So You Want to Adopt a Caye Dog?

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Many people travel to Caye Caulker and fall in love with our charming dogs.  The Caye Caulker Humane Society has been around since 2009 with a goal of keeping the island dogs healthy and happy.   There is a general drop-in clinic every Saturday morning and surgery-by-appointment one day most weeks.  The CCHS tries to keep up with street dogs as well as pets to make sure they stay healthy, immunized and flea and tick free.  It’s no wonder people regularly fall in love with the dogs here!

Although it may seem like there are many street dogs on Caye Caulker, most of the dogs you see roaming down the road, lounging on the beach or swimming in the sea do have owners.  If you meet a dog you feel a connection to, ask around to try to find out whose dog it is.  Most independent dogs on the Caye don’t need rescuing.

As in most places, there are unwanted litters of puppies on Caye Caulker and adopting a young dog may be easier than moving an older dog.  Small dogs that can fit under the seat of an airplane are the easiest and least expensive dogs to transport.  Also, they will have less trouble adapting to non-island life such as the danger of cars and possibly colder temperatures.  Although puppies under 16 weeks cannot receive the rabies vaccine and are therefore prohibited from entering most countries (and the rabies vaccine must be given one month in advance to be effective), 5-month-old pups can be much easier transport than fully-grown dogs.

These are the steps to adopting a dog on Caye Caulker:

1.    Check Facebook Group such as Caye Caulker Humane Society or Caye Caulker Info to see if anyone is looking for a home for a dog.  You can also check with the Humane Society to see if there are any homeless dogs in need of homes.  We usually have one or two that we know would make great pets and for whom we are actively looking for homes.

2.    If you connect with a dog that you think might be homeless, ask around to find out if the animal is indeed homeless.  Ask as many people as possible in the area you met the dog and then come to the Humane Society clinic on Saturday morning to see if any of the volunteers there know the dog.  Try not to do it the last morning of your trip.  It can take awhile to determine if a dog has an owner and you don’t want to be guilty of dog napping.  Taking photos helps too.  Many Caye dogs look alike and if you ask about “the medium-sized brown dog that hangs out at the split” no one will probably be able to help you.

3.    Talk to your airline!  Before you begin the process of adopting a dog from Caye Caulker, check with your airline.  Rules change all the time in the airline industry, and recently several airlines have changed the rules, so dogs need to go freight, rather than as luggage unless the dog and its carrier fit under the seat.  This can mean added hassle and expense.  Some airlines also have a restriction on breeds and characteristics (e.g. pit bulls or short-nosed dogs).  Some airlines won't transport pets at all.  There will be a fee for transporting the dog plus possible additional fees for a broker to clear the dog through customs.

4.    Check the rules in your home country.  Different countries have different rules for importing pets.  The Caye Caulker Humane Society can issue International Health Certificates, but some countries require ID chipping which we are not able to provide on the Caye (though a vet clinic in Belize City can do it).   Most countries require that puppies be old enough to have the rabies vaccine (16 weeks) before they can enter.  They also require that the rabies vaccine is administered one month before entering the country, which means a dog must be 20 weeks old before it can travel.

5.    So you’ve fallen in love with a dog, determined it’s truly homeless and want to bring it back with you.  Bring the dog to a Saturday morning clinic at the Humane Society so it can be examined and determined to be healthy enough to travel.  If the dog is fit to travel, a travel certificate can be issued for BZ $25.

6.    You will also need a carrier or a crate.  The Humane Society can put you in touch with a shop outside Belize City, which will sell you a crate and send it over on the water taxi.  Small under-the-seat carriers can be trickier to find and may require a day trip to San Pedro or Belize City to procure.

7.    You will need to make a reservation for the dog with your airline whether it is flying with you in the cabin or as cargo underneath the plane.

Adopting a dog and bringing it home from another country is not for everyone but there have been some great matches made between tourists and Caye Caulker dogs.   Always consider, though, that there are dogs in need of homes everywhere and it may be easier and less expensive to adopt in your own community.

Today's post was written by our good friend Noelle Gray who has been with the CCHS for almost five years.  Want to learn more about Noel or dogs on Caye Caulker?  Check out her blog at https://dogsofcayecaulker.wordpress.com/

Top Ten Things to do on Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker Top Ten


After multiple family vacations and living on Caye Caulker for some time, I have had the privilege of doing a lot of fun things on this beautiful island. Below is my top ten (in no particular order). I know most of you have read my blog before, but for the newbies, you should be aware all my pricing will be in US dollars. 

Snorkeling with Carlos

If you are a frequent reader, you should really read my article about snorkeling with Carlos. Carlos's Tours, Co. is on Front Street, and he takes people out every day to snorkel the beautiful reef off the coast of the island. During your day long tour, you visit three beautiful sites: Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Coral Garden, and Shark Ray Alley. During your excursion, you stop in Ambergris Caye for lunch, and in the afternoon Carlos feeds you fresh fruit and some rum punch! All this for only 65$. I have gone multiple times on vacations and since I lived here, and always see something different!  This has become a real priority for me to suggest this year because of the news from Australia.  The Great Barrier Reef there has been declared dead which means the reef here in Belize is the largest living reef on the planet.  Do not miss this!

Visiting the Lamanai Mayan Ruins

One of the most beautiful parts of the Latin America are the beautiful Mayan Ruins. I have visited Xunantunich, Nim Li Punit, and Lamanai. Of the three that I visited, Lamanai was the nicest. From our house on Caye Caulker, it is a bit of a voyage getting to any of the ruins, but well worth it in the end. Lamanai was a water taxi, car ride, and river ride away, which was roughly a 4-hour trip; however, once you are at the site, it is well worth it. You get a guided tour of the beautiful Mayan Village (and you get to climb the ruins). They also serve you lunch and give you snacks during your trip. We booked through Luciana on the island, and she got us set up with a great tour company! All for 75$. 

The Belizean Zoo

My niece and nephew went to the Belizean zoo shortly after we moved here and loved it! Located roughly 30 minutes west of Belize City, this zoo is very different from American zoos. The zoo here is more of a sanctuary where only animals that are native to Belize live. Furthermore, these animals are only in the zoo because they can't be released into the wild. You can do a complimentary tour, or you can pay to have a guided tour with the zoo personnel. 

The Howler Monkey Sanctuary

The Community Baboon Sanctuary is a habitat that is specializing in maintaining the howler monkey species and educating visitors on their lifestyle. My niece and nephew also went here when they went to the zoo and saw a momma and her baby during their tour. The Sanctuary stretches over 20 miles and has helped raise over 2000 monkeys. I would pay to have a guided tour when you visit this sanctuary. The tour guides help educate you and also gives you a better opportunity to see some of the furry creatures! 

Going to the North Island

Recently, I wrote an article about visiting the North Caye of Caye Caulker. With no power, all those who live here live on solar energy. Furthermore, most of the land is owned by one man (H.L Dole) and has been turned into a Wildlife Preserve. There are wonderful animals to see here, including many types of birds, fish, and even crocodiles! There are tours in the morning and afternoon, and when we went, we got picked up from the South Island and taken over to the north side by boat. The cost of travel and the tour is 75$. 

Spending a day in Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye is never somewhere we could live, but it is a fun island to spend a day on. It is roughly a 30-45 minute boat ride from Caye Caulker, and you can book this through the water taxi system. When my husband and I went to the island, we rented a golf cart and explored the island. There are a ton of fun little shops to look around while on the island. When you get hungry, I would recommend eating lunch at Elvi's Kitchen. It is just off the main road and has some great Belizean meals. 

Manatee Tour

Manatees are known as the cows of the ocean. Beautiful creatures as they swim through the water, they are a must-see when you are in Belize. My husband and I went with Chocolate (a tour guide) a few years ago and loved it. Unfortunately, he is no longer doing tours, but I have another recommendation: Star Tours. Your tour guides have a love for the Manatees much like Chocolate did. This is a full trip, but you also get to snorkel. I will warn you though; there is a manatee season (January - Mayish) so be aware of this for if and when you want to go. Total for this tour is 85$, but lunch is provided!

Fishing Tour

My brother in law and his girlfriend did a fishing tour the last time they visited, and I have to say, it is definitely on my bucket list. They were able to not only catch some fish, but they brought it home, and we ate it that night! King Fish tours are the best company to go through. You can do a half day tour of deep sea fishing or spear fishing. You can also do a full day of fly fishing. The guides are great at setting the tone according to your experience, and they even gave my brother in law some tips on how to cook their fish! Pricing varies depending on what you want to do, but here is their website: 

Caye Caulker Island Tour with Peter Rash

Peter Rash is local on Caye Caulker and has turned into the family since we moved to Caye Caulker. His wife Rosita is wonderful and watches my niece and nephew. If you spend any time on the island, you should do a golf cart tour with him. For ten dollars per person, he drives you and up to 5 adults around the entire south part of the island and gives you the history of the island and culture. A must do! IF you are feeling more adventurous, you can do a bike tour with his son Richard for 5 dollars a piece. 

