Getting There and Departing
In 2017, the airstrip at Caye Caulker was closed for repairs. Construction has been stalled, and it’s not clear when that will change, so check news sources like the San Pedro Sun (www.sanpedrosun.com) for updates. As we post this in mid-2018, it is not possible to get to Caye Caulker by air. Fortunately, the sea provides, and there are several ways to reach Caye Caulker by water.
By Boat -- Ocean Ferry Belize (www.oceanferrybelize.com; tel. 223-0033) and San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi (www.belizewatertaxi.com; tel. 223-2225) are the two water taxi companies that will get you to Caye Caulker from Belize City. Both depart near the Swing Bridge: Ocean Ferry from the Marine Terminal, and the San Pedro Belize Express from Brown Sugar Terminal, both on North Front Street. Both provide covered speedboats powered by huge, loud engines, with space for 50-100 passengers. No matter the weather, water almost always enters the cabin, but on sunny days it’s worth it to open the window because the cramped interior gets steamy with body heat in a matter of minutes.
The ride takes about an hour and continues on to Ambergris Caye. Similarly, rides back to Belize City will be boarding passengers from Ambergris Caye first. The fare is BZ$30-BZ$36 one way, or BZ$50-BZ$56 round trip, Ocean Ferry being the cheaper of the two options. Ocean Ferry offers 5 trips a day, compared with the San Pedro Belize Express’ 9, but does offer wi-fi on board which is a nice perk.
Tickets can be purchased in advance online or by visiting their terminals in person, though this is generally unnecessary. Stowing luggage is free, and bags will taken and tagged by porters prior to boarding, so hold on tight to the claim ticket you’re given. Pets are also welcome, but they need to be contained in kennels or bags. All boats arrive at their respective destinations in the center of town.
Tip: It’s worth it to arrive no later than a half hour early to queue up and get first pick of the seats. The front is a bumpier ride, and wetter if the weather’s bad, but the back is louder and smells more like the gasoline that fuels the engines. Those prone to motion sickness will either want to sit next to a window for the fresh air, or on one of the center seats that face forward
Caye Caulker is small. You can easily walk from one end of the island to the other in around 20 minutes. If you want to cover more ground quickly, a bicycle is your best bet. Many hotels have their own for guests to use free of charge or for a slight rental fee. If not, you can rent a bicycle in town. There are several places on Front Street with rates run around BZ$15 to BZ$30 per day.
If not everyone in your group can ride a bicycle or fit in a child’s seat attached to a bicycle, you can also rent a golf cart from Caye Caulker Golf Rentals (tel. 226-0237) or Buddy’s Golf Cart Rentals (tel. 628-8508). Rates run around BZ$80 to BZ$150 per day for a four-seat cart or BZ$360 for a week. But only do this if absolutely necessary.
Most boats dock at the pier jutting off Front Street at a spot called Front Bridge—so named because this is the front side of the island facing the reef (east). The town extends north and south from here. As you debark, if you kept walking straight ahead, you’d soon come to the western side of the island and the Back Bridge or dock, where some of the boats dock. Caye Caulker consists of three main north–south sand roads, a few cross streets, and numerous paths. The closest street to the water on the east side of the island is Front Street. The next street in is called either Middle Street or Hicaco Avenue, and the next street to the west is called alternately Back Street or Langosta Avenue. The currently defunct Caye Caulker airstrip is located on the southern outskirts of the town. At the north end of town, you’ll find the Split or Cut, the town’s prime swimming and sunbathing spot.
Much of Caye Caulker is uninhabited. The small town and inhabited sections are quite concentrated.
Though Caye Caulker is still a relatively safe place, it is not advisable to leave money or valuables in your hotel room, except in a safe. In addition, locals here have been known to take advantage of the trusting nature of the island’s visitors, enamored as they are with the relaxed lifestyle, so put as much consideration into trusting new friends as you would anywhere else.
Fast Facts -- For the local police, dial tel. 911, or 226-2022; for the fire department, dial tel. 226-0353. In the case of a medical emergency, call the Caye Caulker Health Clinic (tel. 226-0166).
Atlantic Bank (tel. 226-0207) is located on Back Street, near the center of the island, and has an ATM that accepts international credit and debit cards. The post office (tel. 226-2325) is also located on Back Street; it's open Monday through Friday from 8am to noon and from 1 to 5pm.
Most hotels provide laundry service, but pricing varies widely, so ask first. There are several coin-operated and full service laundromats on Caye Caulker, all in the central downtown area. Almost all of these are a better deal than going with your hotel's service.
About the Water -- Much of the water on Caye Caulker is collected rainwater. While it's usually safe to drink, and most locals are used to it, I advise visitors to stick to bottled water.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.