It had been 20 years since the last time we visited Caye Caulker; at that time, we were backpacking through Central America on a scuba diving trip. This time, we were focused on enjoying all of the things to do in Caye Caulker outside of studying for our Dive Master’s course, and we were so excited to be back. Hopping on a flight from Belize City, we landed on Caye Caulker, which is just a 10-minute flight from mainland Belize. As we flew over the turquoise waters littered with cayes and atolls, we felt excited to revisit places like Shark Ray Alley and try new things, like a scenic flight over the Great Blue Hole. Oh yeah, this was going to be fun!
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Best Things to Do in Caye Caulker
Backpackers have always enjoyed the island vibe and low prices of Caye Caulker over the neighboring island of Ambergris Caye. This tiny island is only five miles long and one mile wide, where roads are made of sand and cars are replaced by golf carts. But you will soon see in this Caye Caulker travel guide that what Caye Caulker lacks in size, it makes up for in adventure.
Stay at El Ben Cabañas on Caye Caulker North
The north side of Caye Caulker is slowly becoming a luxury escape from the more backpacker vibe of Caye Caulker South. We stayed at El Ben Cabañas on the island’s north side and had complimentary water taxis to Caye Caulker town throughout the day on a regular schedule. Staying here felt like a tropical paradise as we had a private luxury beach cabana with air conditioning, a beautiful private veranda, and two outdoor pools.
El Ben also had an excellent restaurant worth visiting, even if you stay at one of the Caye Caulker hotels on the south side. It’s easy to get to via their free water taxi or the Split water taxi shuttle, which costs $5 per person. It’s then just a five-minute walk to El Ben Cabañas.
1. Great Blue Blue Hole Scenic Flight
The Great Blue Hole is a natural wonder that is an underwater sinkhole located off the coast of Belize, near the center of Lighthouse Reef. This remarkable geological formation, approximately 300 meters (984 feet) in diameter and 124 meters (407 feet) deep, is visible from space! (So they say)
The Great Blue Hole is part of the more extensive Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hole was initially a limestone cave system before collapsing and forming this spectacular vertical cave. It became famous after being explored by Jacques Cousteau in 1971, who declared it one of the top scuba diving sites in the world. And Discovery named it one of Top 10 Amazing Places on earth!
Taking a scenic flight over the Great Blue Hole was genuinely awe-inspiring. The enormous dark blue hole spanning 300 meters (984 feet) across stands out from the surrounding shallow turquoise of the Caribbean Sea. We booked a private flight with Tropic Air, and spent an hour in the air, taking in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve’s views and neighboring reefs.
This was the most beautiful scenic flight we’ve ever taken over tropical waters and flown over the Maldives and Exuma Cayes! Our tour left from San Pedro, but flights to the Blue Hole can be arranged from Caye Caulker and Belize City with Tropic Air, and Maya Island Air.
The flight wasn’t only about seeing the Blue Hole; we saw San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Caye Chapel, and the Turneffe Atoll before flying over Lighthouse Reef, where the Blue Hole stands near its center. Our flight took us around the Blue Hole four times for optimal viewing. Twice on each side so that we both had equal viewing time.
2. Wanderlust Sailing and Snorkel
There is no doubt that tourists love to visit Caye Caulker for its underwater adventures, and one of our favorite things to do in Caye Caulker was to combine a snorkeling and sailing tour with Wanderlust Sailing and Snorkeling
The island of Caye Caulker is a gateway to extraordinary marine adventures, thanks to the nearby Hol Chan Marine Reserve on the Belize Barrier Reef. The Belize Barrier Reef is a part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest barrier reef in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
We have taken scenic flights and sailing trips over Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and perhaps my memory is failing me. Still, during our time at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, I was struck by how the water around this Caribbean Island is by far the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Check out Diving the Great Barrier Reef – Australia’s Ultimate Adventure
3. Shark Ray Alley Snorkel Tour
We talked about combining a sailing and snorkeling tour of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, but many people come to Caye Caulker to see its most famous snorkeling spot, Shark Ray Alley. Shark Ray Alley is located within the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and is famous for its abundance of nurse sharks and southern stingrays.
The area became a popular feeding spot for local fishermen, who would clean their catch, attracting nurse sharks and rays. Today, it’s a protected zone where visitors can safely swim and snorkel alongside these gentle marine animals.
