Chetumal To Caye Caulker: All You NEED To Know

Ready to trade cityscape for laid-back vibes? Let’s navigate the journey from Chetumal to Caye Caulker, ensuring a seamless border crossing and an unforgettable island escape in Belize’s Caribbean paradise.


Are you wanting to trade the cityscape of Chetumal, Mexico, for the shores of Caye Caulker, Belize? Well, come uncover the best ways to cross the border between these two neighboring countries and soak up the sun in paradise, you’re in the right spot.

Crossing the border from Chetumal to Caye Caulker might seem overwhelming, with concerns about immigration procedures, transportation options, and navigating unfamiliar countries.

Luckily you can consider me your cross-border travel expert, armed with firsthand experience navigating the route from Chetumal to Caye Caulker and crossing the Mexico-Belize border, by boat and overland. I have backpacked all over Belize and Mexico allowing me to share my best tips with you.

So whether you’re a solo traveler or a family vacationer, everyone can find valuable information to plan their journey.

So let’s get into all you need to know such as transport options, pricing, timetables, border crossing procedures, and more!



🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Chetumal To Caye Caulker Distance

Chetumal is approximately 130 km / 80 miles away from Caye Caulker. The journey typically involves traveling southeast across the Caribbean Sea, by sea via ferry or water taxi.

Alternatively, road travel to Belize City and then onward to Caye Caulker is also possible and is a common route though it does take longer.


Chetumal To Caye Caulker Travel Time

Travel time between Chetumal and Caye Caulker varies depending on the mode of transportation.

Direct ferry services typically take around 2.5 to 3 hours to reach Caye Caulker. If traveling by bus from Chetumal to Belize City and then taking a water taxi to Caye Caulker, the journey may take approximately 6 to 7 hours in total.

A small wooden dock leading to a yellow and green hut overlooking the turquoise Caribbean Sea. This picturesque dock at Caye Caulker serves as a tranquil spot for travelers arriving from Chetumal.
one of the small docks in caye caulker which the pink ferry terminal behind

Ferry From Chetumal To Caye Caulker

The ferry route from Chetumal to Caye Caulker is a popular journey among travelers seeking to explore the picturesque Belizean islands. This is no doubt the fastest and most economical way to travel compared to the other options I will get into below.


Ferry Times To Caye Caulker

There are two main ferry operators providing service between Chetumal and Caye Caulker: San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi and Water Jets International.

Some blogs will say that the companies alternate which days they operate, however due to high demand San Pedro Belize Express is now running daily from Chetumal through to Caye Caulker which is great news for travelers! No doubt they are one of the most reputable ferry companies in Belize and they are a popular choice for travelers.

I always had a smooth, comfortable, and on-time journey when traveling with San Pedro Belize Express, even during the crazy busy times of the year such as easter when it seemed like they put on ferries the entire day, regardless of schedule.

The ferry ride takes about 3 to 3.5 hours, with a brief stop in San Pedro for immigration purposes.

Ferry CompaniesMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi 15:30 – 17:4515:30 – 17:4515:30 – 17:4515:30 – 17:4515:30 – 17:4515:30 – 17:4515:30 – 17:45
Water Jets International10:00 – 12:1510:00 – 12:1510:00 – 12:1510:00 – 12:15

How To Buy Ferry Tickets To Caye Caulker

Now one thing I will say is prices for ferries keep going up in Belize. Even in the month I had between two separate trips to the country prices happened to increase twice!

Therefore I do recommend checking the website for the latest pricing, however at the time of writing:

Water Jets International charges $82.00 for a one way ticket from Chetumal to Caye Caulker

San Pedro Belize Express charges $77.00 for a one way ticket from Chetumal to Caye Caulker

Booking tickets in advance is recommended due to the route’s popularity, especially during peak tourist seasons. Online it does say you have to book 24 hours in advance, however, if there are spare seats on the day they won’t turn you away.

