Go Slow

January 06, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

My daughter decided she wanted to do something special with her mother. Being a poor college student doesn't afford her much play room but she used her Southwest points to take me to anywhere I wanted to go that Southwest flies. I really wanted to go back to Costa Rica or Hawaii but both of those places I could not go in good conscience without the men in my life so I decide to tick a big bucket list item off of my list, Belize.

What attracted me to Belize were 2 things. It has the largest barrier reef this side of the globe and second only to the Great Barrier reef in Australia. The other was the Great Blue Hole. I just had to see it with my own 2 eyes.

We narrowed down a no frills AirBnB and Ariana booked it. She had grand plans to pay for the whole trip but I decided to take the pressure off and let her save her money and I took care of the fun and food. I wanted her to be able to enjoy the trip as much as I was going to.

Belize City is not the safest place from what I have heard and read. I did not find that to be necessarily true but since we we were 2 women traveling and not wanting to take chances we did not spend any amount of time there outside of flying into and using the water taxi terminal as a meeting point for trips to the Jungle and Mayan Ruins. 

There are 2 major Islands (known as cayes) that most people stay on. Ambergris is the bigger, fancier and more famous tourist option. Caye Caulker is the tinier, more laid back, less touristy option that still has access to everything we wanted to do. Naturally I chose Caye Caulker.

There are 2 ways to get to the island. Water Taxi and charter plane. After doing lots of research I opted to book the plane on Maya Island Air from Belize City. It was only $100 USD more for the 2 of us to fly round trip, and a ten minute flight vs a 25 minute taxi ride to the water taxi terminal, then another 45 minute boat ride to the island, plus add in waiting for taxi's and boats. I decided that $100 was well worth it. Plus...the views!

The island is only 1 mile wide and 5 miles long. In 1961 a hurricane split the island. On the split is a tourist trap called the Lazy Lizard. It looks cool and is worth a visit but save your money and eat and drink elsewhere on the island. We ate Lobster, fresh caught same day for $7.50 USD. You can find happy hour specials from 11am to 9 pm if you know where to go. Here are my tips.

Food:

  • Wish Willy's - Willy is both your waiter and your cook. The printed menu is not really the menu. Willy has daily specials depending on what was caught and available. The beer and drinks are in coolers next to the picnic tables by the hammocks. Grab a beer and use the bottle opener next to the cooler on the table to open it. Willy was busy one night and I was a makeshift waitress for him, showing the patrons how things worked. Don't let Willy scare ya. He is to the point, has a wicked sense of humor and was by far my favorite person I met on the island. We had a first meal, last meal and dare I said the best meal there.
  • Roy's - Another solid choice for food. Bonus Ariana got a free birthday shot and they have happy hour drinks specials during dinner hours. The snapper was on point. Ariana had fish and lobster, 2 drinks each with side and we spent $25 USD.
  • Crepe Dreams -  We almost ate here for breakfast on the first day, if we had I probably would have ate here almost every day. Try the Pierogi Crepe. Trust me.
  • Errolyn's House of Fryjacks. Do not get fryjacks anywhere else. This is a small house with just a porch to wait on for your food. The fryjacks are huge and cheap and the hands down best on the islands. Use the hot sauce sparingly but don't skip it.
  • Carribbean Colors Art Cafe. Another good, affordable spot for breakfast or lunch.
  • Axios Sun - best coffee. Namaste cafe has yoga and a cool vibe but you can't beat the coffee at Axios. Another first and last for our coffee.
  • Quan's had the best Ceviche.

Drinks/Bars

  • Margarita Mike - Best Happy Hour. 4-7 lots of 2 for $10 drinks specials ($5usd) and the drinks are good! They also have free filtered water. I did not find this anywhere else and they will fill your own bottle with water. Also Swings! Swings on the backside of the bar and along the beach front.
  • Swings - you guessed it, Swings lined the bar. Also got a free birthday drink of choice for Ariana. Family owned and operated from Belizean locals. Happy hour from 11-7!
  • Sports Bar - Live music and a more rowdy crowd. Really good margaritas. The party starts here but moves to the reggae bar around 10-11.
  • Reggae Cafe - This was by far the coolest bar. Order drinks on the bottom floor, then you hoist them up from a bucket on the bar through a hole in the roof to the rooftop...and more swings on the roof. This place is quiet until just before the sports bar closes. It stays open later but the party moves from here to the Island Sky bar (opens at 11pm) we never made it there.
  • Sip-N-Dip - The place has swings, hammocks, a slide and tables in the water. Great spot when the weather is nice. Saw a puffer fish and a starfish while sipping drinks here. Also watched a seagull land on a Pelican's head.