Sunset Sail

You definitely can not live on a beautiful island like Caye Caulker without doing a sunset cruise. There is nothing better than the sun setting over the water with a drink in your hand. We did a tour recently and used La Pachanga. They offered Rum Punch and appetizers as part of the tour. The guides were super friendly and made the experience that much more fun. We left the Blue Wave at sunset (time changes) and sailed around the island while the sun went down. You can find them on Facebook below: 

I hope you enjoyed my top ten things to do on Caye Caulker! I hope that you enjoy doing one or all during your time in paradise!

Why is Caye Caulker Split?

The Split On Caye Caulker

We get asked this all the time.  If you have registered for our free map, you will see that it is split into two different pieces: North and South Caye. You may ask yourself why? Well, no worries! I have the story. 

What caused the split? 

In 1961, Hurricane Hattie swept through the Caribbean. The most devastating of the hurricanes that occurred in 61', it is the reason that there are two parts to Caye Caulker. It swept through Caye Caulker and created what we so fondly refer to as "The Split." 

Who uses the split today? 

The Split has become quite a tourist spot for vacationers today. The Lazy Lizard is a bar that set up shop at the split many years ago. Serving lunch, dinner, and drinks, this bar is quite a destination for people all over the world to visit. It is the biggest attraction on the island due to its proximity to the water. The water is also mainly free of seaweed, so it is a beautiful spot to take a dip! A place to "Go Slow" and get a drink while on the island! Also, if you are feeling adventurous, I would recommend swimming to North Caye. You can take some water shoes and explore, or just have the satisfaction of making it across the current in the split. 

North Caye

The North Caye of the island currently has limited power. The homes on the island are run on solar energy mostly although electrical lines started to show up in 2015. Most of the Caye is owned by one owner and is a nature preserve that you can visit and tour. IF you haven't, you can read my article on the North Caye Preserve to learn about how to see it. 

South Caye

The Southern Caye is where the main village of Caye Caulker thrives. This village used to be a fishing village, and still has many fishermen that make a living that way; however, today, tourism is the number one moneymaker for their economy. This is the Caye you will more than likely be staying on during your stay. You can rent a kayak and paddle to North Caye if you want to! 

All done here. 

I think we are all done here! North and South Caye Caulker was split in 1961 when the Hattie Hurricane swept through the Caribbean. These two Cayes work harmoniously and have made the Lazy Lizard the biggest attraction for vacationers today. North Caye currently runs mostly on solar power but has a beautiful nature preserve that you can tour while vacationing. The Southern Caye is where the main village is and is more than likely where you will stay while visiting the beautiful island of Caye Caulker.
 

Where to Eat on Caye Caulker

Where to Eat on Caye Caulker


Caye Caulker may be a small island, but the many eatery options will fill your belly and leave you satisfied. I am here to tell you the top five places to eat on Caye Caulker. You should know that these restaurants are in no particular order, but just my favorites when I visit the island. 

Are you feeling Italian? 

Let us start off with a tour of Italy on this beautiful island. Il Pellicano Cucina Italiana is a fan favorite on Caye Caulker. With excellent service and great food, you definitely will leave miserably (and blissfully) full. I love the vegetarian lasagna. And the vino is to die for! I also love the ambiance that the restaurant gives. They often have live music as well which makes it dinner and a show! They are located on the north side of the island on Back Street. 

What about some Carribean style food? 

If you feel like you want some real Caribbean food, then I have the spot for you: Wish Willy's Bar & Grill. This Caribbean fusion restaurant has the best bbq fish and a great (although different) atmosphere. Willy makes you feel right at home and often has some live music.  That is us in the picture above enjoying a great night with friends at Wish Willy's.

Do you want a beautiful view? 

If you have a big party and want a beautiful view during your meal, one of the best places to go is The Rainbow Grill. Located right on Front Street, the restaurant itself sits out on the ocean and has plenty of room if you have big parties. No matter what time of the night or even when the day is, it is the easiest place to get a seat. My favorite meal here is the shrimp quesadillas. I have tried replicating these at home with no success! They also make an excellent pina colada! Worth a visit during your stay! 

Let's talk about Breakfast!! 

When you visit Belize, you absolutely must have some Fry Jack's. They are the best breakfast item on the island, and I know just the place to get them! Errolyn's House of Fry Jacks is a small fry jack breakfast place on Middle Street and is incredible! We are regulars and now like to bring our breakfast home and enjoy (ha ha). 

It is a small little building, and easy to miss, so keep a keen eye (although it is right across the street from the bank). 
Furthermore, the prices are something you can not beat! Stop here if you get the chance! I love the egg and cheese fry jacks, but if you are a meat eater don't miss the sausage and egg! 

Last but not least...

And for the last restaurant: Godfrey's Seaside Grill. This is a small restaurant just south of the main strip, right on the beach. Although the restaurant is smaller, it has great service and is kid friendly. The owner makes wonderful fresh fish, and the service is impeccable. 

Also, if you get the chance, I would try his drink: the Blue Hole. It is quite the experience! And no worries, for a little fun, you can always play fetch with Roxie, the owner's dog. She is super friendly and fancies herself helpful around the restaurant. 

I am hungry now!

I think I have sufficiently made myself, and hopefully you hungry. There are many options to eat at when on the island of Caye Caulker, but the five above are my favorites. If you are looking for good breakfast, do not forget the fry jacks at Errolyns. You can get great lunch at either Godfrey's or the Rainbow Grill. Lastly, the best dinners that you can get are at Wish Willy's or Il Pellicano's. I hope you enjoy your meals and have a drink for me!

Coffee and Wine on Caye Caulker

Coffee and wine on Caye Caulker


If you are anything like me, a good day starts with coffee and ends with wine. These two drinks are staples in my home and are something that I enjoy on a regular basis. Vacation is most definitely no exception. Beyond my obsession for both drinks above, I expect my coffee and wine to be excellent (yes I am a snob that way haha). So I am here to tell you that you should not worry, both of these wonderful vices can be soothed on our island of Caye Caulker.

Where do we get good coffee?

I want to start by admitting one thing about my adopted home.  Belize is not well known for great (in my opinion not even good) coffee.  The reason is simple, to grow great coffee you need mountains and Belize is a little short on mountains.

For that reason, I prefer the places on the island that sell and serve coffee from Guatemala.  


I would NOT recommend buying any coffee from a local grocer on the island. Most of the choices are not great and will not hit your sweet spot. However, there is a small coffee shop called Ice & Beans on Front Street. 

This coffee shop is attached to the Remax building and by far the best on the island. 

They offer french press, ice coffee and frappes. While you are there, I recommend one of their Rum Balls. Or, if you want something cooler later, grab some shaved ice! They also sell Guatemalan coffee by the pound, in case you need to take some back to your room for later.

If you are planning a long-term stay, you could always have coffee shipped to you. We have their coffee shipped to them from Placencia. It was a Guatemalan brand and was exactly what the Ice & Beans store used. The company that makes the coffee is Above Ground Coffee, and they ordered their house blend.

Are we ready for wine yet? 

Now that you have had your coffee fix let's talk about wine. If you have done any research on the Carribean, you have probably read that wine is not a forte here. I am here to tell you that you are in luck! There are a couple of places on the island that you can get good (even great) wine. 

The first place we are going to talk about is the Dreaded Grape. They are a wine bar towards Back Street and have fresh cheeses, olives, meats, spreads and other snacks to enjoy during your tasting. 

This is a favorite in my family, especially if you want a pre-dinner snack and drink. They do not have a website, but you can find them on Facebook

If you want an excellent meal with wine on the side, there is one restaurant on the island that far beats them all: II Pellicano Cucina Italiana. They are an Italian restaurant that opened on Back Street a couple of years ago, and have the best wine (and food)! Great food, excellent atmosphere, and fabulous service. Check out the beautiful ambiance at their website.

Looking for a nightcap? 

Maybe you are interested in some late night music and drinks? Il Baretto is a small bar on Back Street towards the airport. Owned by Luciana (who also rents apartments), this is a great place for good conversation, snacks and wine with friends. Plus, Luciana has live music on a regular basis. There is no website for this place either, but here is some information on Facebook

Let's wrap this up.

