Caye Caulker Overview

When we finally headed to the Cayes of Belize we chose Caye Caulker from the many options.

Where We Slept

Daisy’s Guest House.Our traveling companions from Caracol had been to Caye Caulker before us and had recommended Daisy’s. The rooms were spacious with two beds, a ceiling fan, and bathrooms down the hall. It reminded us of a dorm room at college as all the rooms were attached to one long hall. We were quite lucky because we ended up having the entire guest house to ourselves for one of the nights, which we enjoyed quite a bit. We spend time lounging in the hallway because it was a bit cooler and the WiFi worked better.

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Relaxing in the hall on a rainy evening

Daisy’s Guest House

Favorite Place to Eat

Barrier Reef Sports Bar. We realize this is a strange choice in an island known for seafood (during LobsterFest for that matter!) But, we did enjoy their trivia night. Unfortunately, the food is only OK. However, what we really enjoyed was finding all sorts of Texas and Rice University (!!) paraphernalia adorning most of the walls. There was even a picture of the 2012 Rice Women’s Soccer team in the bathroom. We also enjoyed chatting with the owner who was an expat from Houston.

Things To Do

Swimming at the Split

Caye Caulker did not really have a lot of options for truly public beach. The best place to go to lay in the sun, drink cocktails, and swim in the ocean was at the northern end of town. We heard it was called the split because several years back a hurricane came through and tore through the island splitting it in two. The channel that runs through is clean, clear, and offers some mediocre snorkeling. It’s not really a beach, and tourists and local alike did more relaxing along the crumbling sea wall which was not very comfortable. However, the water was warm and welcoming. Our time in Caye Caulker was plagued by mosquitoes (they were out in mass EVERYWHERE! At one point, Della got 7 mosquito bites in about 4 minutes on an early morning walk down the hall to the bathroom of the guesthouse!) so we did not enjoy laying out too much. There was a neat bar right on the edge of the split that had tables IN the water. We did spend some time drinking beers and completely submerging ourselves in the shallow water of the bar.

Go  Snorkeling

We took a snorkeling trip out of Caye Caulker and were in agreement that it was the best snorkeling we had ever done!

Relax

Caye Caulker was an easy town to be in with lots of shops, restaurants, places to stay, and street food/vendors. We enjoyed seaside bars, karaoke bars, and lots walking around town.

Lobster Fest

Obviously, Lobster Fest doesn’t occur year round. But if you have a chance to experience it, you definitely should!

Summary

We chose Caye Caulker above some of the other Cayes because it was supposed to be quiet, relaxing, and a little less touristy. Because we arrived during Lobster Fest and came from the small quiet town of Hopkins, we didn’t find Caye Caulker as quiet as we expected. It was definitely a relaxing place to spend a couple of days, though as we already mentioned, the mosquitos were almost unbearable which severely restricted how much time we spent outside. In addition, it rained a fair amount of the time that we there, so we were sometimes happy just to spend time in our guesthouse and read or check email. Overall, we got a little bored in the three days that we spent there. We were lucky that we had met and traveled with our travel friends from Hopkins. Getting the chance to hangout with and get to know them better was definitely a plus during our time in Caye Caulker. The highlight of the time was definitely the snorkel trip, which we loved! (although, it would have been better if we had been more careful with sunscreen!)

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Snorkeling in Caye Caulker

One of the things that Belize is known for is being a premiere destination for diving. We don’t dive, but we do like to snorkel, so we figured we had to try it out while we were in Caye Caulker. Spoiler alert: it was awesome!

Our traveling partners from the Caracol journey had been to Caye Caulker a week earlier and had recommended a variety of places to us. For snorkeling, they gave a big recommendation for Blackhawk sailing tours. We decided it looked good to us as well, mainly because it seemed like a smaller, more personal experience than going with one of the big companies.

We set up the snorkel trip a couple of days in advance with captain Steve. We were also able to get our friends from Hopkins to come along, and they also invited along four people from their hostel. No one else had signed up for the day so we would have the boat to ourselves.

The day of the tour it had rained early, so we worried that the tour might be cancelled, but Steve said we could still go out.Steve fitted us with snorkels and fins and we went out to the boat, named the Seahawk.

Our crew for the day was Captain Steve and his helper / snorkel guide Charlie. The boat had a sail, but the conditions dictated that to get out to our snorkel destinations we had to use the motor instead.

