This past season of life has been extremely amazing. My husband has finished his first two years of school, I've advanced in my professional career, and I've been able to grow AG. All of these things we are incredibly blessed by; however, Cooper and I desperately needed a vacation. We figured after he took his first board exam we would go on our belated honeymoon and take a trip just the two of us to relax.
Why We Picked It: Something you have to know about the two of us, we are big beach people. So even though we live in Galveston, we still wanted our vacation to be on a beach. Originally we looked into going to Tulum or Jamaica at an all-inclusive resort. Both of us really wanted a safe place and we thought an all-inclusive resort would be able to provide that for us along with not having to worry about food and drinks. However, after looking at prices we decided they were not in our budget.
How We Found It: One evening, we were having dinner with friends at Sugar & Rye talking about our vacation planning. A buddy of our recommended Caye Caulker Island in Belize. He said that it was a small island not far from Belize City. In fact, you could bike the entire island in under 20 minutes. Additionally, English is the native language which makes communication incredibly easy for travelers to talk with locals. He explained that there was a good mix of culture with tourism there; and when he added that the American dollar is worth double in Belize, we knew were sold!
So we packed up our bags at the end of April and spent 7 days in Caye Caulker, Belize. Here is a little bit about my trip talking about the places we saw and the people we met. If you have any questions or want to know more about Caye Caulker, always feel free to reach out at email@example.com.
Before You Go:
Passport: I had a CRAZY debacle getting my passport. To make a long story short, we booked the trip at least 2 months out and I paid for expedited shipping to get my passport on time (5-7 weeks). The week before the trip I did not have my passport, and had to make a trip to both the Houston and Dallas passport offices to finally get my hands on it. If you don't currently have a passport, I'd recommend sending in documentation NOW! Don't wait until you have a trip like me.
Money: $1 US Dollars (USD) = $2 Belize Dollars (BZD). While many major restaurants, bars, and grocery stores take credit cards most small businesses (ferry drivers, excursion guides, etc.) only take cash. We brought $100 USD with us thinking $200 BZD would be enough...it wasn't. The main reason for this is we found that if you tip on your credit card, that money is usually split among all the workers at the establishment and it can take over 2 weeks for them to get that money. When you withdraw USD to bring with you, I highly recommend $300+. This should be able to pay for most of what you need and cover tips for servers.
Cell Phone: Before heading over, check your cell phone plan. If you don't want to pay for international fees, then go to your settings and turn off your cellular data. You will still be able to text and check your apps when you have wifi, which is located at almost every restaurant and resort on the island.
Location & Transportation
To reach Caye Caulker, you have to fly into the Belize City airport and take a local 10 minute flight or water taxi over to the island. Many airbnb hosts will help set-up your pick-up and departure to the island if you kindly ask.
2 Sides: Caye Caulker flooded years ago and it was split into two sections, the north and south side. To go between the two you have to catch a ferry, which we paid $2.50 USD per person per ride with Split to Split by a friendly man named Clayto. Tip: If you are staying at least a week, as Clayto for a punch card! It will help save you money on trips.
South side: where most of the activity is located. Here sits many local's homes, restaurants, bars, shops, grocery stores, vendors, and docks. It is also where the local airport is located for people flying in, so if you stay on the north side you will still need to take a ferry ride over to reach your destination.
North side: much more rural as most of this land is just now being touched. A few airbnbs and resorts here but not many options for food or shopping. Within the next 5 years I predict this side will be the more modern / boujee vs the north side that is more heavily influenced by the beautiful Belizean culture.
Transportation: One of the most fun things about the island is that everyone either walks, bikes, or golf-carts around. I think I saw maybe 2 cars the entire time I was there! All bikes and golf carts are able to go across the split as the ferry is built to accommodate them. Tip: When looking for a place to stay, see if your host provides bicycles. If not, I would highly recommend renting one! Especially if you are on the north side.
The Palm Life House, was a property we found on Airbnb when looking for a place to stay. The outside has a beautiful yard with foliage native to the land, like palm trees and flowers. We saw tons of iguanas, shells, and wildlife just in our little gated area! I can not recommend this place enough.
