Backpacking Caye Caulker In Belize: Top Travel Tips

Come find out all the top tips for backpacking Caye Caulker. This is definitely a slice of paradise in Belize, though there are some things worth knowing before visiting. I will share with you my top tips for exploring on a budget including where to eat, how to get there, how much it costs, and more!


If you are a budget traveler then exploring Belize may be a lot more pricey than you may be expecting. However, you can still find some affordable choices and plenty of other travelers with similar mindsets in certain destinations. One thing I recommend backpacking Caye Caulker!

Here you will find plenty of backpackers lapping up the Caribbean sunshine and enjoying the incredible island life Caye Caiker has to offer. Known for its laid-back lifestyle where no one is in a rush this paradise is a must for travelers.

Now, unfortunately, a lot of backpackers decide to skip Belize as it’s just not in the budget. However, I recommend saving a little bit more before coming out so you can truly experience this gem.

Plus you can actually save money by staying in hostels in Caye Caulker, eating like a local, trying some fry jacks, and grabbing a beer from the supermarket rather than at the bar. It will be a bit more pricey if you are coming from Guatemala or Mexico, but I was pleasantly surprised how affordable it can be if you put a little effort in.

Now one thing to note is that activities you may experience while backpacking Caye Caulker are not cheap. For example, a snorkeling tour can cost upwards of $70 per person, which is more than my entire daily budget. This is why I say plan for such tours as they can not be missed!

Alternatively, a lot of backpackers simply end up spending their days at the split. Going for a swim in the incredible waters, and sipping on delicious cocktails.

Nevertheless, in this backpacking Caye Caulker, I will let you in on all the top things to do, where to sleep, eat, and more!


Backpacking Caye Caulker, Belize: Top Travel Tips For Budget Travelers

walking along one of the piers in caye caulker
walking along one of the piers in caye caulker

🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


San Pedro Or Caye Caulker

Belize is a popular destination for backpackers who want to enjoy the Caribbean culture, nature, and adventure. But which island should backpackers visit: Caye Caulker or San Pedro?

Vibe: Caye Caulker has a more relaxed and laid-back vibe than San Pedro. It is smaller, quieter, and less crowded. You can walk or bike around the island easily, and enjoy the motto of “go slow”. San Pedro is more lively and bustling, with more nightlife, shopping, and activities. It is larger, busier, and more developed.

Activities: Both islands offer plenty of things to do for backpackers, especially water-based activities such as snorkeling, diving, kayaking, fishing, and sailing. You can access the Belize Barrier Reef and the Blue Hole from both islands, but San Pedro has more dive sites and dive shops than Caye Caulker. San Pedro also has more land-based activities such as hiking, biking, golfing, and visiting Mayan ruins.

Cost: San Pedro is more expensive than Caye Caulker in terms of accommodation, food, drinks, and transportation. This is because San Pedro is farther from Belize City and has more resorts and luxury options. Caye Caulker is cheaper and more budget-friendly, with more hostels and local eateries. You can also save money by taking the water taxi from Belize City to Caye Caulker, which is faster and cheaper than going to San Pedro.

Beauty: Both islands are beautiful in their own way, with palm trees, white sand beaches, turquoise water, and colorful houses. However, Caye Caulker is more natural and rustic, while San Pedro is more urban and modern. Caye Caulker has less development and more mangroves and wildlife. San Pedro has more buildings and infrastructure and less greenery.

the welcome to caye caulker sign after getting off the ferry / watching sunset from my hostel in caye caulker
the welcome to caye caulker sign after getting off the ferry / watching sunset from my hostel in caye caulker

How Many Days To Spend Backpacking Caye Caulker

Now let’s find out how many days to spend backpacking Caye Caulker in Belize. Though in all honesty, this does depend on your personal preferences and what you hope to do there.

Personally, I recommend a minimum of two full days here to get the most out of your trip here. This will allow you to relax in the island lifestyle, spend some time on the beach, and do a bit of snorkeling.

Though depending on how much time you do have to spare I do actually recommend splitting your time equally between San Pedro and Caye Caulker.

This may mean 2 nights on your first island, and another 2 nights on your second. Even though they are quite close together they do have quite a different atmosphere. Getting to explore both will give you a greater overview of what this country has to offer.

Personally, I spent 2 nights here, and if I had booked an air-conditioned dorm room, and not been traveling over Easter I definitely would have stayed longer. Unfortunately, this is where everyone flocks for Easter so the relaxed island vibe was not happening.

