Headed down to Caye Caulker, an island in Belize, in April of this year. A gorgeous island with a world renowned barrier reef, breathtaking views and a vibrant, island culture.
I’ll be honest, it was quite the hassle to get there (traveling is not always glamorous, more on that later) but when we finally did, it was magical.
In this blog, I’m going to list out some of the best ways to 1) travel to Belize and during your trip, 2) best places to eat 3) best places to stay 4) and my top recommendations for things to do. Read up so you can too have an unBELIZEable time, too. 😊
Best Ways to Travel
When looking for flights, we could not find any direct from either LAX or Chicago airports so plan on booking connecting flights (depending on where you’re flying from). I personally love using sites like Skyscanner and Expedia to book. *Tip! Before going onto those sites, be sure to use an Incognito (or Private) window. If you don’t, sites can tap into your browsing history and see which flights you were searching for. The next time you come back to that same site to book, they could raise the prices because they KNOW you need to book that flight. I know, I know – lame! You can read more about it here.
With some minor hiccups: cancelled flights, a 3 hour drive to another airport, a last minute overnight stay at a hotel, I was able to get to and from Belize for $450 dollars!
*Tip! Always check your credit card points (my personal favorite is American Express, the rewards make the annual fee totally worth it. Click HERE if interested! Also, check your airline miles first to see if you have enough to cover the cost or at least enough to use towards a purchase. I’m all about saving money! The Points Guy is a great resource to learn more about maximizing these benefits.
When we first landed in Belize City, all we wanted was to get to Caye Caulker as soon as possible. There are various ways to travel from the airport, such as, bus, van or some hotels provide free shuttles! However, taxis are lined up and no coordination is required beforehand. It’s a great option if you’re in a rush. We took a taxi from the airport to the ferry destination which costed us $50 Belizean dollars (BZD) *Belizean currency is $2 for every $1 US dollar (USD).
Once we got to the ferry dock, it didn’t leave for another two hours. We decided to grab lunch a few doors down (see “Spoonaz” below). Be sure to check the ferry schedule and you can plan accordingly!
Once you get on the ferry, it’s about 30 – 40 BZD ($15 – 20 USD) RT and 45 minutes to get to the island. Be sure to get a seat in the very back or next to a window. It can get a little hot and humid in Belize during dry season so when you are crammed next to someone, the breeze definitely provides a better experience!
Walking or biking are my favorite because it allows you to take in all the sights, sounds, colors and people. The island is very small – only 5 miles long x 1.7 miles wide – so walking is a MUST here. You could rent a golf cart as that’s their main form of transportation but a bit more on the pricier side. I would advise renting bikes – for a half day it’s only $15 BZD ($7.5 USD).
BONUS – Less is More!
Pack less and you’ll be so happy you did. If you’re like me, the last thing you want to do is schlep all your luggage to and from all your forms of transportation. This will also help you save on costs (checking bags for $30 USD a piece, umm, no thanks!) We each just brought a carry-on and backpack. Super minimal, light and easy to move around.
While still in Belize City, we had 2 hours to kill before we boarded the ferry to Caye Caulker. A couple doors down from the ferry station, we found an adorable place to grab lunch called “Spoonaz” – it had a great patio on the water and affordable prices.
[Pictured Here: Emily and I split the Daily lunch which came with rice/beans, plantains, chicken and cole slaw. *Tip! Try and split your entrees so you don’t have to spend too much money. When vacationing, we tend to fall into that “I’m on vacation, I’m allowed to eat whatever and how much I want” mindset. Try and pay attention to your body and what it’s telling you. After traveling all day, you’re probably feeling bloated from the flight and are dehydrated. Drink lots of water and eat lighter portions to help you get back on track]
A local recommended a delicious restaurant on Front street called “Hibisca by Habanero” – boy was he right! We actually visited this restaurant twice because it was that good. We each got a Mint Mojito (because, #living) and shared the “Appetizer Trio” and a seafood gnocci plate. The flavors and textures were out of this world!
[Pictured Here: May I present to you the Mint Mojito]
[Pictured Here: A bowl of sweet Jesus aka seafood gnocchi. you’re welcome.]
The Happy Lobster where we enjoyed a nice brunch on the patio of Front Street.
[Pictured Here: We split 2 pancakes/fruit, 2 over easy eggs w/ salsa, beans, plantains, whole wheat toast and fresh papaya juice.. *They served the toast with jam…but the jam was actual diced watermelon – less sugar than jarred versions. Delicious!
Pasta Per Caso, an Italian restaurant, makes their pasta homemade every day and offers only 2 different variations. They have 3 dinner times: 5:30, 7 and 8:30 (stadium seating) so be sure to arrive on time! I would even recommend stopping by earlier to give them a heads up! We ordered the artichoke dip, a cobb salad and the white wine & chickpea pasta special. UnBELIZEable!
A quick ferry ride away from Caye Caulker lies a secluded beach with a gorgeous deck floating in the water. I recommend going for dinner because 1) it’s a bit more formal than the lunch rush and 2) make it in time for sunset and you won’t regret it – the view was breathtaking.
