Our 6 Must-do Activities Visiting Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker is a tiny slice of paradise found in the caribbean sea where ‘no problem’ isn’t just a popular phrase but a way of life. On this chilled out island there is a wealth of activities to explore and we’ve picked out our 6 favourite.

Caye Caulker, the small island off the coast of Belize is a tiny slice of laid back paradise. As the locals like to advertise, it’s a “no shirt, no shoes, no problem” kinda island.

While it is the second largest of the Belizean Cayes, it feels a world away from any large overdeveloped town or hot spot. The island vibe is strong here, with no cars on the island and walking or golf buggies the preferred mode of transport. The only traffic sign directive is “go slow” and this perfectly sums up how you should be holidaying here.

Go slow and keep moving on the beach of Caye Caulker, Belize.
Go slow, but keep moving, on the beach of Caye Caulker

When we arrived here, we instantly fell in love. The weather is warm and sunny on this barefoot paradise, most hotels and hostels front the main street which runs along the coast of the island, and everything is within an easy walking distance. The locals are friendly and the definition of chilled, and as a bonus, everything is in English! Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language, so no need to pull out the rusty Espanol.

One of the best parts of the sailing tour was trying our hand at fishing.

There are also many minimarts on the island (strangely all but one are owned by Asian families!), however there are equally a good number of local eateries to choose from, from street food stands through to higher-end establishments.

We spent five days in Caye Caulker which was enough time to see most things, but it’s very easy to spend a week or more here given how beautiful and effortless life is 🙂

If you’re planning a getaway to Caye Caulker, here are 6 must-do things:

1) Book a sailing tour for snorkeling and a visit to Shark and Ray Alley

Book a sailing tour which includes snorkelling at Shark & Ray Alley.

We opted for a 2 day / 1 night sailing tour, and it was a lot of fun. The island is dotted with many tour operators so you can take your pick, but a sailing cruise with snorkelling included (and unlimited rum punch) is a fun way to see the coast, more of the surrounding islands, and basically relax.

Our boat accommodated 7 people so if you’re in a large group you could feasibly book out a whole boat to yourself. Almost all sailing tours will include a stop at shark and ray alley, but double-check to make sure as this is one you don’t want to miss. Fisherman historically came to this area to clean out their boats and catches, which in turn attracted all the local rays and reef sharks. So much so that now when any boats appear, they swarm underneath in great numbers!!

Shark and Ray Alley, Caye Caulker

Note: On the day we went, the currents were ridiculously strong, so be wary of that as you go snorkelling! Take fins and make sure you check where you are relative to the boat often, or you may find yourself having drifted quite far with an exhausting swim back.

2) Go fishing and cook your spoils at the local restaurant

One of the best parts of the sailing tour was trying our hand at fishing, with one of our friends successful in catching a marlin. The fish caught were served up for dinner that night but were also given to us to take back to Caye Caulker and cook up ourselves. Our captain recommended Enjoy Restaurant where for BZD$10 they’ll grill your fish and serve it up with a side of rice and veggies. It was one of the best fish we’ve ever had – the grill they use infuses the fish with amazing flavours, and there’s nothing quite like eating something you’ve caught yourself!

3) Go for a beach massage with Javier

Javier is a local providing massages by the beach for a very reasonable BZD$50 for one hour, or BZD$80 for two people for one hour each if you’re a couple! He’s located 100 metres down from the spit sign here and has a variety of methods on offer (from Swedish to aromatherapy, sports, etc). You are sheltered somewhat from the winds in his makeshift beach hut, but Javier honestly has the most amazing technique. Read his reviews, he’s fantastic, and a must-see if you’re in need for some pampering!

