Welcome to Caye Caulker
A place where the pace is as slow as the waves on Caye Caulker
In Caye Caulker, you can see the rays
The spotted eagle rays and manta rays can be seen from Ambergris and Caye Caulker all the way to Sapodilla Cayes.
Located 21 miles northeast of Belize City and 11 miles south of Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker is the second-largest Belizean island. Although the island is about four miles long, the town is only about one mile long. Like Ambergris, Caulker was primarily a fishing town, but the economy has shifted toward tourism. In addition to scuba divers, snorkelers, anglers, and tourists seeking beach-oriented relaxation at a budget price, Caye Caulker is a popular destination. In the past, it was a sleepy fishing community, but today it is more known for its nightlife and parties.
Among backpackers, Caye Caulker is well-known for its affordable accommodation and close proximity to the Barrier Reef. Among Caye Caulker's mainstays are hostels and affordable accommodations. Diving and snorkeling are popular in the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve – the Belize Barrier Reef is just one mile away. Ecotourism and marine enthusiasts can go on manatee tours. Although manatees are not allowed to swim with humans, young ones frequently swim right up to boats to satisfy their curiosity.
The waterfront of Caye Caulker
Relaxing at the beach on Caye Caulker.
The island has been described as a huge sandbar over a limestone shelf. Underwater caves are found in the limestone. In front of the village, a shallow lagoon sits between 6 inches (150 mm) and 14 feet (4.3 m) deep, which meets the Belize Barrier Reef to the east. Windsurfers enjoy this area because it is a deep reef that lies 2 to 8 feet (2.4 m) below water. A common question visitors have is what's the difference between Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. Here's what I learned: "I visited a few months ago. It was meh. The town is dusty and full of tourist shops and restaurants, and there isn't much to do on the island." There weren't any other divers and nobody would take just one diver out, so I tried to go scuba diving. There are some differences between Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, in my opinion. Caye Caulker is more for people who want to sit around and drink all day. San Pedro Ambergris Caye is more for people who want to get out and about."
This first-person account is from a Canadian visitor who said, “I'd heard it was a party island. My husband and I were there for the quiet. While we did enjoy a bottle of champagne and dinner at a restaurant for my birthday, we also drank throughout the day. We did a little snorkeling one day, but mostly sat by the beach, listen to the water lapping the shore, talked and held hands. We went snorkeling one day, but it was mostly about the peace. Toward the end of our week on Caye Caulker, we were getting hellos from several familiar faces."
As a result of the civil war on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Caye Caulker was uninhabited until the middle of the nineteenth century. There were coconut plantings and eventually a lucrative fishing industry based on cooperatives developed by the settlers. Generally, the population is primarily Latino / Mestizo, but in recent years a small Creole community has developed, primarily immigrants from Belize city. Beginning in the 1960’s, small numbers of tourists began Visiting Caye Caulker. Tourism has increased substantially since then, especially since a new airstrip was built on the outskirts of town in 1992. However, Caye Caulker remains a quiet, unhurried and relaxing beach town. The poor man's Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker still retains its cachet as a backpacker and budget tourist destination.
Caye Caulker And The Split
It is party time at the Caye Caulker Split.
Caye Caulker island is divided into two by The Split, which separates the more developed southern portion from the less developed north side due to its swampy mangrove area. However, more people are discovering the area and demand for land has resulted in dredging and a few housing developments. Hurricane Hattie widened the Split in 1961, which now serves as a focal point for locals and visitors to socialize and congregate along the sandy beach lining this natural divide. According to locals, the hurricane created a channel about a foot deep. During the following years, the islanders dug by hand to widen the channel, which was then tidal forces took over and created the 20-foot channel that is Split today. Caye Caulker is a great beach destination where visitors can still find budget hotels.
The Split at Caye Caulker
The Split is the most famous feature of Caye Caulker.
You can ask your tour guide or locals what is a safe area to recreate, which is the western section of Split due to boat traffic and currents.
