Updated: April 5th, 2019
How slow can you go?
How slow can you go?
How slow can you go? Really though, you should be thrilled I’m not asking how low you can go ’cause then you’d have to listen to me ramble on about that time I got a really bad sunburn on my ass in Belize and my husband had to search for, chop up and apply aloe to my cheeks just so I could eat dinner at a restaurant without crying. That’s how low I got in Belize.
So Caye Caulker’s official motto is “Go slow.” This is probably directed at your need to operate on Caribbean island speed but might also refer to the fact that Caye Caulker, Belize has two cemeteries and zero hospitals. It also sounds a lot like an appropriate slogan for an old folks’ home (with whom I’m sure Caye Caulker would happily share their catchphrase provided grandma and grandpa were down with also going halfsies on a bucket of Belikin).
Personally, it’s hard for me to “go slow” which is why my husband and I were so thrilled to have discovered Belize where we could go halfsies on a vacation. Non-stop, life-threatening jungle adventure for me, cake by the ocean for him. Caye Caulker, you’re moving so carefully; let’s start living dangerously.
Besides moving at the speed of your grandmother down a staircase, Caye Caulker is also colorful enough to keep even a Care Bear happy. Blue skies, green palms, an impossibly turquoise ocean, red cheeks, pink, purple, orange buildings–it’s like you’ve finally made it over the rainbow! If happy little windsurfers fly, beyond the rainbow, why, oh, why can’t I?
The island of Caye Caulker takes up a total of six square miles. That’s the New England equivalent of roughly the space containing no fewer than 23 Dunkin Donut franchises. Six square miles! I know people with bigger backyards than that. No wonder their motto is “go slow”… if you go too fast you’re likely to just go right off the side. But that’s what makes Caye Caulker so charming. That, and the fact that all the island’s power is generated by a couple hundred iguanas on hamster wheels. Totally true.
The island, though lacking in cars, a sense of urgency and, yes, places to go should you cut your hand open slicing an orange, is full to the brim with a strong Creole/Rastafarian influence and the hilarious artistic creations that follow.
3 DAYS IN CAYE CAULKER, BELIZE
When planning this trip, I almost thought that 3 days in Caye Caulker would be too long to sit and stare at water and air but by our last morning I was near tears at the thought of leaving. I’d grown quite fond of the bicycle way of life and the resulting butt bruises, the lack of pavement, the clangy sound of the steel drum, and having random bitches follow me back to my cabana.
HOW TO GET TO CAYE CAULKER
Getting to Caye Caulker from Belize City is a simple, straightforward process. It’s like they want foreigners to visit. I promise, you go through more hassle just trying to park at the mall. (The things we do for Auntie Anne’s…) I’ll admit my expectations were unsurprisingly low given my extensive travel throughout both Venezuela and Italy where the concept of time is looser than Aladdin’s pants.
At the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport, hop a cab to the Belize Water Taxi — a ride that will take you 25 minutes and cost $25. The fast and furious introduction to Belizean speed bumps is on the house. When you arrive at the boat terminal, a man will approach you and take your bag. He’ll tag it with your destination and take it bye-bye. It will happen very quickly (we ain’t in Caye Caulker yet, son). DO NOT FREAK OUT ABOUT THIS.
You can find the water taxi schedule here and a trip from Belize City to your 3 days in Caye Caulker will take about 45 minutes and cost $15 ($25 roundtrip). The titillating sensation of feeling like a dog with its head out the car window for the better part of an hour is on the house. At the boat terminal you’ll find plenty of gift shops, some restrooms, an air conditioned waiting area and all the bad 80s movies you can stomach on a cathode ray tube TV.
After boarding your assigned vessel, you may very well see your luggage still sitting at the edge of the dock as your boat pulls away. DO NOT FREAK OUT ABOUT THIS. You’ll try to get the driver to STOP THE BOAT because you can see your bag didn’t make it (it’s zebra-striped for crying out loud–I’m not mistaken, sir). He’ll pretend not to understand English and then pump the gas, sending the boat into hyperdrive. DO NOT FREAK OUT ABOUT THIS.
