The question we were asked more than any other upon returning from 3 days on Caye Caulker, Belize was, “But, isn’t Caye Caulker just for young people?” My answer? “Definitely not!”
Sure, I would say that the general age of the majority of the tourists we encountered was skewed to the young side but we loved Caye Caulker and had a great time and hope to return!
Caye Caulker can be a great place for island and ocean lovers of all ages!
What is Caye Caulker?
Caye Caulker is a small coral island off the northern coast of Belize. It is the second largest of the Belizean Cayes and is only approximately 4 or 5 miles long by 1 mile (or less) wide. In fact, at many points on the island you can stand at an intersection and view the sea at the end of the sandy streets on either side of you.
The island’s claim to fame is that the famous Belizean Barrier Reef is less than a mile off-shore. Caye Caulker is also near the Blue Hole and many other well-known SCUBA spots. We were told by locals that their barrier reef is second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef, yep, the one in Australia. According to the Belizeans with whom we spoke, “our barrier reef has been much better protected.”
Although the island has recently been trending a bit more upscale in order to attract a more well-heeled clientele, it is still known as a budget travelers mecca.
I’m not sure why because it is not particularly inexpensive! Still, you will notice that many of the tourists are young people with back-packs and there are plenty of cheaper hostels that advertise having hot and cold running water and definitely do not have air-conditioning.
What is Caye Caulker really like?
If you are imagining a lovely, colorful, palm tree studded island with a mix of new and decrepit buildings, a young local population, tourists that are mostly on the south side of 35, bikinis, surfer dudes, bare feet, locals on the make, lots of drinking…well…you are pretty darn close! Caye Caulker definitely has a young people party atmosphere.
However, although the island definitely appeals to young people it is not ONLY for the young. We were able to fit in just fine.
I would recommend Caye Caulker for a variety of ages…with a few caveats…
Should You Visit Caye Caulker?
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help determine if Caye Caulker is a place you might enjoy visiting…or not.
Are you able to ride a bike or get around easily on foot?
This is a walking or bike riding island. There is no pavement and there are no cars. There are some taxis – aka golf carts. My husband claims that if we lived on the island that he would be a taxi driver.
Honestly, the lack of cars was one of my favorite things about Caye Caulker! Having no traffic gives the island a slow vibe. Dogs sleep in the middle of the sandy lanes trusting pedestrians and bikes and golf carts to navigate around them.
But the point here is…you will need to be able to get around easily on your own two feet – or wheels as the case may be. Oh, and guess what? It turns out that riding a bike is, well, like riding a bike! I hadn’t ridden in years, but we went everywhere via bicycle. By the end of our three day stay I was riding like a 12 year old again, well, except for much tireder, thicker, and sorer thighs.
Do you mind being on a boat? Can you maneuver yourself off and on a passenger ferry?
Most people arrive by plane into Belize City and from there take the ferry to Caye Caulker. This involves a 40 minute taxi ride from the airport to the boat dock. Follow this up with a ferry ride of about 45 minutes which can potentially be bouncy depending on the seas.
TIP 1: Sit in the middle or near the front of the boat so that you don’t smell the exhaust from the engine and so that you get some breeze.
TIP 2: If you can climb a ladder and don’t mind the wind in your hair then sit on top of the boat. This will give you the best views and a stiff breeze!
TIP 3: There are small planes that leaves from the airport in Belize City that will whisk you to the island in just a few minutes! This means No taxi. No ferry. No problems.
Do you SCUBA or snorkel or at least enjoy being in a boat on the ocean?
My husband is a diver and I love to snorkel so we were excited about our visit. Ocean related activities are the number one reason people come to Caye Caulker. The tourism industry on the island revolves around taking visitors onto and into the ocean to snorkel, SCUBA, swim with sharks and rays, see manatees, fish, have sunset cruises…anything reef and ocean related.
If you don’t like to SCUBA or snorkel…do you at least like to relax?
Once you return from your ocean excursions there just isn’t much more to do. We loved that! Our 3 days on Caye Caulker turned in to one of the most relaxing vacations we have ever had! You can’t beat spending hours alternating between hammocks and deck chairs, reading books, chatting with a drink in hand, and watching the ripples on the water.
If you are a person who doesn’t like being out on a boat AND doesn’t like to just hang out and watch the world go by then Caye Caulker really might not be the place for you!
Do you dream of spending the day playing in the waves from a soft sand beach?
Ok, y’all. Listen up. This is important. Caye Caulker is NOT known for its beaches. Oceans, yes. Beautiful water, yes. Beaches, no.
Because of the reef there are usually no waves and the island is surrounded by protected sea grasses which provide a barrier to stop erosion as well as a nursery for the sea creatures. I guess you could walk on it, but, ewwww, squidgy.
Another negative is that sometimes the sea grass washes up on the sand and begins to rot and can be really stinky! It was definitely smelly while we were there. Don’t get me wrong, you can still swim! But you will more than likely be swimming off the end of one of the ubiquitous long docks which stick out into the ocean past the seagrass.
In addition to the docks, there are some bar/beach combo places. The best known are The Split and the Lazy Lizard. But if you are dreaming of spreading your towel on a white sand beach and resting in the sun listening to the waves crash on the shore…this is not the place for you.
Do you require fine dining?
There are some great restaurants on Caye Caulker. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the food, but fine dining it is not.
Most of the restaurants have sand floors. Service is friendly and pleasant, but spotty. Some of the best food is street food which was delicious, but definitely not fancy. People come wandering in a out of the restaurants barefoot. Dogs are hanging around outside. Air-conditioning is non-existent.
Do you require luxury accommodations?
There aren’t many luxury places on the Caye…yet…some are starting to spring up, but for the most part accommodations are still basic. We loved Colinda Cabanas where we stayed. It was adorable and spotless and there was air-conditioning in our bedroom. (Totally worth the splurge by the way.) But it was not luxurious.
So, let’s answer the question: Is Caye Caulker just for young people?
We don’t think so! Smells and sand and lack of beaches and heat and all…we loved our 3 days of island life. The reef, the ocean, the slow pace, the sun rises and sunsets, and the friendly locals make this a great place for active travelers of any age.
If you have read this far and feel that Caye Caulker might be a place you want to visit..then check out THIS POST that gets into the nitty gritty details of the trip or THIS POST that talks about one of the most important aspects of any vacation… the food!
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