Just a short boat ride from Belize City, Caye Caulker is one of the best hidden gems in Central America. Its aqua blue waters curl up calmly next to the sun-kissed tan sand. Its homes and buildings blazed by the sun in all their colors, displaying deep purples, mint greens and light blues on every handrail, siding and swing.
There are so many incredible things to do in Caye Caulker, like lounging on the beach, listening to the waves gently roll with a cold drink in hand. It will have you reminiscing of someplace in the Caribbean circa 1980s.
The best things to do in Caye Caulker, along with accommodations and food will run you a fraction of the cost of nearby Caribbean getaways.
There are no high-rise hotels. The roads cater to bicycles instead of cars. The only white tablecloth restaurants on the 5-mile-long island encourage you to wear sandals and tropical attire. Fresh scents from local street vendors fill the air. I can still smell whole lobsters steaming on the grill, chicken kabobs perfectly charred and ready to be eaten, and the friendly locals who sling coconuts, smiles and warm welcomes.
While I’m now reminiscing of my four days on this beautiful island, I’m thinking back on all the amazing things to do in Caye Caulker. So from lounging on the beach to getting active on the island, this is what to do in Caye Caulker, Belize if you want to get the most out of your trip!
MY HONEST ADVICE IS TO BOOK EVERYTHING EXCEPT FOR ACCOMMODATION ON THE ISLAND ONCE YOU GET THERE!
All these other travel bloggers are out here trying to get you to book through an affiliate link (so they can get a piece of the commission), while I’m just looking out for you and your wallet. You’ll get the best price possible by booking directly through the tour operators with cash in hand once you’re on the island.
However, if you want to stay at one of the many hostels or hotels on the island, here’s a link to some of the best and cheapest available. (Yes, I’ll get a small commission if you book through the link — which I’ll highly cherish and appreciate — but the website typically has the cheapest deals.)
12 Things to Do in Caye Caulker, Belize
1. Relax at Iguana Reef
Iguana Reef quickly became my favorite beach on the entire island of Caye Caulker. It’s a pristine and clean beach that’s way less crowded than the nearby Split. It also comes equipped with six hammocks in the water, so you can literally lounge in a hammock in the ocean!
Iguana Reef has a bar, about 40 beach lounge chairs and a ton of marine life swimming around in its shallow waters, including sea horses, stingrays and crabs! Grab a snorkel and mask and you’ll be able to see stingrays, more than 20 varieties of fish, seahorses and the most chill pelicans ever.
It’s on the west side of the island, so it’s a perfect spot to take in the sunset. Just get there early if you wanna snag one of those awesome ocean hammocks! I grabbed a few drinks at the beach bar, lounged for a few hours and it never got old.
- Cost: Free!
2. Rent a Bicycle
Renting a bicycle and traversing the island is tied with Iguana Reef for the best thing to do in Caye Caulker. It’s an amazing, cheap way to see the entire island at your own pace. Plus, it keeps you active after a few days of lounging, overeating and drinking a few cold ones.
Sidewalks span much of the east side of the island on the beach, so you can ride your bike on the boardwalk, gazing at the ocean and feeling the breeze. I highly recommend getting off the beaten path, away from travelers, and taking in the local’s side of the island.
You’ll find that Caye Caulker is an amazing island for travelers. But the local’s side of the island showcases life growing up in that environment, as much of the land it is riddled with trash and many residents are dirt poor and without air conditioning or electricity.
- Cost: $15 BZD ($7.50 USD) for a 24-hour rental
3. Head to the South End of Caye Caulker
The South end of Caye Caulker is desolate. Homes are gigantic and scattered along land that’s slowly sinking but has pristine views of the aqua blue Atlantic Ocean. During the low season, which is when I visited, the heat drives many of the out-of-town settlers back home to Canada, the U.S. or wherever their primary home is, leaving the south end of Caye Caulker feeling much more remote than the 3-mile bike ride it took to get there.
After crossing by the airstrip, mangroves are riddling the land and a desolate dock I used as if it was my own. There were only a handful of residents who stayed year-round and they didn’t mind in the slightest that I was snorkeling from the neighborhood’s dock.
Heading to the south end of the island was an incredible experience that I highly recommend. My friend and I rode the bikes down there and were literally the only people visible to the outside world. It was eerily amazing and almost felt like we were on a deserted island.
