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Published: February 19th 2013
Moments before the filming of Jaws 3
Half way through the second week of Heather and mine’s travels we made our way to Caye Caulker. We left Tulum in the pouring rain, conditions which would last the whole of our journey. We arrived in Chetumal the last town in Mexico before the border to Belize. We weren’t entirely sure of our plan at this point, we had in mind using a bus service to get to the border and then after crossing the border getting a further bus to Orange Walks, a town in Belize. When we departed the bus at Chetumal however, we saw a man selling boat taxi tickets direct to Caye Caulker. As notorious impulse buyers, Heather and I changed our plans and opted for the $50 US each ticket to Caye Caulker. We hopped in a taxi to the port. Things were looking good, we bought our tickets on arrival at the ticket office at the port as we wished to pay with pesos. Having purchased our tickets, then came the sting in the tail...... we were told to pay a further $25 US each as an exit fee and $10 US entrance fee into Belize. Along with many others at the time this
The sea was as calm as a lake
didn’t seem right but we had no choice but to pay. I believe it’s a recent change and that it was to fund security on the ports, which was very handy as we essentially paid for ourselves to be thoroughly searched before boarding the boat. We endured 2 very different boat rides with a change at San Pedro, the second boat only hand a small shelter which the men on board gentlemanly allowed the ladies to utilise as we got soaked from a combination of rain and warm splashes of Caribbean sea at the rear. In retrospect we had the better experience.
We arrived in Caye Caulker in the dark and headed straight to a hostel called Bella’s. A Swedish couple tagged along with us as they were unsure of where to go. On our way a local said the following to a guy who was running passed “Why you walking so fast white boy?” At that point I realised we would like it here, I mean getting told off for walking too fast........ Simply brilliant!! We arrived at Bella’s where a double room was $50 Belize a night, we checked out the little cabin they had available. I
Funny sign on front street
Sums up the casual humorous approach to life the island has
was carrying the bags so Heather led the way, she opened the door and immediately fell down 2 feet. My instant reaction was “no chance, we’re not staying here”. It later became apparent that Bella’s is one of the party places to go on the island and is perfect for lone or groups of travellers looking for the party hostel atmosphere. Not for us at the time though, a local took us around the corner to a hotel called Jeremiahs and it was perfect for us. Spacious room for $45 Belize with a shared bathroom, plus the girl who served and looked after us for our time there was great.
We fell in love with Caye Caulker and ended up staying there for 5 nights instead of our intended 2, I think that says it all. The island is purely charming and oozing with Caribbean flavour. It’s English speaking and there currency has the British (our) Queen on it. The food was sublime, especially in comparison to what we were eating in Mexico. One thing we noticed though is that you could generally find things a little cheaper if you looked around a little. Our “picks” for eating were
Relaxing on a dock
Syd’s if you wanted to save some pennies where a meal was $9 Belize (note that you simply half it to exchange it to US dollars), Enjoy which was $20 Belize for great quality BBQ food and Rosie’s for all round great food. We enjoyed a few drinks whilst on the island, they had great rum – who’d have thought it.
Whilst on Caye Caulker we participated in a half day of snorkelling which saw us taken to 3 different spots. The first location was the South Channel where the guide took us around and showed us a lot of creatures and plant life, he also enticed a Mora Eel out to play so we could see it – pretty cool. Then we went to Shark Ray Alley, trust me the name says it all. The guides fed the Nurse sharks and Sting Rays as we swam/stood amongst them – another great experience, I don’t think anything can prepare for the sensation of a Sting Ray gently stroking against your leg as it elegantly glides on by. Then we went on to the Coral gardens where we swam around freely taking in the beauty of the reef. One thing I will take away from the experience is to put sun tan lotion on my head as it got burnt, a little frustrating as I had the sense to wear a rash vest to avoid getting burnt. Next time I will also ensure I bother to shave in the morning so as to avoid breaking the seal of the mask, the amount of times I had to clear my mask was painful. By the end of the morning my nose and throat were stinging relentlessly. Despite that it was a great morning. I should mention it costs $70 Belize per person. I think the full day was 120. It is part of the second biggest reef in the world after the Great Barrier in Oz. It was the second reef Hev and I have snorkelled on, the other being Kenya. The experiences were very different in that Kenya was vibrant in a vast array of bright colours and teeming with life, whereas this experience allowed us to see Nurse Sharks and Sting Rays which due to the natural wall provided by the reef in Kenya, you would not be able to see.
The remainder of our time on the island we spent relaxing enjoying food and drink, and of course endlessly walking loops of the island. Even though it is clearly an island there are no real beaches to swim off unless you are happy to walk on sea grass, the way to do it is too walk out on one of the jetties and jump in from there where there is generally no sea grass, just warm, clear blue Caribbean sea – Gorgeous. The weather sucked while we were there, we witnessed lightning storms one night with strong winds (for the first time we witnessed someone nearly having a coconut land on his head, he was even more surprised than us and chose to move away from the Palm tree), and it rained at some point each day. Yet we still decided to stay more than twice as long than we intended. This is purely because the people and culture on Caye Caulker will make you won’t to stay. It encapsulates both a fun and easy going approach to life (I imagine it as a mini Jamaica).
We had intended to travel to the main land to Orange Walks to see the Maya ruins of Lamanai which would have been a cheaper but more but more arduous option, we opted instead to pay for an excursion from Caye Caulker costing a $120 US each.
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