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- 12 Dec 2019, 3 nights
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There's only one speed on Belize's Caye Caulker, and that's slow. It's partly the chilled-out Caribbean vibe, but also because of the island's tiny size: there's simply nowhere to rush to. Walking pace is fine, strolling pace is ideal and kayaking is even better. Should you care to lace up your hiking boots in between barefooted days, you can explore technicolour natural reserves or grab a rod and fish for your own dinner.
Caye Caulker hostels have communal kitchens so you can prepare and share your catch yourself. One hostel even has an outdoor kitchen, ideal for barbecues and beers. Cooking not your thing? Choose a Caye Caulker hostel with a restaurant and bar and settle in for bottomless rum punch. Most have a social atmosphere thanks to dorms and outdoor common areas, though couples or solo travellers might prefer a private cabana. Many hostels in Caye Caulke have daily snorkelling sessions where you can get to know other visitors and see the sights.
At just 8km long, Caye Caulker is made up of two islands joined by a sandy channel. This 50m stretch, known locally as The Strip, is one of the best places to swim on the island. Expect powder-soft sand and brilliantly clear water – if you're lucky, you might even encounter a whale shark or manatee. Most of the North Island is protected as part of Caye Caulker Forest Reserve, while the South Island has a small town, nightlife and water sports, plus swamps and wildlife to boot.
Caye Caulker life revolves around the sea, with most visitors here to see the world's second-biggest barrier reef. Within the marine reserve, you can join a snorkelling or diving tour to get close to the coral. If you prefer to stay above water, explore North Island's mangroves by kayak. Afterwards, catch a taxi boat to the recently opened beach club across The Strip from Caye Caulker Village for sunset drinks. You can lose the crowds if you head to the swamp trails of the wilder southern shore.
To reach the island, you'll need to catch a boat or local plane from Belize City or San Pedro. Boats from the mainland arrive at the main dock in Caye Caulker Village after a journey of roughly an hour. Caye Caulker is car-free, so expect to see locals sauntering past on bicycles or in golf buggies. You'll find your own two feet are the best way to get around, especially since the island's widest point is just 1.6km.