We had a vague idea of what we wanted to do with our short introductory trip to the Belizean islands: eat lobster, snorkel, read a book & maybe lay in a hammock.
While we managed to accomplish our meager list, we came away from Caye Caulker with the eloquent review: “it’s meh.”
In Caye Caulker’s defense, I didn’t really have any expectations for the trip, nor did I research the small island’s claim(s) to fame so it’s not really fair to say that the island let me down, but let’s be honest….the island let me down.
It’s cute, I’ll give it that. Shoes are overrated. Mostly bikes and golf carts – bonus points. Not overly developed with obnoxious hotels and resorts! Restaurants with all outdoor seating. Tempting seafood on every menu. A nice mix of tourists. It’s a tiny island so in only a few days you can feel like you really got to know the place. Amazing sea life to explore! The crystal clear waters are kickass and the stars are bright at night. It’s not Spring Break-style, nights are fairly quiet and relaxed. It’s a genuinely happy place!
The Spoiled Girl’s Whine
There isn’t really anything to do unless you are a hardcore scuba diver. I guess not having anything to do is kind of the point of going to an island to relax, but still – we rode our bikes from one end of the island to the other a few times…and now what? The tempting seafood on the menus was just ok and expensive for what was served and in comparison to the same dish a few miles away in Mexico. There are pesky sand flies. There are no beaches so the only option is to either have a hotel that has it’s own private dock and outdoor area with lounge chairs (we didn’t) or find a restaurant or watering hole where you can hang out oceanside as long as you keep consuming (we did).
But we rolled with it and had a pleasant time nonetheless. Our AirBnB hosts provided us with 2 bikes so we cruised around the island and just checked out the scene. On the far end of the island is The Split where a hurricane a few decades ago wiped out a stretch of land and made two islands. Tourists and locals come to The Split to sit on the dock and dip their feet in the water, drink cold beers and listen to tropical-islandy music. We went to The Split to sit under the shade and watch the folks from more northern latitudes fry themselves like lobsters.
We cruised to the other end of the island, past the airstrip, and through some mangroves lined with private residences. We selected the restaurants we wanted to check out and got busy eating. We tried the trio of local beers. We chased the sun. We observed life coming and going from the island. We tried in vain to decipher the unique language, a blend of English, Spanish and Island slang.
The Tourism Board promotes the catchy phrases “You better Belize It” and “Unbelizeable.” I can’t quite say I agree, at least not from our short stay in Caye Caulker but perhaps we’ll give it another shot someday, maybe to the mainland somewhere. It was a good reminder that you don’t have to love every place you visit and when you dedicate yourself to life of insatiable travel, there are bound to be highs and lows, dreamy destinations and wild cards, and places like Caye Caulker, where you can have a nice time, but aren’t itching to go back.
Reminders to my future self on dining in Caye Caulker: