Caye Caulker

Travel Guide

Caye Caulker – Travel Guide

Caye Caulker is an island located approximately 15 miles (20 km) from Belize’s mainland and 1.6 km (1 mi) west of the The Great Barrier Reef. Caye Caulker is is one of the most visited destinations in Belize and is especially popular with backpackers and budget travelers due to its reputation of ‘laid-back vibe’, (relatively) cheap prices and abundance of places to stay, restaurants and bars.

Caye Caulker island has 1,300 inhabitants, only 3 sandy roads in town and no cars so you can easily walk or bike everywhere. Instead of beaches, the coast is more like a hard sandy stretches with mangrove parts and plenty of docks between them.

The most popular spot in the island is ‘The Split’, which is where the island was split into two parts during a hurricane. People gather here to look at each other, sunbathe or have a drink at the loud Lazy Lizard Bar. Caye Caulker has a unique micro-culture with Mestizo, Garifuna and Creole influences topped by a mellow touch of Rastafarian culture.

6 Top Things to Do in Caye Caulker

Great Blue Hole - Travel in Belize cheaply and in style

The Great Blue Hole

View-when-leaving-dock-of-Ocean-Ferry-upon-arrival-in-Caye-Caulker

Village Center

Shark-Ray-Alley--swimming-with-sharks-Wildlife-belize

Shark Ray Alley

Take a Walk-in-North-Caye-Caulker- Things to do in Caye Caulker

Walk to North Caye Caulker

Things to do in Caye Caulker - The Split - View-from-South-to-North-of-Caye-Caulker

The Split

 Things to do in Caye Caulker-South-Caye-Caulker-excursion-walking

Walk to South Caye Caulker

Places to Visit – Caye Caulker

What are some interesting things to see or do in Caye caulker?

Within Caye Caulker:

When people arrive to caye Caulker what they usually do is chill and stay in the village center, enjoying the ‘oh so cool, laid back vibe’ for days. The Split is where some years ago a hurricane broke the island into two parts by passing exactly in the middle. so instead of one Caye Caulker Island, there are two now! The Split can be seen best from the Lazy Lizard Bar in the village.

Caye Caulker has much more than the village and the Split where everybody stays. Go and take a walk to the South of Caye Caulker. Or take a boat and then a walk to the North parts of the island. They are unique walks and amazing. You’ll have the whole space to yourself while everybody else hangs around being cool at The Split and Village.

Around Caye Caulker:

There are so many amazing places to go around Caye Caulker and all of them require a boat. You can take the ferry (30 min ) to visit San Pedro in the island of Ambergris Caye. You can take an excursion to nearby Hol Chan Marine Reserve to snorkel in Hol Chan Cut & swim with friendly species of shark (nurse sharks) in Shark Ray Alley.

The Great Blue Hole of Belize (Lighthouse Reef) is more ‘in-sea’ (not inland) and takes around 2h 20 min to get to. Other world class options to explore underwater are Turneffe Atoll and Glovers Reef.

Budget Travel – Caye Caulker

Typical Costs

How much does it cost to travel in Caye Caulker?

The prices in Caye Caulker are slightly lower than San Pedro (San Pedro is the most expensive of Belize with prices similar to Europe or the US). What makes Caye Caulker good for budget travelers is the wide range of simple and cheap accomodation options. While San Pedro has one hostel (15 USD), Caye Caulker has about 10 (with prices ranging from 10-20 USD). For food and activities you will also pay similar prices to San Pedro.

Caye Caulker Budget Accommodation

In a Caye Caulker hostel dorm, a bed in a  is around 15 USD per night while private rooms range between 25-60 USD.

In Airbnb the shared rooms are between 10-30 USD in Caye Caulker, a private room will be around 40-220 USD (more expensive than San Pedro) and a whole house between 50-315 USD.

Couchsurfing has 5 hosts in Caye Caulker.

When staying long term, the best option is to rent directly from locals.

Hostel in Caye-Caulker - Caye Caulker Budget Accommodation & Budget Travel Plenty of  Cheap Hostels in Caye Caulker (costing around 12 USD for a dorm bed). 

Food in Caye Caulker

Breakfast in touristy places it will be around 15 USD.

A warm meal (such as chicken and rice) at a food stall will cost around 25 USD onwards.