Hosts: The hosts were incredible! They arranged our transportation from the local airport to the airbnb, which saved us a lot of time and research. The entire trip they were speedy with their responses if we needed anything and provided much information and recommendations in a binder located in our room.
Safety: I have high anxiety, so safety is something I always think about when traveling. Other than the beautiful aesthetic of the new build property, the first thing that caught my eye was the gated fence. It was nice knowing we could lock it coming and going as an extra precaution.
Transportation: To reach Palm Life we had to take a golf-cart taxi to the split. The cost was $5 USD for each person. At the split we had the option to either take a 2 minute speed boat ride to a private dock or take the ferry from the bottom of the north tip and bike 5 minutes home. Since the speed boat was $10 USD per person per ride, we opted to only take the speed boat when arriving and leaving with our luggage.
Seclusion: The Palm Life House was the only airbnb in our little area of land, which meant we had a dock to ourselves. However, there was construction going on around it, so I expect within the next year or so it will not be as private. That being said, even with the construction and houses around it, we did not hear anything outside when we were in the unit. Plus each house looks like it will have some yard space, which makes them more private beach house style homes vs. the motel style properties on the south side.
Amenities: The house is divided into three stories. The first two are loft style apartments that include a spacious living room, kitchen, and bedroom along with a bathroom. There is also a balcony on each of these floors for guests to privately access. On the third story, there is a community rooftop sitting area and the owner's suite. The outdoor patio included couches, hammock swings, tables, and twinkle lights.
Food & Drinks
There are so many amazing places I could tell you about that we visited. But I will stick to some of our top favorites:
El Ben Cabanas: This is by far our favorite spot we ate at! It is located at a cabana resort but open to the public and right down the road from our Airbnb on the north side.. We hear that the owners of the resort are from The Woodlands. At El Ben the food is more elevated for a reasonable price. They also have delicious cocktails which you can order at the restaurant or at their pool bar, which is open to the public. The staff and regulars are beyond friendly. We actually kept in contact with our waiter, Freddy.
Blu Zen: We actually discovered this place on our last night of vaca. It is also located on the north side. The food was good but definitely more on the expensive side. You are paying more for the upscale ambiance but it's a cute and romantic spot.
Ice & Beans: Probably the most popular spot on the island for coffee and quick breakfast. Coop and I found this spot when we were researching Caye Caulker, and I couldn't wait to try it! I ordered their mini donuts, bubble waffle, and iced coffee. They also offer smoothies and fresh juice.
Namaste Cafe: Not only is the food delicious, but this spot offers donation based yoga sessions Monday through Friday. I actually ran into a Galveston local and we decided to go together! It was refreshing and SO much fun. When I was finished my sweet hubby had ordered me a big breakfast with peanut butter and banana bagels, watermelon, orange juice, and coffee.
Pelican Sunset Bar: My new friend and her boyfriend showed us this spot. The name really doesn't do it justice because it's located right on the water and the most beautiful place to watch the sunset. To our surprise, tons of stingrays swam by! The waiter told us they are usually fed in that area around sunset so it's the best time to see them on the island.
Barrier Reef Sports Bar & Grill: We loved this spot's menu! It had gooood fried food and some of the best drink specials. If you want a place that is more casual, it is a fun place.
Pasta Per Caso: "The best Italian food in Caye Caulker." - local resident. They were not wrong! They usually only have two items on their menu to choose from that rotates and it's a meat or vegetarian option. Everything is hand made. You can taste the love in that food! Tip: Make reservations! This was highly suggested because apparently in peak season it's hard to get into.
Wine Yard & Bistro: This spot is tucked away and looks small from the front. However, it is such a cute little place to sit and enjoy the garden and fountains they have installed.
Water: Be sure when you are visiting that you only drink bottled water. Every place we went to served filtered water and the Airbnb provided two, five gallon water jugs. Tip: Save your water bottles. I refilled them at the airbnb and would rotate them out of the fridge so we would have cold ones riding our bikes or walking around. It saved us a lot of money in the long run!