The shallow and calm crystal-clear waters make it the perfect spot to witness these creatures in their natural habitat. Don’t worry if you don’t have snorkeling experience; this excursion is ideal for beginners and experienced snorkelers.
Witnessing the nurse sharks and stingrays up close is impressive. They barely notice you as you watch the sea life do their regular business.
Being able to snorkel at three snorkeling sites of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve with an expert guide while sailing on a luxury catamaran from one site to another was a dream. We were given fresh water in reusable containers, fresh fruit, and when we were finished snorkeling, we had rum punch to sip on as we sailed along the coast.
I loved how Wanderlust Sailing and Snorkeling didn’t use any plastic water bottles and when our guide Juan saw plastic in the ocean, he scooped it up to take it out of the water. They were very aware of conservation and keeping a safe distance from the marine life to preserve this fragile ecosystem
4. A Taste of Caye Caulker Food Tours
When you first arrive at Caye Caulker, Belize, we suggest booking a Taste of Cay Caulker Food Tour. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the restaurants on the island and learn about the local cuisine. Also, by the time you finish the tour, you’ll have made new friends and feel warm and welcoming during the rest of your trip.
We visited four restaurants, sampling delicious appetizers, salads, mains, and desserts. I won’t tell you what restaurants because you will need to take the food tour to see them, but they were an excellent selection of places that served authentic Belizean Cuisine and immersed us in the local island life.
Our tour was segmented between four different places. We started with a traditional Belizean appetizer while sitting on a deck overlooking the sea and then moved on to a beautiful rooftop view to enjoy fresh salads. It was then on to a lively sports bar that was packed with people, and we went upstairs to the patio to sample four main dishes.
I really loved the main course, where four large dishes were set on our table family style, and we sampled them all. All courses were served with strong cocktails, and by the time we reached dessert at a sandy beach bar where we ate delicious treats alongside another delicious cocktail, we were feeling fine and ready to enjoy the island life. Book your Taste of Cay Caulker Food Tour here.
For those who want to do some parasailing, it’s worth the trip to Ambergris Caye. We took a trip to Boca del Rio Resort with Belize Parasail Ltd for an amazing parasailing trip. We have never gone so high, and our guide told us that we could have gone higher, but I chickened out once we were far above the Caribbean Sea and gave him the signal that we were high enough.
I don’t think there is parasailing on Caye Caulker, so making our way to its neighboring island is fast and easy; plus, it’s worth making a day trip regardless.
We took a golf cart taxi from San Pedro to Boca del Rio Resort where we boarded a speed boat for our hour-long excursion on the Caribbean Sea. Within minutes, our boat stopped, and the parachute came out while our guides hooked us up into harnesses and lifejackets.
It wasn’t long until we soared in the air, feeling like a bird over the sea. We had beautiful views of the island and the reef. From above, we could see the colors changing before our eyes. We even spied manta rays from above. We were in the air for about 20 minutes.
At the end of the flight, they dropped us off for a cool, refreshing dip in the sea before landing safely on board for an ice-cold drink on our way back. We really enjoy the tour as well as the golf cart ride, it was like having two excursions in one. An island tour and a parasailing trip. Check out Belize Parasail Ltd here.
6. Day Trip to Ambergris Caye
Easily accessible, San Pedro on Ambergris is just a short water taxi ride away, offering a quick and scenic journey across the beautiful Caribbean Sea. We took a short 8-minute flight with Tropic Air, from Caye Caulker, which doubled as another scenic view and landed in downtown. Ambergris Caye is a great day trip from Caye Caulker.
We took a morning flight to San Pedro and enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Blue Water Grill overlooking the sandy beach. After breakfast we took a walk to check out the downtown area. San Pedro has a few more proper beaches than Caye Caulker, and it was nice to walk along the beach to shop at the vendors lining the shore.
San Pedro’s bustling town atmosphere is a sharp contrast to Caye Caulker’s laid-back vibe as golf carts whipped by while we strolled along the busy streets. San Pedro is the main town where most restaurants and bars are located. Restaurants serve everything from fresh seafood to traditional Belizean fare.
Make sure to eat at El Fogon Restaurant, an institution on the island serving traditional Belizean fare in a lively atmosphere. Better yet, it is locally owned and operated!
