Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series on Belize. Click here for Part 1, detailing San Ignacio, Belize.
If you’re traveling to Belize, make sure that you don’t just explore the inland of the country. Hop on a ferry and head out to one of the islands! Caye Caulker and San Pedro (Ambergris Caye) are the two most popular islands, and we chose Caye Caulker due to its smaller size and reputation for having a younger, backpacking crowd.
If you’re traveling as a couple or with family, you might want to consider San Pedro instead. For our group’s purpose of having what was essentially an “adult spring break”, Caye Caulker was ideal.
Table of Contents
- 1 Where to Stay
- 2 “Go Slow” and Explore
- 2.1 Where to Eat
- 2.2 Where to Relax (and Drink)
- 2.3 Where to Party
- 2.4 Departing Caye Caulker
Check out this video that shows a glimpse of the island plus our accommodations!
Without further ado, let’s talk about what to expect when you visit Caye Caulker:
Where to Stay
While plenty of airbnbs and hotels are available on the island, we chose to rent out a dorm for our small group at Travellers Palm Backpackers Hostel. This hostel is about 15-20 minutes walking distance to the other end of the Caye Caulker – not bad at all on a beautiful day or a breezy island night!
Travellers Palm was interesting to me (as far as hostels go), because every dorm is en-suite and shares one bathroom – there are no communal bathrooms at all. If you’re traveling solo and bunking with strangers, this could obviously be a blessing or a curse. In that kind of situation, I recommend going for a smaller dorm when possible (4-6 people max) and figuring out a schedule of sorts in order to get your business done in the bathroom when needed.
The good news is, there is a bathroom on the rooftop (toilet only) in case yours is occupied! Additionally, the sink water in the rooms use filtered tap water and there is a huge jug of filtered water in each room to keep guests hydrated. Every room also comes with a full-size fridge to store food and beverages (although they ask that you do not consume in the rooms).
The hostel is also right around the corner from a convenience store and a late-night munchies place. Needless to say, this location was very appreciated on our nights out!
“Go Slow” and Explore
The overall motto of Caye Caulker is “go slow” and you will definitely hear locals remind you of this if you walk or bike too quickly. So, I definitely recommend heeding the motto and letting yourself relax (unless you’re racing back to your hostel to get your phone and waterproof case right before your snorkeling tour starts…just a random example of course). That said, there are adventurous activities available, such as snorkeling with sea turtles and sharks, kayaking and more.
If you do choose to go slow, keep on reading to learn of some spots to eat and drink during the day and where to relax by the ocean. If you’re looking for a good time, skip down to the “Where to Party” section for my bar recommendations. Note: I love to dance, so most of these places were great for socializing and dancing!
Where to Eat
Godfrey’s was our #1 spot for breakfast, and I actually don’t recall if we tried anywhere else! Godfrey’s had a very affordable menu featuring well-rounded breakfast spreads, with items such as scrambled eggs (“Belizean style” with onions and bell peppers), thick cuts of bacon, refried beans, fresh fruit, and the Belizean staple of fry jacks.
FYI, fry jacks are essentially deep fried pieces of dough that can be stuffed or dipped into beans etc. Growing up in a Jamaican household, we had our own fried-dough staples (such as festival), so I was excited to try fry jacks! I will admit, we didn’t try any stuffed fry jacks while in Caye Caulker, which is one of my only regrets. But, the bread is a nice comfort food to have – especially after a night of drinking.
Barefoot Bar and Grill
This bar and grill was located right by our snorkeling tour company’s office, and it had a sign outside advertising a special happy hour that featured rum punch for dirt-cheap. After a long day out on the water, we were in! The food was also delicious. I had a shrimp curry with rice and all of us shared some tostones as an appetizer.
Barefoot Bar and Grill is actually part of the Barefoot Hotel, located directly across the way. The hotel is rumored to have a lovely rooftop with great sunset views. We unfortunately didn’t see for ourselves, but it came highly recommended!
La Cubana was a great place to duck into on a rainy day, and the food portions were not bad either. I had bacalao/saltfish with potatoes, and it was just what I wanted! I will say, the saltfish was VERY salty indeed. So if you’re not into that, steer clear. La Cubana also had a small patio in the back if you preferred to sit outside and it’s nice out.
Bondi Bar is a cool, intimate bar on the main road in Caye Caulker that features live music on certain nights. The bar also features specialty cocktails, gourmet food, and a laid-back atmosphere. This ended up being another rainy day spot for us (it rained on the last two days of our trip).
By the way, be sure to chat with the manager of Bondi Bar. His name is Ryan, and our group struck up a friendship with him while we were on the island. If you visit, be sure to tell him I sent you!
After Hours Munchies
This is the late-night spot that I mentioned above, within a 2-minute walk from our hostel. This place had a simple menu with very affordable prices. I think I got a grilled shrimp kebab for like $7 USD! And, the shrimp were freshly cooked and seasoned well to boot. There are plenty of other options here for food, but I highly recommend checking it out if you need some fuel for your night out.
Although we did not make it to either of the following two spots, they came recommended by locals. So, I would put Dee N D’s and Mara’s Sip N Dip on your list when you visit Caye Caulker!