Rent a buggy and drive around the island of Caye Caulker
Drive a golf buggy around Caye Caulker

4) Get a fry jack for breakfast

Erolyns House of Fryjacks serve up some delicious fry jacks every morning from 6:30am. Fry jacks are essentially a deep-fried folded bread with stuffings in every combination possible using beans, cheese, chicken, ham, or bacon. All you need to know is they are delicious, cheap (BZD$3-7 depending on your filling choice), and taste even better with the local Marie Sharpe hot sauce on offer. Just try one, you won’t regret it.

5) Go for a yoga class at randOM Yoga

Go for a yoga class at randOM Yoga (on top of Namaste Cafe).

This yoga class is held on an open-top floor space and run by Jessie, a local Belizean. It’s a by-donation class meaning you pay what you feel it’s worth. Mats, straps and blocks are provided and if you are interested check the timetable on the board outside the Namaste Cafe (as it can vary based on her availability).

Also, remember to go at least 5-10 minutes early as spots fill up quick! While Jessie is very good at Tetrising everyone in, unfortunately, if the numbers are simply too many, she does have to turn people away.

6) Spend a day kicking back at Koko King

Koko King is a beautiful beach resort on the northern island of Caye Caulker. What was once all one island, thanks to a few large hurricanes, has now split it into two with Koko King on the north island and only accessible by a regular and free* boat. You can see the island across from The Split (however don’t think you can swim it!) and it’s a quick 2-4 minute boat ride away.

Koko King houses the upscale Weyu hotel, but is also open to the public for use of their beach and amenities (though note the hotel pool is the only out of bounds area).

In my opinion it is nicer than the split and is a great place to relax for a day, particularly if you rent a cabana bed! There are 3-4 cabana beds on the beach you can rent for the day at BZD$50 which is not too expensive when split with friends, however if you are keen for one I recommend going early (by 10:30am) as these go very quickly! If not, there are some beach chairs provided for free

At Koko King, there is also a decent restaurant with food and drinks (not cheap but not ridiculously priced either) as well as rubbers tyres you can float on for free and a water volleyball net if you’re keen! It’s shallow enough anyone can play, and we teamed up with another group for a fun, friendly match.

To get across, you can catch the boat provided by Koko King that runs every 30 minutes. The cost is BZD$25 or free if you spend the equivalent amount at their restaurant (which if you’re going for a few hours or over lunch is very easy to do). Note any money paid for a cabana bed also allows you to meet the minimum spend for 2 people! Just make sure you collect a wristband from the bar to prove you’ve met the spend when you leave.

Getting to Caye Caulker:

The two main ways of getting to Caye Caulker: a ferry from Belize City or a ferry from Chetumal.

Ferries from Belize City take about 45 minutes and operate up to 12 times daily with two operators; Belize Express Water Taxi or Ocean Ferry Belize.

Ferries from Chetumal take about 3.5 hours stopping first in San Pedro to complete immigration, then Continuing on to Caye Caulker. The cost is just over USD$50+and from Chetumal you’ll need to check the departure times as there are generally only 2 per day.

If you are travelling down from Mexico into Belize, another option is to catch a bus from Bacalar to Belize City between 8am – 9am (depending on your hotel location) and then the 1.30pm ferry across to Caye Caulker which sees you to the island by 2.30pm. You can easily organise this transfer via Marlin Espalda for US$40 per person which includes a small simple breakfast (think cereal/toast/tea and coffee) and a return ferry ticket to Belize City. We used them in April 2019 with no problems; they explained how to cross the border from Mexico to Belize and talked us through all the required immigration forms and process.

Where to stay in Caye Caulker:

Anywhere you stay on the island, you’ll be able to walk to the other end. It’s pretty small! Staying somewhere on the main road or just off it would be our recommendation as you’re closest to the action.

We stayed at Hotel Enjoy (which sits close to the ferry port, Errolyn’s fryjacks and opposite Namaste cafe) and had good wifi which is difficult to find in Belize. We have also stayed at De Real McCaw Hotel which is a good budget no-frills accommodation. On the main road closer to the Spit, it faces the beach too with cute porches out the front of every room.