Oh, hey, look! There’s a Texan on your boat. He explains that all the luggage is following us on another boat because… why the hell not? You dock, your luggage docks, now you gotta try that “relaxing” thing you keep hearing about.
If you’re into prop planes and airports that can fit in your pocket, you can take a 17-minute flight from Belize City to Caye Caulker. Both Maya Island Air and Tropic Air offer flights for under $90 each way. I have no personal experience to relate but seventeen minutes is pretty dreamy to a time-budget traveler and I can only imagine those views are what Drake was singing about: Question is will I ever leave you? The answer is no, no, no, no, no, no.
WHERE TO STAY IN CAYE CAULKER
You had me at “2 geckos.”
Sure, the stocked kitchen, free wi-fi, purified water station and complimentary bicycles are nice, but when a hotel lists “2 geckos” on their list of amenities, search. over. Just look at how cute Colinda Cabanas is–it’s like the real-life tropical treehouse I never had as a child. All that’s missing is a sign that says “NO BOYS ALLOWED.” Just kidding, I’m married. I can’t be saying things like that anymore. Instead I’ll just paint “TAMPONS” on the side and that should do the trick.
Besides being the apparent dream wedding locale of every bride on Pinterest, Colinda Cabanas is actually perfect for 3 days in Caye Caulker (or as a lifelong residence, we’ll see how things go). They stock you up with everything you need: towels, Belizean coffee beans, five gallons of water you’ll empty three times in three days, shelves of books, and a life-giving, high-powered wind machine to sleep naked in front of.
There’s a hammock on the deck, two complimentary bicycles for your entire stay, kayaks and snorkeling gear for anyone’s use and a safe in the room so safe that as soon as your husband puts your purse, camera and passport inside the battery dies, sealing all your most precious and valuable belongings inside to live out the rest of their days. No pirate will ever get yer booty! DO NOT FREAK OUT ABOUT THIS.
Among Juan-the-manager’s job duties is the noble act of booty rescue (or as I like to call him, the Cabanager). He’ll also, as previously mentioned, provide you with “fishing” “equipment” and give you a tour of the joint while his wife Emelita explains a map of Caye Caulker. It’s like two streets. I mean it; if you’ve conquered Level 1-1 of Super Mario Brothers, you got dis.
They have a private pier with lounge chairs and hammocks for you to chill in while your husband tries to catch dinner using a piece of dental floss tied to a doorstop. Colinda Cabanas is in the perfect location and we felt safe the entire time. (However, the day stray dogs learn to pick locks we’re all in for some real trouble.)
In short, when I return to Caye Caulker (not if, but when), I will 100%, without a doubt, stay at Colinda Cabanas again. Check out their TripAdvisor reviews and rates here or just go ahead and book your stay here ⇣ and tell them that Ashley sent you. They won’t know what you’re talking about but you should do it anyway just to see what happens. Read more reviews on Tripadvisor | Book your room here!
WHAT TO DO IN CAYE CAULKER
If you’ve done any research whatsoever into spending 3 days in Caye Caulker, you’ve read that hanging out at The Split is where it’s at and they’re absolutely right. I wasn’t convinced that I’d be all that into “hanging out” but as it turns out, IT’S MY JAM. We passed an entire day here at the Lazy Lizard and I was still sad at the end when I had to be toted home in a bicycle basket.
The Split is literally a split in the island caused by a hurricane a few years ago. At the Split is Caye Caulker’s largest bar/hangout, the Lazy Lizard, where you’re sure to get tanned, drunk, and hustled at cornhole by a guy with dreads longer than your list of excuses for missing work this week. (You can’t hustle a hustler, darling. I played in a cornhole league in 2013. Who’s the loser now?)
I stuck to my Belikin buckets but everyone was drinking these frozen green behemoths they called so unappetizingly Lizard Juice. Have you ever tried drinking a frozen green cocktail on the surface of the sun? It looks not unlike the Wicked Witch of the West’s final moments and has you feeling the same feels. Ahhh! I just paid $15 for this now it’s melting! Melting! Oh, what a world, what a world…
The Lazy Lizard has the coolest shade on the island–the only spot where you can actually feel mostly dry. You can drink in the ocean (just don’t drink in the ocean, fish poop in there), swim in the currents, and they’ve got a bumpin’ day-long playlist that’s half reggae and half 90s pop, presumably so you can finally take your dance routine to Britney Spears’s “Sometimes” out of your bedroom and onto an actual dock.