A side view of passengers waiting to board the Belize Water Taxi ferry at the dock in Chetumal. The side of the ferry is marked with the website "www.belizewatertaxi.com," emphasizing the direct service to Caye Caulker.
waiting to board the ferry
A glimpse of the ocean through the window of a ferry as it departs from Chetumal. The ferry heads across the calm waters, with an industrial port visible in the distance under a bright sky
view out the side of the boat

Chetumal Ferry Terminal

The Chetumal Ferry Terminal (also known locally as El Muelle Fiscal), located in the southeastern Mexican city of Chetumal, serves as a crucial hub for travelers heading to Belize.

If you’re flying into the region, Chetumal International Airport (CTM) is about a 15-minute drive from the ferry terminal. Taxis are readily available outside the airport, and the fare should be around 100 – 150 MXN / $5.00 – $8.00.

For those arriving by bus, the ADO Bus Station is approximately 3 kilometers away from the ferry terminal, about a 10-minute taxi ride. Taxis are available outside the bus station, and the fare is usually around 50-100 MXN / $3.00 – $5.00.

Most taxi drivers are familiar with the terminal’s location. However, I recommend confirming the fare before starting the journey, as some drivers may charge flat rates.

The Chetumal Ferry Terminal has several facilities to enhance travelers’ experience. Both ferry operators have designated check-in counters where passengers can obtain tickets and receive travel assistance. Luggage handling policies typically allow passengers one carry-on and one checked bag, with additional fees for extra luggage.

To ensure a smooth journey, you need to arrive at the terminal at least two hours before departure to allow ample time for check-in and customs procedures. Especially as Mexican customs clearance is required before boarding the ferry.


Arriving In Belize & Stopping At Immigration At San Pedro

When traveling from Chetumal to Caye Caulker or other destinations in Belize by ferry, you will make a stop in San Pedro for immigration clearance. This is an essential part of ensuring compliance with Belizean border regulations.

The ferry staff will guide you through the process, and immigration officers will direct you to the appropriate lines. There is a $2.00 Belize port fee that needs to be paid, however, the main tourist fee is paid when you exit the country.

Overall your day of traveling should have looked something like this:

1:30 pm: Arrive at the Chetumal ferry port two hours in advance

1:30 to 3:30 pm: Fill out paperwork for customs and departing Belize. Here you will also wait in line for immigration to get your passport stamped and pay the Mexico tourism fee if applicable.

3:30 pm: Board the ferry boat and depart for San Pedro Town

5:30 pm: Arrive at San Pedro to immigration control where you will get your passport stamped, and pay the Belize port fee.

6:30 pm: Jump back onboard the boat to Caye Caulker.

7:00 pm: Arrive in Caye Caulker at 6:00 pm Belize time.

As you can see the total travel time ends up being five and a half hours. However when you cross the border to Belize time will go back an hour which means you wont arrive so late!


Bus To Caye Caulker From Chetumal

While there isn’t a direct bus to Caye Caulker from Chetumal due to the island’s location, you can travel by bus and then take a water taxi to reach this stunning Belizean destination. The journey combines road travel and a scenic ferry ride, making it a memorable and practical way to explore the region.

To start your journey, take a bus from Chetumal to Belize City, the mainland gateway to Caye Caulker. The ADO bus company operates regular services between Chetumal and Belize City, with the trip typically taking around 3.5 to 4 hours.

Buses leave from the ADO terminal in Chetumal, which is centrally located and easily accessible. Be sure to arrive at the bus station well in advance to secure your ticket and clear Mexican customs. The bus fare generally ranges from $20.00 to $30.00.

Once you arrive in Belize City, you will disembark at the Novelo’s Bus Terminal. From there, it’s a short taxi ride to the water taxi terminals located near the Belize City waterfront. San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi and Ocean Ferry Belize are the two main operators providing ferry services to Caye Caulker.

The water taxi ride takes around 45 minutes to an hour, and ferries run frequently throughout the day. Tickets typically cost about $30.00 one way.