By spending a minimum of 2 days on Caye Caulker, you can get a taste of everything that the island has to offer, without feeling rushed or bored. Of course, you can always extend your stay if you want to explore more of the island or simply enjoy its beauty.

However, the is a relatively short boat ride from the mainland so traveling earlier on your day of arrival can mean you make the most out of your backpacking Caye Caulker trip.

looking over at the main ferry terminal in caye caulker
looking over at the main ferry terminal in caye caulker

Cost Per Day To Travel Caye Caulker

It’s a popular destination for backpackers, divers, and anyone looking for a relaxing getaway in the Caribbean. But how much does it actually cost to travel Caye Caulker? It is really as expensive as people say, well yes and no.

Luckily you can find some budget food spots, accommodation can be a bit more on the pricey side, and so can activities, though the latter one is basically the whole country.

By staying in hostels this will allow you to keep your budget low. The price depends on the location, amenities, and season. You can expect to pay around $15-$30 per night for a dorm bed in a hostel, and $40-$80 per night for a private room in a guesthouse or hotel.

Personally, I stayed in a fan-cooled room at Bellas Backpackers for $15.00 per night. I did have a great stay, but if I were to do it again I would pay a couple of dollars more for the comfort of air conditioning and a privacy curtain on my bed.

One of the highlights of visiting Caye Caulker is sampling the local cuisine, especially the fresh seafood. Lobster, conch, shrimp, fish, and crab are abundant and affordable on the island. You can find street vendors selling grilled lobster tails for as low as $5 USD, or try a fry jack for only a couple of dollars. You can also buy groceries at the local shops and cook your own meals if you have access to a kitchen.

Now what can blow your budget is the activities here in Caye Caulker. A half-day snorkeling tour costs around $40-$60 per person and includes equipment rental and lunch. No doubt this is a highlight, especially having the opportunity to swim with manatees.

All in all, my total budget for backpacking Caye Caulker in Belize worked out to $54.00 per day. I ate out a couple times per day, did a snorkeling tour and enjoyed days hanging in the sunshine.

Overall I recommend budgeting between $50.00 to $80.00 per day when backpacking Caye Caulker, depending on your travel style. This will allow you a decent place to sleep in a good location and some delicious meals.

souvenirs being sold along the main road in caye caulker
souvenirs being sold along the main road in caye caulker

🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Where To Stay In Caye Caulker

Now Caye Caulker is a pretty small island so you should have no problem staying in a decent location. It’s pretty popular to get around by bicycle or simply walking so you don’t need to worry too much about location here.

Personally, I stayed at Bellas Backpackers in Caye Caulker. This is one of only a couple of hostels on the island, and I had an awesome stay. They have also upgraded since my last visit adding air conditioning to more of their dorm rooms (which is very much needed).

Though I will say it does have mixed reviews online, I think the majority of this is travelers who are not used to staying in hostels and are just booking it because of the price. Though generally facilities in a hostel can be a little bit average and the mark lower because of this.

Honestly, it had a great vibe, I made plenty of friends and it was perfect for what I needed. The showers are in a separate building, not all windows have curtains, and your blanket is essentially just a sheet. If you want something a bit nicer then it is worth spending a little bit more money for a stay you will enjoy.

Bellas Backpackers Caye Caulker

Bellas Backpackers Caye Caulker

The most popular hostel on the islands. Rooms start from $14.00 for a dorm and make sure to upgrade if you want air-con.

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Go Slow Guesthouse

Go Slow Guesthouse

The best hostel in Caye Caulker, and a popular choice for travelers. Dorms start from $21.00 per night.

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Sea And Sun Guesthouse

Sea And Sun Guesthouse

A comfortable stay for travelers who want a private room. The rooms here start from $40.00 per night.

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Blue Wave Guesthouse Caye Caulker

Blue Wave Guesthouse Caye Caulker

An excellent choice if you want a bit more privacy. Fan-cooled rooms here start from $30.00 per night.

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Getting Around Caye Caulker

Honestly, depending on what you plan to do will affect how much you need to travel around Caye Caulker. You will find most of the activities and affordable close together in the main township.


How To Get To Caye Caulker

If you want to fly to Caye Caulker, you have two options: you can take a domestic flight from Belize City or from San Pedro. The domestic flights are operated by two local airlines: Tropic Air and Maya Island Air.

They offer frequent flights from Belize City’s Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) or from the municipal airport (TZA). The flight time from Belize City to Caye Caulker is about 15 minutes, costing around $50 USD one way.

The Caye Caulker Airport (CUK) is located on the south end of the island, near the water taxi terminal.

