Sometimes spontaneous trips are the best! You know, the kind of trips that you wake up one day and decide to buy a plane ticket for the next. Normally I’m a mega-planner and not having a plan stresses me out, but when you have some amazing girlfriends and a last minute travel deal comes along, not having a plan may just become THE best plan!
Exhibit A: Belize, May 2017. When you buy a plane ticket from East Coast, USA on a Thursday and find yourself in Belize just in time for Happy Hour Friday, life is good.
But let me stop here and clarify something. This blog post isn’t about my trip to Belize, it’s about yours! So grab your passport and get ready to plan your next unBELIZEABLE adventure!
How to Get to Belize and Where to Go Once You Do
For those that are mediocre at best in geography like me, Belize is a country in Central America; bordered by Mexico on one side and Guatemala on the other. Most flights arrive into Belize City and from here you have a couple choices…
- You can hop on a water taxi to one of the islands right away (more on this later).
- Or you can stay in mainland Belize for a day or two first and visit the Mayan ruins, zipline through the jungle, or do an epic cave tubing excursion before making your way to island time.
Given the 4 days that I had for my trip, I chose to save Belize City for another time and opted to head straight the islands. The cheapest way to do this is via Water Ferry which takes 45-60 min, but there are daily island hopper flights on Air Belize that will get you there in 10 minutes if you’re willing to pay for it.
If you’re going the ferry route, you can get to the Water Ferry stand from the Belize airport for around $10 a person and it’s about a 15 minute ride. It’s a good idea to check the ferry schedule ahead of time as the boat runs a handful of times a day with the last one leaving at 5:30pm. No need to buy a ticket online ahead of time, you can just as easily buy it once you arrive. For budgeting purposes, a one way ticket is $15 and a round trip is $25- disclaimer, if you do purchase the round trip ticket and happen to lose said ticket, you’re SOL and they make you buy a new one, trust me.
The San Pedro Water Taxi has two stops- stop number one is the island of Caye Caulker and stop number two is the island of San Pedro. Now is when you’ll probably ask the question of which island to choose. If you have a week in Belize, maybe you don’t have to choose. Spend a couple days/nights on each island and decide for yourself which you prefer!
If you don’t have the luxury of time and decide to stick with just one island- I’ll tell you why I’m biased towards Caye Caulker.
- Caye Caulker is less expensive then San Pedro.
- It’s less touristy. There are no large resort/all inclusive types, just condos, treehouse apts, and B&Bs.
- It’s super laid back, in fact the island motto is “Go Slow.”
- There are no cars; the island is super walkable/bikeable or if you prefer you can use a taxi. And by taxi I mean a golf cart.
- The tour groups in San Pedro offer day trips to Caye Caulker, not the other way around.
Don’t get me wrong though, if we had more time in Belize I definitely would’ve spent some time in San Pedro too. From what the locals said, the night life in San Pedro is where it’s at. They have night clubs, discos, and even weekly Chicken Shit Bingo. Yes, you heard me correctly. I’ll leave that one to the imagination, but if you’re curious like I was, feel free to look it up.
Let me start with the important stuff
Money- The conversion rate between Belize and US is super easy. 1 USD = 2 BZ.
Beer- The beer of Belize is called Belikin. 1 Belikin = 2BZ = 1US. Yes. $1 beers J
Rum- The liquor of choice in Belize is Rum, and that’s because Travelers Rum is made right in Belize. There are all sorts of delicious tropical drinks- The most popular being the Rum Punch. The most dangerous being the Panty Ripper. The most dangerously good being the Pain Killer.
If I’ve convinced you to choose Caye Caulker and get off on the first ferry stop, keep reading for tips on what to do. If I haven’t sold you, keep reading so that I still might.
Caye Caulker 101
Walking, Biking, or Both. There are 3 streets in Caye Caulker. Front Street, Middle Street, and Back Street aka it’s nearly impossible to get lost. There are lots of places on the island that have bikes to rent and some of the B&Bs even offer complimentary bikes. Pro tip- just be sure to ask for a bike lock when getting your bike as we were warned that somebody may “borrow” your bike and not return it if it isn’t locked up.