Use coupon code 76983920 if booking via booking.com to get 10% back off your accommodation bill!

If you enjoyed this post, please share, pin it or tweet it. Thank you!

Join our mailing list for monthly updates

7 TIPS FOR VISITING THE ACTUN TUNICHIL MUKNAL (ATM) CAVE OF BELIZE

You feel like Tomb Raider hiking out and exploring the ATM caves in Belize. Here are 7 tips to prepare you for this adventure.

Walking deep into a cave is not always for the faint-hearted. I wouldn’t say I’m the claustrophobic type, closing a door to a small dark room won’t make me squeal, but squeezing down narrow shafts of a cave definitely gets the heart racing.

Regardless of any fear the mind may have for narrow dark spaces, boy was visiting the ATM cave of Belize was a blast.

A brief history of Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM):

Discovered in 1989 and also known as the Cave of the Crystal Maiden, the cave was used by the Mayans in the late classic period in a desperate plea to their gods to help flourish the lands with crops. Mayans were, as you know, an incredible civilisation, and while their end inevitably came from the arrival of the Spaniards, their downfall began a lot earlier. Although there are many mixed opinions on the matter, what was known as their farming capability was nothing short of destructive and conducive to their famine. Rather than refurbish and reuse farmland, they would burn it, and move on to the next patch. Mixed with drying wells, and bad weather, they soon were in danger of starvation.

Regardless of their technology, advanced mathematics and knowledge of the sky, to help with their famine, they turned to their gods.

Mayans believed in the supernatural, which included heaven and the underworld, both with many levels and deities. In this instance, praying underground, meant praying to the gods of the earth to refurbish the land. This is where the cave came in. It was a direct path to give a sacrifice of human life to please their gods.

Travelling deep into a cave:

The tour is quite the adventure, and you get a fun Tomb Raider/Indiana Jones vibe as you’re walking through the jungle, swimming through lakes and caves, and squeezing through narrow paths to find the hidden tomb.

The guide enriches the experience with deep knowledge on the history of the Mayans and the region.

Reaching the final room is incredibly rewarding and I still can’t fathom some of the bones, pots and natural cave formations left behind over 1,000 years ago. I don’t want to spoil the setting, you genuinely need to experience it.

But the Crystal Maiden is the final site. An almost perfectly preserved set of bones of an 18-year-old girl who had been sacrificed during this period. A reminder of some of the torment Mayans had endured, and their desperation to save their people from the coming famine.

Tips for visiting the ATM caves, Belize

If you are planning a trip here (which you should!) here are 7 tips, tricks and things to know before your visit to the ATM cave:

1) Bring reef shoes
Your feet with being submerged in water for much of the tour, so it’s best to bring reef shoes to wear as they dry quickly and won’t get smelly! Although preferable, you don’t need hard toe reef shoes – completely soft ones are okay and accepted by the tour companies. Ideally, if you are travelling down the east coast of Mexico, get them in Playa Del Carmen as it houses the most shops, offering greater choice (cost is anywhere from $10 – $20USD)

2) Bring socks
There is the dry cavern where you will be required to take off your shoes to enter and walk through. As such you’ll want socks on as the ground has many small sharp rocks!

3) Don’t wear a long sleeve shirt
While it seems like a good idea at first, particularly if you’re prone to getting cold, you do visit the dry cavern for quite an extended portion of the tour and you’ll be standing in damp clothes for a long time. As such, it actually makes you colder since you’re wearing more wet clothing, and don’t worry, the cavern air is relatively warm, so you don’t freeze!

4) If you’re a competent swimmer, you don’t really need a life jacket unless perhaps it’s the wet season!
During our visit in early April 2019 (the end of the dry season), the water levels were relatively low, so there were only 2 sections during which I had to swim as my feet could not touch the bottom (I’m 1.7m tall). This was at the very entrance to the cave for about 10m and after about 10 minutes into the cave.

