There are two ways to get to Caye Caulker - by air and by water. If you go by water, you'll most likely go through the marine terminal in Belize City. We didn't spend much time in Belize City - in fact we have about 3 pictures here in the vicinity of the marine terminal and that's it. The over-hyped swinging bridge is also here in the picture. East of the marine terminal is the cruise port area of Belize City. This should be immediately obvious as looking exactly like every other cruise port area in the Caribbean.
You can also fly to Caye Caulker from either Belize City airport or from Ambergris. We flew back to the mainland on tropic air. It's not much more expensive to fly. If you're claustrophobic or not fond of small planes we wouldn't recommend it. Otherwise, spend the extra money in at least one direction because the views are spectacular and it's really not much more to travel by air. This is all of Caye Caulker. The narrowest part of the island on the right side is actually split in two thanks to hurricanes. There is minimal development on the northern piece of the island.
This is the Caye Caulker airport. Like most of Caye Caulker it's understated and casual but meets the basic needs of an airport. This is actually a view across the dirt & grass runway. The low trailer-building is the airport which holds a small office for both airlines which service the island. The airstrip is easily visible on the fat part of the island in the aerial view above. South of the airstrip there are no commercial buildings but there are a few excellent beaches and piers that can be reached on foot or by bike.
Foot and bike are the main modes of transportation. We did take a golf-cart taxi to the airport though. There really is no car traffic to speak of. This is 'downtown'. About half of all businesses are tour companies offering diving, snorkeling, Mayan ruin visiting, wildlife excursions and so on.
This is a cross street at the widest section of the island (3 blocks). Most things are within a few blocks of the municipal pier where the water taxis dock. Everything can be reached easily on foot, although it's worth taking a bike during the heat of the day.
Another idyllic street along the water. Dusk and early evening are the most active times of day on the island. In the mornings, residents will come out and sweep the street with palm fronds, so unless you're venturing well out of the commercial area you really never even need to put on shoes. Many of the restaurants have no flooring - just using the sand that was already there. In fact, it's remarkable how little laundry one can generate while staying on Caulker.
On the days when we stayed on the island all day (i.e. no diving / snorkeling), we spent the hottest part of the day indoors or underwater. One morning we took a kayak out to circumnavigate the island and we paid for it in sunburn. This is a view of the north end of the south island as we kayaked through the split. This building is the Lazy Iguana bar where we spent nearly every sunset. Much of the island actually seems to arrive here at sunset. They feature cheap but powerful mixed drinks, plus there's a nice swimming area around the pier.
The 'front' of the island faces east towards the reefs and is a row of docks owned by inns and dive shops. If you walk out to the end of the longest piers and fall in, you'd find yourself in about 2 feet of water.
This is where we stayed - the Costa Maya cottages. There's 8 or 9 rooms in the complex, making it one of the larger on the island. They also have an associated dive shop and free use of kayaks and bikes.
Another picturesque place to eat on Caye Caulker. Every restaurant on the island has a view of the water. It would probably be impossible to avoid having a view. The restaurant selections are remarkably varied. We had excellent Italian, Caribbean and Mexican food in traditional restaurants. There's also a lot of good street food anywhere someone sets up a grill.
We usually include a picture of local food somewhere on our pages, so here it is. To be honest, Belizean food isn't all that exciting. This is definitely a typical Belizean plate: rice, plantains, and a fish curry. The fish curry can be replaced with chicken. The rice can be replaced with rice and beans - or with beans and rice (they do seem to be technically different).
Every day on the island we'd emerge from our room an hour or so before sunset. Possibly we'd walk down to the nearest grocery store for more beverages (the tap water is not safe to consume on the island), possibly we'd wander into the ocean for a bit. At sunset we'd come over to the north tip of the island, order a rum punch and settle down somewhere (a hammock, the dock, the roof) to watch. Later we'd get dressed up (which generally meant putting on a shirt - any shirt, and possibly even Tevas) and saunter 'into town' for food and probably more rum punches - or better yet, rum and fresh lime juice.