The diving and snorkelling off the coast of Caye Caulker is some of the best in the world! The area is home to the famous Great Blue Hole, where thousands of people come to visit this amazing site every year. There are so many interesting things to discover on your next underwater adventure to Belize.
There are a few diving centres in the main town and a couple of diving resorts. It's best to book your trip before you go as the tours are popular and some centres only go every second day. There are many dive sites in the area, with almost 300km of coral reef, you're sure to see some fabulous stuff.
Snorkelling trips can be booked from just about any hotel or travel agent in town, shop around for a bargain as prices can vary considerably. expect to pay between $20-$25USD per person for a half day tour. You will most likely head out to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark-Ray Alley, where you can snorkel with dozens of nurse sharks and huge sting rays. It is illegal for the guides to feed the animals or touch them, but they usually do anyway, so be firm and look, don't touch; for your safety too. Manatee snorkelling tours are also popular and very special to get up close to these amazing animals.
The sea life in this area is extremely varied, depending on the site. You might be lucky enough to spot a manta or eagle ray, varies species of sharks such as the reef shark or hammerhead, huge groupers and every type of reef fish, and many types of hard and soft corals. There are walls, shallow reefs, caverns and many great environments to discover.
Most people come to Caye Caulker to visit the Great Blue Hole. Three dive packages can be found for around $180, with a dive at the Blue Hole and another two dives at either Turneffe Islands, Lighthouse Reef or Glover's. Be careful at the Blue Hole, many guides will take you down to 40 metres, even if you aren't certified to that depth, so check with your guide first and be sure he knows your certification.
There is some great reef diving in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Fishing was banned in 1987 so there are an amazing quantity and diversity of fish. Other great spots include the Caye Chapel Canyons and the reefs around St George's Caye, Long Caye Wall and Sergeant's Caye.
So there's a good few days of diving for you, you can spend weeks in the area if you have time. Jump into the water and enjoy the spectacular underwater world around Caye Caulker, then enjoy the sunset with a cocktail on the water's edge, it's paradise just waiting for you.
(By Kelly Luckman)
The sleepy island of Caye Caulker is a popular backpacker destination due to the relatively cheap prices and laid back atmosphere. At 8km long and 1.6km wide and situated in the Caribbean Sea only 30km from the mainland, it's easy to get there but more difficult to leave as you will surely fall in love with the natural beauty and friendly people.
A small airstrip services the island with regular daily flights to and from San Pedro and Belize City. There are also water taxis from both these cities, which take about 45 minutes. If you're coming from Mexico then the boat leaves from Chetumal with a short stop over in San Pedro. There are no paved streets and the town is small so walking around is easy, or you can opt for a bicycle or golf cart if you want to explore more of the island.
There are many different accommodation options, depending on your budget. From simple rooms with a shared bathroom from $10 a night, to nice bungalows on the beach ranging from $20-$100 a night and top end rooms for around $160 a night. You can walk around the town and find a great bargain, be careful of the touts trying to sell you a room as you will probably pay more than you should.
Caye Caulker is a nature lover's paradise. Explore The Forest Reserve in the north and join an organised bird watching tour. The two marine reserves ensure your trip into the water will be a great one, snorkelling and diving around the area is stunning. Take a sailing tour for a few days and sleep on some of the smaller surrounding islands, and catch your own fish for dinner. One day fishing trips are also available as are Manatee Watching tours but really shop around to get the best deal for any tour.
Sea kayaks are an excellent adventure and good way to discover the island, or take a bike trip if you're prefer to do it by land. Wander around the town or shop for some lovely hand made gifts to take home with you. And of course you can curl up in a hammock with a book for a super lazy day.
There are many seafood restaurants in town, be sure that they aren't serving things such as lobster when it's out of season. There are people with food carts walking around that will serve you up a hearty meal pretty cheap. Chill at one of the many bars on the water's edge while enjoying the sunset.
It's all about taking it easy on Caye Caulker, their motto of 'no shoes, no shirt... no problem' is apparent from the moment you arrive. Enjoy the crystal blue waters and friendly atmosphere that the island has to offer.
(By Kelly Luckman)