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Go Slow...And Potentially Never Leave....

Our time in Caye Caulker, Belize. An island we fell in love with and never wanted to leave.

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We arrived in Caye Caulker in the early evening. It was a three hour boat ride to San Pedro Island where we went through Belize customs and then another 30min boat ride to Caye Caulker. It ended up being a five hour trip after we spent an hour sitting at the dock while the customs officials drank with our crew…needless to say there were a lot of people from our boat who were not too happy. I guess we were both kind of expecting this. After all the island's motto is Go Slow so we couldn't expect anything to happen quickly while we were in Belize.


We arrived to our destination, the island Caye Caulker and were instantly excited.
Caye Caulker is known for its chilled out atmosphere and stunning reef systems that are nearby. I couldn’t wait! Belizes main language is English which also helped add to the excitement, we didn't have the stress of having to remember the few Spanish phrases we knew.


We had had some issues with our originally planned accommodation that resulted in us staying in a different place then we had booked. I have to commend Maxapan Cabanas (our original accommodation) for the way they dealt with the situation. They had us booked into another set of Cabanas and gave us the first night free due to the inconvenience. I have never had someone do something like that for someone they didn’t know. Louise (the owner/manager of Maxapan) is genuinely an amazing person and I wish we had had the chance to meet her and thank her for her kindness. Our stay in Colinda Cabanas was fantastic. It was right on the water with its own pier which we could laze on and we had free bikes at our disposal. Caye Caulker has no cars, only golf carts, bikes or the waewae express. I guess this helps with the slow and relaxing feel on the island.


We spotted the most spectacular sunset on the other side of the island on our first night. The sky was a deep purple. Sadly we left the pocket rocket (our small camera) at home so could only capture this stunning image with our phones.
We topped that off with the best Fried Chicken on the island from Syds. It was delicious, even more so when it came with mashed potato and coleslaw! I don’t even like fried chicken but I loved this. It was mouth-wateringly delicious.


Most of our time was spent biking around the island or discovering new little spots or food gems. A perfect example was the delicious punch at a French restaurant. It was full of cinnamon and I have never tasted anything like it. It was heavenly. I can't wait to try and figure out how to make it.

The genuine kindness of the people on the island could be seen everywhere. People asked where we wanted to go if we looked lost, they asked me who had beaten me up due to the bruises on my face from falling down the stairs. (They also never believed me when I told them I fell down the stairs. Haha!) Linda, our host found us fresh banana bread when I explained to her that I was on a mission to find some for Lewis as a very late birthday cake and I had heard the island was famous for it. She found us some the next day from the Cake Lady and brought it back just for us. It was soft and reminded us both of Red's steamed pudding but with banana flavour through it.


We discovered Aladins…a little Middle Eastern café near the Spilt. The split is where most people swim or hang out on the island. The food was outside. Fresh frozen pineapple drink was mouth watering good especially on a hot day. The falafel wrap had some of the best tabouleh I have ever had. The garlic chicken wrap was juicy and the pickles complement the magical garlic sauce that was laden through the whole thing.
We spotted the Cake Man the next day. We ended up buying one of each of his cakes, pineapple upside down cake, milk cake with caramel topping and banana bread. They were all heavenly. This time the banana cake tasted like banana cake rather than steamed pudding. I had completed my mission and finally got Lewis banana cake for his birthday. ☺


On our final day we were both pretty traumatised about leaving….we made an easy answer and stayed another night. (It was such a difficult decision when we were so relaxed and chilled out! ) We still hadn’t even been out snorkelling as I had been too chicken to go out in the swell. We found a diving business called Friendly Reef, they are trying to call themselves the most sustainable and best for the reef on the market. They refuse to feed the fish and sharks so they surround the snorkelers (the fish come over anyway) and they don’t take plastic bottles, everyone fills up there own bottle. They also don't let people pick up coral or empty shells. They want the reef to stay as it is. I admire them for not following the crowd and trying to make a difference so that the reef remains amazing!

While we were in Caye Caulker the Lobster season began on our second to last day on the island. Belize has no quota system like we do in New Zealand. Each diver brought back 100’s of lobster each! These were then sold to the restaurants and they sold them as a meal with numerous sides and drinks for 20BZD (10 NZD!). Lobster season runs for 9 months of the year. You can see that if each diver is getting over 100 lobster a day. The numbers are soon going to be at a critical level! This is an issue that is going to be difficult to fix. The Belize people use this as a source of income. If they don’t have that then how are they going to survive on their tropical paradise…Just something to ponder I guess.


The day was rough but when we got to the reef Hol Chan we had no problems. The nurse sharks were circling the boat as soon as we stopped. It looked daunting but our guide assured us they are scavengers and would not bite us.
We got in and our guide for the day, Zak helped to make sure that I was fine with the slight swell. He was a awesome teacher and I had things pretty organised in no time. We snorkelled in four different spots for the day. Our first stop was shark and stingray alley with the nurse sharks that come close. There was coral everywhere and we had to make sure we didn’t hit it or run into it as the coral pieces were large and the water wasn't that deep. It was a great time! There were schools of fish everywhere. We also got to see a lobster…luckily for this one it was in a reserve so wouldn’t be someone’s dinner that night.
We next headed to the channel, the main part of Hoi Chan reserve. It had even more fish and coral. It also had massive turtles swimming around and chomping on the seagrass.


Our third stop was the wreck. It was here that the current was ridiculous strong! You stopped and you were dragged back to where you started.
Our last stop was one of the highlights of our time in Caye Caulker. Zak, our guide/guider/snorkel teacher (in my case) found the manatees for us! It is breeding season but seen as it was a rough day they usually aren’t around. Manatee’s get scared easily so once we found them we had to get in quick. After a few problems with my mask and swallowing the water. I got to see them (yep I think I panicked cos I was so excited). I got to see Mani (the manatee) swimming in the water and eating the lettuce. It was amazing! It sensed us after a little and headed back out and away again. It was surprisingly speedy considering how it looked like it followed the go slow policy that the rest of the island did!


We headed back to Caye Caulker, exhausted after swimming all day. It was definitely worth staying the extra day to go our to the marine reserve. When we got back we discovered we were both red…not pink but DEEP RED! We had forgot about the sun sensitivity that goes with the doxycycline that we have to take as anti- malarials. It was going to be a painful next few days (at least). We got back to our unit showered, covered up and went to see the island one last time. We got fresh (still hot) cinnamon bread to eat the next day on the bus and sat and watched the sunset on the fishing co-op wharf. It wasn’t as spectacular as the first night but it was still beautiful.


We have to say that we both love Caye Caulker and hope it doesn’t get too developed. The laid back slow lifestyle where you stay in a shack/cabaana on the beach is what makes this island amazing. The slowness of life is relaxing and the people seem genuinely friendly. We are going to miss that little slice of forgotten paradise so much. We can’t wait to return!


Posted by chellebelle 19:32 Archived in Belize Tagged snorkelling bikes sunset sharks slow banana caye caulker chickens go manatee bread fried Comments (0)

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