Caye Caulker

Posted from Belize.

Caye Caulker

The main road on Caye Caulker gets a little sandy.

Belize has a bad rap. But Caye Caulker is a place onto its own. We had heard about the island through other back packers, and decided we would heed their advice and head to the spot of land after Tulum. The journey there was interesting, landing us on Caye Caulker at 9:30 a.m.

From the moment we stepped off the boat I was reminded of the Gili Islands in Indonesia. White sands line the streets, spilling over from the beach. Rows of palm trees create a network of shade that draws your attention away from the shacks and stalls that are spread carelessly throughout the grid of streets. There’s little doubt that half the island is stoned or coming down after an all-night party. Possibly an all-month party. It’s island life.   

Dock relaxing

Not much else to do than take in the sun and relax.

No vehicles, apart from golf carts, are allowed on the island, so bicycles roam like run away wild horses. It’s a medley of chaos that is both enchanting and annoying. Island life is meant to be relaxed, but the hustle here is on-going – at least it’s not relentless. And the hustle is often for your money.

We found a room in a hut at Tropical Oasis for $50 bzd/night. It had a fan, screen windows that didn’t shut, (but at least had curtains,) and a pad lock for the door. The owner, or maybe he was just running it, had bloodshot eyes and told us we could pay tomorrow. Or whenever. The place was cheap, probably the cheapest on the island. It had a sign when you walked in that read “Go Slow.” How can you argue with that? We dropped off our luggage and decided it was time for a beer.

Tropical Oasis

Our residence for the one night we spent on the island.

The famous Blue Hole is what most people think of when it comes to Belize. At least most divers get misty eyed when they realise it’s so close. It was not my fate to dive the Blue Hole on this trip, though. I’m sure I’ll kick myself for it later. Many other people also venture to San Pedro, a far more expensive island to the north. We opted to stick with the smaller and quieter Caye Caulker, and we’re glad we did.

Snorkeling

After settling in and having a quick look around, we found an ATM and booked ourselves a half-day snorkel trip. The trip was $70 BZD and takes you out to the reef where you have the opportunity for three snorkel trips. The first one we wandered around some coral in deeper waters and saw a moray eel, turtle, nurse shark and rainbow parrot fish. There were also many of the usual suspects, trumpet fish, banner fish, clown trigger fish and angel fish.

On the second trip the boat driver fed some food/chum into the water. He said to jump in quick as the nurse sharks and sting rays showed up en masse. We all moved slowly, eventually diving in with the creatures that came to eat. We were only in about three or four feet of water, but it was still pretty surreal to have these sting rays swimming all around you.

Belize water

The water is so clear and shallow, that boat drivers need to stay very vigilant. That’s the reef out there.

On the third trip people were given the opportunity to go swimming around some coral on their own. I opted out of this one as I was freezing. The water wasn’t that as warm as I had expected, or I was already acclimated to the hot weather I had been experiencing.

They served us a whole bunch of pineapple and took us to the other side of the island to see a seahorse farm and feed some exceptionally large tarpon. Overall, I think it was money well-spent.

Feeding tarpons can be a bit risky. Watch your fingers.

And then

That night we had some pizza for dinner – which could have been the source of the food poisoning I was about to experience for the next three days. Or was it the pineapple? The water? Or my breakfast?

I went to bed relatively early – like 7 p.m. while the party at our hostel continued for many hours. Caye Caulker is nice, but I think we did some of the best of what it had to offer in that one day. When we woke up in the morning it was raining. We decided not to extend our stay. My companion woke up the hippie, who forgot we hadn’t paid, and paid him, we bought bus tickets to Flores and then we boarded the boat to Belize City.

SUP

The sunset was unbelievable. What a nice time to learn to paddle board.

The gist

Caye Caulker is nice – it’s a tropical island hot spot, but it’s like any tropical party island. Unless you’re there for the diving, snorkelling or just relaxing, you might find the party atmosphere a bit redundant and the same as any other island. But it is part of that good old Gringo Trail for a reason.

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