- Cost: Free! (But I recommend renting a bicycle to get there)
4. Go Snorkeling or Diving
Since Caye Caulker is a short boat ride from the second-largest barrier reef in the world (behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef), the world-renowned Blue Hole and many other snorkel and dive spots, marine life is extremely diverse and snorkeling or diving is a must-do!
I highly recommend you take a guided tour out to one of the nearby reefs. That’s where you’ll see the real adventures. The most notables (from cheapest to most expensive) are Shark Ray Alley, Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the Great Blue Hole.
But if you don’t decide on a guided tour, you can still see a fairly diverse population of marine life directly off the coast of The Split and at Iguana Reef. Everywhere we went, there were a ton of conch shells and starfish galore.
If you’re snorkeling or diving, you’ll want to get a travel insurance policy that covers those activities just in case something goes wrong. The nearest hospital is a helicopter ride away, so one wrong move can cost a pretty penny.
- Cost: Free to $170 BZD ($35 USD) for a half day or $130 BZD ($65 USD) for a full day (Great Blue Hole is way more expensive)
5. Take Advantage of the Many Beachside Restaurants
One of the best things about Caye Caulker is the number of restaurants lining the sandy shoreline with an ocean view of the east side of the island. You have your pick as to which one you want to eat at — you could be there for a month and go to a different spot each night.
I tried to find the cheapest spots for my budget and wound up taking in a new beachside restaurant each night and only spent around $15 USD each night for a meal and a beer or two.
If enjoying a nice meal on the ocean is on your list of things to do in Caye Caulker, you’ll want to check out The Magic Grill. It was by far my favorite restaurant because of its decently priced upscale meals and its swinging chairs and tables in the sand overlooking the ocean. It was so relaxing to enjoy a beer on the beach while swinging in a chair waiting for our food to arrive.
Also, check out Godfrey’s Seaside Grill, which has outdoor seating on the sand and great prices! Other beachside spots that are worthy of checking out are Rainbow Grill and Ice and Beans (breakfast and coffee).
- Cost: $12 BZD ($6 USD) to $25 BZD (12.50 USD) per meal, plus a few bucks for beers
6. Catch the Sunrise and Sunset on the Same Day
Anytime I’m on a smaller island that allows me to catch the sunrise and sunset on the same day, I make it a point to do so. The first time I did it was on a tiny but spectacular Island in Colombia called San Andres.
This was a little tougher in Caye Caulker since it’s in a weird time zone with a 5 a.m. sunrise and 6:30 p.m. sunset in the middle of summer. Yup, we were there in early July. I guess daylight saving time isn’t a thing down there.
I was dead tired waking up at 4:45 a.m. while on vacation to catch the sunrise, but it was well worth it. You can see it from anywhere on the east side of the island, and I highly recommend checking out Iguana Reef for the sunset! The golden yellow, pure purple, fire red and vivid orange combined to make the early morning rise well worth it.
- Cost: Free!
7. Take in The Split
Every travel blog I read before the trip talked about how amazing The Split was and how much fun you’ll have there. Frankly, I give it a 4 out of 10. It’s way too overcrowded, the drinks are extremely expensive (you’re not supposed to bring in your own) and you’re swimming near a channel which has jet skis and boats blazing through.
While The Split is an awesome place, equipped with a number of picnic tables in the water, a diving plank to jump from and crystal clear water, setting up shop at Iguana Reef is way better. But it really depends on what you’re after. I was looking to relax, so Iguana Reef offered that. If you’re looking to day drink and party, The Split is where you’ll want to be.
Oh, and I guess I’ll give you a little background about The Split. The island was split in half by two hurricanes in the mid-20th century, so locals banded together to dig out a channel through it. This makes it easier for boats to get from one side of the island to the other instead of having to go around the entire island.
- Cost: Free!
8. Take the Koko King Ferry for Free
The Koko King ferry takes you to a slightly secluded piece of Caye Caulker island north of The Split. It’s only accessible by ferry (or swimming a fair distance). Luckily, the ferry is free and leaves the west side of Caye Caulker every 15 to 20 minutes to shuttle you across.
They tell you that you’re required to buy at least two drinks on Koko King and the ferry will be free, otherwise they’ll have to charge you. It’s a sham. You don’t have to buy anything. They don’t keep tabs, give you a wristband or anything like that. You can buy drinks from the store, go into the ocean and drink for way cheaper if you really want. Nobody is going to know.
