I think I found my spirit island.
An island where day drinking is the local sport, and aspirations of sitting in an inner tube while working your way through a bucket of beer are considered 100% valid.
An island where locals chastize you for walking too fast, where the smoky smell of pimento wood being burned for jerk chicken permeates the air, where golf carts have right of way.
Yes, Caye Caulker, you can stop blushing — I’m talking about you.
What to Do in Caye Caulker
If you go to Caye Caulker with a checklist, you’re doing it wrong.
Caye Caulker is a place that’s easy to get sucked into. While there aren’t many things to do in Caye Caulker per se, the days still manage to slink by a little too easily. You’l rise as your room gets warm in the morning sun, eat breakfast with a beach view, amble along the colorful buildings, and sunbathe — all before the nightly ritual of watching the sun sink into the sea.
Yup, that’s a grind I can get behind.
I loved spending my days at the “The Split” – the northern tip of Caye Caulker. Apparently Caye Caulker used to be one island until a hurricane hit in 1961, breaking the island in two. The channel that divides them now is called “The Split” and, absent any white sand beaches, is Caye Caulker’s unofficial watering hole.
So how to while away your days in lovely Caye Caulker? Make your way to my favorite beach bar, Sip N Dip. Where else can you sit on a swing in the Caribbean sea, relax in a hammock over the water, or just chill in an inner tube with a bucket of beer floating alongside you?
Located just before The Split on the north end of the island, day drinking at the Sip N Dip is my number one can’t-miss thing to do in Caye Caulker.
A bucket of beer will set you back $25 BZD ($12.50 US since the Belize dollar is pegged at a 2-to-1 exchange rate with the dollar) for 6 — one of the best deals on the island! Happy hour is from 3 to 5 and offers specials on rum punch, Cuba libres, and other house drinks — get two for $7 BZD ($3.50 US).
Another one of my favorite things to do in Caye Caulker is visit the lovely dogs at the Caye Caulker Animal Shelter! This nonprofit animal shelter cares for dogs and cats in need of homes. They welcome visitors to come by and love on the animals. With these faces, how could you walk on by?
If you’re a dog lover, you’ll love Caye Caulker. Because it’s a small island with no cars, many people allow their dogs to hang out on the island during the day, running about and making friends. Most aren’t strays – they’re well-behaved, well-loved pets who get to call the streets of the island their playground.
Needless to say, I was in heaven. Janet and I loved the dogs so much we even spent a whole day filming them!
Another thing you must do in Caye Caulker? A snorkeling tour to the Belize Barrier Reef (or diving, if you’re scuba certified!). I went with Raggamuffin Tours and loved it; I wrote about my experience here.
Some other fun things to do in Caye Caulker include renting kayaks or stand-up paddleboards, learning how to kite surf, going on a nature tour to see manatees, fishing, and doing yoga!
Where to Eat in Caye Caulker
On Caye Caulker, you’ll see — and smell — barbecues going all day and night long. You can’t go wrong with the island’s most popular dish – jerk chicken!
A plate of jerk chicken will set you back about $15-20 BZD ($7.50-10 US) in a restaurant and usually will come with your choice of sides and anywhere from one to three glasses of rum punch included! Quality across the board was about the same everywhere, so no place really sticks out – just order the jerk chicken and you can’t go wrong!
On the street, a takeaway portion of jerk chicken and coconut rice will cost you about $10 BZD, or $5 US. My favorite street stall was located on the north side just before Sip N Dip.
My favorite Belize breakfast is fry jacks – fried dough pockets stuffed with your choice of filling. My favorite was meat, cheese, and egg. Get them at Errolyns House of Fry Jacks for a mere $2.50 BZD each!
There is also delicious Chinese food on the island thanks to the influence of Chinese immigrants who run many of the local shops and grocery stores. My favorite was located across the street from La Cubana, and the chow mein was delicious, only about $7 BZD ($3.50 US), and big enough for two!
Apparently the lobster is supposed to be the best thing to eat in Caye Caulker if you’re lucky enough to visit during the season! Unfortunately, when we were there in March, it was no longer lobster season.
Where to Drink In Caye Caulker
I’ve already rhapsodized about Sip N Dip. Another place I loved for day drinking was Margarita Mike’s.
What can I say? I love a good bar swing!
The Lazy Lizard is often cited as a favorite, but when I went it was under construction — which killed its beachy vibe.
If you’re somehow managed to make it to sunset without getting drunk… congrats! You now have two options: The Sports Bar and The Reggae Bar. Basically everyone on the island goes to The Sports Bar (Barrier Reef Sports Bar) first and then Reggae Bar (I & I) if they’re still standing.
Where to Stay in Caye Caulker
You won’t find luxury resorts here — Caye Caulker is stubbornly down to earth, especially compared with its more upscale cousin, Ambergris Caye, which has its share of luxury boutique hotels.
What Caye Caulker lacks in resorts it makes up for in cheap and cheerful guesthouses. If you’re traveling in a group of two, it often is about as cheap as staying in a hostel.
Janet and I stayed at Sea N Sun Guest House and loved it! The price was fair, the rooms were clean, and the Internet was rather good – a rare find on Caye Caulker. They also rent free canoes and bikes, which can save you a lot of money if those are things you plan on doing while on the island.
If you’re looking for a hostel, I’ve heard good things about Go Slow Caye Caulker. I also met the lovely owner of the new hostel Travellers Palm, which is in the cutest yellow and pink building, and is one of the cheapest options on the island with prices starting around $20 BZD ($10 USD) per night.
How to Get to Caye Caulker
It’s quite easy to get to Caye Caulker from Belize City. There are shuttles about every hour or two. Ocean Ferry Belize is the cheaper of two ferry options (check out the most recent schedule here) at $12 USD one way or $22 roundtrip. The other option, Belize Water Taxi, is a touch more expensive but has more options (schedule here) at $15 USD one way or $25 roundtrip.
You can get to Belize City easily via chicken bus from San Ignacio, Belize ($8 BZD/$4 USD) or Chetumal, Mexico (180 pesos/$9 USD). If coming from the bus station, I recommend taking a taxi, not walking. The bus station is in a dodgy neighborhood, and I wouldn’t want to walk through it with all my belongings on me!
Water taxis from Chetumal, Mexico are available every other day, but they are expensive — over $50 USD one way.
You can also take private shuttles from within Belize or to neighboring Guatemala or Mexico if you prefer to travel in a little more comfort, but I love Belize’s chicken buses. The reggae music and people watching opportunities make the hundreds of stops you’ll make along the way less painful somehow.
Why Visit Caye Caulker?
There’s no denying there’s something special about this little island off the coast of Belize.
The views are stunning, the vibe is perfect, and somehow the days just melt one into the other. I found myself spending 4 days here and easily could have spent two weeks or a month here, that’s how much I loved it!
You know a place is special when it actually kind of hurts you to leave it. I know I’ll come back to Belize for a third time, and maybe a fourth or fifth… and when I do, Caye Caulker, I hope you won’t have changed.