When you arrive at the ferry terminal in Belize City, purchase your ticket to Caye Caulker at the counter and check in your luggage if necessary. The staff will guide you to the appropriate boarding area. While waiting for your ferry, you can explore the local shops and eateries around the terminal or relax in the waiting area.

After a scenic ferry ride over the turquoise waters, you’ll arrive at Caye Caulker, greeted by its laid-back charm and stunning natural beauty. The main jetty is centrally located, making it easy to find your accommodation or begin exploring the island on foot.

The interior of a bus terminal with designated bus bays and a red ADO bus parked at Bay 6. This is part of the journey from Chetumal to Caye Caulker, offering bus transportation before reaching the water taxi.
another option is taking the ado bus to belize city
Interior view of an ado bus, showing two front seats and the onboard "Wi-Fi" signage. This bus offers comfortable transportation from Chetumal to Caye Caulker, connecting to the Belize Water Taxi.
board the the ado bus which is surprisingly comfortable

🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Crossing The Mexico Belize Border

Crossing the Mexico-Belize border is a relatively straightforward process, however there are some tips worth knowing to make this process even easier, and that can even save you money!


Exiting Mexico

No matter which method you choose you will stop at the Mexican immigration office, where you will disembark to clear immigration. Present your passport to have it stamped for exit. Depending on your visa status and length of stay, you may be required to pay a departure tax of approximately 533 MXN.

Keep your exit stamp receipt safe, as you might need it during future travel.


How To Avoid The Mexico Departure Tax

The Mexico Departure Tax (also known as the Tourist Tax or “Derecho de No Residente”) can sometimes be included in the cost of your arrival airline ticket, meaning you don’t need to pay it separately.

However, if it’s not included, you’ll need to pay approximately 533 MXN when exiting Mexico.

Here are some tips to help you avoid paying this tax twice.

Check If It’s Included in Your Airline Ticket: Many airlines include the departure tax in their ticket prices. To verify this check your ticket receipt or confirmation email for any mention of the Mexico Tourism Tax or “UK Departure Tax” (code: UK). The tax is often listed as a separate line item.

Contact Your Airline: If your receipt isn’t clear, contact your airline’s customer service to confirm whether the tax is included. Airlines that generally include the tax in their fare are AeroMexico, Volaris, and Interjet.

Request an Exemption Letter: Some airlines issue an exemption letter confirming that the tax was included in your ticket fare. Present this letter to the immigration officer at the border to avoid paying the tax again.

Personally, I printed out an itemized receipt from my airline which should the departure tax was included on my airline ticket that I arrived in Mexico with. Once the border official saw this she quickly changed the subject and moved on with processing my passport.


Entering Belize

After clearing Mexican customs and immigration, reboard your transport, which will then proceed to the Belizean immigration checkpoint.

Depending on your nationality, you might also need a visa. Citizens of the United States, Canada, European Union, and many other countries don’t require a visa for stays of up to 30 days. However, nationals of countries requiring a visa should apply in advance at a Belizean embassy or consulate.

Once you arrive in Belize, you’ll go through the following immigration and customs steps.

  1. First, fill out an immigration form and a customs declaration form. These forms may be provided on buses, ferries, or at airports.
  2. After filling out the forms, proceed to immigration clearance.
  3. Present your completed immigration form and passport to the immigration officer.
  4. The officer will stamp your passport with an entry permit that typically allows you to stay for up to 30 days.
  5. Next, hand over your customs declaration form to the customs officer and declare any dutiable items. The customs officer may ask you to open your luggage for inspection.
A street in Caye Caulker lined with palm trees and colorful houses under a bright blue sky. The calm atmosphere welcomes travelers from Chetumal to Caye Caulker, offering a tranquil island escape.
colorful sandy streets in caye caulker
A "Welcome to Caye Caulker" sign arching over a sandy street, flanked by vibrant yellow buildings and palm trees. This sign greets travelers arriving from Chetumal to Caye Caulker via ferry, marking the beginning of their island adventure.
the sign greeting you when you get off the ferry from chetumal to caye caulker or from belize city

Caye Caulker Travel Tips

Now let’s get into some information you may want to know about Caye Caulker itself. This includes where to stay and the best things to do.

