After Europe, we were desperately seeking some downtime. We moved non-stop in Europe, changing cities and apartments every 3-4 days, so all we wanted to do was nothing.
Where is the best place to do nothing, you ask? Caye Caulker, Belize.
Caye (pronouced ‘key’) Caulker is a beautiful, budget friendly island off of the coast of mainland Belize. Something to note right off the bat, Caye Caulker is a backpacker’s island. Unlike it’s more luxurious neighbor-island to the North, Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker is a rustic, no-frills sort of island. It’s a place where shoes and shirts are always optional, where there is only one bar open past 9:00pm, and where you feel like a local within a day or two of visiting.
It’s exactly what we needed and more.
Where to Stay:
Because Caye Caulker’s tourism revolves around budget backpackers, most of the lodging on the island is hostels. These hostels range from dirt cheap to pretty cheap and you get what you pay for. If you’re going the hostel route, my suggestion would be to splurge the extra $$ and get a room with A/C. It’s always hot and humid in Belize.
Since we aren’t 22 and willing to share a room with a handful of strangers, we of course opted for Airbnb to fulfill our lodging needs. We found a great house right off the main strip on the island and we stayed there for twelve nights. It was pretty perfect for what we were looking for. We had a room with A/C, a kitchen, and front yard with hammocks. Also, since the other room was also being rented out, we met some other really cool travelers during our stay.
Where to Eat:
Ohhhh my favorite part about Caye Caulker. THE FOOD.
Now, I am very, very partial to food in Central America. I absolutely love jerk chicken with rice & beans. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I could eat it every day. It’s simple and delicious and Belize knows how to do it right.
Since Caye Caulker is a teensy-tiny island, all of these food options are a stone’s throw away from where you’ll be staying. (Also worth nothing: there are no cars on Caye Caulker, minus a few construction trucks. Everywhere is within walking distance).
Now here is a list of my favorite places to eat on the island in no particular order:
Errolyn’s House of Fry Jacks– This place puts the ‘simple’ in ‘simplicity’. Only open until 2pm every day, their menu consists of made-to-order, thin pancakes, with your choice of filling. And by “your choice” I mean, you have the option of beans, chicken, eggs, and cheese in any combination you would like. It might not look like much in the picture, but my GOD are these tasty.
Ice & Beans Coffee Shop: Casey & I went here almost every morning for iced coffee. The owner is really cool and often gave us free samples of their smoothies or donuts. They also have really awesome bagel sandwiches if you’re looking for a bite to eat.
Barrier Reef Sports Bar & Grill: If you go to Caye Caulker, you will go to this bar. Remember earlier I mentioned there is one bar that stays open late? This is that place. They have a great daily happy hour, live music, weekly trivia night, and they also have pretty good bar food. We spent a lot of time (and money) at Barrier Reef, but it’s a lot of fun and we met a ton of cool people here, both local and visiting.
Lazy Lizard: Probably the most well-known spot on the island. The Lazy Lizard is located at “the split”, which is quite literally where the island split in two after a major hurricane a few decades ago. (on the other side of the split, is the undeveloped, remainder of Caye Caulker). The Lazy Lizard is the best spot for swimming on the island and it’s a great place to grab a beer, some food and spend the day in the sun.
Meldy’s: Go to Meldy’s. Go to Meldy’s. This is hands down my favorite dinner spot on the island. I think we ate here four or five times while we were visiting. They have the best jerk chicken. My mouth is literally watering as I type this.
Caribbean Colors Art Cafe: Great spot for breakfast. Some of the best banana bread I’ve ever eaten and free coffee refills!
And finally, get some beach-side BBQ for lunch. I’m sure these guys had a name, but I honestly can’t remember. On the main street, as you’re heading toward the Lazy Lizard, you will pass a few picnic tables and grills. Eat there. Seriously some of the best food we had on the island and they’re only open for lunch.
Can you tell we ate a lot?
What to Do:
Belize in general is a big tourist destination for water sports, and Caye Caulker is no exception. The Great Blue Hole is one of the most popular diving spots in the World, and only takes an hour or so to get to from Caye Caulker. While we don’t dive, we do love to snorkel. The Marine Reserve is located right off of the coast of the island and we had an amazing afternoon snorkeling here. We paid about $70 for five hours on the boat.
2. Go Slow
This isn’t just the official motto of the island, it’s a rule that the locals live by. So while you’re here, I recommend you live like the locals do and “go slow”. Read a few books, lay in the sun, drink some Belikin. It’s almost impossible to be stressed while you’re here and it’s the perfect place to disconnect.