There are less options of finding it cheaper as in the back roads like San Pedro or with street stalls. This is because the residential area of Caye Caulker (where the 1000+ residents live) has no restaurants and shops, these are all in the rest of town which is for tourists, resulting in less cheap local spots for breakfast. If you ask me, Caye Caulker might not have golf carts but in a way it is more touristy than San Pedro.

I bought multiple times take away food in Restaurant Aunt Annie – also Chinese owned), where locals kept on buying their food to eat elsewhere. This place is to the left at the end of the street where the ferry stops. I ate there the fried lobster (not on the picture), fried barracuda and friend conch.

If there is something typical from this region, that is certainly lobster, conch and fish!

 

lobster-bbq-in-caye-caulker  Restaurant on main street showcasing their lobster

Food of Belize-Fried-conch-and-fried-barracuda-in-Caye-Caulker Fried Barracuda & Fried Conch in Caye Caulker 

Transport in Caye Caulker

How to get to Caye Caulker

The best ways to get to the island of Caye Caulker is by taking a ferry (cheaper option) or a short flight.

Ferry

Most people arrive to Caye Caulker from Belize City (takes 45 minutes) or from San Pedro (45 minutes). If you arrive from Mexico you can take a boat from Chetumal to Caye Caulker (2 hours).

How much is the Ferry from Belize City to Caye Caulker?
There are 2 main ferry companies doing this route, the locally owned Ocean Ferry Belize and the Chinese owned Belize Water Taxi. Ocean Ferry tickets are much cheaper (cost 10 USD for a one-way ticket), while Water Taxi tickets cost almost the double (18 USD for a one-way ticket). Both companies take the same time to arrive. The boats of Ocean Ferry Belize are a bit smaller which I personally like more. Check the schedule of Ferries here. On windy days the Ferry from Belize City to San Pedro can be a little rough, but most times is smooth. Check a boat ride with real windy weather!

How long is the Ferry from Belize City to Caye Caulker?
This ferry ride takes around 45 minutes.

How to get from Ambergris Caye to Caye Caulker
Take a ferry from Ocean Ferry or Belize Water Taxi. They ride approximately 5 times per day. The journey takes around 45 minutes.

Air – Caye Caulker Airport

The airport of Caye Caulker is temporarily closed, but when open receives flights from Belize City, San Pedro and multiple other locations nearby.

Getting around Caye Caulker

The best way of getting around in Caye Caulker’s sandy streets, is walking. You can also rent a bike.

To go from North Caye Caulker to the South (and vice versa) you need to take the taxi boat.

 

Transport-of-Belize-Boat to North Caye Caulker-Man-of-Caye-Caulker
Taxi Boat from South to North Caye Caulker

People-Belize-Rastafari Man-of-Caye-CaulkerBest Transport in Caye Caulker: Your Legs

Activities

 

Within Caye Caulker

Walking in the village of Caye Caulker, the Split or walking to the North of Caye Caulker or to the South, does not cost anything and are all wonderful walks.

Some advice I was given when going for a walk in North Caye Caulker was to stay on the road as otherwise I might walk into crocs. So just stay on the path and you are fine.

 

Around Caye Caulker

For other activities around Caye Caulker, you will have to take a boat which usually goes as part of a tour or excursion:

The entrance fee of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve itself costs 10 USD and gives access to Hol Chan Cut and Shark Ray Alley.

Bacalar Chico, the other Marine Park also costs 10 USD and is on the north end of Ambergris Caye on the channel that separates the island from Mexico. People often go to Bacalar Chico to see manatees. The water less transparent and more green in Bacalar Chico.

Depending on which tour operator, some will include the entrance fee of the marine park in the tour price and others don’t include it, so ask them.

The entrance fee is valid for the time that you keep the armband around your wrist. So keep it on if you are unsure and think that you might snorkel tomorrow again.

Half a day snorkeling is around 45 USD (in for example, Hol Chan Cut, Shark Ray Alley, Mexico Rocks, Tres Cocos and Coral Gardens which are currently the most popular dive spots in Belize).

The full day trip to the Blue Hole (Lighthouse Reef), including snorkeling the Blue Hole, 2 dives and lunch on Half Moon Caye is as expensive as San Pedro, around 300 USD.