Where to Stay
There are SO many awesome B&Bs in Caye Caulker. I love using AirBNB to book my accommodations when I travel. Location wise, everything in Caye Caulker is walkable so there’s not really a bad place to stay! The B&B we stayed at had a private pool, hammocks galore, complimentary bikes & kayaks, and was set back a bit from the main street which made it nice and quiet at night. It is hot year round in Belize, so a place with a pool is pretty amazing; we jumped in ours every morning and every night! If you prefer hotel style accommodations, the Caye Caulker Condos are a great option. They run around $78 a night and are super close to the Split which makes for a great location.
What to Do
Diving & Snorkeling: If you’ve been thinking about going to Belize for a while now, then you probably already know this, but if not let me share with you a little secret. Belize is home to the best diving and snorkeling around with the infamous Giant Blue Hole and the second largest barrier reef in the world running the entire length of Belize.
The Blue Hole, is a giant underwater sinkhole 62 miles off the shore of mainland Belize. This natural wonder is about 980 feet across and 500 feet deep, and can even be seen from outer space. If you’re a diver than this is your paradise, if you’re a snorkeler then you could paddle through it to say you’ve been, but the best snorkeling spots are in the Barrier Reef. The Reef starts in Quintana Roo, Mexico and extends to the Guatemala border of Belize, therefore completely running the entire length of Belize.
There are many organized boat tours that will take you out to both the Blue Hole and the Reef. I didn’t try diving but I LOVED the snorkeling! From Caye Caulker, I recommend the Ragamuffin Tour Company. My friends and I did a full day Sailboat & Snorkeling adventure where we spent 8 hours sailing the seas and stopped at a number of snorkel spots along the reef. The first snorkel stop was Shark Ray Alley, where we swam with Nurse Sharks and Stingrays. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified, and debated staying in the boat while the rest of the group jumped in, but I did it and I’m glad I did! The second and third stops were right on the Barrier Reef where we saw just about every form of sea life you can imagine- beautiful colorful fish, barracuda, more sting rays and nurse sharks, conch, sea cucumbers, lobster, crabs, seahorses, and my favorite a SEA TURTLE! I’d be remised if I didn’t mention that the day on the boat included fresh fruit in the morning, a delicious sea food platter for lunch, and bottomless Rum Punch for the boat ride back to the island. We even saw schools of dolphin on the way back where we returned just in time to watch the sunset!
Koko King: KoKo King is a small island off Caye Caulker that makes for a perfect day in the sun. A short 5 minute free boat ride will bring you to this beautiful sandy beach complete with a beach bar and restaurant, beach swings, and a beach hammock in the middle of the water. If swimming in the ocean isn’t your thing, there is even a pool that you can take a dip in! If you’re here in the evenings, it’s a great spot to watch the sun go down or enjoy a bonfire on the beach. You also can’t go wrong with the $4 Rum Punch Happy Hours every night either.
Kayaking: The only thing better than a sunset over the ocean is a sunset while on the ocean in a kayak! There are companies that offer kayaks for rent that you can take out on your own or you can opt for one of the guided kayak tours. Some of the tours took you through the mangroves where the manatees are at. Unfortunately we didn’t see any manatees on our own so I would recommend doing the tour if seeing them are on your list.
Feeding the Tarpons & Frigates: If you’ve been to a beach in America, you’ll see seagulls everywhere! Frigates are the Belizean version of Seagulls, just much much bigger, but just like seagulls they love to be fed. You can buy a bag of sardines and feed both the birds and the tarpons.
The Split: in 2016 a hurricane swept through Caye Caulker and divided the island in two. This divide is known as “The Spilt”. Here you will find a pseudo beach, tables in the water, a sunny swimming spot, a diving platform, the infamous Lazy Lizard Bar & Grill, and lots of Belikin & Rum drinks. Needless to say this is a popular daytime hangout spot for both locals and tourists.
The Beach Bars: Sip n Dip & Bamboozles: As the names hint at, these fun beach bars are ones not to miss! From swings into the ocean, oversized beach chairs, fun graffiti, and great menus be sure to check them out!
The Sports Bar: If night life is your scene this is the popular hangout spot. Live music, Friday night Jam Sessions, Dance Offs, and Cheap Drinks. Once the clock strikes midnight the crowds either call it a night or head to Reggae Bar to continue the partying and/or the Late Night Munchies spot to help soak up the Rum Punch.
Well, there you have it! The UnBELIZEABLE vacation itinerary to Belize!