Caye Caulker, Belize – Travel Guide

Caye Caulker (pronounced “key corker”) is a Caribbean island off the coast of Belize that is known for excellent snorkelling.

My clearest memory of Caye Caulker is sitting at the end of a jetty watching the sunset. Suddenly, the water itself moved underneath me as an enormous stingray, at least as wide as my outstretched arms, glided past my toes that were dipped in the water below.

If you’d like to visit this English-speaking island in Belize, then you should read our full Caye Caulker travel guide.

Things to Do in Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is a small island. You can walk from one end of the island to the other in under thirty minutes, so the number of things to do is blissfully limited. You can relax on the beach, go swimming (or snorkelling or diving) and you can eat, drink, and be merry in the evenings.

I’ve covered snorkelling in more detail further on. For now, here’s what else we did on Caye Caulker:

The Split

“The Split”, a channel of water between the two halves of Caye Caulker (the North island is uninhabited). Many people lull away their days on the island in the sun here. The Lazy Lizard bar is right next to it, making it one of the best places for swimming or just sipping rum.

Sip N Dip Caye Caulker

Sip N Dip is just next door to the Lazy Lizard and has a similar setup, though it seems to be preferred by the locals who belt out karaoke tunes until closing time. We didn’t go in, but enjoyed watching the crazy goings-on from whilst bobbing in the sea.

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

If you prefer something a bit more active, rent a paddle board from one of the tour organisers and have a go.

Eat Traditional Belizean Food

Though islands don’t always have the best food, Caye Caulker is pretty good! You can get breakfast fry-jacks, Belizean cinnamon buns and rice and beans on the island. Scroll down to the “Where to Eat in Caye Caulker” section for foodie recommendations.

Grab a Fresh Coconut at the Beach

Nothing like drinking a sweet coconut water from a freshly cracked open coconut on the beach. The guys across from Jerimiah’s Inn sell them, along with other guys along the beach strip. Be wary that coconuts aren’t all they’re selling.

Watch the Sunset on the Dock

On the other side of the island to the Split, there are a few docks where you can get a great view of the sunset. You can also see stingrays swimming here in the clear water if you watch for long enough.

Where to Snorkel in Caye Caulker

There are a number of excellent snorkeling locations near Caye Caulker. You can rent snorkel gear and explore the waters of the split at the north end of the island next to the Lazy Lizard (watch out for crocodiles).

You can take a tour out to one of the marine reserves to see more. Most of the tours go to one of two different reserves — Caye Caulker Reef and Hol Chan Reef. Caye Caulker Reef is closer and the price is fixed at $70 Belizean Dollars (BZD). This is sometimes advertised as the half-day snorkelling trip.

We chose to snorkel the Caye Caulker Reef with Reef Friendly Tours which seemed to be the most eco-friendly tour operator in the area. Unlike the other tour operators, Reef Friendly Tours do not feed the marine life and they limit the amount of plastic that is used during the trip.

Shark and Ray Alley

Swimming with the nurse sharks was an awesome experience. These are large animals, the adults being around three-metres long. I had never be in the water with a wild shark before, but nurse sharks are not remotely interested in humans as food and will only use their teeth in self-defence.

The rays, who had also come along for the feeding frenzy, were equally impressive. Seeing four large Southern rays glide past me was a highlight of my entire time in Belize.

Some final tips to help you prepare for your snorkeling tour in Caye Caulker:

  1. Use an eco-friendly sunblock while snorkelling to protect the reef.
  2. Listen to your guide’s instructions and don’t touch anything!
  3. Take a motion sickness tablet to avoid feeling seasick.
  4. Refill your reusable water bottle at Reef Friendly Tour HQ.
  5. Ensure that your face mask and fins are well fitted before your first trip.
Photo by Samantha Beddoes

Where to Eat in Caye Caulker

Lobster is one of the big draws for Caye Caulker, though as vegetarians we don’t eat seafood. But if you do want to eat it, you should plan your visit around lobster seasons and lobster fest. To prevent overfishing, lobsters are eaten for six months of the year and conch are eaten for the other six.

Seafood aside, we enjoyed plenty of Belizean cuisine on the island. Here are our favourite four places to eat in Caye Caulker:

Errolyn’s House of Fry Jacks – take away Belizean fried breakfast

A fry jack is a heart attack of a dish that you can’t leave Belize without trying! It’s basically a full English breakfast (so beans, eggs and cheese all wrapped up in a deep fried dough. Your arteries won’t thank you for this one! They’re also cheap at only a few Belizean dollars.

Amor y Cafe – arty cafe

Should you need a break from fry jacks, you can hit this arty cafe for something with fruit, yoghurt and more healthful ingredients.

