Located 21 miles northeast of Belize City and only 15 minutes from neighboring San Pedro, Caye Caulker is known for its cool, laid-back island life. With a population of approximately 1,200 people, the island appeals to visitors looking for a comfortable place to sleep, a white sandy beach, clear aquamarine waters, delicious seafood and friendly people. In contrast to bustling San Pedro just minutes away, Caye Caulker has maintained its cozy island appeal.
Stretching five miles long and 1.2 miles wide, Caye Caulker has small but diverse habitats. Its northern end is completely covered in mangrove vegetation. In 1998, 40 hectares of this lush littoral forest on the northernmost tip of the island was acknowledged as the Caye Caulker Forest Reserve.
Over 100 species of birds inhabit this lush ecosystem, including the black catbird and rufus-necked wood-rail. The effects of major hurricanes over the years have changed the island’s topography in certain areas. The popular swimming spot north of the village, referred to as ‘The Split’, was created from the devastation of Hurricane Hattie in 1961. The hurricane swept over the island, destroying many houses in the village while creating a distinct split in the island. Since then, the split has become wider due to erosion and deforestation of the mangroves.
The island is easily accessible by boat from Belize City. Caye Caulker is also accessible by plane, but currently the airstrip is under renovation, and is expected to reopen soon. The island is about 45 minutes from Belize City by boat, and about 15 minutes by plane.
Caye Caulker is known for its tradition of lobster fishing and shipbuilding. Even with the fast development of the tourism industry, the village’s distinct cultural flavor has not been lost. One of the most popular festivities on the island is the annual Lobster Fest. Tourists and locals populate the small Caye to commemorate the opening of the lobster season and taste the mouthwatering local lobster dishes.
With the magnificent Barrier Reef a little more than one mile away from the island, visitors can enjoy the many dive sites that exist along the reef. Apart from diving, visitors can snorkel nearby or at the popular Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley (just nine miles northeast of Caye Caulker). Other activities include sea kayaking, windsurfing, sailing or sport fishing.