There has been lots of scares about tainted alcohol. I have not read anything about Belize having a problem with it but that being said, the alcohol for sale in the little grocery stores was super questionable. I would not buy anything there. If you need something get it at the airport. Believe it or not it is even cheaper there than the shops.

Getting around the island is easy. We caught a golf cart taxi from the tiny one room airport and quickly befriended our driver, Jun. He dropped us off, gave us a run down and then picked us up later to take us to dinner and show us what's what. We walked mostly and rented bikes one day and explored just about every inch. Renting a golf cart is not necessary. There are 3 main roads. Front street, Middle street and Back street. You can get anywhere in 15 minutes on foot. There are no cars on the island. There are also many many potholes so driving a cart in some places is not even an option. If you are looking for swanky digs or resort life, this is not your jam. There are a couple of really cool unique spots that will cost some coin but mostly it is very small places to stay with little amenities. Our place had free kayaks and rented bikes. They also stocked beer in the office for $2 USD. We had a microwave (never used) and a fridge. We had a balcony with a view that we got locked out on our first night and had to hollar for help. The maintenance man broke down our door since we had the chain on it to let us back in. That was terrifying.

We stayed at the Anchorage Beach Resort. I liked that we had a nice large beach area and long dock with hammocks. Lots of swim access and on the quieter side of the island, however the wind and rain on the tin roof made sleeping impossible, good thing we had all the movie channels (and Belize speaks English!)

If you have not been to Central America before note that you can't flush your toilet paper. Just something to keep in mind. Some places don't even supply toilet paper to prevent you from doing this. I never once felt unsafe. Every single local we met went out of their way to be nice and helpful. The island is not filled with locals pushing their wares on you. Yes there are people trying to make a living selling to tourists but they don't make you uncomfortable like I have felt in other places around the world. You can move on without being bombarded and browse without pressure. The motto of the island is "Go Slow" and it really is fitting.

 

As much as I wanted to swim in the Blue Hole I read that it is not the best snorkel spot and is better for divers. It is also a very long boat ride to access. We opted to fly over it and get an aerial tour of not just the Blue Hole but the entire barrier reef. To book this flight you need a minimum of 3 people and a max of 5. We only had 2 but emailed the tour company as was put on a list to be matched up. Luckily they found another couple and an additional person to fill the plane and bring the cost down to $185 USD per person. It is an hour long flight in a very small prop plane. I was fine but my daughter was air sick by the end. Take dramamine to be safe. We used Tsunami Adventures.

There are a million tour companies (well 57) that will take you snorkeling. The biggest are Caveman tours and Raggamuffin but the best is Stressless Tours. This is a husband and wife team that employs the BEST guides that will show you everything, without impacting the wildlife and reef and make you feel like you are not rushed in anyway. Do the full day tour. By the time we broke for lunch I thought we were done and we had four more stops to go. The lunch was great, the snacks were great. Afterwards they took us to their private beach on the other side of the split. We wanted to do this tour on Ariana's birthday but weather forced us to push it off a few days so they threw her a belated birthday bonfire anyway and we had lots of rum punch. Keith and Melissa are the best!

I was hard pressed to find online tours to the mainland to do what I wanted so I booked online ahead of time to see some ruins and visit the Baboon Sanctuary. After arriving I found I could pretty much have booked anything from the island. You just have to catch the early water taxi to Belize City and meet your tour guides there. We went to Altun Ha for ruins because they were the closest to Belize City and we would still be able to get back on the island with plenty of time to spare. The last boat leaves at 5.

If I ever go back I would do cave tubing and ATM (Actun Tunichil Muknal) on the mainland and pretty much any tour Stressless does. I would also stay at the Iguana Reef inn,  Island Magic Beach resort or I really loved Sea Dreams.

There aren't really beaches in the traditional sense but if you are looking for that you can go to KoKo King on the other side of the split (free ferry). We planned on doing this but never really found the ferry so we chilled on our side.

More in depth posts coming soon.

Our Hotel

Sea Dreams

Margarita Mike's

Jun!

Wish Willys

Willy!

Sip n Dip

Our View

Crepe Dreams

Namaste Cafe

Roy's Blue water Grill

Wish Willy's Red Snapper! My Fave

You can see all the stars!

Captain Keith and his wife!

The Water Taxi Terminal

If you plan a rip to Belize I hope this helps!


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