Now, if you are looking for good coffee on the island, there is a great option. Ice and Beans not only serves great coffee but has some good desserts if you have a sweet tooth. If you are staying long term, you can also have coffee delivered to you from Above Ground Coffee in Placencia. If you are looking for wine, there are even more options on the island. If you want an afternoon tasting, I will go to the Dreaded Grape for wine and great artisan cheeses and meats. For great Italian food and wine, I would hit up Il Pellicano on Back Street. There is great ambiance here and wine to boot. Lastly, there is wonderful wine at Il Baretto on Back street. It is owned by Luciana and she often has live music at her bar. Now you can rest easy knowing that you can still enjoy your love for coffee and wine on the island. Enjoy your stay in paradise!

Surviving the Belize International Airport

Belize International Airport

So you're going it to the beautiful country of Belize... YAY! Now you have the adventure of maneuvering through a foreign airport. Have no fear! I have ventured through this particular airport many of times, and I am here to walk you through it! 

What happens when you land? 

The Belize airport is nothing like American Airports today. Unlike the ones you are used to, there is only one runway with a small taxi area. Furthermore, there is only one terminal here (at present, though they are adding a second at the time of this writing). 

When you land at the airport, you taxi to the terminal and exit from the plane directly on the tarmac.  This means you will climb down a set of stairs from the jet.  If you have any walking issues, let the flight crew know during your flight, and they will make sure someone comes to help you down.

After being guided into the airport by personnel, you are put directly in line at immigration. I do recommend stopping for the bathroom right before the line if you need to!   You can be in line as long as 45 minutes (depending on how many planes have landed at the same time) and the bathrooms right before the line starts are the only ones you will see till you are done getting your bags.

Belize Immigration

There are four or five lines at the Belize Immigration point.  Choose the line farthest to the left if possible.  This line is served by three or four agents instead of the one or two agents that are responsible for the other lines.

Remember to have your immigration paperwork filled out before you get up to the agent, including where you will be staying during your trip and how long you plan to be in Belize.  If you are not sure how long you will be in the country, I recommend putting down three or four weeks.  I have heard of people who noted a week or two on their visa, and the immigration agent gave them a visa stamp of only that week or two.  Then if you stay a few days longer, you are screwed.

Also, remember that the maximum tourist visa is 30 days in Belize.  If you are going to be in Belize longer than that you will need to go to one of the immigration locations in the country, pay $25 US per person and get another 30-day immigration stamp.

Don't you just love Customs? 

After you get through Immigrations, you pick up your bags from the luggage carousel and get in line for Belize Customs.  

I want to take a few moments here and give some suggestions to help you get through customs quickly.

  • If you are a couple of families, give all your passports and paperwork to your wife or girlfriend to hand to the agent.  Belize (like all of Central America) is still very macho, and females get a special pass by most men in the country.  
  • If you are traveling with a drone into Belize, be prepared to have it seized.  Drones have Belize very confused right now because they have a small airport system and they are very worried about one of these drones hitting one of their little planes that fly tourists to the islands.
  • Many folks bring in school supplies as a donation to help out local schools.  I think this is great but be ready to pay a customs fee (bribe) to get them through.  

So you're done with Customs and Immigration...

Once you are done with customs and immigration, you are immediately thrown into what I lovingly call: The Hornets Nest. Now, this may sound awful, but not to worry, you will be just fine. 

Just past the customs area, there is an open room where taxi drivers, airline personnel, and vendors who sell excursions await. They will approach you, especially if you look at all lost or in need of help. You will also be approached by many attendants who will want to assist you with baggage. Unless you are willing to tip after, hold onto your luggage; however, if you are prepared, they can be helpful. 

All these vendors are crazy! 

If I can make one recommendation it is this: do not buy excursions from the airport. I would most definitely do one of the following: book your excursions ahead of time through your host; or, wait till you get to your destination and book your excursions there. 

While I would not book any excursions at the airport, it is the best place to find ground transportation. First and foremost, you can step right outside the airport and catch a taxi to your destination. Also, if you have booked ground transportation ahead of time, you should see your name on a paper being held by someone here as well. And fear not! If you are trying to get to the water taxi, they can take you there as well. 

What if you're in need of catching a flight to Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye? As I am sure you have read in one of my previous posts, there are small "puddle jumpers" that fly to both islands multiple times a day. Maya Air and Tropic Air are the two options you can choose from, both companies have booths right here. 

There is no need to even step outside the airport to use this option. You can pick your flight and wait right there in the airport waiting area. There is a restaurant upstairs (with a bar) and some small shops if you have to wait long. 

What about my return trip? 

Unfortunately, vacations do have to end. I would recommend getting back to the Belize airport roughly two hours before your flight. This will give you plenty of time to get through security and get something to eat inside the terminal. The terminal has a small coffee shop and some last minute shopping kiosks for any last minute souvenirs. 

The terminal is small, but you still need to make yourself aware of when you should be boarding your flight. They use speakers to make announcements, but they are not of great quality, so it is hard to understand. Beyond that, you should be good to go! 

Are we done here?

I think it is time to sum this up. Flying to any foreign country can be nerve racking, especially for inexperienced travelers; however, if you have the right information, it can make it less anxious for you. When you land in Belize, just expect an adventure and go with it. Remember, that once you are through customs, you can get some good liquor duty free. Also, be sure to stay away from excursion buying through the vendors at the airport;  but, you can feel comfortable to book your transportation there, ground or air.

Furthermore, on your return trip, give yourself a solid two hours to get through security and get something to eat. But most importantly, have a rocking vacation!

Visiting the Wildlife Preserve on Caye Caulker

Croc On Caye Caulker

Estuary: an enclosed coastal body of brackish of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Caye Caulker is separated into two parts: North and South Caye Caulker. The Southside is mainly populated, while the North Island is largely a wildlife preserve and Estuary. With beautiful scenery, wondrous plants and animals living there, it is a spot worth seeing on your vacation to paradise.

What is the Caye Caulker Wildlife Preserve? 

H.L. Dole, who owns roughly 150 acres on North Caye has recently opened up a preserve. Beginning in 2015, Dole started building a walkway around the preserve and preparing for tour groups to start. A home for different birds, iguanas, crocodiles, and tarpons, this sanctuary is a beautiful piece of nature less than ten minutes from Caye Caulker. 

Who is H.L. Dole? 

H.L. Dole (as I mentioned above) is the primary owner of the North Caye of Caye Caulker. His family bought over 200 acres of the North Caye many years ago, and after selling some of the lands to the Belize government, he still owns 153 acres. Contrary to popular belief (by many in Belize) he is NOT an heir to the Dole Pineapple fortune. Seemingly a mystery beyond this, he has created a beautiful sanctuary on his land.

Why should I do this tour? 

Caye Caulker has beautiful scenery and wildlife that is worth seeing. Richard, one of the tour guides has a passion that makes this tour well worth it. You get to see many beautiful birds and nice size iguana families. Furthermore, there are many freshwater crocodiles that usually peak out during your walk. 

How do I get to North Caye?

Gilligan's Island is a tour company on Caye Caulker that can help you get to the North Caye. They offer a morning tour and an afternoon tour of the sanctuary. The morning tour includes coffee and of course, feeding crocodiles. The afternoon tour includes rum punch, and a sunset boat ride. The price of this tour is $75 US.

How do I book this tour? 

If you are interested in this tour, then you can book directly on the island with Gilligan's Island tour company. You can also book on TripAdvisor 

Let's wrap this up!

While staying at Caye Caulker, this is a quick and easy tour that many don't realize is available.  Don't miss the chance to tour North Caye and get to see something unique.

PS.  Thanks go out to Andy Horton, a great friend of ours for letting us use his picture of the Croc he took while touring North Caye Recently.
 

School On Caye Caulker

School on Caye Caulker Belize

John Dewey says that "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself." (Dewey) This stands true in all countries, including Belize. On Caye Caulker, the place children go to learn is called Ocean Academy. 

What is Ocean Academy? 

Ocean Academy was founded in 2008. It is the one and only High School that is active on Caye Caulker. Their goal is universal education and uses personalized education plans for each student. Before Ocean Academy opened, only 35% of students continued past primary education; now, 90% of students do. 

Who founded Ocean Academy? 

Ocean Academy was founded by Monty Curry, Senior Vice President of BancFirst in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Many Expats are involved in donating time and energy to this school on the island. 

Why is this school so special? 

The current motto of Ocean Academy is "Preserving our Heritage, Creating our Future." This school goes above and beyond to give their students the best future possible. Every student learns the core subjects of English, Math, History and Science. The students also learn Spanish, Life Skills, and an Entrepreneurship class. Furthermore, there are a variety of elective options including guitar, food preparation, graphic design, carpentry, Female Leadership Club, and marine biology. The beauty of these classes is they are specific to the culture of Caye Caulker. 