Stop 1: Manatee Viewing

The Caye Caulker area is known for having a small number of manatees in some areas of the reef. It is hit-or-miss on whether they will be there on any given day, but Steve had heard that they were there on this day so our first stop was to where one was supposedly hanging out. When we got there, Charlie hurried us into the water because he could see the big tour on its way. We rushed out to the spot and saw the manatee! This was especially exciting for Della because she had written a big report on manatees in grade school. We weren’t supposed to get too close, so we kept our distance. But then the manatee swam towards us! We had to back up quickly. We then left the area and got back on the boat.

Stop 2: Shark Ray Alley

We then travelled along the reef to our next stop, called Shark Ray Alley. This was a place that local fisherman had used to clean their daily catch, and as a result nurse sharks and rays had known to congregate there. They get so excited when they hear a boat coming that they swim right up to it. Charlie just had us jump right in with them, which was a little scary! Luckily, they are not aggressive towards humans. We spent some time swimming among the sharks, some big rays, and a lot of fish.

Stop 3: Conch Shell Graveyard

The next stop was only a short distance away. Here there were a ton of empty conch shells that fisherman had discarded. The highlight of this stop was getting to swim with a giant sea turtle! After this stop, we had a provided lunch on our way to the next stop.

Stop 4: Hol Chan Marine Reserve

The final stop was in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, a part of the reef where the wildlife is protected. Our snorkeling stop was near the “Cut,” a channel that goes through the reef. The wildlife is especially vibrant here. You do have to be a little careful because there is a strong current coming through the cut, so we stuck together with Charlie. We saw a lot of different fish and even some more turtles. Some of the fish would even get close enough to touch!

After we were done snorkeling, Captain Steve and Charlie put up the sail and we sailed all the way back to Caye Caulker. They also put on some reggae music and passed around some rum punch. It was a very relaxing end to the day.

The only negative of the trip for us was that the cloudier conditions early in the day resulted in us not putting on much sunscreen. Bad idea! Eric wore a shirt so his main issue was the backs of his legs, but Della had a bad back burn herself.

Looking back on the trip,  we thought was perhaps the best snorkeling trip we had done. It certainly was the widest variety of marine life that we have ever seen snorkeling. Plus, the water was a pleasant temperature, the currents weren’t too bad, and the boat ride itself was not too long or bumpy. Highly recommended!

LobsterFest!

From Hopkins to Caye Caulker via Belize City

We decided to leave Hopkins by taxi. At this point, we had begun to travel with the couple that went with us on our crazy day in Placencia. We figured that with four people, the taxi expense would not be too bad. Plus, it might be hard to catch a hitch all the way out to the main road. We were leaving on a Sunday, which unfortunately meant that the bus to Dangriga straight out of Hopkins was not running at all. We could have waited until Monday, but we knew that LobsterFest was big in Caye Caulker and it would still be going on through the weekend. We really wanted to make it! We had some sketchy information that the bus on the main road would pass by the Hopkins turn off at about 7 am. So, we woke up early and grabbed our taxi. The driver wanted to take us all the way to Dangriga, but we decided to risk it and see if the bus came. We were shocked when the bus showed up… exactly on time!! It was an easy bus ride that stopped in both Dangriga and Belmopan all the way to Belize City. We arrived at 10:30 am and got a cab to the water taxi terminal headed for Caye Caulker (~45 min boat ride).

LobsterFest!

We are so glad that we made it to Caye Caulker for LobsterFest. It was such a fun day. One whole end of the island was set up with stalls of trinkets or food… soooo much lobster! We wandered through the activities enjoying music, beer, and ice cream.

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There was also an entertainment tent set up with music and some dancing. We enjoyed several silly songs by a man who called himself the “Donkey Man.” But, then it really got good! They did several silly games.

Limbo!  Della played but didn't win.

Limbo! Della played but didn’t win.

A weird game involving swinging a banana between your legs to hit a ball into a hula hoop.

A weird game involving swinging a banana between your legs to hit a mango to roll it into a hula hoop.

Tug of War!

Tug of War!

Largest Lobster!  Wow! That's a lobster!

Largest Lobster! Wow! That’s a lobster!

Climbing a greased pole. There was a bag of money on the top. Four teams tried over and over again, falling increasingly far and scaring the crap out of us. No one made it in the end. =(

Climbing a greased pole. There was a bag of money on the top. Four teams tried over and over again, falling increasingly far and scaring the crap out of us. No one made it in the end. =(

It was a great day! IMG_8390