Caye Caulker is a small island off the coast of Belize that spans just 8.2 kilometers. Despite the rise in tourism on the small island of Belize, Caye Caulker still is rich in culture. Almost all restaurants and shops are locally owned and interactions on the island will be with those who have lived on this island for years, if not their entire life. This provides a unique experience of quaint and relaxed vacation without the expensive, large-scale tourism found on most tropical destinations.
Caye Caulker offers great food, relaxed atmosphere and fun activities such as snorkeling, stand up paddleboarding, deep sea fishing, and more. If you’re on the search for a unique destination for your next getaway, Caye Caulker should definitely be on the top of your list.
Fly into Philip S.W. Goodson International Airport in Belize City and take a 30 minute cab to Ocean Ferry. You can purchase tickets in advance or when you get there. They will load all of your luggage for you ahead of time. Don’t expect anything fancy, you will be sitting on a bench seat with a lot of other people. The boat is also not air conditioned but moves quickly. A nice breeze throughout the ride will keep you cool.
The ferry will drop you off at a dock on the Island of Caye Caulker close to town center. You can call ahead of time to a local agency and have a golf cart taxi pick you up from the dock, or you can catch one yourself once you arrive. Check with your accommodations, they should be able to offer suggestions or transportation.
As for getting around daily, the island is so small all you need is a bicycle. If your hotel or hostel is located in the center of town you may only want to rent a bicycle for a day to explore the island. Otherwise, you can walk everywhere you want to go. Most bikes on the island have a basket for you to keep your speaker, Belikin beers, and beach towel. Oh yeah, and watch out for potholes! The island doesn’t have paved roads and they do little to maintain the few roads they do have. Take caution when biking at night and if biking isn’t your thing, golf carts are also available for rent during your time on the island.
WHERE TO STAY
There are a lot of options for places to stay on Caye Caulker. After all, the island’s main source of income is based on tourism. You have your choice at selecting a private home through sites like AirBnB and Vacation Rental by Owner, private hotels, or hostels.
We rented the top floor of a duplex through Vacation Rental by Owner and were very pleased with having our own private space. Most of the homes or condos come with a private pool and offer bikes as part of the rental agreement. In addition to this Caye Caulker offers accommodations for all different types of travelers! Depending on your preference, you should be able to find something that suits your needs.
WHAT TO DO
EXPLORE THE ISLAND
You’re probably going to spend most of your time on the main drag of the island. However, don’t completely blow off the West side of the island quite yet. The West side of Caye Caulker has some amazing sunset restaurants with tables and chairs right on the water. There is a seahorse sanctuary. Here you can find several of them floating around. Make sure to check it out before you leave!
Belize is home to the world’s second largest Barrier Reef and Caye Caulker is just minutes away from Hol Chan, a protected marine reserve, ideal for snorkeling. Within 4 hours we were able to witness a friendly sea turtle, barracuda, eel, hundreds of fishes, coral reef, lobsters, sharks, and stingrays. The water is very clear and the marine life is so diverse, it will not disappoint. In fact, we loved it so much that we booked a second tour before the trip was over.
THE GREAT BLUE HOLE
This stunning wonder is located right off the tip of this tiny island. Book a flight to see The Great Blue Hole from an aerial view and capture some stunning photos that will make all of your friends jealous. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous this hole has been listed as one of the top ten scuba diving sites in the world. There are multiple agencies that book tours to the site so my advice is to research ahead of time and select the type of tour that best suits you.
Walk or bike the island, grab a cold Belikin from the grocery store or grab a swing at any of the bars on the island. The motto is “go slow” and they truly live that lifestyle on the island of Caye Caulker.
WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK ON THE ISLAND
Worried about what food options you will have on such a tiny island? Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Here are my top five recommendations of places to eat.
THE LITTLE KITCHEN
This restaurant might be something you’ve never experienced before. At The Little Kitchen you will find yourself dining at someone’s private residence. The ladies here prepare your meal in their personal kitchen. With that said, it is one of the best meals I have experienced. It’s a little hard to find this gem, but you can ask the locals for directions and follow the signs. $
Looking for a great slice while on the island? Southside Pizza is a quaint restaurant with island atmosphere and a great selection of homemade pizza. The wait staff is friendly and make you feel instantly welcomed. Most Saturday nights, you can kick back and enjoy the local live music! $$-$$$
If you’re looking for a nice place to sit down with a great atmosphere, Il Pellicano is the place. Tucked away from the main drag, this cozy establishment will sit you on one of their outdoor decks draped in twinkle lights. Most evenings there will be live music for your enjoyment. This is a great place to relax and enjoy some good comfort food on the island. $$$$
Almost any review of the island will list Fran’s Grill as a place you must visit at least once. Simply order off the chalk board menu and Fran will grill it up right there for you. You can sit at any of the picnic tables there or take your food and enjoy your meal at the end of a dock. $$
RAINBOW GRILL AND BAR
For seafood, Rainbow Grill and Bar is the place to go! Situated right on the shore with a big deck that hangs over the water, this restaurant is known on the island for it’s seafood. The portions are large, so it offers a great opportunity to order several dishes that catch your eye and eat family style. $$-$$$
For drinks during the day, I recommend The Sip N Dip. Whether you’re drinking or not, it is a great place to wade in the water and relax. This little gem was definitely top-ranking in my book. This bar also supplies inner tubes, swing set, hammocks, and volleyball net in the water. Just search Instagram for “#cayecaulker” to see what is waiting for you.
This bar is truly all about having a good time, relaxing, and enjoying Belize. At sunset, grab a spot on the end of the dock. We saw a shark, stingray, and some other tropical fish swimming underneath our toes. You’re going to want to post every picture possible at this place!
WHERE TO GO FOR NIGHTLIFE
Going out at night on the island is a lot of fun! Since the island is so small, when/if you decide to let your hair down be prepared to make a lot of friends. The nightlife starts at The Sports Bar until it closes at midnight. Then, everyone in the bar will walk down the street together to The I & I, open until 2am.
When The I & I closes you have two choices: move to The West Bay or go to bed. I suggest the latter, personally. The West Bay is far away and is a tiny little shack on the back of the island. It is considered “the locals” bar. If you’re feeling risky, or frisky, ask a local for directions to keep the party going! This is all the nightlife you’ll find on Caye Caulker. If you are looking for nightclubs and a larger party, I would suggest going to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.
Belikin is the official beer of Belize, and it’s good! It won’t take you long to find a cold Belikin in your hand. If you’re looking for something to sip on while you casually wander around the island, grab one, add a lime and you’re on your way.
The Belizean Dollar is the official currency in Belize, but the USD is accepted almost everywhere you go. My own experience in Belize was that most ATM’s either don’t work, don’t accept your card, or are out of cash. All of these things compound together every other Friday, or on payday. The Atlantic Bank is located on the Back Street across from Maria’s Laundry Service and has 2 functioning ATM’s.
MY FINAL TIP
Get to know the locals!! The people who live and work on this island really are what gives Caye Caulker such charm! Everyone is so friendly, you won’t be disappointed.
Have you ever been to Belize? We’d love to hear your advice and tips in the comment section below! Read Next > 6 Reasons To Travel Up The Yucatan Peninsula