It is necessary as a citizen of Belize to find a way to make a living later in life. Classes such as marine biology and entrepreneurship are required to become a success in the tourism industry. Tourism being the number 1 industry in the country, this is a field to get into as a child on Caye Caulker. 

Can I get involved? 

As we have lived on Caye Caulker, we have made it a point to become involved with the people who were born in Belize. In that time, we became dear friends with a family on the island (Rosita and Peter). Their oldest, Richard attended Ocean Academy. My wife and I became seriously involved with the school and loved every moment of it. Many other Expats feel the same way. 

There are many ways that you can get involved: volunteering, mentoring, or donations. The school constantly has fundraisers and new construction. Volunteers are often needed to maintain the school. They also can volunteer to teach certain classes at the school. Many people also mentor. Helping get a child on Caye Caulker through school is a huge deal. Mentoring to make this can help many kids get a good education. Lastly, donations are a huge help. School supplies are not cheap, and many students can not afford to buy them. Obtaining these for students is a huge help in continuing their education.

Why are you telling me this man? 

Many people may read this and be curious why I felt the need to tell you about OA. After all, on vacation, why would the local school be of interest to you? If you vacation on Caye Caulker, you will see that the kids that go to OA are a huge part of your vacation. On your way to and from the beach, you will see them commuting to and from school. You will see the students helping their parents with their business after school. They are very much part of the culture and way of life on Caye Caulker. Definitely something worth getting to know! 

Also, the students offer an island guided tour program.  Richard (the above-mentioned student) is one of the tour guides.  He will take you around the island on bike and show you places that few other tourists will get to experience.  All this for a very small fee.  Don't miss the chance.  

If you want to take that tour just leave a comment below with your email and I will be happy to send you Richards email to set it up.

Let's Wrap This Up!

Ocean Academy remains the only High School that is currently on Caye Caulker. They do so many great things for the kids of the island, not the least of which is to encourage secondary education. Many Expats are involved in the school and give up their time and energy to make it better. You will see these kids in their uniform coming and going during your vacation. I would encourage you to get involved if you have a chance!

Where should I stay on Caye Caulker?

Where to stay on Caye Caulker

So, your want to plan a trip to Caye Caulker? 

One of the first things to consider is where to stay on the island? Do you keep looking at millions of trip advisor reviews? Fear not! I have stayed many times and can give you the best advice. There are wonderful options to stay on our small beautiful island in paradise. 

Where should I stay? 

This is a more complicated question than people may think. Where you stay depends on what you want during your vacation. 

There are a few items I suggest people consider before picking a location.  Depending on the importance you place on these things will determine where I would recommend you stay.

Safety

Caye Caulker (as any other place in the world) has crime.  Most of the crime that occurs on our island home is "Crime of Opportunity."  I have written about the crime of the island before, but summarizing, most criminal issues can be avoided with common sense and picking a popular enough place to stay so as to avoid some issues.

Although this may sound counterintuitive, staying in the village will keep you safer.  

If safety is high on your concerns, then I would recommend you stay in the village.

My recommendation, if you want to stay in the village at a very safe place would be Go Slow Appartments.  This amazing place is right in the heart of the village, convenient to everything on the island and amazingly safe.

Quiet

If you are looking for a quiet escape, I would recommend Oasi Apartments. This great little hotel is owned by Luciana Essenziale and can be found on Back Street.  

The hotel is relatively close to the airport and is a 5-minute bike ride into the main village. This amazing place has a pool and offers bikes for the people that stay with her. These apartments are exceptional for a couple or small families. 

Luciana herself is also great because she can give you great recommendations for any excursions you would like to do while on vacation.

Nightlife

If being able to enjoy a nightlife and easily get back to your bed, I would suggest staying in the village.  Again, Go Slow Appartments is an easy 10-minute walk to all of the party spots on the island, including the Split (the main swimming area on Caye Caulker). 

Now, I know that many people come here with families and this requires more space. I have the best place for this. When my family and I visited a couple of years ago, we stayed at Laura's Look Out and Barbara's Beach House. They share a pool and are right on the beach on the south side of the island. They both have three bedrooms and each sleep six people. These properties are managed by Michael, and he is great! Whatever we needed he was there to help! Would stay here again. 

Is there anywhere I should NOT stay? 

There are a couple of places on the island (the south side) that are off the grid.  There is no internet, air conditioning, and television.  Unless you enjoy this type of environment, I would avoid this area.  It is also very remote from the village, which means it will curtail your utilization of the village infrastructure and events.

How do I book? 

One of the best places to book a place on Caye Caulker is through Airbnb.com. This is one of the leading websites that places on the island are listed, and you get the best reviews here. This is how my family has booked during every vacation. 

That's all folks!

I think it is time to sum this up. If you are going to Caye Caulker, there are many options on where to stay. If you want more peace and quiet, I would stay outside the village. If wanting to stay safer and more integrated stay with activities I would stay in the village at Go Slow Belize Appartments.

The last thing I would like to offer is our help.  If you reach out to us and tell us what you're looking for we can make many suggestions.
 

Beaches on Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker Beaches

So you are planning your vacation to paradise. You are probably picturing yourself sitting on a beach in a lounge chair, under an umbrella, with a rum punch in your hand. Well, this may disappoint you, but this may not be the reality on your vacation to Caye Caulker.

Are there beaches on Caye Caulker? 

For those who don't know, Caye Caulker it an island roughly 45 minutes off the coast of Belize. It is technically two islands (North & South) that were split down the middle by a Hurricane Haiti in 1961. The South Island is where the village and people who vacation typically go. The Island itself is only 5 miles long and 1 mile long.

Due to this size, there are not many "beaches" as we know and love. 

Where do I swim then? 

I do not want you to fear! The water around Caye Caulker is beautiful, and there are still great spots to swim at while you are there. For example, the "Split" is the most common place. This is the section where the North and South islands split, and it has a bar there named the Lazy Lizard. This is where everyone goes to party and swim during the day. The water around the split has a current, but you can definitely get your clear water fix here! 

There is another small spot right next to the Split. Named "Sip & Dip". It is very close to the Split but a little bit more intimate. There is a dock that overlooks the water, and the drinks are a lot cheaper than the split. 

If you have little ones, I would recommend "Sip & Dip" for its family friendly assets.  You will find a beach playground with slides that go into the water and picnic tables for eating. 

If you want a quieter and more relaxing experience, there is one other spot that I would unquestionably recommend on the West side of the island. The "West Side" is the calmer side of Caye Caulker. There is a beach right off backstreet about 100 yards down from the Split. It is right in front of the Sea Dreams Hotel.  You can get our map and see this little gem there.

There is one last place that I would recommend on the East side of the island. It is more south than the rest of the options, so if you are very south of the Split, you don't have to walk as much. This spot is right next door to Godfrey's bar and grill. And while you are hanging out you should try one of his "Blue Hole" drinks! My husband and father had this drink recently and let me say it is an experience! 

The village council (the group that governs the island) started a beach reclamation project a few years ago.  This did add some great areas to hang out on a beach and enjoy the sun and surf.  All of these are on the east side of the island, and a couple are very close to Go slow Apartment.  

Do I miss "the beach" when I visit? 

Most people ask me this when I explain what Caye Caulker is like. I have to say; I am someone who finds the beauty in the water and the calmness of it much more important than sitting on a beach. 

Plus, the great thing about Caye Caulker is that there is always a bar within a stone throw distance; therefore, if you want to dry off and enjoy a drink, you just pop in with nothing but a swimsuit on! 

No shoes, no shirt, no problem! 

Let's Finish This Up!

So, to sum this up, no, there are few if any, true "beaches" on Caye Caulker as you would think of them in Florida or Dominican Republic.

However, there are some great spots to swim and drink the day away. Some of these spots being: The Split, by Godfrey's, Sip and Dip and near Go Slow Apartment.

If you want more of a party scene, I would recommend The Split; however, if you are more into a family environment, then I would hit up Sip n Dip or the area by Godfrey's.   If you want to stay with Go Slow Apartment then the beach is just about 100 feet away.

And finally no worries, where ever you choose to swim, a drink is only a short walk away!
 


 

Visiting the Mayan Ruins in Belize

Visit Mayan Ruins in Belize

You may be wondering if visiting the Mayan Ruins is something worthwhile if visiting Belize. I am here to tell you that you are missing out if you do not. When my husband and I visited Belize last spring, we went to see the ruins at Lamanai. This was a recommendation by our dear friend Luciana on Caye Caulker. 

Why did we visit Lamanai? 

