It’s time to pack your passport and head away to Belize for a weekend. Not anywhere in Belize, however, but in the gorgeous Caribbean island of Caye Caulker. The friendly locals at Caye Caulker Village will welcome you with open arms. And you will be able to visit the thick foliage that is home to many wildlife. Oh, and don’t forget the gorgeous diving sites that the Marine Reserve offers. Start packing, because we’re heading off to this dreamy weekend getaway!
How to Get to Caye Caulker
While Playa del Carmen and Tulum are a dream come true, you surely want to take a look at the surrounding places. Getting to Caye Caulker depends greatly on your budget and time restrictions. Since you’re in Mexico, you need to make your way down to Chetumal, the capital city of Quintana Roo. From Chetumal you have the option to take a ferry boat straight to Caye Caulker which takes about 2 hours plus the time spent in customs.
Another option is to take an ADO bus to Belize City or – more expensively – fly there from Cancun International Airport and take a water taxi from there. It takes about 30 minutes from the port to Caye Caulker and costs about $25 USD.
Take into consideration that there are not many running boats or buses between all these stops, so make sure you measure your time wisely. If you’re driving, the best thing is to drive to Chetumal and park your car safely, and then take the boat straight to Caye Caulker.
Given that you are entering a foreign country from Mexico, you will need to pay an entry fee and present your passport. Your passport must be valid for 3 months from the date of entry and you must usually present an onward or return ticket (whether it is for the boat, plane or bus). Most nationalities will receive a 30-day visa upon entry.
Where to Stay
Caye Caulker is a very small and beautiful island. Only the southern part is habitable, where it is known as the Village. The northern part of the island is home to lush mangroves and wildlife, as well as a forest reserve. Options for accommodation vary from boutique hotels to vacation rentals and everything in between. If you’re visiting during high season we highly recommend you book in advance. Otherwise, you can take a look around at the options once you are there.
If you’re looking for budget-friendly options you want to stay in near Front Street up to the Split. However, if you want a quieter and more upscale rental, then you need to head to Gringo Heights, where many slightly more expensive vacation rentals lay. These are mainly owned by expats or snowbirds that flock down to escape the harsh winters of the north. Much like Holbox Island in the northern tip of Quintana Roo, Caye Caulker is quite walkable, so you needn’t worry about not staying right by the sea.
You will find accommodation between $25 and $105 USD per night, depending on the area, the season and the occupancy.
What to do in Caye Caulker
Let’s get to the fun stuff! With a no shirt, no shoes, no problem approach to life, you will find that there are many things to do in this lovely island. The lack of cars is reminiscent of olden times where everything was tranquility. In fact, you’ll even see dogs napping mid street without a worry in the world.
While many people visit Caye Caulker for its pristine beaches, you should also take the following into consideration. Visit the forest reserve. The northern part of the island swims with wildlife such as birds, crocodiles, turtles, crabs, lizards and even snakes. If you’re feeling adventurous you might want to take on the kayaking challenge. However, you might also want to go down the calming ocean or walk through the crocodile habitat (don’t worry – it’s safe!).
Another popular activity is scuba diving. Being along the second biggest reef in the world, Caye Caulker’s marine life is no disappointment. You will see colorful fish, sea turtles, corals and much more. If you visit in the right season (April through September), you might even be lucky to spot a manatee. This is particular to the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary.
While you’re in Caye Caulker you don’t want to miss the Split. This channel, as its name suggests, literally splits the island into two. It is a great place for spending the day eating, drinking and sunbathing. It is, without a doubt, the best place for swimming and paddling. And if you’re feeling more cultural, there are two catholic churches well worth visiting in the city center. These serve mass for the Spanish-speaking residents.
Shopping and Eating
It is no surprise, of course, that the eating culture in Caye Caulker relies heavily on seafood. Enjoy its array of ocean-inspired meals, such as lobster, conch, fish, octopus, and much more. For those looking for a more street-based meal, you will find a wide selection of food carts around the island offering delicacies.
When it comes to shopping it is fair to say that this isn’t Fifth Avenue. However, you will find a handful of small shops popping around the island offering souvenirs, t-shirts, jewelry, paintings and other curiosities.
Getting to Caye Caulker is not quite an easy task. Make sure you measure your times carefully as to not miss any of your buses or boats. You may find yourself stranded in Chetumal or Belize City if you don’t plan to the minute.
The island is really small, so walking around gets you everywhere. However, there are golf carts and bikes for rent. If you do decide to rent either, make sure you drive slowly and respect pedestrians.
Health care in Caye Caulker is basic. If you need greater medical attention your best bet is to head back to San Pedro or Belize City. For longer stays, make sure you bring a basic medical kit for headaches, stomach aches, allergies and others.
Belize’s official language is English, but they do speak Creole, which they use most commonly amongst each other. You will also find that almost half of the population speaks Spanish, as well.
Bring cash with you. Whether you’re bringing US dollars or Belize dollars, it will be rare for an establishment there to accept credit cards – even accommodations. US dollars are an unofficial second currency in Caye Caulker and Belize in general, so you may pay with those. However, expect your change to be in Belize dollars mostly.
Now let go of all your stress, relax and enjoy this wonderful weekend getaway! Enjoy the friendliness of our Belize neighbors and the exquisite cuisine they offer. This trip is for you to forget about all your worries and simply enjoy.
When the weekend is over, head back to your gorgeous home in Playa del Carmen or Tulum and start planning your next weekend getaway to a paradise destination in Mexico!