A full day scuba diving in in Turneffe Atoll (including also 3 dives) will be cheaper at around 200 USD.

Caye Caulker Village Centre - Main road -Basket field in centre of town
Basket field in the centre of Caye Caulker village

Walk-to-North-Caye-Caulker--things-to do in Caye Caulker
Walk in North Caye Caulker – Mind the crocs!

North-Caye-Caulker   Walk in North Caye Caulker – View to Sailboat

Money Saving Tips

How can my trip to Caye Caulker be cheaper?

Accommodation

  • Bargain prices – especially if you are going to stay a couple of days in accomodation in low season (from April to November).
  • Couchsurfing – is great to find a place to stay with a local host to show you around but you will need to plan ahead. The are currently only 5 hosts in Caye Caulker.

Transport

  • Travel off-Peak – (between April and November) to reduce prices for accommodation and flights. Take the Ocean Ferry instead of the Water Taxi to get to Caye Caulker. It will save you 10 USD per single one way ticket.

Activities

  • Avoid Scuba Diving – If you are not crazy about exploring underwater, don’t scuba dive and will save a lot of money (but you will miss out on the main attraction of Belize: the reef).
  • Try Snorkeling or Freediving – the reef instead of scuba diving. They are great too and make perfect use of sunlight at the surface of the sea, showing rocks, plants and animals from their best and most colourful side.
  • Bring your own mask and snorkel – if you plan to snorkel each day you might bring your mask and snorkel like I did.
  • Snorkeling around the island itself is nothing special – you will just see some seagrass and a couple of fish. To snorkel and see amazing fishes and corals you should go to the barrier reef with a boat. The boat ride is around 5-10 minutes.
  • Shop around – to find the best prices to go to these tours, whether you decide to do scuba diving or snorkeling at end, as the price of tours can vary widely.
  • Rent a bike – to see all the island.
  • Walk around the island – I took a walk to the South of Caye Caulker island and then (took a boat to cross the water) to almost the north tip of the island. It took me around 6 hours and I loved the walk in North and South Caye Caulker.

Food

  • Avoid drinking alcohol – as it’s pretty expensive. A beer is 1.70 USD and a cocktail around 6 USD. If you still want to drink find happy hours. Buying alcohol in the Chinese supermarkets that dominate all of Caye Caulker will not save you much on beer but will save you on rums as the local brands can be very cheap and nice to drink.
  • Buy food in street stalls – especially in touristy places such as Caye Caulker you can save a lot of money if you buy food and eat it on a dock or beach. There are some good budget options of food with Caribbean roots (bbq chicken with beans) as the food in Caye Caulker has more Garifuna and Creole influence while in San Pedro it is more Mestizo (Mexican).  I went for the pure flavour and bought fried conch, barracuda and lobster.
  • Non-alcoholic drinks usually cost around 1 USD.
  • Eat plenty of fruit – in all forms (natural, smoothies, juices). In Caye Caulker the unprocessed raw fruit is more difficult to find than in other places in Belize (as its mainly the Chinese supermarkets selling it – anything – and there they have just a couple of fruit pieces usually or none) but healthy smoothies and juices can be bought in many places.

Suggested daily budget

Average cost per day in Caye Caulker is $40-90 USD

This suggested budget is only possible when you sleep in hostels or cheap guesthouses, eat in street stalls and use local transport. Try the Money Saving Tips to lower this daily amount.

Ecotourism – Caye Caulker

Most activities within and around Caye Caulker revolve around Ecotourism and nature. If you came to Belize for hiking, snorkeling or scuba diving (or to relax), you are on the right spot!
 