Luciana is a friend on Caye Caulker who rents a couple of apartments on Back Street. This ruin and the journey to get there was the most beautiful in her opinion. I can attest to that. Once we got to the site all became well worth it. The site had multiple Mayan sites with a tour guide that gave us the historical aspect of each one. Now before you book this tour, be aware that it is an all day event. 

How did we get there? 

Now, this is the part that may very well put you off. To get to these ruins, we had quite a journey. Before I tell you about it, you should know that getting to any ruins from Caye Caulker is going to be a trip. Most of the ruins are far from the beach. This one, in particular, is very far. 

First, we took the 7:30 am water taxi from Caye Caulker to Belize City. We were met there by a guide who drove us to the Belize New River. This ride was probably the least interesting part of our trip. This ride was about an hour and a half one way. 

Our next step was a boat ride along the river for roughly another hour and a half. This part of the trip (while long), was beautiful. There was tons of greenery and wildlife to see, including a female alligator and her babies.  Our driver was very professional and answered any questions we had along the way about Mayan culture and the sites we saw. Furthermore, there are many Mennonite communities along the river that were interesting to see. Quite a journey, but one that was well worth it. 

Was the journey worth it? 

Yes, yes and yes! The trip to the site may have been long, but if you are someone who enjoys adventure, it is well worth it. The river was beautiful, and the ruins were amazing. We saw various Mayan Temples and what history thinks is a residence for a ruler in that area. We were also able to climb atop one of the temples that not only gave you a beautiful view of the landscape around but is something that you could not do back in the States or Canada. 

Along the trail of the ruins, there was wildlife, including monkeys and many different types of birds. After we had explored the ruins, our guides cooked us a homemade Mayan meal of beans, rice, and chicken. They also had fresh fruit, juice, and water served. It was one of the best meals we had on our trip. 

Any negatives? 

When my husband and I went to the ruins, we went with my Mom and Dad. You may be wondering if kids are an option to bring. I would have to say it is not impossible, but probably not the best choice. This trip becomes quite a long day with a long car ride, boat ride and walking involved. 

If your kids are older, then I think you are fine, but for the little ones, it may be too much. 

The boat ride may also be a point of concern. I have mentioned before that my sister gets motion sickness. This boat ride would have been awful for her, and there are Mayan Ruin options that are accessible by land and not water. 

What should I pack?

Although we packed many items, there were more than a few items that we wished we had brought with, so I want to encourage you to not forget these.  

 

Water

Although drinks are included at lunch we took our water for the ride, and it was a great decision.  

I am a big fan of using reusable containers like the Klean Kanteen.  

Simply put, when you live on an island the environment stops being a distant concept and becomes plastic on the beach.  

With that in mind I highly recommend buying one of these bottles.  They will keep your drink icy cold all day during your travel to the ruins.

Sunblock

  You do not want to take this boat ride without sunblock.  Bring plenty and apply it often.

We learned on our boat ride that there was no cover.  This quickly turns into an endurance test without a couple of items to protect your skin from turning a dark red.

So avoid being called "Lobster Man" for the rest of your vacation and make sure you order a sunblock lotion that is sport active (so you don't sweat it off) and SPF 50 or better.

Hat

  Ok, let me start by saying I believe that a great hat is probably the most important travel tool you can buy.  Lets just review a few of the basic needs it solves.

Keep the rain off.  I am amazed how much walking, riding and working in the rain is tolerable when you have a hat on to keep the water out of your eyes.

Keep the sun of your face, head and neck.  I love my Tilley hat because its wide brim does a great job of keeping the sun from frying my neck, forehead and ears.

 

Insect Spray

  We use an essential oil that is produced on the island.  You can find the lady who produces it on our map.  It is safer and more effective than the Deet stuff you buy.  As a bonus, it also has natural sunblock properties.

I prefer to use the spray version of this because it works well with the sunblock lotion I mentioned above.  

There are also a couple of other products out there that combine sunblock and insect repellent but frankly we have not had much success with them so I don't feel comfortable recommending them.

I also want to point out that we usually use a natural oil that can be bought on the island for insect repellent.  You can find the location for the oil on our map.  

There are a couple of reasons we prefer the oil over commercial products.

It is all natural.  I am not a natural nut but Deet for prolonged uses does scare me a bit.

It works well with No See Ums.  Frankly, Deet does nothing for these little blood suckers so we only use commercial repellents when we know the primary attack will be mosquitoes.  

Last, the natural oil lasts longer.  You put it on in the morning and reapply it a couple of times a day.

 

Hiking Shoes

You will be walking so take shoes that will be comfortable.

During most of our lives on Caye Caulker we wear flipflops. 

On this trip I used my Merrell Hiking Shoes and man was I glad I had them.

The rocks on the trails as we walked around the ruins would have given me blisters and a twisted ankle or two if I had stuck with my reliable sandals.

 

A Buff

Let me start by saying that while in a tropical environment I use one of my Buffs (I have three) every day.

When snorkeling I put it on my head to keep the top of my head from getting burned.

When boating I put it around my neck and up over my nose to protect that area.  I learned this trick from some of the local ferry captains.  They use these things daily.

 

What about cost? 

For this excursion, we paid roughly 75$ US per person (not including the water taxi). Let's break this down for you in what is included: 

1.5-hour drive to the river (and return trip). 
A 1.5-hour boat ride along the river with a guide (and return trip).
1-hour long exploration of the ruins with guided tour who talked about Mayan history and present day culture.
Homemade lunch and drinks included. 

All in all, this is not a bad price for all that you get on this excursion. 

Other Mayan Ruin options? 

If you are not interested in such a long excursion, there are other options: 

Altun Ha, which is just 30 miles north of Belize and the easiest site to get to, it completely accessible by land. 
Caracol and Cahal Pech, both located near San Ignacio are also land accessible. 
Cerros is also a great option that is located right off the coast of Belize and easier to reach. 

I will note though that Lamanai is the Belize favorite and noted to be the most beautiful site. 

Time to finish!

So, all in all, the Mayan Ruins are something worth seeing while in Belize. When we went, we saw Lanai, and it was beautiful. It is a full day trip though so don’t make any other plans! 

There is so much to see there, and drinks and lunch are included for just 75$ US. However, I realize that some of you may want to not spend a full day, or have children and want to see the Mayan ruins without ruining their day. Altun Ha is a great option that is completely accessible by land and is just 30 miles north of Belize City.

And finally yes, that is me and my husband picking the nose of the Mayan Ruin above!

 

Get Married on Caye Caulker

Get Married on Caye Caulker

My husband and I recently got married. It was the absolute best party of my life, but I often wondered if eloping to Caye Caulker would have been just as fun.

Many brides today forgo a big hometown wedding for a beach wedding. These brides included my sister. It can be intimidating planning a wedding from afar, but no worries, I have the info you wish!

Why Caye Caulker?

If you are wanting a beach wedding, this would definitely be at the top of my list. When my sister got married in the Dominican Republic 5 years ago, she had many difficulties communicating with the people at the resort due to the language barrier.

No worries in Belize, because they are English speaking.

Furthermore, you will get the beautiful beach pictures as well as great photos in the quaint village.

Every bride wants that personal touch, and Caye Caulker will give that to you (with a much smaller cost).   There are more than a few wedding planners on the island to help you put together the perfect day with little effort.

Who can perform the ceremony?

Many people who elope to Caye Caulker get married at the courthouse on the mainland. They then travel back for the party on the island; however, if you are deadset on getting married on Caye Caulker, you can have a priest or pastor travel from San Pedro or the Mainland to the island.

Do I need to be there early?

Quick note! You do have to be in Belize at least three days before the ceremony to get your marriage license (I would give myself a couple more days for good measure).

Where can I get married on Caye Caulker?

There are more than a few great places to get married on the island.  Check out our map here on our website that will show you the beaches that are available.  

As an alternative (if there is a weather issue) many hotels offer an area that can be covered with a tent or is always covered with a palapa.  

Wedding Photography on Caye Caulker?

There are some amazing photographers in the area.  One of my favorites is Conch Creative.  They were kind enough to let us use the photo for this post.  You will usually find that getting pictures and video of your special day is cheaper here on Caye Caulker than most anywhere in the states.  

What about food and drink?

When it comes to amazing seafood for your wedding reception I don’t think you can beat Caye Caulker.  With that said, you can also get great pork, chicken and vegetable dishes.   

The folks over at Habaneros, do a great job of catering to events like weddings.  If you want to work with the best restaurant on the island to produce a menu that everyone will love I suggest you drop them an email.

When should I get married?