Various markets and vendors offer unique souvenirs, handmade crafts, and beachwear. The Truck Stop is a shipping container food truck park that is a must-visit.
Secret Beach is not so secret anymore and is one of the most popular places on the island for beach time that is perfect for sunbathing and swimming.
7. Sunset Sail
We were on the water a lot on Caye Caulker and seeing this beautiful island from the water at sunset is a must. A sunset sail is one of the most romantic things to do in Caye Caulker. A Sunset sail leaves from the Split and is a great way to see Caye Caulker’s coastline and the surrounding sea.
Many sunset sails include opportunities for snorkeling, allowing you to explore the vibrant marine life as the day transitions into the evening. Onboard, relax with refreshing drinks and light snacks, often included in the tour. The atmosphere is serene and romantic, making it perfect for couples, but equally enjoyable for families or groups of friends.
8. Visit the Split
The Split narrow waterway, formed by Hurricane Hattie in 1961, that cut the already small island into two distinct parts. Since then, the Split has become Caye Caulker’s most famous landmark.
The area around The Split is a bustling hub of activity, with the legendary Lazy Lizard bar and grill providing loud music and a lively setting for visitors to enjoy cold drinks, fresh lobster, and sunset views.
The north side of The Split offers a more tranquil experience, with serene spots and sandy beaches that are ideal for sunbathing and unwinding.
You can take a water taxi across from one side to another on demand. It runs all day with the last run at about 10pm.
9. Party at the Lazy Lizard
The Lazy Lizard is one of the best places to hang out on the island to enjoy cold Belikan Beer, fresh seafood, and a party atmosphere on the island. Boat tours from cruises and Ambergris Caye all stop here to enjoy reggae music and dancing. Plus there is a natural swimming pool right on The Split where you can cool off. It feels like you are on a sandy beach, even though it is all shored up with a sea wall.
Cocktails are pricey, but it’s a fun place to hang out for an afternoon. Plus, if you are really ready to do some partying, try the Lizard Juice, a frozen green cocktail that tastes so good, it can be dangerous!
10. Sunday Fun Day – Caye Caulker
If you happen to be on the island of Caye Caulker on a Sunday, you may want to join the Sunday Fun Day. On Sundays, you’ll enjoy unlimited rum punch for $ 25 USD while getting to know your fellow travelers. You’ll enjoy games on the beach and a sunset cruise on a houseboat.
We didn’t do this, but we met with a few people afterward during our free water taxi back to El Ben Cabanas and they were feeling no pain. (that is until the next morning I am sure)
11. Sunset from Rooftop Bar
During our Taste of Caye Caulker Food Tour, we visited several restaurants from beach cafes to sports bars and rooftop patios. One of the best things to do in Caye Caulker is to pull up a chair at a rooftop bar and the highest point on the island is …. the best place to take in panoramic views of this tropical paradise. You can from the East to West Side of Caye Caulker, out to the Caribbean Sea, and all the way to the northern Island.
12. Beach parties
No Caye Caulker travel guide would be complete without mentioning the famous Caye Caulker beach parties. Caye Caulker is definitely the party island of Belize and there are popup beach parties everywhere you go. Caye Caulker takes its laid-back reputation seriously with parties that epitomize the essence of Caribbean island life.
Travelers mix and mingle with each other listening to a mix of live music, ranging from reggae to soca, creating an infectious rhythm that invites everyone to dance barefoot in the sand. The beach parties typically feature fresh seafood along with Belizean rum cocktails, offering a taste of the island’s culinary delights. Whether you’re looking to party until dawn or enjoy a relaxed evening by the sea, Caye Caulker’s beach parties are a must-do for an authentic and memorable island experience.
13. Take a Photo of the Caye Caulker Sign
It’s short and sweet, but you must stop at the Caye Caulker sign. In fact, there are two Caye Caulker signs where you can grab a selfie to prove that you have been to the island.
The new official Caye Caulker Sign is just a couple of blocks from the Split on the main road. This colorful sign captures the feel of all the iconic signs worldwide. It was built in 2018 and is a fun stop on the island in the heart of Caye Caulker Village.
Caye Caulker Sign #2
The iconic “Go Slow” sign of Caye Caulker seems to be gone. (At least we couldn’t find it) But this one is located near the main water taxi pier on the island. The area around the water taxi pier is a central hub of activity on the island, making the sign easy to find upon arrival.
