Caye Caulker, Belize – no beach but god the snorkeling..
All we knew is we wanted more sun, more sea, snorkeling and hopefully a thriving social scene. And V, well she was hoping for some great food too, but she’s always hoping for great food. As a consummate foodie, cuisine is a major part of traveling for her. I can appreciate it, but it’s not high on my priority list. Well, aside from the food and thriving social scene, we found what we were looking for in Caye Caulker. Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple places that provide some social entertainment, but don’t go to Caye Caulker for that or you’ll be disappointed.
First off, getting to Caye Caulker was fun. Of course, there are 2 main ways of getting there. We went through Belize City. If you can erase Belize City from memory, you’re better off and will enjoy getting to Caye Caulker. For me, BC was the ugliest and worst city I had seen up to then. It was dirty, hot, messy and not at all welcoming. You just got the impression you would shit your pants walking around at night. And no, it’s not cause the population is black. In fact, after Mexico I was looking forward to being around Spanish speaking blacks. But the vibe was not nice. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It just felt more foreign in an uncomfortable way than I expected. Having grown up in Haiti, being half-black in a black country, I’ve experienced slums but I never felt unsafe. In BC, things just felt off. We did encounter a few smiles but generally it was colder than we had experienced up to then in Mexico. In any case, we quickly went through the city to the dock and grabbed a boat to Caye Caulker. The ride starts off in brown dirty waters, then gradually the sea turns blue, then turns into the kinds of blues that melt your heart. A few shortcuts through some mangroves and open sea, passing by some small but inhabited islands that make you wonder how they don’t get swamped during storms, and you soon get to CC. Then you realize, there’s no beach. There’s nowhere to just lie and relax at the water’s edge. Well, no matter. There are plenty of jetties that have hammocks on them and there’s always the famous split. If you want to mingle with people during the day, the split is your only bet. At night, they often have loud music, flowing drinks and a decent number of people. But there’s usually at least one other option at night, but again, that’s pretty much it. The island is tiny. It’s covered in restaurants and hotels and only a couple hostels. You can also find cabanas and the occasional room in someone’s home to rent out, but that’s it. And that’s fine. You go there to relax. If you want to party, you’re better off going to San Pedro, next door. On CC itself, you’ll find overpriced food, most of which is average in terms of quality, but you’ll also find plenty of smiles, the constant repetition of the phrase “go slow” by the locals, and small dusty roads. But you’ll also find some cool little spots that have movie nights, game nights, a sports bar, etc.
The split for us was the easiest place to hang out. Get a couple beers, maybe have a meal, then jump off into the fast current that flows between the 2 parts of the island. It’s called the split because once upon a time the island of CC was much bigger. But a hurricane swept through and split the island in half, leaving one half developed and the other almost devoid of anyone. The CC you’ll hear about is the southern half. But in between the 2 halves, the water runs fast but offers surprisingly good snorkeling. We managed to see a batfish, a school of squid, tons of typical guys, an eel, a large crab, and a bunch of fish I simply don’t the names of but which aren’t that common. This is all just under the peer and the surroundings. Quite impressive. But if that’s not enough, and for those who love snorkeling more is always better, you can easily book tours to some of the surrounding Cayes. From there you can swim with turtles, rays, and even manatees if you’re lucky. We were lucky. Not interested in snorkeling, feel free to do a fishing tour, or just a booze cruise. No, it’s not cheap. Nothing in Belize is cheap. I mean nothing. You know how some countries have at least one cheap thing. Didn’t find anything in Belize that was cheap. So, while I certainly don’t regret going to CC, particularly cause the snorkeling was spectacular, I don’t really feel any desire to go back, partly due to the cost and partly because well, I just didn’t find much to do. But hey, that’s just me.
CAYE CAULKER HIGHLIGHTS