If you prefer to travel by sea, you can take a water taxi or a private boat from Belize City or from other coastal towns in Belize. The water taxis are operated by two companies: San Pedro Belize Express and Ocean Ferry Belize.

They depart from the Marine Terminal in Belize City and arrive at the water taxi terminal on Caye Caulker is located on the west side of the island. The water taxi takes about 45 minutes and costs around $15 USD one way. The water taxis run several times a day, from 6:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

catching the ferry to caye caulker while backpacking belize
catching the ferry to caye caulker while backpacking belize

Traveling Within Caye Caulker

To get around Caye Caulker the most popular methods are bicycles or simply walking. Though if you are simply just planning on relaxing at the beach perhaps you won’t need to worry too much about this.

I highly recommend downloading the offline map of Caye Caulker on the Maps.Me app or Google Maps for your cell phone. It’ll be super helpful in navigating your way around if you do not have data. This is one thing I always make sure I do before arriving at a new destination.


Golf Carts

If you prefer a more comfortable and convenient way to get around Caye Caulker, you can rent a golf cart from one of the rental agencies on the island. Golf carts are the main mode of motorized transport on Caye Caulker, and they can accommodate up to four people.

They are faster and easier than walking or bicycling, but they are also more expensive and less environmentally friendly.


Bicycles

If you want to cover more ground in less time, you can rent a bicycle from one of the many shops on the island.

Biking is another affordable and green way to get around Caye Caulker, and you can find bike paths and trails that will take you to different parts of the island. Bicycling is also a fun and healthy way to exercise and enjoy the fresh air.


Walk

Caye Caulker is only about 8 kilometers long and 1.6 kilometers wide, so you can easily explore it on foot. Walking is the cheapest and most eco-friendly way to get around Caye Caulker, and you can enjoy the scenery and the local culture along the way.

This is also a great way to meet other travelers and locals, as Caye Caulker has a friendly and welcoming vibe.

Honestly, I didn’t use any transport whatsoever while backpacking Caye Caulker and instead chose to stay in the center and simply walk everywhere. It is a flat island, and the paths are nice and sandy making for a relaxing stroll.

sargassum lining the beach // bicycles parked up, these the the best form of transport here
sargassum lining the beach // bicycles parked up, these the the best form of transport here

🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Things To Do While Backpacking Caye Caulker

Whether you are looking for adventure, culture, relaxation, or wildlife, you will find something to enjoy in this Caribbean paradise.


Swim With Manatees

If you want to see something truly special, you can join a manatee tour from Caye Caulker and visit the nearby Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary or the Northern Lagoon, where manatees like to feed and rest.

Manatees are gentle and curious marine mammals that live in the warm waters of Belize. They are protected by law and can only be observed from a safe distance, but sometimes they approach the boats and snorkelers to say hello.

the ultimate highlight when backpacking caye caulker is swimming with manatees
the ultimate highlight when backpacking caye caulker is swimming with manatees

Snorkeling Tours

Snorkeling in Caye Caulker is a wonderful way to explore the underwater world of the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest barrier reef in the world. You can see a variety of marine life, such as sharks, stingrays, turtles, and colorful fish. You can also admire the beauty of the coral formations, which are home to many species of animals and plants.

There are many snorkeling tours available in Caye Caulker, which will take you to different spots along the reef. Some of the most popular ones are Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Shark Ray Alley, and Coral Gardens.

swimming with nurse sharks are a must while backpacking caye caulker
swimming with nurse sharks are a must while backpacking caye caulker

Relax At The Split

The Split in Caye Caulker is a fascinating place to visit and learn about. It is a natural channel that divides the island into two parts, north and south. The Split was created by Hurricane Hattie, a powerful storm that hit Belize in 1961 and caused widespread damage and displacement.

Since then the Split has become a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, who enjoy swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, and relaxing at the Lazy Lizard Bar, one of the most famous beach bars in Belize. It also offers a stunning view of the Caribbean Sea and the nearby reef, which is home to a rich diversity of marine life.


Diving

Diving at Caye Caulker is a great way to explore the Belize Barrier Reef. You can see a variety of marine life, including colorful fish, turtles, rays, sharks, and even manatees. There are dive sites for all levels of experience, from shallow reefs to deep walls and caves.

Some of the most popular dive sites are:

The Blue Hole: This is a natural wonder that attracts divers from all over the world. The Blue Hole is a circular sinkhole that measures about 300 meters across and 125 meters deep. It is surrounded by coral formations and inhabited by reef sharks, hammerheads, and bull sharks. The Blue Hole is a challenging dive that requires advanced certification and good buoyancy control.