Snorkeling is the number one activity in Belize and for good reason: Caye Caulker is located just outside the world’s second largest barrier reef. I’ve written an entire article on my experience snorkeling in Belize with Caveman Snorkeling Tours that you can read here. It’s got everything you need: booking information, animals and sights you’ll see, and more – but go ahead and check out this video that includes the moment a massive sea turtle (whom I’ve nicknamed Dave Matthews) crashes into me.
TRY YOUR HAND AT BELIZEAN “FISHING”
Got a piece of yarn and a two-by-four? Got some ribbon and an old coconut shell? Got a long thread hanging off your cutoff jorts and a stale baguette? You’re all set! Now just throw three hours of your day out into the ocean and maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of a fish as it swims by laughing at you. (You may need to read this post first to understand Belizean fishing.)
You can explore the island by bike. Trust me, it’s a real Tour-de-Plants.You can go kayaking and/or snorkeling off the shore with the gear provided by Colinda Cabanas. Or if you’re in the mood to be cute, shorekeling.
You can lay in hammocks if you’re into that sort of thing. The “Go Slow” gods will appreciate your gesture and repay you with a lower blood pressure.
You can shop for crafts at the Caye Caulker Craft Market. This, I have no information on because Margarita Mike’s happened and that’s all I have to say about that.
You can drink piña coladas at Margarita Mike’s.
WHERE TO EAT IN CAYE CAULKER
ERROLYN’S HOUSE OF FRYJACKS
Fryjacks are a totally Belizean food that you’ll find more prevalent in Caye Caulker than you will farmers’ tans. It’s a sort of fried dough that’s stuffed with any variety of things with the exception of cateloupe. We went to Errolyn’s for breakfast and got fryjacks stuffed with egg/cheese/chicken/whatever you want. It’s delicious. It’s fast. It’s cheap. It’s portable.
BRISAS DEL MAR
Another spot for a great breakfast and the only one with a semi-web presence — Brisas del Mar. Good, appropriately-priced food, great coffee (Belize coffee is fabulous in general), and worth the views alone. Every morning should start like this, no?:
AUNTIE’S TAKE OUT
The walk-up window at Auntie’s is fast, friendly, cheap, and delish! That fresh natural jiuce is one of a kind. I think I spent all of breakfast wondering why the chicken has goggles with him. Chickens don’t swim.
Don’t judge a restaurant by it’s resemblance to a prison, I always say.
PIZZA AL TAGLIO
Pizza al Taglio has great pizza, gelato, views, and is owned by real Italians. I knew it’d be impossible for them to resist the “go slow” motto. Pizza al Taglio is located right outside the entrance to the Lazy Lizard.
This is still Central America — of course you can get cheap street tacos!
WHERE NOT TO EAT
You’re going to want to have a couple of nice dinners out at places that frown on those of us that have to stand to eat because our butts hurt–totally understandable. But keep in mind that price doesn’t always equate to quality and/or having a great time. Sometimes, you can have a lot more fun with a $2 impulse purchase taco.
ROSE’S GRILL AND BAR
Apparently this place is Caye Caulker famous. Like, “you haven’t been to Caye Caulker if you haven’t eaten at Rose’s” or something similar no doubt perpetuated by the owners of this establishment. Well, Caye Caulker, you should know Rose is tarnishing your reputation.
In short, the rare tuna I ordered took an hour and came out well done. (Who wants well done tuna? I’m not a cat.) We were able to get just one beer in that same time frame. And our bill was well beyond what we’d prefer to pay for that kind of blatant expression of the “Go Slow” motto.
We should’ve stuck to our own motto: “Go Cheap and Fried.”
AMOR Y CAFE
Another example of overcooked and overpriced food that we waited too long for.
It took us just one day to realize that the cheap street food was, duh–cheaper, but was better quality and served from friendlier faces. And also that I can never get on board with a “Go Slow” way of life when it pertains to my food. My personal motto: “Go away unless you’ve got food.”
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