High season for Caye Caulker starts in November and goes through March. Early Fall is known as the rainy season, and let's be honest, it is hot as heck in the summer! The best time to get married in Caye Caulker is in the late spring.

How do I fit all my guests on this tiny island?

Elopement isn't what it used to be, is it? Nowadays, many "elopements" include 30 guests who tag along. No worries! Caye Caulker might be a small island but there are plenty of hotels for people to stay. Some great options include Caye Caulker Plaza Hotel, Tropical Paradise Hotel, and Island Magic Beach Resort.

Looking for something more personal? Look on Air B&B, where there are many homes and apartments that you can stay for weeks at a time. My family has stayed in many of these and they are always homey and comfortable (perfect for getting ready on the big day)!

I can't plan this all myself!

Looking for a wedding planner to take care of details? No worries! Most hotels on Caye Caulker can help you with wedding details. Specifically, the Island Magic Beach Resort will help you plan every detail from hair and makeup to photography.

I think we are done here.

As you can see, Belize would be a great option for you destination elopement. If I were to get married again, it would definitely be an option. It is a beautiful island that will be more than accommodating to your guests, while also helping you plan your big day! You can get married on the island or the mainland, depending on your preference. But the most important thing is that Caye Caulker has plenty of rum punch for you to drink during your reception!

Bugs In Belize

Bugs in Belize

I Hate Bugs!

Have you ever had a mosquito bite that you scratch and scratch with no relief? I don't know about you guys but I have! Like every tropical environment, Caye Caulker has a "bug season". But have no fear! I am here to tell you how to combat that!

 

When is the Bug Season?

 

Bug season in Caye Caulker goes from September to the end of October. This is also known as the "slow season". During this time the mosquitos come out more than just at dawn and dusk.

 

The rest of the year you can find mosquitos and sand fleas, but usually during the evening.  

 

What do the locals do to help tourists?

 

While this is the "slow season" of Caye Caulker, the locals still do what they can to protect everyone from bugs. Most restaurants have smoke machines that they turn on at dusk and there is a smoke truck that drives through the main streets multiple times a week.

 

You can ask any restaurant to light a “fish coil” for you and that will keep those nasty critters away.

 

How can I protect myself?

 

My husband Clint and I stayed on Caye Caulker in October of 2014. The minute we got off of the Tropical Airplane, we were each bitten by tons of mosquitos. Both of us had been on the island before and were shocked. My husband, seemingly having the sweetest blood known to man continued to complain of mosquitos for roughly 2 hours before I couldn't deal with it anymore.

 

We immediately went into town and asked a local what bug spray they recommended. Shocked or not, they handed us the Off Bug Spray brand. After one application, both of us had immediate relief.

 

Many locals use the natural oil that is made on the island.  You can get this at Red Flower Gallery.  The owner is a chemical engineer and has put this natural oil recipe together and it works great.  If you want to find your way there just check out our online map!

 

Lets Wrap This Up!

 

So, Caye Caulker (while beautiful) has a bug season. Usually, September through October is the peak season. Fear not, though, cause there are things you can do to combat this. Definitely bring bug spray and apply generously. Also, know that the locals on the island will help out as much as they can.  No reason to fear your vacation being bad because of a few mosquitos!

 

How To Grill Lobster On Caye Caulker

Fresh Lobster On Caye Caulker

One of the delicious things about staying here on Caye Caulker Belize is enjoying some of the amazing (and affordable) seafood that is caught just a couple hundred feet from our front door.  

Here at our apartments, we have an amazing grill designed to easily cook enough lobsters to feed a small army and more than once we have done just that.

On any given weekend during season, you might find Basilio at the grill working on his favorite seafood while Rosie is in the kitchen preparing rice and beans with homemade cole slaw.  If this sounds like the way you want to enjoy a dinner during your stay on Caye Caulker, let me walk you through the steps.

Grilling on Caye Caulker

Not all places you choose to stay will have a grill.  Although there are some great restaurants on the island that grill up seafood and chickens, we highly recommend you stay somewhere that has a grill for you to use.  This will really help you save money and give you a great chance to test out some of your grilling chops.

Try to pick a place that has a locally produced grill.  These grills are made from propane and oxygen tank and not only help recycle something but also are a unique island experience to use.

Finding Lobster on Caye Caulker

Lobster season in Belize runs from June to February.  During that time of year you can find fresh lobster at almost every restaurant and buy lobster from the Co-Op on the back of the island (see our map here).  If you are here outside of lobster season you can get fresh fish and conch at all the restaurants and the Co-Op also.

The best way to make sure there is lobster for the night you need is to put in a request a day before you plan on grilling.  Just head down to the Co-Op during the afternoon (after 3:00 pm) and talk to the fishermen that make their living from the sea.  You will find them all wonderful to chat with and also it is a great way to make a connection that may sometime in the future take you out to catch your own.  

A typical whole lobster (over four pounds) will cost you about $10-$15 dollars at the Co-Op.  If you need help getting the best deal just ask us and we will be happy to help.

Get all the Fixings

Now that you have secured your lobster you will need the side dishes and ingredients to make a great meal.  

For fresh vegetables and fruits, we recommend the fruit stand on Front Street.  This stand can be found right across the street from the basketball court (see our map).  

While there grab lime, cabbage, carrots and don’t forget fresh squeezed juice.  This will give you all the vegetables you need to make your coleslaw that should be served with your lobster.  

This is also a great place to grab some zucchini and squash to grill up with the lobster.

Next, you're off to the grocery store on Back street.  While there grab some mayonnaise for the coleslaw, fresh garlic, butter, All Seasoning and charcoal.

Time to Grill

Split the lobster in half.  And clean with water and lime.

Season the lobster with All Seasoning and put it on the grill a hot grill till it turns a red color.

Coat with garlic butter (which is made by combining the butter and garlic you got at the store), and serve.

Let’s Sum This Up!

Fresh grilled lobster is plentiful, cheap and wonderful here on the island.  If you stay with us there is a grill here just waiting for you to use.  If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below.




 

Getting to Caye Caulker From Belize City

Getting To Caye Caulker


Getting from Belize City to Caye Caulker? 

Caye Caulker is a five-mile long island that is approximately 20 miles northeast off the coast of Belize. With clear blue waters and a “go slow” attitude, this island is often sought after by many people as a perfect vacation stop. While beautiful, international flights do not land here and you have to book additional travel arrangements to get to paradise. Many people ask: How do I get there from the airport in Belize? Fear not, there are two great options for you to choose from: 
Water taxi
Belize local airlines

Water Taxi

The water taxis are located roughly 20 minutes from the International Airport. Grab a taxi from the airport and have them take you there for roughly $25 US dollars. 

The water taxi starts running to Caye Caulker at 8 am and leaves its last time each day at 5:30 pm. Typically they run once every hour (except over lunch break) so there are a lot of options. 

Water taxi companies try to packs people in, but don’t worry about a ferry being sold out.  The fact is they will always add another boat to the schedule to meet the demand.

There are two companies that currently run daily ferries to Caye Caulker.  Ocean Ferry Belize and Belize Express Water Taxi.  Although both offer similar accommodations Belize Express Water Taxi is bigger and my personal preference (Express has bigger boats which mean a smoother ride).  These two companies operate from different areas of Belize City so make sure to tell the taxi driver your choice or you could end up at the wrong dock.

Although the water taxi is a fun and adventurous method to get to our island, there are some caveats to consider. 

If you are someone who gets motion sickness (like my sister) then I would not recommend this travel method.  You will be on the water for about 35 minutes and folks with motion sickness can have problems.  If you have this issue but still want to travel via this method, I suggest sitting outside on the boat (there is a covered area on every boat) this will give you plenty of fresh air to help.

Leave plenty of time to get to the dock.  The last ferry leaves around 5:30 pm, and if your plane does not land till 4:00 or later you run the risk of not making the ferry.  If your plane is scheduled to arrive late in the afternoon or is delayed you will need to either spend one night in Belize City or consider flying to the island.

Flying to Caye Caulker

For those who fly into Belize City (after 4:00 pm) or just want to get to the island faster, there are two small airlines that operate what I call “puddle jumpers” to the island. 

These are 6 seater planes that take you directly from Belize International Airport to Caye Caulker.  The flight is roughly 10 minutes from the time you take off at Belize City and touch down at Caye Caulker Airport.

There are two Airlines you can choose from: Tropic Air and Maya Island Air. Both of these airlines fly out of Belize International Airport about once an hour to Caye Caulker.  Although both of these companies puts you on the beach with a rum punch much quicker, they have some differences.

Tropic Air

Tropic is the older and larger of the two companies.  They have more flights per day and their planes tend to be larger.  You will find they are a little more expensive but worth the few extra dollars in my opinion.  They are also great at getting you pushed up to an earlier flight if you land early.

