Taking it Slow on Caye Caulker

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Off the coast of the country of Belize lies a small island. An island with no cars that is reachable only by boat or plane. An island where the streets are sandy, the lobster is fresh, and shoes are not required. An island where life moves a bit slower, and where the rum punch is always flowing.

This is Caye Caulker. 

Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker, Belize

For such a small place, Caye Caulker sure won me over in a big way. The little island about 20 miles off the coast of Belize has come to represent my vision of Paradise in my head. And I know I'm not alone — ask just about anyone who has been to this tiny island in Belize, and chances are that they, too, will sing it praises.

Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you.

“Go slow” motto

The motto on Caye Caulker is “go slow.” This motto is reflected in all aspects of life — from the fact that there are no cars at all on the island (transport is either by golf cart, bike, or on foot) to the speed of service in restaurants. Things just move at a more relaxed pace here; there's no rush, mostly because there's really no place better to be. This translates to a very chilled-out vibe that is infectious from the minute you step off the ferry boat.

Caye Caulker, Belize

No shoes (or real clothing) necessary

Because of Caye Caulker's laid-back, beachy vibe, it means that it's perfectly acceptable to stroll down the sandy streets barefoot in a bathing suit. In fact, my last full day on the island was spent almost entirely in a bikini — and this included a bike ride around the island.

Lots of fresh seafood

A benefit of being in the middle of the Caribbean, with a fantastic barrier reef less than a mile offshore? Amazing fresh seafood! If you want a really unique seafood experience, head to Roses Grill and Bar, where the “menu” is a bunch of fresh seafood laid out on a table outside. You simply pick what you want, and they grill it up for you. Just be sure to go early, because the kitchen closes once the menu is gone!

Caye Caulker, Belize

All-day happy hour

On Caye Caulker, “happy hour” is a relative phrase. Some bars advertised drink specials (including the infamous rum punch) from noon-8 p.m. Others simply have a sign outside announcing that “all day” is happy hour.

Swings as bar stools

Forget traditional bar stools on Caye Caulker. Here, there are SWINGS!

Caye Caulker, Belize

Sandy floors in clubs/bars

One night, after the other bars on the island had shuttered their doors, I went with some of my fellow travelers to the OceanSide Nightclub. With a mixture of Latin and club music blaring inside the place, we danced for hours — in the sand! Yes, the floor of the club was entirely sand, and I loved it.

Rasta culture

Belize, despite being located solidly in Central America, feels more like a Caribbean nation than a Latin one. And this is no truer than on Caye Caulker, where the Rastafarian culture and way of life is present everywhere. In fact, one of the most popular bars on the island (I&I) is a reggae bar.

Caye Caulker, Belize

The Split

Sure you can take walks or ride a bike around the island. But there's really only one place to be on Caye Caulker — and that's at The Split. Named because of a narrow channel that literally splits the island, The Split is the closest to a beach that you'll find here. Complete with wooden see-saw tables in the water and some of the clearest, prettiest water you've ever seen, it's easy to overlook the fact that there's barely any sand here. Instead, spread your towel out on the crumbling concrete pier and hop into the perpetually perfect-temperature water.

Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker, Belize

The Cake Man

There's a man on Caye Caulker simply known as “The Cake Man.” He carries around a basket of fresh-baked cakes and tarts, and I promise his banana bread will change your life! Actually, there's more than one “Cake Guy” now on Caye Caulker — we ran into one who had an entire cart full of sweet treats.

Lazy Lizard at sunset

And, of course, no day on Caye Caulker would be complete without hanging out at the Lazy Lizard. This bar at The Split is THE place to be at sunset. Grab a Belikin beer, chill out to some reggae beats, and watch the sun slip below the horizon.

Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker, Belize

 

Currently, as I'm trudging through snow drifts and chipping ice off my car each morning here in Ohio, all I can do is dream of Caye Caulker. It's definitely a place I plan to return to someday. (Don't believe me? I didn't even bother exchanging my leftover Belizean dollars when I got home — that's how serious I am!)