  • The Great Barrier Reef – After Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker is the place that is the closest to The Great Barrier Reef (10 min boat ride).
  • The Great Blue Hole – The Great Blue Hole is on Lighthouse Reef and is one of the symbols of Belize. When you take an excursion to the Great Blue Hole (which is around 2 hours on a boat from the coast), it usually includes a lunch on Half Moon Caye which like The Great Blue Hole, is another national monument.
  • Lighthouse Reef, Turneffe Atoll and Glovers Reef – From Caye Caulker (further away of it’s coastland) you can also access 3 of the best places worldwide to dive and which are also atolls.
  • Hol Chan Marine Reserve – is 10 min on a boat from Caye Caulker. It’s main attraction is Shark Ray Alley, where nurse sharks gather in shallow very transparent water to be fed by the tourist boats. You can swim with those sharks, which are from a variety that don’t attack people (Nurse Sharks). The second biggest attraction in Hol Chan Marine Reserve is snorkeling around Hol Chan Cut, which is where they is a cut on the reef and many variety of fish and corals.
  • Wildlife & Crocs: When waking in the South I met a guy who showed me his crocodile that was his pet in the garden and  who he fed chicken to in front of me. Others warned me of crocs when I was taking a walk in the North part that splitted of Caye Caulker an told me not to get off the road into the mangroves. Just leave them alone and you are fine. There is a thriving population of crocs and Caye Caulker is often seen as an example of the cohabitation of crocodiles and humans.

Environmental Issues

  • The amount, size and types of fish all around Caye Caulker has decreased dramatically over the last two decades. All the locals I spoke to told me that the bigger fish had disappeared and only smaller fishes remained. The amount and variety of corals has also drastically reduced due to pollution and global warming.

Government Action

  • Seafood Guide for Belize – The government of Belize has created a ‘Seafood Guide for Belize’ in which it lists the sea species that are near extinction and so totally banned, those that need a special permit to fish them, and those that can be caught and eaten without restriction.
  • Banned Species – There is a total ban on fishing parrot fish, blue tang, surgeon fish, doctor fish, permit, tarpon, bone fish, marine turtle (all species), whale & nurse sharks, all marine mammals, crocodile, diced conch and diced lobster.
  • Invasive Species – On the other hand, eating of lion fish is encouraged as it is an invasive species new to this region that eats commercial fish and has no predators.
  • Legislation on Conservation – Despite complaints about over-development, Belize is taking measures to protect the barrier reef. The Belize government has recently announced bold legislation to end oil activity in all of its waters to protect the reef, oceans and marine life. This is a good initiative of sustainability of the government of Belize.
  • Choose your Dive Center Wisely – Dive instructors should know all about marine species and leave them undisturbed, for example not taking out sea stars so tourists can touch them. I went to Mexico Rocks, Tres Cocos and Hol Chan Marine Reserve with Chuck and Robbie’s scuba diving school. To the Great Blue Hole and Turneffe Atoll I dived with with Amigos del Mar dive centre. They were both very eco-friendly and knowledgeable of the sea and its life.
  • Be careful when Snorkeling or Diving – Remember to dive carefully so you don’t harm the ecosystem. Coral often breaks by divers not controlling their fins enough. Also turtles and other marine life should not be touched.

Travel Tips – Caye Caulker

  • Top Planning Tip! – Lower Frequency of Tours in Caye Caulker – San Pedro has a higher frequency of tours and they have tours, ranging from scuba dive tours to the reef to sailing tours, that leave every day. In Caye Caulker if they don’t have enough people that day to fill a dive boat to go to a specific dive destination or to fill a sailboat for sailing tour, then it won’t leave. This means that you might miss the experience if you are short on time and have to leave the next day. Plan your excursions with this in mind.
  • Safety in Caye Caulker – Is Caye Caulker safe? – Caye Caulker is a very safe island but like in all places it’s advisable to take precautions like for example not drinking too much or hanging around by yourself after 10pm.  I travelled alone as a female and had no problem at all.
  • ATMs in Caye Caulker have trouble accepting foreign debit cards – The ATMs of most Banks in Belize have trouble identifying the metal chip that is common in all foreign debit and credit cards bank cards nowadays, so often ATMs won’t give you money. Long story short, almost everybody has trouble with foreign debit cards and ATMs from Belize that don’t read the metal chips on the cards. Check with your bank if they cover Belize and ask about the ATMs.
  • You can only take out maximum 250 USD – of the ATMs each time. You can do it 2 times maximum after each other and within a day, so that is 500 USD maximum per day.
  • ATMs info online is not accurate – so before you go make sure where your bank has ATMs that are operative. ATMs are available across the country (particularly in most tourist destinations- including Placencia, Punta Gorda, Belmopan, Dangriga, Belize City, San Pedro Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Orange Walk, San Ignacio and Corozal) but not all are working.