Maya Air

Younger and smaller than Tropic this is still a great choice to get you to our island fast.  Often, however, I have found their flights stop at Belize City Regional Airport before continuing on to the island.

When should I book my travel? 

Most people think that it is best to book all of these accommodations before they leave their home. I am here to tell you that that really isn’t true. We all know that international flights change, so why book your travel to the island before this happens? 

Once you land in Belize, you can book your flight right there with Mayan Air or Tropic in the airport. Or you can grab a cab and head to the water taxi of your choice. Both options get you out so many times in one day, you will never have trouble getting to Caye Caulker safely!

What is the cost for all of this?

First, let me say that all of the following prices are in US dollars.  I have written about money on Caye Caulker before and if you haven't read that post I suggest it before traveling.

If you are looking for the most cost-efficient way to get to Caye Caulker, then I would definitely take the water taxi. 

This would be $15 one-way or $25 round-trip per person (kids 4-10 are $10 one-way and $20 round-trip). Do not forget the $25 taxi fee from the International Airport to the water taxi. 

On the flip side, the cost for a plane ticket on one of the small charters would be rough $90 one-way or $160 round-trip per person.  You pay more for the convenience and speed of this method.

Time to finish this up!

Once you land in Belize City, you have two options in traveling to Caye Caulker: water or air. You can definitely book either option after you land and still get to the island safely and quickly. 

If you are trying to be frugal, then the water taxi is the way to go. If you want to get there sooner and don’t mind paying more, then utilizing one of the two airlines is the way to go.

 Either way, enjoy the beautiful views and adventure that the beginning of a trip can bring!

Snorkeling in Belize


Why should I snorkel in Belize?

Did you know that Belize has the second largest living barrier reef in the world (second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia)? Have you ever wanted to swim with nurse sharks? Sea turtles? Lobsters? Of course you do. Who wouldn’t want to see the natural beauty of the reef and the millions of fish that live around it. I myself have been snorkeling on the reef a half a dozen times and still see new life every time. 

What company should I use to snorkel the reef?

If you are thinking of snorkeling in Belize, the best guide is Carlos who owns Carlos Tours on the island of Caye Caulker. 

Carlos tours has been around for over 15 years. He is a free diver who takes his tour groups to three places: Hol Chan, Shark/Ray Alley, and the Coral Gardens. Two our of three spots he gets in the water and does a guided tour with the group and educates them on the wildlife down below. I have been out with sea turtles, manatee, nurse sharks, sting-rays, eels and more fish than I can count (or name).   Luckily for me, Carlos can name them all, and find them all for you to enjoy.

How to reserve a snorkel trip with Carlos?

Many people try to schedule a snorkel trip from their couch.  This is really a bad idea.  Frankly, weather, sea conditions and wind can really screw up the best-laid plans of mice and men here in Belize.  I recommend you wait to reserve your time until you're on the island.  

Signing up for a trip is very “old school” but also extremely easy.  Stop by Carlos Tours on Front street (check out our map) and you will find a signup form on the front door of the office.  You simply sign up for the day you want to snorkel and you are good to go.

When should I schedule my snorkel trip with Carlos?

I know you will be surprised but I have an opinion on this also.  Schedule your trip out on the reef early during your vacation stay.  There are a couple of reasons I recommend this.

If any natural problems require a snorkel trip to be canceled you will have time to reschedule for later during your vacation.
More guests than I can count have decided to go out on another trip with Carlos after the first.  He is simply that good!
What Next?

After you sign up, just meet at Carlos’s place at 10 the morning of (grab breakfast before), and you will be given your snorkel mask, breathing tube and fins.   No need to pack any of that stuff!

Then away on Carlos’s boat to the reef!  Depending on which tour you sign up for you will be on his catamaran sailing boat or his dive boat.  Both of these vessels are in perfect condition and stocked with everything you will need including safety equipment you probably won't need.

First stop is Hol Chan where you will be guided by Carlos to see the beautiful marine life.   Here we often see turtles, manatees and stingrays.

Next is Shark/Ray Alley where you swim with nurse sharks and stingrays. There is even an opportunity to get up close and personal with the sharks and stingrays as Carlos often picks one up for each person to see and touch.  Nothing better than getting a selfie with a shark!

 After the first two stops, it is on to San Pedro (another island just north of Caye Caulker) where you are given 1-1.5 hours for lunch (on your own).  This is a great opportunity to see what the “bigger” island is like.  

After lunch, we are off to the last stop. This spot is self-guided due to the fact that Carlos will be busy cutting up fresh fruit, juice and rum for those who wish to partake. Typically this tour ends and you are back safely on Caye Caulker between 4 and 4:30 pm. 

So how much does all this cost?

Now here is the real ringer: this is all included for $65.00 American ($110 BZ) per person!  For an additional $10 the crew will take amazing photos and burn you a CD or put them on your own thumb drive.  Yep, that is right, the selfie with the shark does not require you to hold the camera.

How big of a group will I be with?

Most of the trips I have been out on have been smaller than 10 people.  If you have a large group that you want to take out just sign-up with all the names and Carlos will use the catamaran that will accommodate large groups and families.

Is this a kid friendly activity?

My niece (4 years old) and nephew (2 years old) have already been out snorkeling with Carlos multiple times and loved it!  If you want to visit with Carlos just go by his shop around 4:30 pm and he is there most days.

I am nervous in the water or not a strong swimmer.

If you have concerns about your swimming skills or you are nervous in the water then I would not go with ANYONE except Carlos.  The group is always small, he has at least two staff on each boat and he will provide you with a flotation device to make your swimming easy.  He is the best shop for helping people who need extra attention.


Let's sum this up!

Going to Caye Caulker (or Belize) and not snorkeling should be a sin. If you have a desire to do it, Carlos is your guy. Beyond his comfort and knowledge of Marine life, he takes wonderful pictures that will help you remember the beauty that is the Barrier Reef. 

Safety On Caye Caulker

Recently we had a guest of ours burglarized, and they lost many things including their passport.  Although this was a terrible incident, I felt an obligation to discuss this on our blog and do my best to help future guests to avoid a similar situation.

The popular type of crimes in Belize changes based on where you visit.  In Belize City, you will hear and read about a shooting once a month but here on Caye Caulker that type of crime is so rare that you will never hear about such a situation.

The crimes here on the island are much more "crimes of opportunity" and with the number of visitors that come to this little piece of paradise, there are opportunities.  

Try to remember that a local here in Belize averages $400 per month.  With incomes like that, it is not surprising crimes of opportunity occurs.

So let me go over the crimes we see the most here on Caye Caulker

Bicycle's Stolen

The best form of transportation on Caye Caulker is the bicycle.  Everyone in our family has a bike here on the island, and we supply a bike to each guest that stay with us.  

Bikes are so popular because a 10-minute ride can get you anywhere on the island you want to go.  Although many people use a golf cart, we have found (for many reasons) that there is no purpose to own one and many reasons to own a bike.  

Since we moved here (a year ago) we have had three bikes stolen.  These have been a mixture of our own and guests.  All bikes that were taken were left unlocked, hence the opportunity.

There have also been many bikes stolen from restaurants and bars on the island.  Again in every occurrence the bikes were left unlocked.  

Do you see a pattern?

We tell all of our guests a simple rule we live by...

If your but is not on the bike, then it should be locked.

Door Checks

There has been a rash of door checks on the island over the last few months.  The bad guy comes up to a house/hotel/restaurant and checks all the doors.  If they find, one of the doors unlocked they slip in and take anything handy.

These thieves are looking for cash, but they often end up grabbing passports and credit cards also.  Sometimes the identification can be recovered (the bad guys really can't do much with those) but often it ends up in a trash can somewhere on the island.

Again, we tell all of our guests that all doors should be locked if they are in bed or if they are out.  We also have some general rules we suggest.

Never give your key to anyone - We've had guests give their key's to non-guests before and next thing you know stuff is missing.  

Lock your ID and passports up in the safe we provide in the rooms - Once you are on the island, you would only need an ID or passport if you wanted to rent a golf cart.  

Keep your jewelry in the safe - Staying low-key is always a good idea when you travel and here is no exception.

Don't flash too much cash - We have never heard of anyone being mugged on the island (it just isn't that kind of place) but why run the risk?  Carry with you a $100 in Belize cash and leave the rest back in your room's safe.

The last thing we suggest is to use common sense.  I know it is easy to forget (when you visit paradise) that there are bad guys but try to remember that those people are everywhere.  

