At the end of March, Christine and I booked an eleven day trip through Belize to see some new parts of Central America. We left our apartment in Antigua, Guatemala and started the trek to the Pacific coast, stopping to see Flores and Tikal along the way. After a five-hour bus delay, an unintentional private shuttle, and a small passport issue at the Belize border, we arrived at the water taxi that took us to our three-day stay on Caye Caulker. The water taxi took about an hour to wind its way around a scattering of other islands and through shallow ocean waters to finally land us at the dock on our thin little island getaway.
Caye Caulker is one of the least built up islands off the mainland of Belize and also one of the smallest. The central area of the island is based around a sand covered road and is lined with shops, restaurants, and adventure sports shops. It is a great island to launch a dive trip, practice windsurfing, or learn to kiteboard. The waters surrounding the island are mostly waist deep and crystal clear. You can choose to snorkel all around the island or, if you prefer, just wade around and look down. This was the laidback paradise we had envisioned.
We stayed at the Costa Maya Beach Cabanas on the north end of the island just short of “The Split.” The Split is a little gap in between the northern end of Caye Caulker and the beginning of the next island. This area is great for a quick swim or some snorkeling. It is also the only place that is close to shore deep enough to even try your free diving skills with a maximum depth around 50 feet. The only drawback to snorkeling the split is the constant boat traffic, but it is home to some pretty diverse sea life. We saw dozens of barracuda, a few yellow spotted stingrays, plus a variety of tropical fish that included a juvenile queen angel, a giant porcupine puffer, plus a curious little arrow crab, all right around the split. We also got lucky enough to follow a huge horseshoe ray as it cruised through the depths of the Split. Snorkeling is just one of the great time killers on this beautiful island.
On day two, we decided to use one of the kayaks that the Costa Maya provided free of charge to all guests. We spent hours paddling around the island and jumping in at various spots to snorkel around. One deeper hole just off shore on the west side of the island is a known hang out of tarpons. These fish are big, like 3 to 4 feet long, and followed our kayak as we lazily floated by. They are used to being fed and expected a little treat. We were told not to get in with them and I felt like I was being eyed as their next meal had I fallen in. I remember this as being more unnerving than every shark dive I have ever been on. The only thing better than the relaxation on the island was the food.
The food on this tiny island is really second to none because of the price and quality. We had a great couple night’s dinner at Terry’s Grill. This place has great food and the price matches every restaurant on the island, plus Terry makes sure every table is completely satisfied himself. The bars also have great food and wonderful happy hour prices. We struggled to fit in all the great food in out limited time. In the end we had to add a day to this great island and make it a four night five day retreat.
This was one of our favorite vacations so far. No work, no schedule, just fun and relaxation. That is something we rarely get in our travels. With a roof top terrace that was perfect for coffee and sunrises or beers and sunsets, all at a reasonable price, the Costa Maya was perfect for us. The island was just what we needed to combine our sense of adventure and relaxation. We even managed to fit in a great two tank dive with the Black Durgon dive company, but that is another story.