[Pictured Here: Fish cakes with smashed avocado & pico de Gallo]
[Pictured Here: Snapper fish with mixed veggies and Mac and cheese balls because again, #living.]
[Pictured Here: melon, fry jack stuffed with beans, egg and cheese]
[Pictured Here: Meet our new friend, Carlos!]
BONUS: Bring Snacks!
This is an absolute MUST. If you have a sensitive stomach, run out of money, get hungry in the middle of a hike or tour, delayed flights, etc. you should always be prepared with snacks that satisfy your hunger. We don’t want you to be hangry, am I right or am I right? 🙂
We stayed at “Yuma’s House” – a colorful hostel right on the beach of Caye Caulker. A cute courtyard with hammocks, coconut trees, picnic tables & swing seats full of vibrant colors made it very inviting. The rooms are pretty small but if you pack light, that shouldn’t be a problem. They also provide coffee and basic needs in a communal kitchen. This place went for about $80 BZD ($40 USD) per night.
Other popular hostels that we heard were great are listed below. These are pulled from a fantastic blog by one of my favorite travel bloggers, Nomadic Matt.
If hostels aren’t your thing, I’d recommend staying in a hotel. We came across a beautiful hotel called the “Iguana Reef” – it sits on the west side of the island where the sun sets. They have a huge dock where they invite anyone to come and hangout, even if you aren’t a guest. Even if you don’t stay here, this is a MUST see when visiting Caye Caulker. A bit more on the pricier side to stay here but if you prefer luxury when traveling, this place will suit your needs.
Best Things To Do
If you’re like me, the last thing I want is frizzy, salt water hair in my face while exploring a new island. Enter, braids! I met the cutest woman named Amira who owned her own shop (can I get a hell yeah!) It was only $15 BZD so it was a no brainer. There are so many options to get your hair braided – just walk along Front street and someone will offer you a deal!
We discovered “Namaste & Yoga” – the coolest building & experience I saw on the Caye Caulker island. This was one of my favorite things to do! It consisted of 3 levels: the first and second level was a café, the top floor was for yoga. Jessie, our yoga instructor and owner, led one of the best classes I’ve had. It wasn’t the hardest one (Bikram Yoga still kicks my ass!) but it was so relaxing with the deep stretches and meditative breathing. The view of the ocean was the cherry on top. It was such a good experience that we decided to go a second time! The best part? The class is free – it’s purely donations based. Jessie has it structured this way to allow anyone to participate because wellness is for all. If that message alone doesn’t inspire you to go try her class, I don’t know what will.
A cool over water deck turned bar/restaurant where you can float on inner tubes, swing and swim while sippin’ – not too mention, the classic margarita was out of this world!
If you run around like we do while traveling, sometimes it’s good to take a moment and get your body rubbed down aka a massage! haha. We found a beachside massage tent that offered a full body massage for only $15 BZD for 30 minutes. This was the cheapest and only beachside place we found. Such a good deal!
I always want to check out the night life scene when traveling. This is usually when I am able to meet the most people. But as a female, I do have to say you should always be careful when going out at night and/or drinking. I recommend watching this video from a fellow female who is a world traveler and includes lots of helpful tips, especially when traveling solo.
We discovered Sports Bar (open until 12) and later on Reggae Bar (open until 2). Both equally fun and great music – think Reggaeton, Hip Hop and Salsa – three of my favorites.
One of my favorite things to do when traveling is meet the locals and find out what they like to do and where to go. The less touristy the better. Getting to know a different culture is such an eye-opening experience so I always advise meeting as many people as possible and never be shy. Yolo!
Carlos Snorkeling Tour
I saved the best for last. This was the highlight of our Caye Caulker trip. Everything from the views of the great barrier reef, to the food, to the company, to the boat and to the staff. It was a little over $200 BZD per person ($100 USD) which included a full day excursion (10:30 – 4:30 PM), 3 snorkeling stops, lunch, drinks and nonstop laughter!
Pictured Here: These are reef sharks – not dangerous. We were allowed to swim with them while they were feeding. I would definitely recommend not getting too close! Yikes!]
[Pictured Here: Juan serving us salad!]
[Pictured Here: They serve lunch! Chicken, rice/beans, slaw and salad}
[Pictured here: Juan, Emily, Carlos, Me & Benny}
Check out another great blog reviewing her time with Carlos Tours! You won’t want to miss it!
Every trip, I always try to carve out enough time for myself and journal. It always leaves me in a state of gratitude which in turn allows me to have a better experience. I get to soak in the beauty around me, the people I meet and the adventure I get to experience.
After all, Caye Caulker’s theme is to “GO SLOW”. Take it all in, live in the moment and enjoy all it has to offer.
If you end up going to Caye Caulker, I would love to see your trip! Just tag me on Instagram @katjalillian.com and use the hashtag #kjtodaytravels – can’t wait to see your pictures!
Also, in case you missed it – check out another trip I recently took HERE!