——

Could you picture yourself enjoying Caye Caulker?

 

*Note: I visited Caye Caulker as part of a complimentary 8-day “Land of Belize” trip with Intrepid Travel. As always, though, all opinions are my own.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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59 Comments on “Taking it Slow on Caye Caulker

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  1. This place looks fantastic and peaceful. I’m a bit surprised at the lack of beach 😉 but I think that split looks like a lovely alternative.

    Damn! Was just trying to talk myself out of a trip to Belize! I do not need to see this! 😉

      The Split is a surprisingly great alternative to a traditional beach. Good luck talking yourself out of that trip to Belize! 😛

    Now I am really regretting having to cancel my trip to Belize….I was so close too! That relaxed way of life sounds brilliant! Great photos. Those sunsets are amazing!

      Aww, too bad you had to cancel! Caye Caulker especially is such a great place to go and just chill out!

    You had me at “bar swings.” Everything else was a bonus.

    I have to ask – suppose you know a thing or two about fishing. Can you bring your own fish to Roses and have them grill it for you?

      The bar swings were amazing! I don’t know WHY they haven’t been exported to other destinations!

      And I’m not sure if you could bring your own fish to Roses… I’m sure you could just ask them, though!

    I’d love to try out those swing chairs. I will be checking this place out after my semester abroad at the end of this year and I can’t wait. Did you go diving there aswell?

      The swings are so fun! And they’re all over the island, too.

      I didn’t go diving (I’m not certified), but I DID go snorkeling, and it was amazing!!

    This truly does look like paradise- all-day happy hour, fresh lobster and gorgeous beaches? I need to go ASAP!

    Caye Caulker seems like my kind of place! Warm and sunny, good food, and what looks like a great atmosphere. Beautiful photos too Amanda!

      The atmosphere is so chill that even the most stressed-out, uptight person will relax, I predict.

      And, as for the photos, most were either taken with my iPhone, or my underwater camera because my normal camera died. Just goes to show how GORGEOUS this place is!

    I loved Caye Caulker! The Lazy Lizard was such a great deal for buckets of beers! Also recognize the reggae bar with the swings! Where did you stay? What was your favorite restaurant? We start our RTW trip in Belize and might try and make it back to Caye Caulker!

      I stayed at The Plaza. And my favorite restaurant was probably Wish Willy’s! We went there as a big group on our last night and had a massive, family-style barbecue. SO GOOD.

      I hope you make it back there!

    We just got back from Caye Caulker– you’ve captured it beautifully.

    Sounds like my kind of island! That lobster looks so delicious. It’s one of my favorite foods.

      Lobster is so yummy! And fresh lobster? You can’t beat it!

    I’ve seriously wanted to go to Belize for forever! I need those swing bar stools in my life. Take me with you next time? Please?

      DONE, Tawny! 😉 And I think everyone needs swing bar stools in their lives!

    Loving the Belize posts so far – I plan to be there this time next year and can’t wait!

      Glad you’re liking them, Lucy! And lucky you already planning a trip there!

    I would LOVE to spend a week here, to just sit on the sand and watch people going by. Or swim in those blue-green waters. Or yeah, to sit on the swing in the bars! Sounds like a perfect summer destination!

      It’s actually a perfect year-round destination, because the weather is warm and humid no matter when you go!

    Oh my gosh it sounds like such an amazing place to be!!! I need to go, without a doubt. I love places that move at a slow pace – it’s so relaxing!

      If it’s relaxation you want, Caye Caulker is definitely the place for you!

    My wife and I were there for New Years. Great party at the split, and of course fresh lobster at every little restaurant.

      I imagine Caye Caulker would be the perfect place to have a chilled-out New Year’s celebration!

    Belize isn’t a place I’ve ever thought much about, but I you may have me sold. Looks amazing!

      It’s not a place most people think much about, I have a feeling. But it should be! It’s a great alternative to more traditional Caribbean destinations.