People of Caye Caulker

Images of Caye Caulker

mangrove tree on Walk-to-North-Caye-Caulker--things-to do in Caye Caulker

Mangrove Tree - Walking in North Caye Caulker

Mangrove Tree - Walking in North Caye Caulker

mangrove tree on Walk-to-North-Caye-Caulker--things-to do in Caye Caulker

Mangrove Tree - Walking in North Caye Caulker

Mangrove Tree - Walking in North Caye Caulker

mangrove tree on Walk-to-North-Caye-Caulker--things-to do in Caye Caulker

Budget food in Caye Caulker's centre

Budget food in Caye Caulker's centre

mangrove tree on Walk-to-North-Caye-Caulker--things-to do in Caye Caulker

Walk in the Village Center

Walk in the Village Center

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

Boat traffic between North and South Caye-Caulker (ie. The Split)

Boat traffic between North and South Caye-Caulker (ie. The Split)

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

Sailboat with Great Barrier Reef at the back, seen from The Split

Sailboat with Great Barrier Reef at the back, seen from The Split

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

Restaurant on right side of the island of Caye Caulker

Restaurant on right side of the island of Caye Caulker

Restaurant on right side of the island of Caye Caulker

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

Caye Caulker Village Centre - Side street of main street

Caye Caulker Village Centre - Side street of main street

Caye Caulker Village Centre - Side street of main street

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

Small Beach - West side of Caye Caulker

Small Beach - West side of Caye Caulker

Small Beach - West side of Caye Caulker

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

The Lazy Lizard Bar in the Split of Caye Caulker

The Lazy Lizard Bar in the Split of Caye Caulker

The Lazy Lizard Bar in the Split of Caye Caulker

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

The only Bar in North Caye Caulker

The only Bar in North Caye Caulker

The only Bar in North Caye Caulker

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

Mangroves in North Caye Caulker

Mangroves in North Caye Caulker

Mangroves in North Caye Caulker

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

Dock in South Caye Caulker

Dock in South Caye Caulker

Dock in South Caye Caulker

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

The split seen from from Lazy Lizard bar

The split seen from from Lazy Lizard bar

The split seen from from Lazy Lizard bar

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Images of Caye Caulker

mangrove tree on Walk-to-North-Caye-Caulker--things-to do in Caye Caulker

Mangrove Tree - Walking in North Caye Caulker

Mangrove Tree - Walking in North Caye Caulker

mangrove tree on Walk-to-North-Caye-Caulker--things-to do in Caye Caulker

Mangrove Tree - Walking in North Caye Caulker

Mangrove Tree - Walking in North Caye Caulker

mangrove tree on Walk-to-North-Caye-Caulker--things-to do in Caye Caulker

Budget food in Caye Caulker's centre

Budget food in Caye Caulker's centre

mangrove tree on Walk-to-North-Caye-Caulker--things-to do in Caye Caulker

Walk in the Village Center

Walk in the Village Center

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

Boat traffic between North and South Caye-Caulker (ie. The Split)

Boat traffic between North and South Caye-Caulker (ie. The Split)

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

Sailboat with Great Barrier Reef at the back, seen from The Split

Sailboat with Great Barrier Reef at the back, seen from The Split

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

Restaurant on right side of the island of Caye Caulker

Restaurant on right side of the island of Caye Caulker

Restaurant on right side of the island of Caye Caulker

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

Caye Caulker Village Centre - Side street of main street

Caye Caulker Village Centre - Side street of main street

Caye Caulker Village Centre - Side street of main street

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

Small Beach - West side of Caye Caulker

Small Beach - West side of Caye Caulker

Small Beach - West side of Caye Caulker

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

The Lazy Lizard Bar in the Split of Caye Caulker

The Lazy Lizard Bar in the Split of Caye Caulker

The Lazy Lizard Bar in the Split of Caye Caulker

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

The only Bar in North Caye Caulker

The only Bar in North Caye Caulker

The only Bar in North Caye Caulker

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

Mangroves in North Caye Caulker

Mangroves in North Caye Caulker

Mangroves in North Caye Caulker

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

Dock in South Caye Caulker

Dock in South Caye Caulker

Dock in South Caye Caulker

walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

The split seen from from Lazy Lizard bar

The split seen from from Lazy Lizard bar

The split seen from from Lazy Lizard bar

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