5 Reasons This Little-Known Island in Belize Should Be Your Next Vacation

Julia Baily
By Julia Baily 
Published
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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Caye Caulker is a tiny limestone island about 20 miles off the coast of Belize. Whether you’re visiting Caye Caulker for the day or planning to spend a week, know there’s plenty to do.

Here are five reasons to seriously consider Caye Caulker for your next vacation.

1. The Split

Rumor has it that a hurricane in the early 1960s split the island in two, while others contend the divide was man-made.

The Split

The Split

Regardless, the Split features great snorkeling and a lively beach bar called the Lazy Lizard. Enjoy the music and plan to spend most of the day there.

The Lazy Lizard at the Split

The Lazy Lizard at the Split

For active travelers, the northern side of the island is home to a number of mangrove swamps. Get up early, rent a kayak and spend the morning exploring the area.

2. Cars are prohibited

Most people get around by foot or bike. In fact, full-size vehicles are prohibited.

Fortunately, most hotels and hostels come with complimentary bikes, which make getting around the 5-mile long island easy and a great workout.

3. The unique — and affordable — cuisine

There are so many great food options on the island. Here were some of my favorites:

  • Chef Juan's Kitchen and Pastries. Get the chili and the Key lime pie! Neither will disappoint! (We went back a couple of times.)

  • Dee N D’s. A beachfront BBQ joint. Get the ribs.

  • Bondi Bar and Bistro. Taco Tuesday! Need I say more? Plus, they’re known for their killer strawberry coconut mojito.

  • Crepes and Dreams. Great for breakfast. They make a mean cinnamon iced coffee.

Most restaurants accept credit cards, but a few only accept cash. The official value of the Belize dollar is 2 BZ$ = 1 US$ and, when using a credit card, remember to use one with no foreign transaction fee. These fees typically run about 3% of the purchase price.

4. (Somewhat) easy access to dozens of remote islands

Belize is home to more than 200 islands, from Ambergris Caye, the most commercial, to Half Moon Caye, which doubles as a bird sanctuary. You’ll have no trouble finding an affordable tour guide or company to take you off the island just by walking the main drag.

Bird sanctuary at Half Moon Caye Natural Monument

Bird sanctuary at Half Moon Caye Natural Monument

I visited Belize to get scuba certified and was lucky enough to see the Blue Hole, one of the world’s best dive sites. While the area’s most prolific dives are reserved for advanced divers, you’ll definitely see your fair share of marine life in even the most shallow waters, including reef sharks, stingrays and turtles.

Somewhere near the Blue Hole

Somewhere near the Blue Hole

Reef Shark near the Blue Hole

Reef shark near the Blue Hole

(For those wondering, I was certified through Belize Diving Services and would highly recommend it.)

Worth noting: The boat rides can be exhilarating but also draining for those prone to motion sickness. Prep yourself and bring your own medicine, as many local stores sell Dramamine and Bonine at a stiff premium. During the most beautiful days, the water turns choppy the farther you travel. Several people became badly seasick during my trip to the Blue Hole.

5. The island’s motto is 'Go slow'

With a population of about 1,300 and, what feels like more docks than people, it’s hard not to relax in Caye Caulker. Grab your favorite book and a large beverage, but don’t forget the sunscreen. The average temperature in Belize is 79 F.

Photos by Julia Baily.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of NerdWallet or its partners.
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