I used to wonder to myself why every backpacker going from Mexico to Belize went straight to Caye Caulker. After spending a few nights there I understood. Caye Caulker is a small island paradise. The locals are friendly and the vibe is “go slow”. Shoes are optional everywhere you go. Fresh seafood BBQ stands line the sea front. My personal favourites are Fran’s and Terry’s. And everyone goes to chill out at the Split on a sunny day.
There are also a few dive shops on the island who can take you out for half and full day snorkel or dive tours to just about anywhere on the reef or neighbouring cayes. The funny thing is that while there aren’t all that many activities to do on the island, it is so inviting and comfortable that it doesn’t really matter if you go hang out at the Split day after day. It’s also a great place to see the sunset. In the evenings, most people go to the Reggae Bar (I and I) followed by the Oceanside Club. On any given night at any hour it’s hit or miss at both places.
There are plenty of accommodation options available, from hostels to very nice hotels. In terms of hostels, the most popular ones are Yuma’s House and Bella’s Backpackers. While Yuma’s has the best location right in the centre of town on the water, Bella’s has definitely got the better vibe. In fact, some people who moved from Bella’s to Yuma’s would come around Bella’s afterwards to hang out. I never met her myself, but I never heard anything complimentary about the manager / operator of Yuma’s from people who did meet her. I stayed at Bella’s the entire time I was on the island.
Caye Caulker is easily reached by water taxi from Belize City, San Pedro, and Chetumal (Mexico). When entering from Mexico, it’s necessary to go through customs and immigration in San Pedro before continuing onward to Caye Caulker. Citizens of North America, Japan, South Korea, Australia, NZ, and most of Europe get 30 day visas on arrival. From Belize City, the ride takes about 45-55 minutes.