I am obsessed with this little island off the coast of Belize.
And when I say little island, I’m not exaggerating. It’s about 5 miles long and less than a mile wide. All over the island, you will see signs reminding you to ‘Go Slow’, and it’s actually enforced! I’m a pretty quick walker, when you’re not blessed with the longest legs you kind of need to be. I was walking what I thought was a pretty leisurely pace on my first afternoon in Caye Caulker until someone called out “Hey my friend, go slow, where’s the fire!”
I ended up in Caye Caulker after telling my lovely cousin that I was heading to Belize. She immediately told me to cancel the accommodation I had booked in Belize City, and to go to Caye Caulker instead. Belize City can be known for poverty and crime. As a solo female traveller, my cousin felt I would be happier staying on Caye Caulker. The little island isn’t crime free, nowhere is, so if you’re travelling there, solo or not, just take precautions. Having said that, I never felt unsafe on the island, never felt nervous walking in the dark. There’s a lot of expats and tourists around, and if you keep to well populated and well lit areas, then you should be ok.
I arrived in Belize after a long day of travelling, including a 16 hour layover in Miami, where I discovered I couldn’t get my luggage, as I had been told in Dublin. Once I landed, I had to head to the port in Belize City, wait for the next water taxi, and then take the 40 minute water taxi to Caye Caulker. Overall it was 30 hours of travelling, but I pretty quickly got over that once I saw how amazing the island was. Let me tell you, Caye Caulker is cute! Painted buildings, crystal clear water, incredible sunsets, blue skies, the smell of food being barbecued by the beach. I was there two hours and never wanted to leave. My first day I just spent wandering around, lazing on the beach and trying out the food. I ended up in Sports Bar that evening, if you’ve ever been to Caye Caulker, you’ll know Sports Bar is where it all happens! Everyone ends up chatting with each other, buying one another drinks and screaming at whatever sport is on the tv.
The next morning, I grabbed an ice coffee (try Ice & Beans – it’s so good!) and headed for the beach. Caye Caulker a great place to go if you’re looking to unwind with their ‘Go Slow’ attitude. That day I mostly spent lazing by the water, listening to music blaring from the Lazy Lizard, drinking piña coladas, and just watching the world go by. Down by the Lazy Lizard is always busy as its a bar, restaurant, area for games like volleyball, and one of the best spots on the island to watch the sunset. I ended up meeting a lovely group of Aussies that evening, and going to dinner and, of course Sports Bar with them. That place gets so packed in the evenings, and most of the activity revolves around a piece of rope with a little ring at the end of it, and trying to swing it to hook it onto a hook in the wall. The celebrations when someone finally gets it are pretty hilarious!
One thing you have to do if you ever go to Belize is snorkelling or diving. Honestly you have to. Believe it or not, the largest barrier reef outside of Australia is in Belize. And being honest, I found the snorkelling in Belize better than when I went in Australia. I hadn’t booked anything in advance and apparently I was in Belize during busy season. On my first full day in Belize I went around to various different tours and checked out the options. After looking online, I decided I wanted to go with Caveman Tours for the full day tour. Unfortunately, when I got to Caveman later that day, they told me they were completely booked out. As the tour ran from 10.30am to 3.30pm, I couldn’t go the day after as I was leaving to fly to Guatemala.
The guys at the office were so nice and said they would put me on the waiting list as they sometimes got cancellations. Basically I needed to arrive at 10am the next morning and hope for the best. The next morning I arrived, hungover after too many rum & sodas and wondering why the hell I was dragging my ass onto a boat for 5 hours. Turns out there was a cancellation and I was able to go, so I paid my $65 and lined up to get my snorkel equipment. I am so glad that I dragged myself to that tour that morning. It was hand down one of the best things I did in my three months of travelling.
All the footage is in the video above, which is a miracle I got any footage at all as I forgot to charge my GoPro the night before! We all talked on the boat and knew we all wanted to see – turtles, sting rays, nurse sharks, and a manatee. The first three were basically guaranteed, but manatees can be a lot harder to find. Ronnie came out snorkelling with us at the first location where we saw several turtles, really up close, tonnes of sting rays, giant fish, the reef, and countless other things that Ronnie expertly pointed out to us.
We went to the next location, where the boat was swarmed with nurse sharks. We slid out of the boat and watched them swim around and underneath us. It was still such a surreal experience! We went to four or five locations in total, with a really nice lunch in between of rice, chicken and veg. Snorkelling is tiring work, so the feed, followed by fresh cut fruit and Diet Cokes, was much appreciated.
Ronnie knew we were pretty determined to see a manatee. We went to a few different locations with no luck. Finally, Ronnie spotted one in the distance. We had to be so careful getting into the water as to not scare it off, and made sure to not splash or swim too close to it. Manatees are so beautiful and graceful! It was amazing getting to see them up close. We headed back to Caye Caulker, making a quick stop to feed a few birds and look for seahorses. I felt like I was still on a boat several hours later after being on the water for so long!
I can’t recommend Caveman Tours enough. They were so informative, friendly and it was such a fun day. And you’re in for a treat if you get Ronnie as a captain, as he is brilliant and really made the tour amazing.
I was actually ready for bed after the snorkelling. Seriously I was wiped out! But it was my last night in Belize, so I wanted to enjoy it. Cue Sports Bar again, and again a few too many rum & sodas. There are plenty of other bars on the island, but if you’re looking for a good mix of locals, expats and other tourists, then you really can’t beat Sports Bar for pure madness and fun.
The next day I headed to the juice bar across the road from my hotel (which was Enjoy Hotel by the way). The juice bar also offered free yoga each morning, which despite my best intentions, I actually never made it to. After grabbing my juice, I made my way to the port to get my water taxi back to Belize City.
One thing I didn’t do in Belize which I would have loved to have done, was to fly over the Blue Hole. If you’ve never heard of it, go and Google it right now! It’s a giant submarine sinkhole in the reef, and looks incredible. I spoke to other people later on my trip who had flown over it and said it was incredible. I think I’ll definitely have to go back some day and see it for myself!
While I was in Caye Caulker, so many of my friends text me about it. To each of them I said that I would happily go back and visit the island again with them. (Except for my friend Niamh who is considering it for a honeymoon. Don’t think I’d be welcome on that holiday). It’s just one of those places that has a great mix of activities, opportunities to relax, amazing weather, good food, lovely people… I could go on and on.
All I’ll say is, if you’re considering going, just go. If you’ve never thought about it, start thinking about it!