Caye Caulker: How to Visit the Best Island in Belize
I arrived back in St. Louis about a week ago and I am already itching to talk about our most recent trip to beautiful Belize! This post covers our first two days spent on the small island of Caye Caulker. Soon, we’ll share more about our inland excursions through Belizean caves and Mayan ruins, and visiting the beach of Placencia. During our trip we received lodging and tours in exchange for reviews and content creation, but we’d never lead you in the wrong direction, so of course all opinions are ours.
I am unBELIZEably excited to share all about our latest trip to beautiful Central America.
You didn’t think you would get away without at least one Belize pun, right?
A few months ago, when Cole and I looked ahead to our spring break week, we knew a few things about where we wanted to travel: it had to be close, because Cole only had about 6 days to spend; it had to be affordable, and of course, it had to be somewhere new and exciting. We considered many places, but in the end, Belize took the cake.
Within Belize, there are three primary tour areas, and we wanted to visit them all:
- Inland caves, jungles, and Mayan ruins
- Northern islands
- Southern beaches
Today, I’m sharing about the first two days of our trip, where we water taxied over to a small island called Caye Caulker.
There is a larger, more popular island called Ambergris Caye, which is home to the city San Pedro, but after reading many reviews, we decided on the smaller, less-touristy Caye Caulker. And I’m so glad we did.
Located a 45-minute ferry ride from Belize City, Caye Caulker sits only about a mile away from the Belize Barrier Reef. It has a local population of 1,300 and houses many hotels, hostels, restaurants, and tour companies along its golf-cart-only streets. Life moves a little slower on Caye Caulker, and the island-life vibe permeates every street and beach and plate of rice & beans.
We spent only two days on the island, and since it is small and we were in high-speed vacation mode, it was plenty of time for us to get a good grasp of Caye Caulker.
How we got there:
There are two ways to reach Caye Caulker: by water taxi or by small plane. We opted for the water taxi, which cost $25 USD per person for a round-trip open-ended ticket. (It also cost us a flat $25 USD for a taxi from the international airport to the water taxi area in Belize City, so you may want to factor that in as well.)
Once on the island, everything we wanted to access was very walkable. Like, a half-mile or less from the water taxi to our hostel to all the restaurants and shops and snorkel tour meeting spots. There are also plenty of golf-cart taxis that will offer you rides wherever you want to go.
Where we stayed:
If you are a backpacker, a solo traveler, or even just an average budget traveler, we can’t speak highly enough of the hostel we stayed at called Pause. Pause is a hostel and an active animal shelter, so it’s the perfect way to give back a little while you’re soaking up the sun in beautiful Caye Caulker. Pause is also very cheap, ranging from $12.50-$50 USD per night depending on your privacy needs. Unlike other hostels on the island, the property is spacious, with a big yard (full of cats!) and ocean-front amenities like a private dock and free kayak use. It’s definitely simple and not luxurious by any means, but Pause was a great place to station ourselves while we explored the best of Caye Caulker. It’s the perfect place for animal lovers. Check out our video for a closer look at the place:
In addition to Pause, there are lodging options of all kinds for every budget: from hotels to hostels to even a couple AirBNBs. See our video tour of Pause here:
What we did:
We had about 42 hours to spend on Caye Caulker, and since it’s such a small island, we felt like this was enough time. We arrived on the afternoon water taxi from Belize City, checked into our hostel, and got a feel for the island the rest of the night. We popped into a cute restaurant called Bambooze with swing chairs during happy hour for beachy drinks and food and then crashed at our hostel early. (Cole had jet lag from having flown home from Uganda the previous day!)
We spent Day 2 on a snorkeling tour with the famous Caveman. The tour was amazing and accurately advertised: we saw a manatee and dolphins from the boat, a loggerhead sea turtle, sting rays, moray eel, barracuda, nurse sharks, beautiful coral, and so many fish from the water, and sea horses and tarpon from our last stop along the shore. The tour lasted most of the day: from 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., including a hefty lunch and all gear, and regularly costs $65 USD per person. Best of all, it was obvious that the guides were focused on providing a good experience for all on board. Very glad we opted for this tour!
When we were walking back to our hostel, we saw a flyer for a movie showing at an outdoor theater, in the backyard of a bar called Bondibar, and we thought that would be a fun way to spend the evening under the stars. It was cloudy, but we enjoyed watching Passengers and relaxing in comfy lawn chairs.
What we ate:
The food on Caye Caulker was so good. Usually when we travel, we hit up a grocery store right away, but here it was actually more cost effective to eat out almost every meal. Best thing ever!
- Bambooze: Happy hour drinks + “arm-sized” veggie burritos (so good) and swing chairs! Great vibe.
- Annie’s Bakery: “famous” cinnamon rolls and donuts. Rich yummy treats and very affordable.
- I think the place was just called “Takeout”: Fried conch, grilled barracuda and lots of sides. Perfect late-night dinner that we took home to the hostel to eat.
- Errolyn’s House of Fryjacks: A must. Pockets of fried dough filled with ham, cheese, eggs, or other combinations, for only starting around $1 USD each. Perfect breakfast before heading off on the ferry
- Grocery stores: Expensive! We found it better and cheaper to just eat out. We did buy some beer for around $1.50 USD for a bottle.
What to pack for Caye Caulker:
- Casual, light-weight clothes
- Snorkel (if you’re not going on a tour!)
- Bottles of water – or plan to buy them from the grocery stores
- Cash (BZ or USD works!) and credit cards (most places do accept cards)
- Waterproof camera
- A laid-back attitude
What we would come back for:
Unfortunately, there was construction at the famous Lazy Lizard restaurant, so we didn’t make it there. The weather was very overcast, so we didn’t swim at the Split. And of course, many of our fellow hostel-mates were on the island for the diving. If we ever came back to Belize, it would definitely be for the diving.
Caye Caulker is such a special place. Some of the activities we got to do in Belize (Mayan ruins, cave tours) may have overshadowed this island, but when we talk about our trip with friends and family the first thing we mention is that they should go here if they ever visit Belize. With its laid-back atmosphere, low crowds, delicious food, beautiful scenery, and numerous activities, Caye Caulker may just be one of the best hidden gems in Belize.
But go soon, because I doubt it will be hidden for long.