Planning a Trip
Getting There & Departing
As with Ambergris Caye, you've got two options for getting to and from Caye Caulker: sea or air. When the weather's rough, it's bumpy both ways, although it's certainly quicker by air, and you're more likely to get wet in the boat.
By Plane -- There are dozens of daily flights between Belize City and Caye Caulker Airport (CUK). Flights leave from both Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport and Municipal Airport roughly every half-hour. Most will stop en route at Caye Chapel Airport (CYC), when there is demand. If you're coming in on an international flight and heading straight for Caye Caulker, you should book a flight from the international airport. If you're already in Belize City or in transit around the country, it's cheaper to fly from the Municipal Airport, which is also closer to downtown, and quicker and cheaper to reach by taxi. During the high season, and whenever possible, it's best to have a reservation. However, you can usually just show up at the airport and get a seat on a flight within an hour.
Both Maya Island Air (tel. 223-1140 in Belize City, or 226-2435 in San Pedro; www.mayaairways.com) and Tropic Air (tel. 800/422-3435 in the U.S. and Canada, or 226-2012 in Belize; www.tropicair.com) have 11 flights daily between Goldson International Airport and Caye Caulker, and they both follow the same schedule. The flights depart every hour beginning at 7:40am, with the last flight at 5:40pm. Flight time is around 15 minutes; the fare is BZ$114 (US$57/£30) each way. These flights actually originate at the Belize City Municipal Airport 10 minutes earlier. From the Municipal Airport, the fare is just BZ$63 (US$32/£17) each way. These flights take around 20 minutes, because they stop en route to pick up passengers at the international airport. When you're ready to leave, flights from San Pedro to Belize City run from 7:10am to 5:10pm. Most of these flights stop first at the international airport, before continuing on to the Municipal Airport.
Almost all of the above flights originating in Belize City continue on to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. Similarly, almost all the return flights originate in San Pedro. The flight between the two islands takes 10 minutes, and the fare is BZ$63 (US$32/£17) each way.
Connections to and from all the other major destinations in Belize can be made via the municipal and international airports in Belize City.
By Boat -- Regularly scheduled boats ply the route between Belize City and Caye Caulker. All leave from somewhere near the Swing Bridge, and the majority leave directly from the Marine Terminal, which is located right on North Front Street just over the Swing Bridge; these boats are associated with the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association (tel. 226-0992; www.cayecaulkerwatertaxi.com). Most are open speedboats with one or two very powerful engines, and carry between 20 and 30 passengers, making the trip in about 45 minutes. Almost all of these boats stop to drop off and pick up passengers on St. George's Caye or Caye Chapel, when there's demand. If you're going to Ambergris, St. George's, or Caye Chapel from Caye Caulker, these boats all continue on and will take you there. Find out on Caye Caulker just where and when they stop. The schedule is subject to change, but boats for Caye Caulker leave the Marine Terminal roughly every 90 minutes beginning at 8am, with the last boat leaving at 4:30pm. The fare is BZ$20 (US$10/£5.30) one-way, BZ$40 (US$20/£11) round-trip between Belize City and Caye Caulker; and BZ$15 (US$7.50/£4) one-way between Caye Caulker and San Pedro.
In addition to the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association, the Triple J (tel. 223-3464) leaves from Courthouse pier near the Marine Terminal every day at 8 and 10:30am, noon, and 3 and 4:40pm, returning from the Texaco dock on Ambergris Caye at 7:30, 8:30, and 11am, and 1:30, 3, and 4pm. The rates for the Triple J are similar to those listed above.
It is possible to purchase a seat in advance by visiting the Marine Terminal personally. This is a good idea in the high season, although in most cases you'll need to purchase the ticket in cash, upfront. Some Belize City hotels provide this service, or they can get you a confirmed reservation by phone.
Caye Caulker is small. You can easily walk from one end of the island to the other in around 20 minutes. If you want to cover more ground quickly, a bicycle is your best bet. Many hotels have their own for guests to use free of charge or for a slight rental fee. If not, you can rent a bicycle in town. There are several places on Front Street that rent bicycles. Rates run around BZ$20 to BZ$30 (US$10-US$15/£5.30-£7.95) per day.
While I think it's really unnecessary, you can also rent a golf cart from Caye Caulker Golf Rentals (tel. 226-0237), C & N Golf Carts (tel. 226-0252), or Jasmine Cart Rentals (tel. 206-0212). Rates run around BZ$120 to BZ$160 (US$60-US$80/£32-£42) per day for a four-seat cart. Hourly rates are between BZ$20 and BZ$40 (US$10-US$20/£5.30-£11).
Most boats dock at the pier jutting off Front Street at a spot called Front Bridge -- so named because this is the front side of the island facing the reef (east). The town extends north and south from here. As you debark, if you kept walking straight ahead, you'd soon come to the western side of the island and the Back Bridge or dock, where some of the boats dock. Caye Caulker consists of two or three main north-south sand roads, a few cross streets, and numerous paths. The closest street to the water on the east side of the island is Front Street. The next street in is called either Middle Street or Hicaco Avenue, and the next street to the west is called alternately Back Street or Langosta Avenue. The small Caye Caulker airstrip is located on the southern outskirts of the town. At the north end of town you'll find the Split or Cut, the town's prime swimming and sunbathing spot.
Much of Caye Caulker is uninhabited. The small town and inhabited sections are quite concentrated.
Though Caye Caulker is still a relatively safe place, it is not advisable to leave money or valuables in your hotel room, except in a safe.
Fast Facts -- For the local police, dial tel. 911, or 226-2022; for the fire department, dial tel. 226-0353. In the case of a medical emergency, call the Caye Caulker Health Clinic (tel. 226-0166).
Atlantic Bank (tel. 226-0207) is located on Back Street, near the center of the island, and has an ATM that accepts international credit and debit cards. The post office (tel. 226-2325) is also located on Back Street; it's open Monday through Friday from 8am to noon and from 1 to 5pm. There are several Internet cafes on the island; just walk along Front Street and find one with an open terminal. I like Caye Caulker Cyber Café, which serves drinks -- and even has a popular happy hour with reduced rates on drinks and Internet usage. They also have a good book-swap library.
Most hotels provide laundry service, but pricing varies widely, so ask first. There are several coin-operated and full service laundromats on Caye Caulker, all in the central downtown area. Almost all of these are a better deal than going with your hotel's service.
About the Water -- Much of the water on Caye Caulker is collected rainwater. While it's usually safe to drink, and most locals are used to it, I advise visitors to stick to bottled water.