 

 

 

Sick On Caye Caulker

Even when you live (or visit) paradise you can end up catching a sickness or stub a toe.  Traveling on a plane puts a person in a closed environment with perhaps more possible illness than a doctor waiting room.  

My wife (Sherry) and I went to the states in April (for a week) and came back with a nasty bug.  I managed to kick mine but for some reason, she just couldn't seem to get past the upper respiratory infection.  This gave us a great opportunity to experience the medical system here on Caye Caulker, and I thought you might also find it interesting.

After coughing and hacking for a few days, my wife went to the local doctor here on the island (Dr. Sansorez).  Dr. Sansorez has been on the island for years.  He is a doctor who went to medical school in Cuba and had set up his practice on our small island.  

The visit to the doctor took about an hour with no wait.  Dr. Sansorez will spend as much time with you as you like.  The doctors English skill is amazing.  It would not be fair to say he has no accent, but it is so minor that anyone could easily communicate with him.

During the visit, the doctor did a full physical, determined that my wife was suffering from bronchitis and recommended the following treatment (all of which we did).

  1. Go to Belize City (we did so the next day) and get a chest x-ray to confirm the bronchitis diagnosis.  
  2. He gave my wife two injections.  One was an antibiotic and the other steroid.  The shots were both options; he was willing to write a prescription for the medication to be taken orally but the injection is a much faster solution.
  3. He also gave my wife three different prescriptions.   These were additional antibiotics, anti-inflammatory and a cough expectorant.  

After the appointment, Sherry went to the pharmacy on the island to fill her prescriptions while I called the hospital and made her appointment for the next morning.  Both of us were successful in just a few minutes.  

The next morning my wife and I got on the water taxi to Belize City.  We were met there by our preferred taxi driver (Charles) and off we went to the private hospital to get the chest x-ray.

Our appointment was scheduled for 10:30 am and we arrived at the hospital at 10:15 am.  When we checked in the nice person behind the counter asked Sherry a couple of questions and then charged us for the x-rays.  

Now, let me pause here for a moment and respond to the question you have running around in your mind at this point.  

"How much is all this stuff costing?"

Well, fear not, at the end of this story I will be sharing with you the cost of every item in our adventure and the total.

Back to our story!

At 10:30 am, on the nose, we were taken back for the three x-rays.  I was allowed to go with my wife and stand behind the screen with the technician.  The entire procedure took 15 minutes and after we were directed to wait back in the reception area while the technician developed the film and the hospital doctor reviewed them.

After a ten minute wait out came our package carried by the friendly technician that took the pictures.  Inside were the three x-rays and the diagnosis by the hospital doctor.  We have a winner, bronchitis.  

While in Belize City, we decided to do a little shopping (the injections were making Sherry feel much better) and eat lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant.  After our stops, Charles took us back to the water taxi to ride back to our island.

We got back on the island too late to get the film to Dr. Sansorez (it was a Saturday), so we were pausing on our medical adventure for a couple of days.

Monday morning Sherry went to the doctors office to drop off the pictures.  

He reviewed them and was happy to see he was correct.  Sherry was there about 30 minutes while he reminded her how to take the medication he had prescribed.

As I write this, my wife is doing much better.  The coughing has subsided, and her energy is returning.  So, let's go over the cost.

All of the following charges came out of our pockets because we do not have medical insurance down here.  Also, we went to the private hospital in Belize City, so that increased the cost substantially, and remember that all the following are in US dollars (we did the conversion for you).

  • Initial doctor appointment (including the injections): $75
  • Filling all four prescriptions here on the island: $22
  • Water Taxi round trip to Belize City: $12 per person
  • Taxi (Charles) driving us around Belize City half a day: $30
  • X-rays: $25
  • Follow up appointment with doctor: Free
  • Total out of pocket for this adventure (without any insurance): $176

I think this is a really good example of how the medical system works here in Belize and perhaps a contrast, showing how screwed up the medical system in the USA is.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask them in the comments below. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caye Caulker Seven-Day Itinerary

Recently we got a letter from some folks coming to the island this summer.  They are planning on being on the island for seven days and asked for my advice for things to do.  I started a reply back and realized it was a great story to share with everyone so I decided to share it with everyone.  

This itinerary is designed to let a group (or couple) alternate between busy days and down days to relax.  You could always add stuff on those down days but remember the sun down here can really burn you and wear you out so I would suggest considering my suggestions before making many changes.

As you review these suggestions keep in mind that music happens on the Caye Caulker every night so try to take advantage of that.

 

Day 1:

It is hard to get on the island before 2:00 pm, especially if you are going to take a water taxi. For that reason alone I would not try to plan any type of serious activity for this day.  There are a couple of things that I would get taken care of on day one.

After you check in I would suggest you rent a bike for your week (if your hotel doesn't supply you one for free and many do). Bike is the best way to get around on the island on a daily basis.  You can rent a bike for about $10 a day which also makes this form of transportation very affordable.

Please remember to lock your bikes any time you're not riding them.  Bike's are the number one item stolen on the island and always because the bike was left unlocked.

 

Day 2:

  This is the day I would explore the island and get in the water.  I would highly recommend taking Peter's island tour.  Peter is a local taxi driver that is just wonderful.  His father is a Mayan Shaman, and Peter knows everything about everything.  The tour lasts an hour and during the trip, he can give you some pointers on things to do and people to use.  The trip costs $10 per person, and I think it is the best way to get an overview of our little place.

During Peter's tour, there will be a few things you will find to do including a great place on the lee side to swim.  I would suggest getting in the ocean but be careful to keep the sunblock on so you don't start your trip with a sunburn that hurts for days.

Today is also a great day also to spend some time at the split and have a few drinks.  The kids will love the split, especially the teenagers who will find a crowd of backpackers hanging out there to visit with.

While your on Peter's tour I would set up a snorkel trip. Peter can help you do that and get the "local" price at the same time.  I would snorkel the reef on day 3 if you can because after doing it once you might realize (like we did) that once is not enough and want to do it again before you leave.

If you feel up for it (and your budget allows), I would eat at Habaneros on Sunday night.  Habaneros has a very eclectic menu (not Mexican food like the name implies) and includes seafood.  They are the most expensive place to eat on the island (probably $25 per person for a good meal).  On Sunday night an amazing Cuban guitarist (Amaurys) plays starting at 7:00 and it makes for a great way to end the perfect day.

 

Day 3:

This is the day I would do the snorkel trip.  You will start around 9:30 am and will go till about 4:30.  You will stop at three or four locations and see stuff like sea turtles, stingrays, sharks, eels and so much more.  On one of the stops, you will swim with sharks and rays and it will be an experience your kids will talk about forever (so will you).

Don't forget to take sun block with you and I suggest an extra shirt each that you can swim in just in case your back needs a break from the sun later in the day.

During the trip, you will also stop for lunch at San Pedro.  This will give you a little feel of the island and help you decide if you want to invest one of your days hanging out there.  

After you get back, I would go to dinner at Rainbow Grill.  It is right on the water (on Front Street), great breeze and mid-range prices.  I usually get whatever their special is for the day (I have never been disappointed).

 

Day 4:

Depending on energy level (and the amount of sun you have gotten) you might want to take it easy today.  This may be a good day to travel around the island on your bikes and take pictures. If you decide to do this stop by our place (by the airport) and say hello during your travels.

For lunch, I would eat at one of the beach vendors.  They are all amazing although we love Otis if he is cooking.

At the end of the day, I would go out on the sunset inner tube tour.  "Anda wata" does this tour.  It is about 90 minutes where they pull you around the island as you lounge in inner tubes and drink rum cocktails.  Take a waterproof camera if you have one (if not stop by our place and borrow ours to take with).

 

Day 5:

This is the perfect day to do a mainland tour.  I would suggest a Mayan ruin, Zipline and/or Cave Tubing tour.  We have used Randy Jones with Ras Tours and just had a blast.  You can reach him via email randy@rastoursbelize.com  Chat with him and he can put together any kind of tour for you.  

Getting to the tour and back will all happen via the Water Taxi which is an adventure all itself.

 

Day 6:

I like leaving this day open to experience something you never expected.  For me it is a second day to snorkel on the reef.  For you it might be the perfect day to visit Ambergris Caye and check out San Pedro.  If you decide to do this then I suggest renting a golf cart on that island for a few hours.  It is way to big to explore on foot or bike.

Another possibility is to rent a Kayak and explore the island from the water around it.  Kayaks are very affordable and are great to use.

 

Day 7:

Your last day and there are a few things you need to do.

Get up early and take some great pictures using the morning light.  Our island is amazing in first thing in the morning and a great way to take some pics.

Remember to return your bikes so you don't have an unexpected charge waiting for you when you get home.