14. Go Scuba Diving
Being the second-largest barrier reef in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is no wonder that people come to Caye Caulker with only one thing in mind: to scuba dive the Belize Barrier Reef. We didn’t go scuba diving on this trip to Caye Caulker, but in 2003, our prime objective was to do as many dives as possible.
This majestic reef stretches over 300 kilometers and has many exceptional dive sites. We’ve already mentioned The Great Blue Hole but plenty of other dive sites exist. Head to Hol Chan Marine Reserve just offshore from Caye Caulker for vibrant coral gardens.
Turneffe Atoll, another not-to-be-missed dive spot, boasts diverse ecosystems and the chance to encounter larger marine species like barracudas and groupers. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned diver, the Belize Barrier Reef is a great diving destination with its calm and shallow waters to deep, dark depths. Experienced divers shouldn’t miss the challenge of Tackle Box Canyons, offering deeper dives and the chance to explore underwater caverns.
15. Feed the Tarpon
Feeding tarpon is a fun experience that everyone has to do once in their life. Located on the docks just down from the Lazy Lizard on the island’s west side, hungry acrobatic fish are waiting for dinner. The cost is 5 Belize Dollars ($2.50 US) for a bowl of sardines.
Keep an eye out for the pelicans; they are better at snatching the fish than the tarpins! As in the case of Shark Ray Alley, tarpons were initially drawn to the docks when local fishermen would clean their catch and discard the remains into the sea. They have returned ever since and demand that tourists feed them regularly.
16. Visit the Seahorse Reserve
Another place to visit in Caye Caulker is the Seahorse Reserve. I remember when diving in 2003, it was here that we finally saw seahorses for the first time.
Located just outside the Iguana Reef Inn on the West Side of Caye Caulker, just up from the Tarpon dock, is a tangle of seagrass where seahorses like to hide. No touching is allowed, but it is fun to watch them from above. However, there is nothing as special as spotting seahorses when diving. It’s such a rare opportunity.
Caye Caulker is known for its seahorse conservation efforts. Visitors to Caye Caulker can typically find seahorses in the mangrove areas where they cling to submerged vegetation. The calm and clear waters around The Split provide an excellent opportunity for snorkelers to spot seahorses in their natural habitat.
17. Paddle Around Caye Caulker
Dave and I love getting out on the water every chance we can get, and if a sunset sail or catamaran tour isn’t in the budget, you can take a more affordable trip around the calm waters on a kayak or stand-up paddleboards. SUP and kayak rentals are available at many places around the island; you can see it all in a day.
If you are new to kayaking or SUP, start on the lagoon side, where the water is calmer, but if you have a calm day, most of the water is calm around Caye Caulker.
18. Manatee Snorkelling Tour
We didn’t see manatees during our first trip to Caye Caulker, and we missed them again! But these gentle giants can be spotted on a snorkeling tour to the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary. Plus, we’ve been lucky to see them in Florida in the past.
The Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary is closer to Belize City than Caye Caulker. It is only 12 miles off the Belize mainland, but tours can still be organized from Caye Caulker.
Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary is specifically known for being a haven for the West Indian Manatee. It was established to protect the manatee population and their natural habitat, and it has become a critical feeding and breeding ground for these gentle marine mammals.
A snorkel tour here offers a unique opportunity for visitors to observe these creatures as they graze on seagrass beds or playfully glide through the water in a responsible and ecologically sensitive manner.
19. Take a Stroll on the Northern Island – Caye Caulker
Caye Caulker is split into two parts thanks to Hurricane Hattie in the 1960s. And they both have a very different feel. North Caye Caulker is working to attract a more upscale clientele that still wants to be close to the fun laid-back vibe of the South. It’s easy to get to and from each half of the island using water taxis and the resorts have free shuttles on regular schedules.
I feel it won’t be long before the northern island of Caye Caulker sees more tourists. Right now, people are drawn to the North Island for finer dining and relaxation. El Ben Cabanas is known to have the best dining on the island. The Northside Beach Club (formerly Koko King) has a restaurant that nonguests can eat at and is worth checking out.
We loved staying at El Ben because we had outgrown our backpacking days, but we could still enjoy the chill side of the island and reminisce about our Caye Caulker Travel in 2003. Once we had enough of the dreadlock hippy crowd, we could hop on a boat back to peace and luxury.
