One Day in Caye Caulker
With a slogan like “Go Slow”, Caye Caulker is an absolute gem in the Caribbean. This tropical island provides a slow, relaxing atmosphere. From taking boat trips to renting bikes and kayak for fun ways to get around, to feeding tarpon, looking for seahorses and – you won’t be disappointed by this little island. You’ll enjoy the sandy streets and vendors lining the main road selling coconuts and bbq lobster and chicken. Then, listen for Rasta men offering you weed using one of countless terms as you pass by. Next, feed a street dog and watch them follow you around for the rest of the day (basically adopt a pupper for a day). Then, enjoy one of many sights and activities Caye Caulker has to offer.
If you want to explore the island with a little more speed, grab a bike! Cruise the island, checking out the main road, the beach front and all the side streets. Use a bike to venture as far south as you can go, seeing the different condos and hotel options further from the main strip.
You can rent a bike in Caye Caulker as another means to get between your hotel/hostel, the different sights, and make it to your next street vendor for a meal. The cost to rent a cycle in Caye Caulker goes from $5 to $10BZD an hour. Always be sure to lock a bike when you leave it somewhere.
Caye Caulker is a small island, and in only a few hours, you can paddle your way around the entire island.
There are many locations on the island that rent stand-up paddleboards and kayaks – check with your hotel.
Since the water is often calm on the lagoon side, if you’re a beginner it may be best to stay on that side. You can rent a paddleboard or kayak to maneuver around several of the next sights!
The Split in Caye Caulker
The Split is the go-to spot for tourists to Caye Caulker for daytime drinking, lounging in the sun, and mingling with other travelers. It is a narrow channel that splits Caye Caulker literally into two on the island’s northern and southern sides. This split in the island is the result of the infamous Hurricane Hattie that hit Belize in 1961, causing major devastation across the country. The deep, clean waters make it one of Caye Caulker’s best swimming spots.
At The Lazy Lizard (located at the Split), you’ll find travelers huddled up at the bar ordering Pina Coladas and Lizard Juice. You must try it! Disclaimer: It is sweet and your tongue will be green.
Caye Caulker Seahorse Reserve
There is a tiny seahorse sanctuary in Caye Caulker on the western side that is home to hundreds of these odd little animals. It is right outside Iguana Reef Inn. The seahorses are on the left side of the dock in a tangle of seagrasses and coral. From the dock you can peer down into the protected sanctuary (No touching!). You’ll see nothing at first, but if you stay focused and explore the lines with your eyes you will eventually spot a seahorse. Here’s a hint: seahorse are often browns, yellows, and blacks. They grow as large as 6 to 12 inches. Belizean seahorses are excellent at camouflaging in their environment! Take bets on who will find one first – and hope it’s you.
Tarpon Feeding in Caye Caulker
A little further south on the lagoon from the seahorses, they have a dock with tons of tarpon. You can walk up, kayak, or if you’re on a boat trip ride up to this area.
If you don’t know – tarpon are a large sporting fish that are catch and release only in Belize. It is an incredible sight to see so many large fish swimming in one area together. They look prehistoric. Seriously. It is something that you need to see for yourself to appreciate.
For the FULL experience you’ll want to buy sardines beforehand. Sometimes there’s a vendor open selling them on the dock, but sometimes not. Slip a little sardine between your fingers and hover your hand above the water (you can leave your hand higher than you think!). You and buddies will wait and watch as tarpon after tarpon swims around and see the fish dangling between your fingers until suddenly you have a huge fish flipping out of water to grab what is in your hand with its huge mouth. It is a thrilling experience and you’ll see as everyone around also jumps after the suspenseful wait.
Disclaimer: there is a correct way to hold a sardine. Place it between your index and middle finger by the tail so that tarpon can grab the rest and not get your whole hand in its mouth too!
Fishing the Belize Cayes
Before being a destination for tourists, Caye Caulker was a fishing village.
Although there are options to book tours for flyfishing in Caye Caulker for bonefish, line fishing and trolling for barracuda or grouper within the reef, or chartering a boat to take you deep sea fishing in the blue water outside the reef. There’s another option in your wake. You can fish like a local! Go to a store and buy some fishing line, hooks and sardines, and fish with just the line off a dock. As authentic as it comes – you can then take the fish you catch to a local restaurant and have them cook it up!
Caye Caulker Restaurants / Snacks
Walk the sandy streets and sample what Caye Caulker has to offer. Cheap delicious food can be enjoyed from the beachfront, the restaurants, and sold by vendors yelling out “RIIIIICH brownies!” and “Coconut tarts!”. Don’t shy away from the coconut vendors. Seeing a Rasta man hack at a coconut with a machete is an experience of a lifetime. But make sure to buy a cold coconut, and to spike it with a little rum.
During the morning, find yourself some delicious chicken tacos or fryjacks. Spend a couple dollars when eating at the little street vendors, or enjoy a liesurely sit-down breakfast or brunch in Caye Caulker at Bamboozle. If you typically skip a meal, but drink coffee Ice n Bean is where you want check out.
Then, I love visiting the beachfront barbeque vendors for lunch. The bbq chicken or bbq ribs are delicious options! Get you a plate of rice and beans with coleslaw and the bbq of your choice. If it’s lobster season you are in for a TREAT! You cannot imagine prices for lobster this cheap outside of Belize.
If you’re hankering for something sweet – pick up a piece of cake from our favorite spot Chef Juan’s. I go for the carrot cake, personally, but the key-lime pie and chocolate cake are also to die for.
Make it a Day Trip from San Pedro
If you already booked your entire stay in San Pedro – you can always visit Caye Caulker as a day trip!
Here’s two options to do this:
1. Take the Belize Express or Ocean Ferry water taxi to Caye Caulker and back. This will cost about $20 USD and you’ll need to check the schedule. Warning: Do not drink too much, lose track of time, and forget to catch the LAST ferry back to San Pedro. I’ve done it. Speaking from personal experience, it isn’t the worst thing to be “stuck” on another dreamy Caribbean island.
2. Take a Caye Caulker Full Day Tour from San Pedro which often includes snorkeling Hol-Chan and Shark Ray Alley, seeing the seahorses, feeding the tarpon, and visiting the island of Caye Caulker for a few hours. This will cost around $100 USD. It is worth it! Let me break it down: you get the $70 USD trip to the Hol-Chan Marine Reserve as well as the $20 US RT ferry ride. So that’s $90USD. Then, tours will give rum punch, fruit, maybe a ceviche on the trip. Two drinks in and you’ve got your money’s worth. Plus – the relaxing fun atmosphere of being on a boat with the music playing instead of a crowded ferry. Sometimes – during season – guides will take you to see manatees on the way. It is one of the best options for a full-day activity on the Cayes and packs in a lot of fun into one day. If your trip is short – I highly recommend it.