You can arrange for a fisherman (tackle provided) to take you on a hunt for the sweetest seafood in the Caribbean by asking your hotel about making arrangements. On the backside of the island, you'll find fishermen cleaning their fish, repairing their nets, or working on lobster traps. There are many fishermen who will be willing to take you fishing. The main trophies are groupers, barracuda, snapper, and amberjack. You can rent small boats by the hour.
Caye Caulker Day Trip Agenda
Playing beach cornhole at Split Caye Caulker beach cornhole at The Split. Image credit: The Lady Lizard
During a day snorkel tour, you will only be able to walk around Caulker for a short time. If you're coming over on an independent day trip, take a water taxi early, so you have plenty of time to explore the island and get a sense of what makes it so special. In Caulker, there aren't many museums, shops, or formal sightseeing opportunities. A slow self-guided walking tour of the island is also possible. Don't let the Rastafarians bother you - just say no to the herbs they offer.
Caye Caulker Hotels and Restaurants
There are now approximately 25 hotels on Caye Caulker, which has almost doubled in population in the last ten years (from 1,000 to about 2,000). Although Caye Caulker has a few luxury condominiums, the island remains a budget-friendly destination with a laid-back ambiance. There are a wide range of hotel accommodations, ranging from very low budget (US $10-20 for rooms with shared baths at local hostels) to low budget (US $25-35 for rooms with There are several good restaurants on Caye Caulker offering a wide variety of food (fresh lobster and seafood, typical Creole spicy stew chicken, Mexican and Chinese food, as well as campsites for US $6 per night. Small hotels have private bathrooms, while moderate hotels have air-conditioned studios and color televisions with refrigerators. A number of local residents sell home cooked meals.
This nugget from travel writer Lan Sluder:
Caye Caulker has slowly become more upmarket, but it remains a budget island. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was on the backpacker trail, a cheap place for long haired visitors to relax, smoke weed, and drink beer. It costs around US $160 a night for the most expensive hotel on Caulker, but most of the 40 or so hotels charge less than US $75 double, with some charging as little as $12. It is common for older hotels to be wooden clapboard, painted in tropical colors, while more recently constructed hotels are made of concrete. Rooms are usually small, often with fans and simple furnishings.
The official view of Caulker, however, emphasizes the island's new focus on middle-class tourism, as it has few swimming pools and newer ones offer cable TV and air conditioning. According to Mo Miller, the Caye Caulker Village Council's marketing committee, while Caye Caulker was once a backpacker's paradise, it has turned into an upscale charming island with a fishing village feel. In August, the island usually accommodates middle-class tourists."
Caye Caulker Beach House
Beach houses at Caye Caulker.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
Several dive boats offer dive excursions in Caye Caulker ranging from two hours to a full day. Visitors can dive and snorkel at Hol Chan Marine Reserve and other nearby reefs; some trips include a lunch stop in San Pedro. (If you stay on Ambergris Caulker, you can enjoy an all-day snorkel cruise that includes a two-hour lunch on Caye Caulker.) Divers can also take certification courses and visit the Turneffe Islands nearby. Diving into caves close to Caye Caulker is also available, but only experienced divers should go there with a local guide who is familiar with the cave system. In addition to diving and snorkeling excursions, most hotels can also arrange fishing excursions. You may be able to get inexpensive fishing experiences by accompanying local fishermen; a number of small boats can be rented by the hour.
There is clear water off the piers on the reef side of the caye, calm water on the backside, or the sandy white beach on the split, a channel that Hurricane Hattie created in 1961 that divides Caye Caulker in half. In addition to a small cabana hotel and snack bar, there are guided boat tours to mangrove lagoons (Caye Caulker is home to more than 120 bird species) and guided snorkeling excursions on the beach near the split. There are a number of small gift shops on the island that sell arts and crafts, hand-painted and printed T-shirts, and colorful, traditional Guatemalan and Mexican clothing and accessories. There are T-shirts and paintings by local artists available as well.