However, it is important to note basically everywhere on the island is within walking distance so you will be pretty close to anything you could need!

🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Where To Stay In Caye Caulker

For backpackers heading to Caye Caulker, there are plenty of affordable and sociable lodging options to choose from.

One standout is Bella’s Backpackers Hostel, known for its vibrant community vibe and organized group activities, making it an excellent choice for solo travelers seeking to make new friends.

During my stay at Bella’s Backpackers, I had a fantastic time meeting people. However, it does receive mixed reviews online, primarily due to its amenities. Having stayed in hundreds of hostels myself, I believe that as long as the bed is comfortable, everything is just fine.

Another great option for budget-conscious travelers is the Go Slow Guesthouse. True to its name, this accommodation embodies the island’s relaxed and leisurely pace. The guesthouse features both dormitory-style and private rooms, all at affordable rates.

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.

BOOK NOW
Tropical Oasis

Tropical Oasis

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

BOOK NOW
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.

BOOK NOW
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.

BOOK NOW

Things To Do In Caye Caulker

Despite its small size, Caye Caulker packs a punch when it comes to activities and adventures. From swimming with sharks to snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, there’s something for everyone on this island paradise. Here are some of the top things to consider doing while in Caye Caulker:

Go Snorkeling: Surrounded by a stunning coral reef, the island is a prime spot for snorkeling. Explore the rich marine life, including angelfish, stingrays, and nurse sharks.

Swim with Sharks at Shark Ray Alley: This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim with harmless nurse sharks and stingrays in their natural habitat.

Visit The Split: Created by a hurricane in 1961, this narrow waterway is now a popular swimming spot. Don’t miss the iconic Lazy Lizard bar at the edge of The Split.

Explore by Bike: Rent a bike and explore the island at your own pace. It’s an eco-friendly way to get around and discover hidden gems.

Try Local Cuisine: Sample traditional Belizean fare such as fry jacks, rice and beans, or freshly caught lobster when in season.

Feed the Stingrays at Iguana Reef Inn: Another fun activity is feeding the gentle stingrays at Iguana Reef Inn. Every evening at 5 p.m., hotel staff feed stingrays in the shallows.

Watch the Sunset: Find a quiet spot along the shoreline to enjoy the stunning sunset views as the sun dips below the horizon.

Join a Yoga Class: Several places on the island offer yoga classes. It’s a great way to start the day or unwind in the evening.


FAQs About Traveling To X From X

How long is the ferry from Chetumal to Caye Caulker?

The ferry ride from Chetumal to Caye Caulker usually takes about 3.5 hours. This includes a brief stop in San Pedro for immigration clearance. With stunning views of the Caribbean Sea, the journey offers a scenic and enjoyable start to exploring the laid-back beauty of Caye Caulker.


Wrap Up: How To Travel From Chetumal To Caye Caulker

Traveling from Chetumal to Caye Caulker provides a convenient and scenic journey to one of Belize’s most charming islands. Whether by ferry, bus, or a combination of both, each route offers unique experiences for travelers.

The ferry ride remains the most direct and picturesque option, providing stunning views of the Caribbean Sea while making a brief stop in San Pedro for immigration clearance. Alternatively, the bus route offers a more economical choice with the added bonus of experiencing Belize City before catching a water taxi to Caye Caulker.

Regardless of your chosen method, preparation is key. Ensure you have your passport, any necessary visas, and enough cash in USD or BZD for fees and incidentals.

Then, before you know it, you can embark on a seamless and memorable adventure from Chetumal to Caye Caulker, ready to explore its laid-back beaches, vibrant marine life, and warm local culture.


Any Questions? Let Me Know In The Comments!


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Ready to trade cityscape for laid-back vibes? Let's navigate the journey from Chetumal to Caye Caulker, ensuring a seamless border crossing and an unforgettable island escape in Belize's Caribbean paradise.

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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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