20. Scuba Dive The Great Blue Hole
Most people visit The Great Blue Hole to scuba dive into its deep depths. This massive underwater sinkhole reaches about 124 meters (407 feet), attracting divers from across the globe. It’s not only the most famous dive site in Belize, but it is one of the most famous dive sites globally, inviting advanced divers to explore its deep, cavernous depths and ancient stalactite formations.
This remarkable hole was a cave that formed over centuries and is now an underwater collapsed sinkhole similar to the cenotes of the Yucatan in Mexico. As the ocean waters rose, the cave flooded and its ceiling caved in. Today, divers can see stalactites, which were formed when the cave was above sea level. Several species of sharks frequent the Great Blue Hole and divers see colorful fish in its clear blue waters.
Where to Stay in Caye Caulker
The island of Caye Caulker is divided into two halves providing completely different experiences. Caye Caulker Hotels on the south island have more of a beach hut and rustic feel; however, you are in the heart of all the action.
Staying on the northern island is much more luxurious and quiet; however, you do need to take a water taxi back each night or grab a lift across The Split, which can add up quickly as it is $5 per person one way.
We stayed at El Ben Cabanas, which is the perfect blend of luxury while still being an easy and short trip to Caye Caulker Village or The Split.
Where to Eat in Caye Caulker
1. Enjoy Fresh Seafood at The Lazy Lizard Located at the iconic Split, The Lazy Lizard specializes in fresh seafood like grilled lobster, conch fritters, and ceviche, all seasoned with local spices and flavors.
2. Authentic Belizean Flavors at Syd’s Fried Chicken For those seeking a taste of authentic Belizean cuisine, Syd’s Fried Chicken is a must-visit. T
3. Italian Delights at Il Pellicano Cucina Italiana – Craving Italian on a Caribbean island? Il Pellicano Cucina Italiana serves up a delightful array of Italian classics, from homemade pasta to delectable pizzas.
4. Vegan and Vegetarian Options at Namaste Café – Health-conscious and vegetarian visitors will love Namaste Café. This cozy café offers a variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes, smoothies, and health drinks.
5. El Ben Cabanas – Upscale dining with wine and cocktails
6. Salty’s – A fun beach bar with local Belizean cuisine.
How to Get to Caye Caulker
Most people visit Caye Caulker from Belize City via water taxi or ferry. We took a flight from Belize City with Tropic Air that lasted about 10 minutes. This is a great way to optimize vacation time and double as a scenic flight as it takes you over the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve and the Belize Barrier Reef.
If you’re traveling from Ambergris, regular water taxis are also available, making island hopping a breeze. We also flew to Ambergris from Caye Caulker; the flight time was 8 minutes.
Getting Around Caye Caulker
Caye Caulker is a small island and you can get around mostly by walking. However, golf cart taxis are readily available if you have a farther way to go or are just looking to relax. They cost $5 per person and will take you to wherever you need to go.
When to Visit Caye Caulker
The best time to visit Caye Caulker is during Belize’s dry season, from late November through May. This is when you will have sunny weather perfect for watersports, snorkeling, and scuba diving. That said, we visited the second week of December and still saw quite a bit of rain. Climate change is taking its toll on tourist destinations worldwide, so be prepared.
November through May is the peak tourist season when water temperatures are warm; however, this is also the most expensive time to visit Belize, with hotel rates at their highest.
The rainy season from June to November can be pretty wet. For travelers seeking a balance between weather and fewer crowds, the shoulder seasons – early November and late May – present a sweet spot. During these times, you’ll enjoy pleasant weather with fewer tourists.
What is Better, Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye
However, San Pedro has a lot to offer, as well as there are more resorts and hotels to choose from, and many of the activities we did on Caye Caulker can also be done on Ambergris. But even if you do make Ambergris Caye a base, make sure to spend at least a day or two with its quieter and more laid neighbor.
We have visited both islands and still prefer the quiet Caye Caulker. Caye Caulker’s motto is to “go slow,” and it doesn’t take long to adopt that attitude as you sip rum punch while watching the sunset. There are no cars on Caye Caulker and fewer golf carts than Ambergris Caye zipping along its sandy streets. Plus if you stay on Caye Caulker North Island, you can enjoy a luxurious vacation …
We hope we inspired you to visit Caye Caulker in our Caye Caulker travel guide.
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