Where to Relax (and Drink)
The Split is probably the most well-known spot on Caye Caulker, and for good reason. Caye Caulker itself is technically split into two islands due to Hurricane Hattie in 1961. The result of that hurricane is a “split” of ocean current that now separates this recreational area at the north end of Caye Caulker’s southern island from the northern part.
The Split features the Lazy Lizard bar, chairs and tables to hang out by the ocean, areas for beach activities such as volleyball, and more. The current here was pretty strong (not surprising considering our snorkeling experience) so although it was great to jump into the water and wade for a bit, I wouldn’t try to cross the Split unless you have a lot of confidence in your swimming ability.
Iguana Reef is an adorable hotel on the western side of the island, away from a lot of the action on the rest of the island. Thus, it’s a relaxing spot to catch the sunset – and see some seahorses! The owners of this hotel have a small seahorse sanctuary, and if you look closely into the water you’ll be able to spot the seahorses swimming between the underwater vegetation.
We also happened to see stingrays while visiting Iguana Reef, and the hotel features both a swing and a hammock in the water! If you purchase a drink from the beach bar, you’ll be able to hang out as long as you’d like. Beware though, when you venture onto the pier: there are tons of pelicans around, which means a lot of potential poop to step in. Luckily the ocean is right there to wash your foot off (plus a bathroom about 2 minutes away), but still: EW.
By “beach”, I mean the little strips of land around the island that happen to lead into the ocean. 😉 There unfortunately aren’t really any true beaches on Caye Caulker, but you will find small patches here and there where you can lay out and relax…somewhat.
If you’re a woman, be prepared for the occasional cat-caller to walk by and disturb your peace. If you’re not going into the water, I would suggest headphones if you don’t feel like dealing with that. Otherwise, you can just ignore it.
Swings is actually a bar and restaurant, but our sole purpose of going here was to escape the rain on our very last day and have some drinks. The big draw of the bar is the fact that the entire bar seating area consists of swings. These, of course, get increasingly more fun the more you drink. I suggest stopping by for a bit, especially if they have some specials going on!
Where to Party
Barrier Reef Sports Bar
Known simply as “Sports Bar” by locals and tourists alike, this dive bar and grill is a great spot to start your night! On our very first night in Caye Caulker, we found ourselves already starting to dance the night away as the DJ played Caribbean music, Top 40 hits, and more One thing to note is that Sports Bar usually closes around 11pm or 12am, and people then make their way to I&I’s Reggae Bar or Island Sky (more on those below). Fun fact: when it’s closing time, you might have the chance to stand/dance on the bar and pour shots into patrons’ mouths. If that’s a big goal of yours, hang out by the bar as it’s nearing closing time to try and get a bartender’s attention.
I&I’s Reggae Bar
Don’t be fooled by the name of this place: it’s definitely not just reggae that’s played! I & I’s is a reggae-themed bar that’s bigger than it looks from the outside. It features two full bars in the front and back, a dance floor with a pole in the middle, and a patio to hang out on when you need some air.
We ended quite a few of our nights here and just like Sports Bar, they played a great mix of Caribbean music as well as mainstream!
Island Sky was a place that we didn’t venture to until one of our last nights out, and it’s really the only true club on the island.
Island Sky is completely indoors, and it’s apparently where the locals tend to go versus Sports Bar or I & I’s. The music is a similar mix as the other two, but with more EDM beats mixed in and colorful strobe lights to really complement the nightclub atmosphere.
Island Sky typically closes around 3am, and there is a $5 cover at the door most nights. I recommend making Island Sky your last stop on a night out.
El Portal is a bar that’s right on the Split, above the Lazy Lizard. Now, we only went here on one night in particular because it was ladies’ night, so I can’t vouch much for it on other nights.
There was a really great DJ playing that night, but I was disappointed at the small crowd. Perhaps it’s because there are so many other bars that people pass by before they make it to the other end of the island for El Portal. Regardless, I recommend checking out this bar if you happen to be staying within 10 minutes walking distance of the Split.
Honorable mention: Koko King + Full Moon Parties
Koko King is a beach bar located on the north island of Caye Caulker. We heard so many great things about it, but lo and behold: we never managed to make it over! We did plan to attend their full moon party, but it unfortunately got rained out. Thankfully, we managed to attend the full moon party that occurred the night prior on the Split.
Long story short: if you’re in town during a full moon party, GO! And try and check out Koko King if you have the time. The ferry across the Split to get there is technically free, but my understanding was that you’re requested to spend $15 at Koko King to get a wristband for return transportation. It might be different when you visit, but that’s what I heard.
In addition to the above places, I really recommend renting a bike or kayak to explore the natural beauty surrounding the island. Our trip to Caye Caulker truly ended up being an adult spring break (no complaints here) so we didn’t get around to doing either one, but when I return I definitely plan to do more nature-centric activities.
Departing Caye Caulker
Just a quick note for those of you who make Caye Caulker your last stop before heading home! Instead of booking a water taxi to the mainland and then getting a taxi to the Belize airport, did you know that you can book a flight from Caye Caulker that drops you off directly at the airport? We took this route and it was SO much more convenient. Plus, the views you get are pretty nice as well. TropicAir is the airline we took, so I can only vouch for that one!
So, is Caye Caulker on your list now, or do you think you’ll head north to San Pedro?
Disclaimer: Stay at Travellers Palm Hostel was provided to the blogger in exchange for blog content. All opinions are 100% my own!