Ice and Beans – beachside coffee shack

There is nowhere better for coffee in Caye Caulker than Ice and Beans. It’s a lovely coffee shack on the beach, complete with mini doughnuts! You can get a french press of black coffee, or enjoy many sweeter coffees including iced coffees.

Meldy’s – best food on the island

In my opinion the best food in Caye Caulker! Hearty portions with plenty of veggie-friendly options, tucked off the main strip (and all the better for it). Marie Sharp’s famous hot sauce is on every table here, so definitely add that to your food. Our favourite was the vegetarian curry. You can also get a killer thick peanut butter and banana milkshake.

Caye Caulker Bakery – local bakery

For a quick and cheap breakfast or snack, head to the town’s main bakery. It’s only a tiny place and it’s where the locals eat. Expect very traditional style baked goods including Belizean specialty cinnamon buns.

Where to Stay in Caye Caulker

Trying to do Caye Caulker on a budget is not as difficult as some people made out. There are plenty of hotels, hostels, apartments and Airbnb options available. We didn’t book accommodation ahead in Caye Caulker but regretted that decision. The island is small and there are only a handful of good budget options in town. Booking ahead is a good idea if you want to get the better end of budget accommodation.

Jeremiah’s Inn – Jeremiah’s Inn is where we stayed. It’s super budget-friendly and run by a friendly family. But you get what you pay for – rooms are hot and dark with a fan only. There’s a small shared toilet outside that isn’t all that clean. It’s a decent place to lay your head though.

Yuma’s House – We walked by Yuma’s House hostel a few times and it looks lovely. It’s beach-front, colourful and still budget-friendly. Great if you want a laid-back vibe and to be right on the beach.

Sophie’s Place – We met a few nice couples who were staying at Sophie’s Place, and got the impression it was the lovely, quiet place where couples like to stay. I was a little bit envious, I’ve got to say.

Juan in a Million – Located above the bar and grill of the same name, Juan in a Million is a popular choice for backpackers. We passed by but weren’t particularly keen to stay here – and it was fully booked anyway!

Sea N Sun Guesthouses – A little more upmarket than Juan in Million, these cabinas are clean and come with kayaks and bicycles.

How safe is Caye Caulker?

My other favourite memory of Caye Caulker is the police station. It’s painted a cheery egg-yolk yellow and the words “DESPITE WHAT SOME PEOPLE MIGHT TELL YOU, MARIJUANA IS NOT LEGAL IN CAYE CAULKER” are painted in a hard-to-miss size.

Should there be any trouble on the island, the police roll out in their golf caddies (there are no cars on the island) and give ne’er do wells a stern talking to.

Jokes aside, I personally felt very safe on Caye Caulker, though the usual rules apply re being sensible after dark and not drinking more rum than you are used to.

How to Get to Caye Caulker (and how far is Caye Caulker from Belize City?)

To get to Caye Caulker, we took a speedboat from Chetumal (Mexico). Along the way, we stopped at San Pedro, which is a larger and more developed island.

To get off Caye Caulker, we took a boat to Belize City and from there went to the beautiful border town of San Ignacio before eventually reaching Tikal in Guatemala. See our travel route of Belize below:


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Luke Nicholson

Luke is Charlie's partner and long-term travel companion. Though currently working as an online marketer, Luke is also a CELTA qualified ESL teacher, experienced house sitter and avid video gamer. He loves howler monkeys too.

4 thoughts to “Caye Caulker, Belize – Travel Guide”

  1. I avoided Belize when I was in Central America as somebody had told me horror stories of how unsafe it is. But this looks beautiful and not what I expect either!

    1. Hi Natalia – that’s a shame to hear! Belize is wonderful and the people we met were friendly and warm. We didn’t feel unsafe at all, though we did hear some other tourists comment that they didn’t feel safe in Belize City. We didn’t actually stay in Belize City, we only connected buses there.

  2. Hi Charlie,
    Thanks for a great article. I’m really interested in your first tip:
    1. Use an eco-friendly sunblock while snorkelling to protect the reef.
    Does sunblock harm the reef?
    If so – how do we get hold of eco-friendly sunblock?
    Thanks
    Alison

    1. Hi Alison. Yes, you must be careful which sunblock you use when swimming in the sea and near reefs. The chemicals in some sunblocks are harmful to the reef and also to the marine life as well. More information in this recent Guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/28/sunscreen-damage-coral-research-oxybenzone

      In Caye Caulker, you can usually buy eco-friendly sunblock in the stores, though it’s often cheaper to buy it online on Amazon before you travel.

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