‘Go slow or go home’ is the motto here. As Londoners, this phrase was alien to us. More like madness! ‘How can people move this slowly?’, we said to each other as our boat docked at the Caye Caulker jetty.
A 20 minute water taxi ride away from San Pedro, Caye Caulker is a tiny island in Belize that is literally about a mile wide and 5 miles long, with a population of approximately 1300 people. Until the 60s Caye Caulker was unheard of in the world of tourism. It was only in the 1970s groups of backpackers/hippies began to arrive. Needless to say..some of them never left, and who could blame them! Crystal clear waters, hardly any waves, seafood as fresh as if you were to eat it straight out of the sea and cooked to perfection on a BBQ. No cars, just golf buggies and bicycles, the loveliest people, and sunshine all year round. It doesnt get any better than that!
We began our stay here by checking into the wrong hostel, as you do..but the owner was so lovely she even sent us an email afterwards to give us tips on restaurants and shops. After we checked into the right hostel we decided to explore the town on our two old and rusty, but free bicycles that came along with the accomodation.
Caye Caulker has 3 main streets. Front street (on the sea front), middle street and back street, and thats about it! Everything you need is on these 3 streets connected by perpendicular lanes. The island also has a split down the middle caused due to a series of hurricanes in past years that now divides it into North and South Island. Front street is lined with several street vendors for all things hippie! Bags, jewellery, clothes, you name it! There is no shortage of street food joints either, with freshly barbecued meat and seafood practically every 20 metres. There are also several tour agencies organising snorkelling and sailing trips from Caye Caulker. We didn’t opt for a snorkelling trip as we had already done one from Ambergris Caye. In hindsight I would have probably done it from Caye Caulker as it was half the price we paid. The two most highly recommended tour companies are Raggamuffin tours (for snorkelling trips $65 per person) and Frenchie’s Diving for diving. Jamie did an unforgettable day trip to the Blue Hole with them. See his seperate blog post on the Blue Hole.
‘The split’, as the locals call it is home to a long standing establishment called the Lazy Lizard where we, along with every other visitor spent a LOT of time drinking rum punch (lethal in large doses) and Belikin’s in the day and night. Other after hour haunts included the Sports Bar (with a great DJ, who literally never takes his backpack off), and the newly opened Koko King, a 2 minute boat ride away (Koko king is a much more upmarket version of the Lazy Lizard. Felt like being in Marbella or Ibiza! We preferred the homely vibe at Lizy Lizard). Several friends were made at the Lizy Lizard over the week, includind our lovely bartender Wilbert who has a wife and a baby girl and is currently trying to give up beer and get his body back in shape (yes..that’s how much time we spent there). We also managed to hit the Belizean version of a full moon party. After several shots of Captain Vito’s coconut rum, learning to groove to Reggaeton music the Caribbean way, and visits to the local ‘cake’ lady, needless to say a fabulous time was had by all and none of us rememeber getting back to our respective abodes. I do however, have a vague memory of a local introducing me to his family as ‘white chocolate’, which is apparently an endearing term for someone that looks bang in the middle of black and white..must have been teh sunburn?
After a week of living the Caye Caulker life, I must say that this place will change anyone’s outlook on life and teach you to appreciate its simple pleasures i.e. Eat, sleep, relax, repeat! Oh, and turn you into a hippie of course. A slow one at that :). We left with a heavy heart and fond memories of some of the nicest people we have ever met! Until next time…
We arrived Caye Caulker just at the start of lobster season, and we were told that the best way to enjoy it was to buy it fresh from the fishermen returning from sea and cook it with local spices. Combine Jamie’s culinary skills and my haggling skills and viola.. you have a perfectly cooked sea food platter and a jug of rum punch for just $15!
If you aren’t the cooking kind, Caye Caulker is the home of some of the best barbecued food I have ever tasted. They will barbecue anything to absolute perfection. It also helps that everything is relatively cheaper then San Pedro. Below is a list of all the MUST try places for food for every budget:
If you have a medium to big budget (50-60 BZD for two people including a drink or two)
- Rose’s Grill (the best pricey seafood restaurant in town)
- Dee n Dee’s (really good bbq and even better sunset)
- Southside Pizza (the best pizza in town. Try the Heritage Softail with an extra topping of Pepperoni. Divine)
- Belizean Flava: If you were walking down Front Street just around the back of Sports Bar, and a man was screaming at you from above, you are in the right place. This tiny little grill located in a small balcony above the sports bar might look like a dive but served some of the best jerk chicken I have ever eaten (20 BZD for half a chicken and enough rice to feed you for two meals)
- Chef Kareem’s: Kareem’s is located on the side of front street literally a few metres from The Split. If fine dining by the sea is your thing then this place is not going to be up your street. It is basically a gazebo, a few chairs, a table, a bbq and a cart. Kareem and his friend (we call him the coconut man) are in the same place everday from 12-5pm and will bbq anything from chicken to pork to culinary orgasmic levels for just 15 BZD served with tender coconut for an extra 5 BZD if you like. It doesnt end there. After you have eaten the coconut, the bloke will also serve you a oile of coconut meat which is equally delightful! Needless to say this joint was our favourite in Caye Caulker and we enjoyed several lunches here. Plus, Kareem is one of the nicest people you will ever meet!
Super cheap eats:
- Erolyn’s Fry Jacks: THE BEST and I think the only fry jacks in Caye Caulker. The most expensive one costs 3.50 BZD. Try the beans, ham and cheese fry jack! HEAVEN!
- Taco lady: This is a small cart also located on front street right next to Belizean Flava. A husband and wife duo ride it around selling Mexican style taco’s for just 5 BZD!
- Chef Juan’s Kitchen: Small hole in the wall between front street and middle street. Great for pulled pork burgers and shirmp curry!