Caye Caulker is one of the most popular islands in Belize. It is loved by visitors for its quaint simplicity and slow-paced lifestyle without sacrificing a beautiful beach and clear waters. Caye Caulker is located 21 miles northeast of Belize City and 11 miles south of Ambergris Caye. It is the second largest island in Belize.
Caye Caulker was primarily a fishing community at first, but in recent years its economy has become heavily tourism-based. The island has become a haven for snorkelers, divers, anglers and tourists who just enjoy relaxing on a beautiful beach without breaking the bank. With Belize’s great barrier reef only minutes away, great underwater adventures are abundant here.
There are many hotels and backpacking hostels available on the island, ranging from beachside luxury to budget friendly rooms. There are also restaurants with varying cuisines and small bars serving up stiff drinks.
The Caye Caulker Marine Reserve is an awesome diving spot, and ecotourism fans can enjoy tours of the rare manatees. You won’t be able to swim with the manatees on the tour, but they often times come right up to the boats so you can get a close-up view of these great creatures.
Caye Caulker is often times described as a huge sandbar atop a limestone shelf. Just below are underwater caves in the limestone. The island has a lagoon in front which meets with the barrier reef.
Not until the middle 19th century did Caye Caulker have any inhabitants. The earliest ones were refugees fleeing the civil war on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The settlers planted coconuts and developed a thriving fishing industry. Later, around the 1960’s, tourists began visiting the island in small quantities. Since then, tourism has substantially increased and the development of a new airstrip added to this influx. Despite its growing popularity with tourists, Caye Caulker remains slow-paced and relaxing.
Caye Caulker is divided into two by the famous Split which is a separator between the more-developed southern portion from the north side which is swampy and filled with mangroves. But this area will not remain undeveloped for too long, as the increase in visitors lead to an increase in demand for land here for both sides of the island.
The Split was originally a channel that got widened by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. Now, it is a central gathering spot for locals and visitors alike to socialize along the beach. The channel is now 20 feet wide and many small boats travel through it, though many daring swimmers do swim across it.
Hotels and Restaurants
Caye Caulkers population has almost doubled in the past decade from 1,000 residents to approximately 2,000 today. Just as the population increased, so have businesses. There are now over 20 hotels in Caye Caulker ranging from luxurious penthouse suites to comfortable rooms for rent.
Aside from a variety of accommodations, you can also enjoy varying flavors while on the island. From the Creole favorite of stewed chicken with rice and beans to the freshest seafood you can find, Caye Caulker has something to wet everyone’s pallet.
Snorkeling and Diving
Caye Caulker is a great base for those seeking underwater adventures. There are several dive shops and tour operators on the island that offer dive excursions ranging from a couple hours to a full day. Tourists can enjoy dives at prime spots like the Hol Chan Marine Reserve or the Blue Hole. Some tours even offer island hopping as part of their package so tourists can also experience San Pedro. The dive shops also provide certification classes and trips to the Turneffe Islands. Experienced divers can explore the cave system beneath Caye Caulker with a local guide. Anglers can enjoy great fishing with guided trips or alone by renting a boat.
You don’t need to leave the island to enjoy great swimming. You can jump into calm, clear waters right off the golden sandy beach near the split. On the beach near the split also provides drinks and food from the sea side bar.
The most common way to get to Caye Caulker is via water taxi. Belize City has two- San Pedro Belize Express and Caye Caulker Water Taxi. Both provide one-way and round-trip tickets at a very reasonable price. You can also arrive at Caye Caulker by plane on one of the local airlines of Belize – Tropic Air or Maya Island Air. However these flights will be more expensive than the water taxi fare. Flights to Caye Caulker would normally take around 10 minutes from Belize City. By boat, Caye Caulker is approximately 45 minutes away from Belize City.