Turneffe Atoll: This is the largest and most diverse of the three atolls in Belize. It has over 70 dive sites that offer a range of coral habitats, from patch reefs to spur-and-groove formations. You can see schools of snappers, jacks, barracudas, groupers, and eagle rays.

Esmeralda: This is a dive site near San Pedro, a neighboring island of Caye Caulker. It consists of several canyons that form swim-throughs and caverns. You can see large sponges, sea fans, and gorgonians. You can also spot moray eels, lobsters, crabs, and octopuses hiding in the crevices. Esmeralda is a fun dive for intermediate to advanced divers.

diving in san pedro, a short boat road from caye caulker
diving in san pedro, a short boat road from caye caulker

Feed The Stingrays At Iguana Reef Inn

Another fun and unique thing to do in Caye Caulker is to feed the stingrays at Iguana Reef Inn, a hotel that has its own private beach and pier. Every evening around 5 p.m., the hotel staff feeds the stingrays that gather near the shore, and you can join them for free.

You can touch and hold the stingrays as they glide through the water, and even feed them by hand. They are very gentle and friendly, and they won’t sting you unless you step on them by accident.


🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Where To Eat In Caye Caulker

When it comes to food, you will not be disappointed by the variety and quality of the restaurants in Caye Caulker.


Cheap Eats While Backpacking Caye Caulker

If you are looking for some cheap eats on this tropical paradise, here are some of the best options you can try:

Namaste Cafe: This cozy cafe serves up delicious Indian food with a Belizean twist. You can enjoy curries, samosas, naan bread, and more for around $5.00 to $7.50 per dish. The cafe also offers yoga classes on the rooftop deck, so you can relax and enjoy the view after your meal.

Errolyn’s House of Fry Jacks: Fry jacks are a traditional Belizean breakfast food, made of fried dough stuffed with cheese, beans, eggs, ham, or chicken. They are filling, tasty, and cheap, costing only $1.50 to $2.00 each. Errolyn’s is one of the most popular places to get them on the island, and they also serve huge burritos for $3.00. Be aware lines can get super long here!

Ice N Beans: This is not only a great place to get your caffeine fix, but also a sweet treat. Ice N Beans serves up amazing iced coffee, smoothies, frozen yogurt, and ice cream, all made with natural ingredients and local fruits. You can get a small cup of frozen yogurt or ice cream for $2.50, and add toppings for an extra charge. This was my favorite breakfast spot.

Chef Kareem’s UnBelizeable Lunch: For a taste of authentic Caribbean cuisine, look for Chef Kareem’s cart on the main street. He cooks up mouthwatering barbecue dishes like jerk chicken, pulled pork, ribs, and fish, served with rice and beans, coleslaw, and plantains. The prices vary depending on the meat, but you can expect to pay around $5.00 to $7.50 per plate.

Chef Juan’s Kitchen and Pastries: This is a family-owned restaurant that offers a variety of dishes, from Caribbean to Central American to Indian. You can find some of the best-grilled lobster, coconut curry, and fry jacks on the island here, as well as delicious cakes and pastries. The prices are very affordable, ranging from $1.00 to $7.50 per item. Chef Juan is a friendly and welcoming host, who will make you feel at home and satisfy your appetite. I highly recommend the key lime pie!

a variety of foods being offered at a local restaurant // looking across the road onto the beach
a variety of foods being offered at a local restaurant // looking across the road onto the beach

Local Food To Try While Backpacking Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is also a great place to enjoy some delicious local food, influenced by the diverse cultures and cuisines of Belize. Here are some of the local foods to try while in Caye Caulker:

Lobster and conch: These are the most famous seafood delicacies on the island, available in many variations from grilled to pizza. Lobster season runs from June 15 to February 14, and conch season from October 1 to June 30.

Fry jacks: These are a traditional Belizean breakfast dish, made from fried dough stuffed with ham, chicken, eggs, beans, cheese, or any combination of these. They are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and go well with fresh fruit or coffee.

Chicken, rice, and beans: This is the staple of Belizean cuisine, and a hearty meal for any time of the day. The rice and beans are cooked in coconut milk and served with stewed chicken, fried plantains, and potato salad or cole slaw.

Cochinita pibil: This is a slow-roasted pork dish, marinated in spices and wrapped in plantain leaves. It’s tender and flavorful and served with corn tortillas, fresh habanero pepper, and avocado. This dish is not very common on the island, but you can try it at Royal Orchid Restaurant and Bar on Front Street.

