I wasn’t expecting much when coming to Belize; wedged between Mexico and Guatemala, I presumed it would be more Latino than Caribbean. But as soon as I crossed the border I stopped speaking Spanish and switched to English and loved the Caribbean accent everyone was speaking in. The Belize dollar is actually pegged to the US dollar, so some may spend more, but overall, the prices are far cheaper than what you would find in the USA and Caye Caulker is one of the cheaper backpacker islands in the Caribbean.
From Flores, Guatemala, I bought a combined 5am shuttle and ferry ride from Flores to Belize City and then from Belize City to Caye Caulker, which took around seven hours. Confusingly everyone refers to Belize City, just as “Belize”, so when I was leaving Caye Caulker, everyone would ask “Are you going to Belize?” The border crossing was uneventful until I got to Belize City; the city has a reputation for being dangerous and even during the day it was quite dodgy, but I had to walk to the station to find a cash point.
Caye Caulker has only two cash points (March 2017), both of which tend to empty on weekends, so I was panicking on the ferry there! Belize does have a reputation for being really expensive, but I didn’t find it too awful- just like anywhere else you can bring that amount down significantly. Hostels I couldn’t find for less than $12 a night. I stayed in Dirty McNasty’s (wouldn’t recommend!!) and then hopped to a few other nice places with hammocks and atmosphere on parallel streets. Caye Caulker is set out like a grid and it seemed like there were only 10 streets from one end of the island to the other.
Caye Caulker was the highlight of my trip and was just so stunning: palm trees, azure seas and friendly people. The motto of the island is “Go Slow” and once I got shouted out for walking too fast (“go slow!!!”) It really is the kind of place you can hole up for a week and just chill. Island life never got boring and the people were also laid-back and friendly, though they seemed more interested in foreign girls than foreign guys. The scenery was stunning, they have great diving options, the food is amazing and I imagine it’s a lot cheaper than most Caribbean destinations. The only downside is that there are no real beaches on Caye Caulker, but there is still sand and sea….that meet (I have no idea what the definition of a beach is and why Caye Caulker’s one doesn’t fit this criteria, but from my photos you can see what I mean).
For five days I went swimming, read, walked around, ate lots of rum cake and chased the cake lady. If you go to Caye Caulker you have to find her! She sells cakes from her bicycles and travels around the island, apparently they’re delicious and only $5 a slice. I went all over that island trying to find her, but alas had no luck! Besides her, only the ice cream shops sell rum cake, I got one everyday and one for the journey it was that good! Supplies on Caye Caulker are quite limited and very expensive (like sun cream), so if you’re coming from home or Mexico or Guatemala, then bring this stuff with you. Wi-Fi was available in most places and the food was fantastic, I used to eat at Jenny’s, a shack by Dirty McNasty’s ($3 lowest price) and Juan’s. Even at Juan’s the cheapest meal ($8) was delicious. I was surprised at how good the food was here in general and it made a pleasant change from Guatemala. $20 was probably average for food here (around £18) which is quite a lot for every meal so I’d recommend the shacks.
The diving and snorkelling cost around $250 but I heard from most people that the snorkelling trips weren’t worth it, especially considering the beautiful marine life you can see in neighbouring Mexico. I also have no interest in diving so I skipped the blue hole ($250 was more than the price of my ticket from London to Cuba!) When leaving Caye Caulker there is a really expensive $100 ferry to Bacalar, Mexico, but if you do this route yourself and take a $7 ferry to Belize City, a bus to the Mexican Chetumal and from there get a collectivo taxi to Bacalar, you’ll end up spending less than $25, the ferry is for the tourists and I took this route alone and felt completely safe the whole time! It sounds like a long and convoluted route, but it really wasn’t.
Definitely a highlight of my travels, I hope to come back to Belize 🙂