Koko King offers a party vibe with a quarter as many people as The Split accompanies. I found it to be a pretty amazing place. It also has free inner tubes to float on and a volleyball net in the ocean. That’s a first.
- Cost: Free!
9. Indulge in the Island’s Other Water Sports
Although snorkeling and diving take precedent on the island, there are many other water sports to take part in. You can go kayaking, paddleboarding, kiteboarding, windsurfing, jet skiing, deep-sea fishing or take a sailing tour.
Whatever floats your water fancy, you can pretty much find in Caye Caulker. Just look for the kind locals renting their equipment and you’ll have a blast. Paddleboarding, kiteboarding and windsurfing can be found right off The Split, while kayaking takes you through the island’s mangroves to the south.
There’s a Canadian fella named John who runs a catamaran sunset sailing tour for $100 USD per person. It includes dinner, unlimited drinks and a few Caye Caulker snorkeling spots on the way out. If you wanna do a sunset tour, I highly suggest booking with him. He’s got the best sunset tour on the island! (Disclaimer: we didn’t do it because it was our last day and it was too rich for our blood at that point.)
- Hourly Cost for Rentals: $10 BZD ($5 USD) for Kayaking; $44 BZD ($22 USD) for Windsurfing; $120 BZD ($60 USD) for Kiteboarding; $240 BZD ($120 USD) for Jet Skiing
- Cost for Fishing & Sailing: $200 BZD ($100 USD) per person for sunset sail; Deep-sea fishing and fly fishing depends on the number of people in the party
10. Enjoy the Nightlife
The Lazy Lizard at The Split isn’t so lazy when the sun goes down. In fact, it turns into El Portal Lounge upstairs and gets pretty wild. I wound up attending on a lazy Wednesday night and it was anything but lazy. Hookahs were firing up in every corner, a DJ banging music and a bartender playing a dice game that gave every person playing free shots.
I joined in the game and got my fair share of “firewater” shots, of course. That’s probably what made me blow $60 USD in the bar that night. Nice move, El Portal. Very nice move.
There are two other bars on the island that I’ve heard get pretty wild, Barrier Reef Sports Bar and I & I Reggae Bar. Although I didn’t get the chance to go, those three spots are definitely your go-to bars for some late-night fun in Caye Caulker.
- Cost: Well, that really just depends on how drunk you get or wanna get. Cheers, my fellow Ramblers!
11. Pet the Pups at Caye Caulker Animal Shelter
The Caye Caulker Animal Shelter sits on the opposite side of the road and right down the street from Ice and Beans, which is the most popular breakfast spot on the island. Instead of paying $20 USD for coffee and breakfast at Ice and Beans (good food and coffee but way overpriced for Caye Caulker), donate half of that to the Caye Caulker Animal Shelter and grab your delights from a street vendor.
It’ll help the pups and dogs who reside there full time. Even if you don’t want to/can’t donate, you can still go inside the animal shelter and pet the pups!. They’re sooooo nice, but they’ll make you wanna take them home. You’ve been warned.
- Cost: Free!
12. Feed the Dogs and Cats on the Streets
Since there’s not much to do on the island at night, besides eat and go to a local bar to drink, feeding the dogs and cats who roam the street provides a cheap and fun alternative to drinking in a bar all night and waking up exhausted.
Every grocery store sells dog food and cat food at the back of the store for about $3 BZD ($1.50 USD) to $7 BZD ($3.50 USD) per container. You can spread out each container to feed three or four dogs easily since most are just puppies. Also, since it’s so hot outside year-round, the dogs don’t really like dry food. Buy the wet food instead and you’ll become their best friend instantly!
- Cost: $3 BZD ($1.50 USD) to $7 BZD ($3.50 USD) per food can
While I truly believe these are the ultimate best things to do in Caye Caulker, Belize and will make your trip a whole lot better, I highly recommend strolling the island to get a feel for everything you want to do. Maybe there’s a cool restaurant found that isn’t listed or a secret beach that I didn’t find. Drop it in the comments below and let me know how it was!
- 10 Caye Caulker Tips to Make Your Trip Amazing
- How to Get to Caye Caulker From Belize City (& Get Around the Island)
- The Ultimate Travel Guide to Caye Caulker, Belize on a Budget