While we were at the play park we heard the little fire engine (probably the smallest in the world), the police siren and screaming kids. It was Father Xmas! The fire engine went around the island like the pied piper gathering all the kids behind it and leading them to the basketball court.
We decided to spend Christmas on the island, I was a little worried that there wouldn’t be much Xmas spirit being in the middle of nowhere but we were not disappointed and couldn’t have picked a better place.
Explore the island
We decided to hire a golf cart and explore the island. We went as far as we could go to the south end of the island. We drove along dense mangroves and through thick bush and palms. We also spotted a few lizards. We came back to ‘town’ along the beach.
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After we snorkled we went here. It was very relaxing, but not very nice. Its your typical poorer area of the islands. The streets were clean, but the houses were very run down and old. The people were great though!! Would defintely go back. There are some hotels on the island, but they didn't look nice at all. Probably stay in the city and take a boat out here to have lunch and lay by the ocean.
St. George's Caye
Our third stop on the manatee tour was here at St. George's Caye, we had 45 minutes for a refreshment drink or a quick lunch at St. George's Lodge.
This small island was the first island in Belize to have a permanent settlment back in 1650. Today it has a population of about 20 people. There appeared to be only one hotel being the St. George's Lodge and a number of private residences.
Back on Sept 10, 1798 a historic battle against the Spaniards took place here on St. George's Caye and the date is still celebrated today as Belize's National Day.Related to:
Walk or Cycle to the South End of the Island
There are some accomodations at the south end of Caye Caulker, but most people stay "in town". If you are one of these city slickers, then make the effort to walk or cycle to the south end of the island. There is a nice path that goes right on the beach along the water's edge. I chose an overcast day and was rewarded with many bird sightings.
Just before you reach the airstrip, you will encounter a small forested nature reserve. There are paths through this reserve and some of the native plants and trees have been labelled.
If you choose to rent a bike (mine cost 15BZ for 24 hrs), you can easily cover the entire island in one hour. You can also ride your bike along the aforementioned beach path.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Enjoy the colorful buildings
There are so many bright colors everywhere on Caye Caulker. Orange (like the picture here) purple, blue, yellow, green... all very vibrant. I read somewhere that color has a deep effect on mood. Well, with so many different colors around town, it's hard not to feel good.
Middle and Back Streets
There are three main parallel streets on Caye Caulker. Front Street is the main street, where all the tour operators and almost all of the restaurants are. It’s quite lively, and at times can be full of pedestrians, bicyclists, and golf carts. It would be easy never to venture off this street. But the further back you go, the less touristy and the more Belizean it gets. To see mostly locals, take a stroll or a bike ride down the middle street and the back street. You’ll see lots of little children (playing marbles in the street is popular), a few local stores and churches, and homes which are nothing more than shacks. A real slice of life, and a reminder that this is the third world.
Have an ice cream
There's a nice little ice cream shop across from the sports bar that offers various ice creams for $1.50 BZ a scoop. But, you can also get little containers of Bico ice cream from mini-marts. Funny thing is, the mini-mart staff didn't know what flavors they were, and the containers aren't marked. Bico ice cream is produced by the Menonite community - a group similar to the Amish.
Buy fresh fruit juice
One of the pleasures of the day was passing by the little fruit stand to get my daily liter of fresh guava juice. They had many offerings of juices, but I stuck with guava. Papaya was good, too. For just $5 BZ, you get a full liter of juice. I was thinking that it would cost $10 US for the same thing in Vegas. The lady also sells whole fruits and vegetables.
Talk to the Locals
One of the things that made this trip so special for me was getting to know the locals. The island is so small that after a couple of days you see the same people over and over. Soon,you feel like a local. Chocolate, founder of the Water Taxi Association and a Manatee conservationist, is really cool. He lives on the island and does tours. Chris, owner of Coco Plum, is a cool European fellow with great stories. Willy and his staff and friends at Wish Willy's is hip. There are too many to list... just talk to everyone! You'll always get an interesting story.
Belikin is the national beer. There were three kinds that were available. Ask for a Belikin and you'd get the regular one. It's light and crisp. Can't go wrong. A "Lighthouse Lager" is the "light" beer. It comes in a small bright green bottle. There was also a "premium" brand, but it didn't seem much different from the regular one. All are light, but I preferred the regular. They go down smooth with very little aftertaste. Perfect while sitting under the sun.
There is an abundance of life in the sea here. If you love snorkelling or scubadiving you should go on one of the many tours that are offered all around the island. But there is plenty to see from the beach too. One day I was swimming around near the split while a local boy was snorkelling around nearby. Right after I got out of the water the boy came up with a shark! It wasn't like the sharks from the movie "Jaws" that I always think about when I hear about sharks... ;) But a small and cute (?) brown one. I'm not quite sure about the name, but I think it's called a nurse shark. You can also see big rays swimming around, and all kinds of smaller fishes in every color.Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
Explore the island
Most of the houses are situated north on the island. In the south is a large natural reserve. You can go walking around the southern part of the island, but it takes many hours and you have to walk the same way back because it's not allowed to cross the airstrip. It's better to just take it easy and go walking a bit along the sea on the southern part. It's a beautiful walk and you can see lots of fishes, birds, lizards and other animals. But remember to bring something to drink.
Now this must be one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. In my testament I will demand to be buried here. What could be better than taking your final rest at the beach on this paradise island in the caribbean sea?!?
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