Fri 9-Sun 11 November - Day 14 to 16 - Caye Caulker

Published: November 15th 2018
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Fri 9-Sun 11 November - Day 14 to 16 - Caye Caulker

We set off very early from Playa del Carmen, taking a short walk to the bus terminal we began our full day journey to beautiful Belize using a combination of public buses, taxis and a ferry. When leaving Mexico we paid a small departure fee of MXN540. The bus was the most interesting!! Alfredo called it the ‘chicken bus’ and the locals call it the ‘bread-stop bus’. I think you get the idea.

The ferry trip was 50 minutes in a fast boat with seats downstairs and uncovered seats upstairs. I enjoyed the breeze upstairs with the sun, but the view was excellent and we were getting to know the new members of our group. The new members were from Melbourne, Toronto, Wales, and NZ, again with a broad age group but a few fewer young ones. They were all interesting travellers. We were missing our other members though.

Belizeans know how to relax, and the locals' expertise on relaxation was contagious during our stay on Caye Caulker. We also saw signs to remind us to "Go Slow", "Take it easy", and even "No shirt, no shoes, no problem". We immediately noticed the increase in English (signs and speaking) as this used to be called British Honduras before it’s independence changing to Belize. There was also a distinct increase in native Caribbean’s, some real honkey-tonks as well. The reggae music was the go also.

We collected our luggage and walked for 5 minutes to the China Town Hotel. There were lots of bikes and golf carts on the island as the main forms of transport. We saw a few cars but not many. The roads were unsealed and had recently been filled with rain. Each night that we were on the Island, it rained but didn’t affect us.

We spend 3 of very laid back nights on Caye Caulker, where we wander the sand filled streets, spend the evenings eating seafood, drinking cocktails and the local beer (Beline), and listening to reggae music in several of the bars. The activities were a half-day snorkelling boat trip, unset cruise, and flight over the “Blue Hole”.

The 2nd largest coral reef is along the coast of Belize. We boarded the speed boat and ½ hour later we stopped and jumped into the warm, clear water with our fins and snorkels our captain who, for the next 30 minutes swam with us pointing out fish and coral highlights, including barracuda, eels, and stingrays. We then hopped back into the boat then travelled to Shark & Stingray Alley. The captain splashed some old fish carcasses into the water and immediately there were 20-odd nurse sharks pouncing on it. All of us except Tom jumped in. I immediately started my underwater camera to catch the frenzy of sharks after the meat. The were extensive number of stingrays also, of different sizes. I called out to Tom to come in. He decided it was ‘safe’. What an incredible exhilarating experience being in the water with these big and small sharks and making sure my fins didn’t knock any stingrays. I immediately thought of Steve Erwin. Should I be worried? The camera kept me focused.

I was the last to get back into the boat as I was making sure I had plenty of footage. We then ravelled another 10 minutes to the coral gardens. With snorkel and fins again we spent the next 45 minutes floating on the surface seeing many, many fish and coral. There was some colourful coral but not as prolific as our Great Barrier Reef. I was just loving it, but others were back in the boat so I thought I had better drag myself away to.

After a total of 1 ½ hours in the water snorkelling, the next day I found that I was sunburned on the back of my knees and my back. Mental note: must get a rash shirt.

After the snorkelling ½-day trip we had lobster for lunch (fish and lobster were very cheap on the Island… and fresh) along with fresh juice at the Happy Lobster. We walked around the island in piercing heat with humidity but there was always a gentle breeze. The restaurants we sampled were so varied. One was called Crepe Dreams, owned by a Canadian couple where I had a fruit crepe drizzled with chocolate. Tom had a chilli chicken crepe. The final night’s dinner was at a private home where we had BBQ spicy chicken, pork, lobster, fish and crunchy vegies, rice and pasta washed down with rum cocktail.

Qualified divers can explore the so-called bottomless "Blue Hole", made famous by the explorer Jacques Cousteau, however as I only have an Open Water PADI scuba certification and you need to dive over 100m to see the impressive hole, we decided to book a flight over the Blue Hole along with Olivier & Peter from Belgium who we had been travelling with since Mexico City. Peter was the other Type 1 Diabetic.

Spectacular !!!!! is the expression that comes to mind. We were picked up from the hotel in a golf-cart taxi and taken to the airport. We were met by the dual passport holder (Belize and Canada) piolet. Alf our guide came with us as it was a 6 seater. We flew for 20 minutes, passing over what looked a little like a very big atoll. Two parts of the land exposed had buildings on it. We also saw a ship wreck which was very rusted.

And then we saw it – the Blue Hole. Wow, and wow again. What a natural phenomenon. It was perfectly round, is 200 feet wide and apparently 600 feet deep. Early next year divers are going to survey it to find out more about the hole. Some say it might be a cenote. Watch this space as they say.

The second night on the Island we went on a 2 ½ hour sunset cruise but the trouble was that the all day snorkelling tour which used the same boat, came back late so we didn’t leave until 5.45pm. Sunset was 5.15pm!!! We missed the lot and the night was very dark as there was a new moon. The evening was beautiful weather though and they gave us rum cocktails. Tom and I had organised some diet coke to be included which we mixed with the rum. Next day we requested a part refund, so they gave us 50%!b(MISSING)ack (Originally 70 BZD – 2 DD = US$1.00).

The last night we went to the “Split” to waych the sunset. In 1961 there was a really severe hurricane which dug a deep channel and cut the Island in 2. They now call it the Split where it’s a perfect spot to watch the sunset. There is a bar and restaurant there (which is where we had our 1st dinner). We had a beer followed by a bloody mary while we watched the African-type sun set. It was beautiful and reinvigorates the life.

We had a very relaxing time on Caye Caulker and it came just at the right time as we had been on the go since leaving Brisbane on 14 October.

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