Salpicon: This is similar to ceviche but with meat instead of seafood. It’s usually made with chicken, marinated in lime juice, and mixed with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cilantro. It’s a light and tangy dish that can be eaten as a salad or with tortillas.

Cakes and pastries: If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll love the cakes and pastries on Caye Caulker. You can find freshly baked breads, cinnamon rolls, waffles, cookies, pies, and more at Caye Caulker Bakery, or Chef Juan’s Kitchen and Pastries.

manatees are of big importance in caye caulker // a cheeky pelican watching over the water
manatees are of big importance in caye caulker // a cheeky pelican watching over the water

ATMs In Caye Caulker

If you are planning to visit Caye Caulker, you may wonder about the availability and reliability of ATMs on the island. There are a few ATMs in Caye Caulker, but in typical fashion, not all of them accept international cards or work properly.

The most reliable ATM in Caye Caulker is the Atlantic Bank ATM, which dispenses Belizean dollars and does not charge any fees. You can find it on Avenida Langosta (Middle Street).

Another ATM in Caye Caulker is the Heritage Bank ATM, which is located on Calle De Sol, next to the Caye Caulker Liquor Bin and Hibisca by Habanero. However, this ATM requires you to swipe your card to enter the ATM room, which may not work for some cards. It also dispenses Belizean dollars only.

There are also some ATMs in shops, such as the China Town Supermarket or the Caye Caulker Pharmacy. However, these ATMs are not very reliable, as they may not accept your card, run out of money, or charge high fees. They also dispense Belizean dollars only. I recommend only using these ones if you are super desperate.

a couple musicians performing on the streets // hammock on the beach at sunset
a couple musicians performing on the streets // hammock on the beach at sunset

Safety While Backpacking Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is a beautiful island however, like any other destination, it also has some potential dangers and risks that travelers should be aware of.

First off, be careful with your hotel keys. Some thieves may try to steal your keys and use them to access your room and belongings. Make sure you stay at a hotel that has good security measures and lock your valuables in a safe or take them with you.

Be cautious with the water activities. Caye Caulker is famous for its diving and snorkeling opportunities. However, these activities also come with some risks, such as strong currents, sharp corals, jellyfish, and sharks.

To avoid any accidents or injuries, make sure you go with a reputable and licensed operator, follow the safety instructions, wear appropriate gear, and don’t go beyond your skill level. You should also check the weather conditions before you go, as storms can make the water dangerous.

Caye Caulker is generally a safe place, but it is still advisable to avoid walking alone at night or in isolated areas. Crime rates are high in Belize, and you may encounter some harassment, robbery, or violence. Always have a buddy with you and be aware of your surroundings.

Belize has laws and penalties for drug possession and trafficking. Drugs can also harm your health and safety, especially if you don’t know what you are taking or how much. If you visit Caye Caulker, you should be careful about using drugs or being involved in drug-related activities. You should also respect the local culture and environment and avoid drug or alcohol abuse.

Caye Caulker is a small island that can be isolated from the mainland in case of natural disasters or other emergencies. Therefore, you should have a plan in case something goes wrong.

You should have travel insurance that covers medical expenses, evacuation costs, and trip cancellation fees. You should also have the contact information of your embassy or consulate in Belize, as well as the local police and emergency services. You should also check the travel advisories and alerts from your government before you go.

walking along the sandy main road in caye caulker // relaxing at the hammocks outside a small cafe
walking along the sandy main road in caye caulker // relaxing at the hammocks outside a small cafe

Where To After Backpacking Caye Caulker

When you have finished up your travels backpacking Caye Caulker it is super easy to continue your adventures. Or perhaps even pass into one of the neighboring countries.

Domestic: You can take a ferry back to the mainland to continue your travels in Belize or stop in at San Pedro first. On the mainland, popular places on the Belize itinerary include San Ignacio and Palencia.

International: The international airport is a short ferry ride from Caye Caulker. From here you can get to countries such as the United States, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama.

You could even catch a ferry to San Pedro where you can then take a direct water taxi to Corozal in the North of the country and cross over the border to Mexico. Alternatively from Belize City, you can find direct shuttles into Guatemala as well.


Any Questions? Let me know in the comments!


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Come find out all the top tips for backpacking Caye Caulker. This is definitely a slice of paradise in Belize, though there are some things worth knowing before visiting. I will share with you my top tips for exploring on a budget including where to eat, how to get there, how much it costs, and more!

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. So, if you click on it and purchase something, I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you. As always all opinions are my own and your support is much appreciated.

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