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Caye Caulker With Kids

We had such difficulty trying to decide between Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker that I just had to squeeze in both and we were all so pleased to be lucky enough to experience both of the quite different, but equally stunning tropical paradise islands off the northern coast of the amazing Belize! We couldn’t really find much about Caye Caulker with kids in advance of our trip, so read on to fill in the gaps.

Why Caye Caulker with Kids?

Caye Caulker is a tiny island less than eight kilometres long. We had read up extensively on Caye Caulker and it’s nearest neighbour Ambergris Caye, and found it really challenging to decide between the two. We had read love-hate opinions of both, but it seemed to us that Caye Caulker was cheaper, and more of a backpackers scene, less to do and therefore more relaxed and quieter in places. Ambergris was more expensive (especially outside of San Pedro itself) but there was more to do, specifically for the kids, and I was a little apprehensive about the “backpacker scene” on Caulker being loud, and ruining the chilled day I was hoping for (and I’m always a little nervous about the presences of kids ruining the young backpackers time as well!!). Anyway, we decided to do both, and you can read about Ambergris/San Pedro here.

While the kids would be fairly content with just swimming and digging and playing on the beach all day on Caye Caulker, the main draw of the area, the Ho Chan Marine Reserve tours for Shark Ray Alley and Mexico diving and snorkelling are much closer to Ambergris. It is around 20 mins from San Pedro by speed boat to the snorkelling spots on a tour, but 40 minutes or so from Caye Caulker and this was the main reason we chose to visit San Pedro and do the tour from there.

However, the main reason for spending time on Caye Caulker was because of the chilled vibes – we needed at least a day of not doing much, where everything was walkable and easy, and Caye Caulker certainly delivered on this – nothing to do was the attraction!

How to Reach Caye Caulker

From Belize City there are a number of water taxi companies that you can take, but Belize Water Taxi is certainly the main provider. as it sails more often. You’ll pay between USD $ 25 and USD $ 28 for a return ticket. The journey is 1 hour.

If you come from San Pedro, you can also take the Belize Water Taxis. Approximately the same prices are applied and the journey time is 30 mins. You can order a ticket online, via your ho(s)tel, or simply turn up at the port.

A return ferry ticket is cheaper than two singles as you might expect, but not by much, which is a huge part of the reason we decided to go for it and visit both – stopping on Caye Caulker for one night was a great way to break up the 1.5 hour trip it would have been to Belize City from San Pedro, and they all stop on Caulker anyway.

You can also fly to Caye Caulker. There are two airlines: TropicAir and Maya Island Air. You already buy a single flight from USD $ 38 but will need to pay extra for baggage. It is cheaper to fly from the regional airport than from the international airport.

With Nothing To Do, What Did We Actually Do?

The main attraction is just relaxing, but we did do a few standout things

The Split

The Split is a channel created in the 1960s when a violent hurricane divided this five-mile-long island in two. There is another local legend which says that The Split was man-made, ordered by a local politician to curry favour just before a local election (it saves time, energy, and fuel for the fishermen and guides not to have to go the entire way around the island to get to quieter moorings on the west side!). Regardless, one of the benefits of The Split is that it has a nice shallow, sandy bathing area that's perfect for children and toddlers running along the sea wall.

There are two ways to enjoy The Split. One is the Lazy Lizard bar and snack joint. There are two sets of steps for easy access from the sea wall to the shallow water. They also have two floating rings, where our kids met and played with several locals, and a popular diving board, around 6m from the water level, which provided some entertainment watching people hesitating around the top! Our thrill seeking 7-year-old insisted on giving it a go and after much “will he, won’t he”, he finally jumped right in, and then went back for repeat trips throughout the afternoon. The kids also loved the swim up bar (who doesn't!).

The second location, Sip N’Dip next door to the Lazy Lizard looked quieter, with tables and swings set into the water, but the diving board pulled our kids into the Lizard instead.

Sting Rays

I didn’t think we would top the swim with nurse sharks on Hol Chan so soon but here we were, hand feeding wild sting rays on the beach - and to think just 24 hours ago I was excited about the 3 I saw from about 10m away!

I had a tip from a fellow family traveller that Sting Rays appear every day at a local hostel, The Iguana Reef Inn, located on the North West coast. I made it a mission to get there, and it was an incredible unparalleled experience. After chatting with the owners, they informed us that this started out as a way to pass the time during the challenging Covid lockdown that the island experienced as it was closed off from the rest of the world. The bored management started to tempt them in at dusk every day. Since reopening, they just can’t get enough and have continued to feed them around 5ish every evening. I wasn’t sure if we needed to book or what, but we turned up, still in our swim wear at 5pm, just in time for a bucket of fish ready to feed.

This experience was up there with one of the most special of my life, and the kids are still talking about it. I love rays ever since stroking one at Barcelona Aquarium as a child with my own parents. I was instructed to flap the small fish around in the water until one of the rays approached me, and gently let it go as it slide over my hand. These guys were massive, and they can be very dangerous. I was snapped out of my trance when a stray dog ran into the sea and got stung very badly. This upset the kids (and us!!!) a great deal but we were assured by the owners that this happens all the time, and despite the huge amount of blood (from the dog), he would be fine. If you choose to do this, watch out for the tails – they are serrated barbs featuring venom cells and extremely unpleasant to the touch! All that aside, both kids were thrilled and managed to get a stroke or two in.

If you had more time than just a day, yoga, any diving or snorkelling from the Belize Barrier Reef, trips to the Blue Hole and sailing are all fantastic ways to spend time here. We were sad we didn’t have more time, but actually this one day we did what we came for and had a blast.

Where to Eat and Stay

Sadly, I wouldn’t recommend where we stayed for once (Caye Caulker Beach Hotel). There was nothing really wrong with it, except it was a tad expensive and a soulless Chinese owned hotel with nothing to write home about (and they put us on the 4th floor which was punishing with the baby and two other kids!). The AC was good and beds comfy, no real complaints. We passed many other places offering rooms with much more character (most had signed specifically advertising empty rooms but early July isn’t peak time). One that we saw was Sophies Guest rooms for around £30 per night.

What I would recommend though is Chef Juan! Chef Juan is famous among locals for his pastries and pies! Every day Juan bakes a number of desserts, which he sells in his restaurant in the morning. Usually, they are sold out to locals who know exactly how good Juan’s pies are, half an hour after opening. Sadly we didn’t get any desserts, but the stewed chiken, rice and beans, burritos, pulled pork sandwich and coconut curries we ordered were all to die for. So delicious, and well priced too! You can have breakfast, lunch and dinner at Juans and I would recommend all of them!

In Summary

I was so pleased we managed to spend a day here, and we achieved what we set out to with relaxing, playing and feeding the sting rays. I was pleased to find it wasn’t a massive disruptive party scene so was great for the kids (or certainly not where we stayed). I would recommend Caye Caulker to anyone, but I am particularly pleased we got to see both as they certainly had their own charms. If we could do it again I would say two nights on Caye Caulker rather than one, but I wouldn’t compromise on the 3 we spent in San Pedro.

Have you been to Caye Caulker with Children? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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