if not coming from nearby in Mexico) or the preferred option of taking a taxi to the international ferry wharf, located about 5 minutes away. At the wharf you will need to purchase a ferry ticket to Caye Caulker which costs USD55. There are two ferry companies operating to Caye Caulker on alternate days, departing at 3pm. Make sure to purchase your ticket online AT LEAST 72 hours in advance if you're going during the busy season.
TIP: Take cash with you for the ferry tickets, the Mexican Departure Tax (see below), and spending money for the island. There is a bank in Caye Caulker where you could get cash if running short but it can be a bit of a mission. You will not be able to purchase anything using a credit card with the exception of maybe your island hotel.
After purchasing your water taxi ticket, clear Mexican Immigration prior to boarding the boat for Caye Caulker. Be aware you will have to pay the departure tax of MX500 if you do not have the relevant paperwork proving you paid the taxes when you entered Mexico. Most will have entered Mexico via air and therefore the tax is included in that ticket. However, if you do not have a print out with the exact fare break down listing "Mexican Departure Tax" or something similar, then good luck!! You can argue with the immigration agent however be prepared to pay without proof.
TIP: If you don't have your fare's tax breakdown, call, Facebook Message, or email your airline several days in advance to make sure you get an invoice with the correct tax listed.
After clearing immigration you will board the water taxi bound for Caye Caulker. There is a short stop in San Pedro where everyone will be required to get off with all of their bags and clear Belize Immigration. There is a BZD2.50 charge by customs agents. Afterwards jump back on the water taxi for the last leg of the journey.
Now that you've made it, hopefully hassle free, it's time to explore what Caye Caulker has to offer. The best way to explore this strip of paradise is to hire bicycles for a few hours, or however long you feel like riding around and getting some exercise. It is very safe and easy to get around as there are no vehicles or paved roads. It's just sand/dirt with only golf carts and bicycles used as modes of transport. Most bicycle hire places will charge you BZD25 for 24 hours.
As we said before, Caye Caulker is truly one of those islands where you really feel like you are on vacation. The clear blue water and white sand surrounding the island will have you immediately relaxed where you can do as little or as much as you want. There is no shortage of hammocks and swings hanging from the hundreds of palm trees free for all to lay or sit on with a cold beer or a book.
One of the most popular locations where you will find many of the locals and tourists hiding during the day is referred to as 'The Split', located at the northern end of the island. This is where the two sections of Caye Caulker are divided or split in two, separated by about 10 metres of water. There is an excellent bar, restaurant, and banana lounges where you can relax and soak up the sun and work on your tan or watch the sunset. Grab a bucket of Belikin beers during happy hour and park yourself in the water, or on a swing at the bar. Nearby is a large segregated section of water for swimming and sitting in. For those feeling adventurous, climb the stairs to the nearby jumping platform and dive into the refreshing blue water.
Looking for a casual fun afternoon activity? Look no further then stand up paddle boarding at sunset. This is a must do activity whilst on Caye Caulker. For 75BZD at the shop close to where the "Belize Water Taxi" drops passengers off (image below) you will be provided with the paddle boards, a boat ride to the starting point, a friendly guide (ask for Char... she's awesome), and unlimited rum punch!
Starting at 4:30pm you will be taken on a short 5 minute boat ride to the northern part of the island where you will arrive at a nearby beach. After a short demo, you'll paddle off into the sunset! Your guide Char will continually fill your empty cups with rum punch, served directly to you whilst you chill out on your board. Careful not to spill any! Once out in the open ocean there is nothing to do but watch the sunset, drink your rum punch and relax. After an hour and half or so of taking in the surroundings and some wildlife if you're lucky, it's time to paddle back to shore. Here you have the option of getting a ride back with the guide or staying at the beach which has a large bonfire and a bar and restaurant. Regular free water taxis operate throughout the day/night back to the main part of Caye Caulker.
Other popular activities include snorkeling, scuba diving, day trips to San Pedro, a nice cheap beach massage, or even a helicopter ride to the famous Belize Blue Hole.
There is no better way to bask in the afternoon sun then heading to the 'Sip & Dip Bar' located near The Split. This bar & restaurant is complete with a number of fun filled water activities including a basketball ring, volleyball nets and slippery dips. Felling lazy? lay on the half submerged hammocks, sit on inner tubes with a Belikin Beer, or sit at the in-water picnic benches with your friends. The bar also boasts some quality cocktails and lunch items. Relaxing then swimming, drinking and cooling off in the clear blue water surrounded by good company and friendly locals really embodies what it means to Go Slow.
When it's time for lunch or dinner, there is no shortage of good food and great restaurants on the island. From BBQ jerk chicken to full lobsters, there's plenty of local flavours sure to please everyone.
If you're in search for a well priced restaurant with good menu options and variety, head to 'Enjoy Bar' located on the main street (everyone speaks perfect english so just ask any local and they can point you in the right direction). Here you can order that full lobster for as little as $10 served with rice and bread. If lobster isn't your thing you will find many other great options on the menu too. The vibe inside is fun and locals and tourists alike all come here so it's a great place to meet others on vacation or chat with the locals at the bar.
For a more native taste we suggest trying the street food. There are a number of vendors set up on the main street with their grills cooking fresh grub at competitive prices compared to the restaurants. These meals will usually come with free rum punch and a great authentic experience.
To get over those hangovers from all that rum punch grab your morning coffee and breakfast from the 'Ice and Beans Cafe', located next to Margarita Mikes. The friendly staff here will fix you up with free samples of iced coffee when you walk in. Grab yourself a french press and a delicious "Monster" bagel and park yourself outside overlooking the water. The perfect way to start your day.
5 nights was just the right amount of time to leave us feeling rejuvenated and relaxed and not wanting to leave, but all good things must come to an end right? For those heading back to Mexico, simply return to the ferry wharf and purchase your water taxi ticket to Chetumal or Belize City.
If you're lucky enough to be continuing your holiday into mainland Belize or nearby Guatemala, bus tickets to San Ignacio, Belize or Flores, Guatemala can be purchased at the same time as the water taxi ticket, or alternatively purchased at Belize City Ferry wharf. Be sure to check out our Guatemala post coming soon for those epic tips. Safe travels!