Grocery Stores: There are quite a few grocery stores throughout the island. They all range in size and variety so if you can't find what you want, you can shop around. However, there are not any major shops on the north side, so if you stay over that way you will want to grab groceries on the south side.
Liquor: Upon arrival to the Belize City Airport, you can buy duty free alcohol. My husband and I got a bottle of tequila and rum for under $40! If you want to make drinks on your trip, buy your liquor at the airport to save some extra money.
Things to Do
On the island, there are plenty of businesses that offer excursions. If you're looking for activities there is plenty to do. But if you just want to relax and enjoy the sun and water, you can still have a great time. We chose to do one excursion and spend the rest of the time deciding what we wanted to do when we got there. Here are some of our highlights:
Carlos Snorkeling Tours: We were told by more than a few people that this was the best boat ride and snorkel tour on the island, and now that we have experienced it, I can confidently say that I agree! For $100 BZD per person we got a six hour catamaran ride (10 AM - 4 PM), three 45 minute scuba tours, lunch, and rum punch. On the stop we got to swim with sharks, pet rays, and explore the second largest reef system in the world!
Yoga: As previously mentioned, Namaste Cafe, currently offers donation based yoga Monday through Friday at 8 AM. It is available for all experience levels and lasts for one hour. The class is worth it just for the view alone!
The Lazy Lizard: This spot is located on the split of the island. It has a bar, food, ocean water access, high dive, volleyball court, and lounge chairs. Truly, you could make a whole day just spending time in this spot.
Tattoo Parlor: Right by The Lazy Lizard is Hottmess Tattoo Parlor. If you're looking for a unique souvenir, this is a fun spot to get one. They have their number on the door to make an appointment.
El Ben Cabanas: The resort has a pool and if you get food or drinks you can hang out there whether you are a guest or staying somewhere else. On a day we didn't feel like leaving the north side, we decided to just spend the afternoon here. There was not anyone else there, which meant we had the entire pool and bar to ourselves. It was a nice break from the buzz of the south side.
Tips, Recommendations, and Notes
WhatsApp: If you don't have it already, download WhatsApp. It is a messenger application for your phone. It allows for people to call and text each other internationally for free. Most of the small businesses and property companies utilize this app to communicate with visitors.
Laundry: Our Airbnb did not have washer and dryers, and I don't think many accommodations do. There are laundry mats around the island you can pay for, but if you don't want to, you'll need to be able to pack for your entire stay. The weather is very hot and humid; therefore, the likelihood of re-wearing the same garments are slim.
Outfit Style: On that note, I probably packed too many "nice" clothes. You only need like one or two cute outfits if you want to go to a nicer dinner but almost anywhere you could go in a swimsuit and cover up. And because you are walking and biking around dirt roads, you'll want to pack shoes that are comfortable and easy to clean.
Avoid the Mud: The roads are all rocks/dirt, so when it rains or the tide washes into the pot holes. If you are not careful when walking or riding your bikes through them you could get stuck...be sure to stick to the outside and bring shoes you don't mind getting wet or muddy.
Animals: The island is full of animals. Most surprisingly there are TONS of community dogs running around! You will be sitting at a restaurant and a pup might come sit under your table. Most of them are local business owner's or people who work on the docks. Visitors, including ourselves, were impressed by how well mannered they are. There are also iguanas, lizards, and crabs that range from the size of your palm to larger than your hand. Alligators are also rumored to be in the marshes but we didn't see any of those!
Of course there will always be the basic packing list but there are things I wish I would have thought about packing before leaving. That is why I am including a downloadable packing PDF for you to use when loading up your suitcase for Caye Caulker, Belize.
Island - Miley Cyrus
Solar Power - Lorde
One Margarita - Luke Bryan
SunKissing - Hailee Steinfeld
Fine Line - Kesha
Eat The Acid - Kesha
Last Day of Summer - Shania Twain
'98 Braves - Morgan Wallen
...Ready For It? - Taylor Swift