Being said, our guide explained that during the wet season the water levels in the cave can rise by almost 50-60cm, in which case there would be significantly more spots on the tour where swimming would be necessary. Of course, if you are not a confident swimmer, or want the added warmth, then a life jacket is for you!

Also if you are looking to go in September/October, be mindful it is hurricane season and if water levels rise too much, the ATM cave is closed to tourists for safety reasons.

5) Get on the bus early
Being the first group in the cave is magical as the waters are clear (as groups traipsing through haven’t yet stirred up sediment) and with the quiet, it feels like you have the caves all to yourself. We were lucky enough to be the 1st group through for the day. As we were leaving, because you exit the same way you enter, we often ran into groups who had only just begun and were then forced to stop at multiple points to let exiting groups pass. As always, the early bird catches the worm!

6) You can’t bring cameras or video recording devices into ATM cave. Period.
Unfortunately, a series of unfortunate events with tourists in the past have lead to this ban on all devices in the cave. The upside though is you don’t need to worry about dry bags, fiddling with cameras, and your attention is 100% focused on taking in the moment 😊. You do receive photos at the end of the trip, but they are pre-taken photos of the cave by the tour agency – there is no tour guide following you with a camera and taking pictures of your group!

7) You don’t have to be Indiana Jones or Lara Croft to do this tour
The tour does require some climbing up rocks and minimal parts of swimming (approx. 10m – 15m), but you don’t need to be a gym junkie to do this. The hardest parts are swimming into the entrance of the cave, climbing up a short ladder and a rock boulder to get to the dry cavern and probably squeezing through some tight spaces. All of this, however, is very much doable, and the tour guides guide you through every step, foothold and movement along the way.

Date visited: 16 April 2019.
Tour agency: MayaWalk Tours. We decided on these guys as they were one of the most and highest rated tour operators on TripAdvisor and departed at 7am from their office in San Ignacio.
The price paid: USD85 per person. We were initially quoted USD$95 but received a discount after requesting one for a group of 5 people.

7 Tips & Tricks for Visiting the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave of Belize

You feel like Tomb Raider hiking out and exploring the ATM caves in Belize. Here are 7 tips to prepare you for this adventure.

Walking deep into a cave is not always for the faint-hearted. I wouldn’t say I’m the claustrophobic type, closing a door to a small dark room won’t make me squeal, but squeezing down narrow shafts of a cave definitely gets the heart racing.

Regardless of any fear the mind may have for narrow dark spaces, boy was visiting the ATM cave of Belize was a blast.

A brief history of Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM)

Discovered in 1989 and also known as the Cave of the Crystal Maiden, the cave was used by the Mayans in the late classic period in a desperate plea to their gods to help flourish the lands with crops. Mayans were, as you know, an incredible civilisation, and while their end inevitably came from the arrival of the Spaniards, their downfall began a lot earlier. Although there are many mixed opinions on the matter, what was known as their farming capability was nothing short of destructive and conducive to their famine. Rather than refurbish and reuse farmland, they would burn it, and move on to the next patch. Mixed with drying wells, and bad weather, they soon were in danger of starvation.

Regardless of their technology, advanced mathematics and knowledge of the sky, to help with their famine, they turned to their gods.

Mayans believed in the supernatural, which included heaven and the underworld, both with many levels and deities. In this instance, praying underground, meant praying to the gods of the earth to refurbish the land. This is where the cave came in. It was a direct path to give a sacrifice of human life to please their gods.

Travelling deep into the cave

The tour is quite the adventure, and you get a fun Tomb Raider/Indiana Jones vibe as you’re walking through the jungle, swimming through lakes and caves, and squeezing through narrow paths to find the hidden tomb.

The guide enriches the experience with deep knowledge on the history of the Mayans and the region.

Reaching the final room is incredibly rewarding and I still can’t fathom some of the bones, pots and natural cave formations left behind over 1,000 years ago. I don’t want to spoil the setting, you genuinely need to experience it.

