Anyone who's ever been on a trip with me knows that I'm not the kind of person who likes to just "sit down and relax" while I'm traveling, so even I am not sure if I recognize the person I became during the 10 days I spent on Caye Caulker! On several occasions while my travelmates were taking a nap or fishing from the hotel's dock I made my way over to the hammocks under the palapa and spent a few hours reading - I even made it through 3 novels! Caye Caulker is such a laidback place (there's a reason why the island's motto is "Go Slow"!) that after a while the lazy mood gets to you and you start walking just a little bit slower, smile a little bit more, and just enjoy life in paradise!!
I say it is worth paying a bit more for accommodations (and US$40 is not bad) if you can get a good beach access like the Trends Beachfront Hotel provided. We spent some time here every day in the hotel lawnchairs, drawn up near the rustling palm trees. It was a perfect spot to catch the breezes, watch the activities on the beach, read our books and take a short stroll up to our refrigerator every now and then to replenish the drinks! However, some caution is advised as per my 'Warning & Dangers' tip!
We watched the antics of some of the local school boys in the back of the village's dump truck (one of the few 'official' vehicles on the island) as it was parked beside one of the palm trees not far from us. They each plucked one of the leaf strands off a branch of the tree and then, by pulling some other part of the leaf, were shooting the fronds at each other like arrows! It was just like in Africa, the kids know how to make a toy out of anything!
The Split, dividing the small south part of Caye Caulker from the north end, is a good spot to watch the action, as various boats make their way through the narrow passage. Occassionally swimmers or kayakers also can be seen as they explore the shallow waters here, but care has to be taken because the current can be strong out in the middle of the channel. The "Heritage Cruze 2", tied up at the front of the Lazy Lizard bar makes a colourful foreground here as you sit under the shade of the thatched open bar area.
Other than diving the nearby reef, the most popular activity on Caye Caulker is chilling out. The island is full of dogs, most of which spend their days sleeping in beds which they dig in the sand. Most of the people resort to hammocks or simply plop down on a towel on the beach. This may seem boring to some, but it is very intoxicating and can easily lead to an extended stay on the island.
You know you are in a laid back place when you have Rastas greet you with ‘Hey mon, take off your shirt, take off your shoes, you’re in Caye Caulker dude’.
The photo says it all. Caye Caulker is as laid back as it gets.
Really, the only thing you MUST do in Caye Caulker is -- relax.
I find snorkeling, swimming and scuba very relaxing. Being suspended in water, watching the little sergeant major's darting in and out between the branches of the elkhorn coral to be very relaxing.
Some people like to fish - but I'd rather just watch the fish.
We went snorkeling twice - once to Goff Caye, and on another trip we were at Hol Chan. More pictures in the travelogue
Caye Caulker is so peaceful that reading a good book is almost essential. If you don't bring a book, there are a few places in town to pick one up. Cindy's and the Internet places have them available. Or, look for the book I left at Trend's.
There were many hours that I just sat somewhere and soaked in the beauty of the sea. It's just fine to do so on Caye Caulker. For me, it was a daily ritual of morning, noon and night... just making sure I spent time with the view of the blue waters, engraining in my memory bank.
There are many beautiful flowers all over the island. I didn't really notice them at first, but towards the end of my trip, I spent time just walking the back streets looking at all the flowers everywhere. Refreshing and calming.
There are a lot of small piers on the island that jut out and give you a great place to sit, relax, soak in the sun and take in the cool breeze off the water. I spent many afternoons sitting alone on a pier. I did some meditating or just looking at the water.
The best way to relax is to lie in a hammock and listen to the ocean. Take a book and relax a bit in the shadow in between the snorkelling and sunbathing. Or just lay back and take a nap. The motto on the island is "go slow", and you can find hammocks everywhere, even in bars. There is really no need to stress here, so find yourself a hammock and lie down.
Do I need to say anything? come on man! A Hammock and a bottle of Carribean Rum (7 US$ for a bottle), get drunk and be prepared for the night