    We’ll be there in 17 days! Our first trip to Caye Caulker. I have a feeling it won’t be our last!

    Definitely one of my favorite places on the planet. Love the culture, people, food, and the laid back feel. I’ve been twice and am already planning my third trip for later this year. It’s heaven on earth.

      I can definitely understand the urge to keep going back to Caye Caulker!

    My home away from home! got married there in 2008.Have been back twice. We met locals there that will be friends for life. it is truely a “go slow” place. Heaven on earth!!! Going again in 2014. can’t wait. i see pictures everyday on Raggamuffin Tour’s posts. Wish Willy is one of our favorite places!
    Thank you so much for the pictures!

      It’s great to hear from so many others who love this place as much as I did!

      And I, too, loved Wish Willy’s!!

    My husband and I spent a month there last year. Met some of the most amazing people there, might add that we still speak too, locals. Best place!!! Maurice who owes Wish Willy’s is WONDERFUL. Dive with Frenchies (they are the BEST- ask for Abel or Tina-owner). Try the blue hole and Half Moon Caye which is gorgeous!!!!!!!! Snorkel trips find Carlos- he is a staple to the island!!!! As for the bar swings, they are everywhere but my favorite is Bambooze, ask for Melony, she will hook you up with the BEST cocktails. I could not say anything bad of Caye Caulker……Island does not fail to provide!!!!!!!!!!! Tell everyone hello from Chopper and Heather if you meet some of our favorite people there 🙂

      Sounds like you may love Caye Caulker even more than I did!

      Wish Willy’s was indeed wonderful, as was Bambooze!

    Sounds like you had one AMAZING time here! This has gone on the bucket list now! I must see this place

      “Amazing” would definitely be a good word to describe it!

    My husband and I just got back from Caye Caulker. We don’t drink and lobster was out of season, but we still loved it. We were planning to stay for 2 nights and ended up staying for 4. We especially liked snorkeling. The fresh grouper at Rose’s was the best. Next time I plan to go to the Blue Hole. We were discouraged because of 2+ hours of hard ocean travel to get there.
    If you plan to travel on to the Yucatan I recommend the boat to Chetumal. We planned to take the night bus to Merida and it was cancelled leaving us in the awful bus station in Belize City. A private bus came and took passengers to the border. We then had to walk across a bridge in the middle of the night to the border and catch a taxi to the Chetumal bus station. We had to spend the night there since the next bus wasn’t until 7:30 in the morning.

      Glad to hear you enjoyed Caye Caulker, and that you at least got some snorkeling in!

    Another tip for Belize. Bring lots of US dollars. They accept them the same as Belize dollars at 2 to 1-no money exchange needed.

      Yup, good tip! You really don’t have to change money at all as long as you have some US dollars on you!

    Oh wow oh wow oh wow! Sitting here in cold, gray Germany (I honestly haven’t seen the sun in two weeks!) I could really go for a place JUST like this. Amazing water and looks like such a chill atmosphere. Love that sign about the hospitals though. Good thing to keep in mind!

      I often think about it when it’s cold and gray at home! Definitely will be back someday.

    What are the best hotels to stay at in the area? On the beach of course. I’m going the end of March and can’t wait!

      There’s not really a “beach” on Caye Caulker. There are some hotels that have private piers and things you can swim off off, but you won’t find many beaches! I didn’t stay at a hotel near the water, though, so I’m afraid I don’t have much insight there!

    Um… I think you just sold me on Caye Caulker 🙂 Amazing post!

      Haha! Knowing you, I think you’d really love it!! It’s so chilled out.

    So… I’m supposed to stay in San Pedro this February, but now I think maybe I should split up the trip and stay the second half in Caulker. But the no beach thing… I just don’t know. Is hanging out on a hard wood dock really as comfortable as a real beach?

      I think the vibe on Caye Caulker makes up for the lack of beach! 😉

    Went there a few years back. It’s exactly as you described. Amazing place !!!

      Such a laid-back place – I definitely need to go back!

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