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This trip was the escape I needed. With four months of working through the busiest time of the year and trying to cross things off on an infinite to-do list, I knew I was nearing my breaking point. As someone who recharges through travel, this trip couldn’t come fast enough. And when it was finally time to board my flight to Caye Caulker, I couldn’t have been happier.
The country of Belize is nestled on the east coast of Central America right under the southern tip of Mexico. It became a colony of the British Empire in the 1800’s, and named British Honduras. Because of this, it is the only country in Central America whose first official language is English. It was officially renamed Belize in 1971, and gained independence in 1981.
The main reason I wanted to visit Belize was to explore the abundant marine life. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest barrier reef in the world, and the photos of the Great Blue Hole made my scuba heart flutter. If you are looking for a less known, budget-friendly tropical paradise that is equal parts adventure and relaxation, add Belize to your travel bucket list.
What to Know Before Visiting Belize
- The exchange rate is $1 USD=$2 BZD. Most places take US currency, and you can pay with a mix of USD and BZD. Be sure to always carry cash, because few places will take credit cards
- The Belize Water Taxi is the most cost-effective way to the islands from Belize City. A round-trip ticket will run you about $28 USD, compared to a charter plane which is about $300 USD
- English is spoken everywhere
- Sunscreen is absolutely needed, and many dive and snorkel boats require you use reef-safe sunscreen
- The fastest and most direct flight to Belize City is from Houston, Texas
Where to Stay in Caye Caulker, Belize
- Colinda Cabanas. I could not recommend this place enough. For such a small price tag, I kept my expectations low before arriving, but they were exceeded within the first five minutes. Juan and Emelita, who live permanently in the cabana area, are incredibly friendly and helpful. I was given use of complimentary bikes, kayaks, and snorkel gear for the week. Steps from an incredible dock, my cabana had fans, warm water, and a coffee maker. What more could you possibly need?
What and Where to Eat in Caye Caulker, Belize
- Belizean Flava: Belizean Rice and Beans
- Reina’s: Fryjacks
- Fantasy Dining: Conch Ceviche
- Amor y Cafe: Coffee
- Namaste Cafe: Bagels, Fruit, and Yoga!
What to Do in Caye Caulker, Belize
- Water Activities: whether you scuba, snorkel, kayak, or windsurf, Caye Caulker has it all!
- Swim with Sharks: I am a crazy shark lady, and any chance I have to observe and swim by these beautiful creatures is a breathtaking experience. Nurse and Caribbean Reef Sharks are the most common in the area, but there is also opportunities to see hammerheads! As always, be respectful and observant of their home and boundaries.
- Explore the Island: It takes less than 30 minutes to walk from one end of the island to the other, and each shop and cafe has their own flair. As the locals say, “Go slow” and really experience everything the island has to offer.
- Catch Some Rays: watch the sunrise on one side of the island and the sunset on the other. Oh, and see some stingrays in the water too!
- Eat Fresh Seafood: Caye Caulker is known for its daily catch, and lobster season is the best time to sample their wide variety of seafood.
Other Places to Go Near Caye Caulker
- The Great Blue Hole: a bucket list experience that’s unforgettable
- Half Moon Caye: a secluded island where red-footed boobies nest
- Esmeralda Reef: the scuba diving was incredible, and the reef was in some of the best condition I have ever seen
Eco-Travel Tips for Belize
- Book activities with eco-friendly tours: it is always important to be mindful and conscious of the impact your tourism has on a country, and it is especially important to book activities that do not harm the local community or wildlife. I recommend Stressless Tours and Reef Friendly Tours, who don’t feed or harass wildlife and are dedicated to minimizing their impact on the environment.
- Bring bamboo utensils with you
- Wear only reef-safe sunscreen (see my blog post on my recommendations here)
- Bring shampoo and conditioner bars
- Reusable water bottle