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Published: April 4th 2014
It took a total of 4 hours to get to Belize City, there you catch a taxi boat to the island from one of the various companies who are all willing to match any price you been given by a competitor. The border crossing from Guatemala to Belize was quick and easy, the shuttle bus dropped us off only to meet you on the other side. The minibus was full and hot! Glad we brought that water with us!
You pass various islands on the way to Caye Caulker and you get that similar feeling to when you get picked up from the airport by your tour operator with many other holiday goers, hoping that the 5 star hotel you just pulled into is the one you booked on superskintbudgetholdidays.com. But I was glad to see you couldn't really go wrong with any of the islands and pulling up to Caye Caulker you couldn't help but love the rustic feel, beautiful blue waters and white sandy beaches. It's the usual story when you leave any public transport on the gringo trail, people want a piece of you. We thought we'd made it through unscathed when we were accosted by a
local middle-aged man called Jimmy (who definitely had some personal issues, probably booze related). The deal was he would show us a range of hotels and the hotel we choose would give him some money. Maybe we should have booked somewhere in advance. After a couple of options and Jimmy telling us he could get us the best Marijuiana on the island, we found a fairly cheap place just on the beach (to be fair the island is that small you'd be pretty unlucky to stay somewhere that wasn't on the beach!). The room was basic with a double bed, fan and toilet, ideal for what we needed. It had its own waterfront area with a pier with a bench on the end, great for relaxing and watching the sunset.
You can walk from one end of the island to the other in about 20 minutes. The only transport on the island are golf buggies or bicycles and the streets are sand. When I say 'streets' there are 2 main streets for the tourists mainly consisting of restaurants and dive shops. Apart from the laid back Caribbean vibe of the island, the motto being 'go slow', the main draw
is the diving and snorkeling and diving some more. Most shops offer the same trips for very similar prices. We wanted to do Shark Alley which is not as scary as it sounds, it's an area of coral where a lot of harmless reef sharks and rays hang around (probably attracted by the various tours chucking food into the water). Not not very Eco-friendly but there are people who offer an Eco-friendly alternative. We also wanted to do some night snorkeling, we'd heard about the amazing florescent colors you can see at night.
The food on the island was really good, I had some amazing Lemon Pepper 'fish'. You can get yourself a good deal on a Lobster dinner in some places this also includes a couple of side dishes and some Rum punch.
We were unlucky with the weather, out of the 7 days we were there it rained for 5! This meant we never got to see Shark Alley or do the night snorkeling, gutted! But I was lucky enough to get to do some diving, I'd booked a trip to see the famous Blue Hole plus a couple of reef dives. It was a full
day trip which started at 6am and fortunately it was a couple of hours away from the island so we managed to dodge the bad weather. The blue hole is a collapsed cave system which from above looks like a circular deep blue hole surrounded by coral, the hole is 120 meters deep and we would be going about 50 meters down the hole. It starts off as a sandy / coral bank which soon disappears into 'deep blue' nothing. After descending 50 meters only using a vertical rock face as reference (plus the dive master of course but that wouldn't sound as scary!), there is a cavern in the wall with stalactites and stalagmites big enough to swim in between. That's the deepest I've been and there's something magnificent about looking up and not being able to see the surface and just being surrounded by deep blue (well apart from the rock face on one side ha). You're not down for long due to depth, it was about 15 minutes and it went too quickly. Still a great experience. There was a moment of alarm on ascent when I spotted a shark, it's messes with your perspective when you
see something against the blue background. I didn't know how big it was or how far away it was, a quick look at the rest of the group and my fears we settled, no one seemed to be panicking. It turned out it was just a reef shark. Lunch was included and it was on the tiniest of islands, which also had a bird sanctuary which had lots of colourful birds nesting it trees. A great setting for a relaxed lunch. We did 2 reef dives in the afternoon and marine life was aplenty! Turtles, Rays and lots and lots of very colourful fish. The ride back to Caye Caulker included several cups of Rum punch. All in all a great day out!
We really enjoyed the relaxed nature of this island, it really was a shame about the weather. You can't win them all I guess.
Next stop Mexico and Tulum!
This is my last blog for Central America and what a journey we've had. Reflecting on our time in Latin America as a whole, the people we've met, the places we've visited and the stories we've heard, it's had it's ups and downs. Mainly ups.
But to learn about how this region was affected by the cold war has been a real eye opener. The recent history has been turbulent but there has been a lot of effort to change this and you can tell by the people and the atmosphere we've enjoyed.
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