You get a fun Tomb Raider/Indiana Jones vibe.

But the Crystal Maiden is the final site. An almost perfectly preserved set of bones of an 18-year-old girl who had been sacrificed during this period. A reminder of some of the torment Mayans had endured, and their desperation to save their people from the coming famine.

Tips for visiting the ATM cave, Belize

If you are planning a trip here (which you should!) here are 7 tips, tricks and things to know before your visit to the ATM cave:

1) Bring reef shoes

Your feet with being submerged in water for much of the tour, so it’s best to bring reef shoes to wear as they dry quickly and won’t get smelly! Although preferable, you don’t need hard toe reef shoes – completely soft ones are okay and accepted by the tour companies. Ideally, if you are travelling down the east coast of Mexico, get them in Playa Del Carmen as it houses the most shops, offering greater choice (cost is anywhere from $10 – $20USD)

2) Bring socks

There is the dry cavern where you will be required to take off your shoes to enter and walk through. As such you’ll want socks on as the ground has many small sharp rocks!

3) Don’t wear a long sleeve shirt

While it seems like a good idea at first, particularly if you’re prone to getting cold, you do visit the dry cavern for quite an extended portion of the tour and you’ll be standing in damp clothes for a long time. As such, it actually makes you colder since you’re wearing more wet clothing, and don’t worry, the cavern air is relatively warm, so you don’t freeze!

4) Do you really need a life jacket?

If you’re a competent swimmer, you don’t really need a life jacket unless perhaps it’s the wet season!

During our visit in early April 2019 (the end of the dry season), the water levels were relatively low, so there were only 2 sections during which I had to swim as my feet could not touch the bottom (I’m 1.7m tall). This was at the very entrance to the cave for about 10m and after about 10 minutes into the cave.

Being said, our guide explained that during the wet season the water levels in the cave can rise by almost 50-60cm, in which case there would be significantly more spots on the tour where swimming would be necessary. Of course, if you are not a confident swimmer, or want the added warmth, then a life jacket is for you!

Also if you are looking to go in September/October, be mindful it is hurricane season and if water levels rise too much, the ATM cave is closed to tourists for safety reasons.

5) Get on the bus early

Being the first group in the cave is magical as the waters are clear (as groups traipsing through haven’t yet stirred up sediment) and with the quiet, it feels like you have the caves all to yourself. We were lucky enough to be the 1st group through for the day. As we were leaving, because you exit the same way you enter, we often ran into groups who had only just begun and were then forced to stop at multiple points to let exiting groups pass. As always, the early bird catches the worm!

6) No cameras of video devices!

You can’t bring cameras or video recording devices into ATM cave. Period.

Unfortunately, a series of unfortunate events with tourists in the past have lead to this ban on all devices in the cave. The upside though is you don’t need to worry about dry bags, fiddling with cameras, and your attention is 100% focused on taking in the moment 😊. You do receive photos at the end of the trip, but they are pre-taken photos of the cave by the tour agency – there is no tour guide following you with a camera and taking pictures of your group!

7) The tour and hike is not dificult

The tour does require some climbing up rocks and minimal parts of swimming (approx. 10m – 15m), but you don’t need to be a gym junkie to do this. The hardest parts are swimming into the entrance of the cave, climbing up a short ladder and a rock boulder to get to the dry cavern and probably squeezing through some tight spaces.

You don’t have to be Indiana Jones or Lara Croft to do this tour.

All of this, however, is very much doable, and the tour guides guide you through every step, foothold and movement along the way.

Date visited: 16 April 2019.
Tour agency: MayaWalk Tours. We decided on these guys as they were one of the most and highest rated tour operators on TripAdvisor and departed at 7am from their office in San Ignacio.
The price paid: USD85 per person. We were initially quoted USD$95 but received a discount after requesting one for a group of 5 people.

If you enjoyed our post please share, tweet or pin it.

Join our mailing list for monthly updates