Flying, Caye Caulker
When we were in Caye Caulker the airport had been closed for repairs and maintenance to the runway for quite some time, but it reopend the day after we left. We did fly Tropic Air back and forth between the mainland and Ambergris Caye several times on our last trip to Belize, though, and were thoroughly satisfied with them. Flying from Philip SW Goldson International Airport in Belize City to Caye Caulker would be the most convenient way to go. It's only a half hour or less trip, and a round-trip ticket costs about $100US.
The water taxi, on the other hand, is much more colorful. It gets you out on the water, which is nice, and gets you mixing in with the locals, and is cheaper at only $17.50US round-trip.
Flying is the most time efficient way to get around in Belize and one of two ways to get to Caye Caulker. An advantage of flying is that it is quicker, and you can easily find out about flights at the airport. The disadvantage is that it is more expensive.
There are several airlines that fly to Caye Caulker, or from Caye Caulker to Belize City Municipal Airport or San Pedro (Ambergris Caye). The two Belize airlines are Maya Island Air and Tropic Air. Island Air also has flights to Caye Caulker
Tropic Air leaves from both the Belize City Municipal Airstrip and the International Airport. When we did it, in order to fly from the International Airport, we did a short hop from the International Airport to the Municipal Airstrip.
From the International Airport a one way adult fare is $54US and RT is $103US. From the Municipal airstrip a one way adult fare is $30.00US and round trip is $57.50US
They have flights from the Municipal Airstrip to Caye Caulker at 7:30, 9:30, 11:30, 13:30, 15:30, and 16:30 and take 10 minutes. From the International Airport the flights are at 40 minutes past the hour from 7:40 to 16:40 and takes 8 minutes.
Maya Island Air flights are $54US for both an adult and a child, and they go from the International Airport at 7:40, 9:40, 11:40, 1:40, 3:40 and 5:40 and take 15 minutes.
The other way to get to Caye Caulker is by boat. Boats leave from Belize City (so you have to get transportation from the International Airport which will cost something and also take some time) and cost US $15 for a round trip. It takes about 45 minutes. We initially thought we would go by boat, but we met a man on the plane from Belize who said that because of delays on take-off, the plane would land after the last boat left.
On checking with Delta Airlines a few days before our scheduled departure, I was informed that they had cancelled both our incoming and outgoing flights between Atlanta, Georgia and Belize City, cutting two days off our vacation (I had booked the trip months in advance). This meant that, on our arrival in Belize, instead of spending the first night in Belize City and then taking a morning Water Taxi out to Caye Caulker, we would have to leave immediately for our pre-arranged hotel booking on the island. However, the distance of the International airport from downtown meant that we could not catch the last water taxi run of the day, so we instead had to take a local island-hopping flight to Caye Caulker.
Tropic Air came to the rescue quite nicely with their regular shuttle to Caye Caulker and San Pedro on Ambergris Cay. It was around 3 PM when our flight landed in Belize and we were soon through Customs and booked our onward flight to Caye Caulker, not cheap at US$55 each (it costs about US$20 more to fly from the International airport than it does from the local city airport because of 'departure taxes'). Tropic Air had a full load of 14 passengers and 2 crew on the flight, only about a 10 minute hop to cover the 21 miles out to Caulker. By 4:15 PM, four of us had said good-bye to the airplane on Caye Caulker and the flight continued onward to San Pedro with the other passengers.
I had been placed two rows back from the cockpit, so had a good view of our approach to the island (second photo). The view also gives a good shot of the white line marking the very close off-shore reef that helps to calm the beach waters on Caye Caulker! Altogether, it was a great little flight and it allowed us to maximize our time on the beaches - where we wanted to be!
If you'd rather make it to Caye Caulker as fast as possible, flying is another option. It only takes 15 minutes to fly from the Belize City International Airport to Caye Caulker, and you can choose between two companies: Tropic Air (http://www.tropicair.com) or Maya Island Air (http://www.mayaislandair.com). Both fly the same types of aircrafts (usually small Cessna Caravans that seat about 14 people), with the only difference being that Tropic Air is a slightly bigger company than Maya Island Air. The first offers flights every hour between 7:40 am and 4:40 pm, while the second offers flights every 2h. Both charge US$60 for a round-trip ticket, so when you add up the cost of the taxi and the watertaxi (about US$40), flying isn't that much more expensive and my in-laws told me that the view as you're approaching Caye Caulker is very nice. A good option for those who'd rather skip the hassle of travelling through Belize City because they can't wait to get to Caye Caulker!
At the moment, pretty much the only way one can fly to Belize is to catch a connection in the US. By 2015, the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport should be able to accommodate flights from Europe but currently, most people who fly to Belize do so by traveling with American Airlines (with connections in Dallas/Fort Worth or Miami) or Continental Airlines (with connections in Newark or Houston).
The airport is located in Ladyville, about 25 minutes away from Belize City by taxi. There a few shops, a fun little bar and a restaurant to keep you busy while you wait for your flight. We had lunch at the Sun Garden restaurant (Terminal 2) and very much enjoyed our stew chicken, and it wasn't too expensive either. One thing to keep in mind is that passengers are charged a US$35 departure fee, which can be paid in cash or by credit card as you go through customs.
We took the flight out from Caye Caulker to Belize International and loved it.
It was booked as a direct flight, but when we boarded we were told of two additional pit stops we would be making. Remember, take it easy and slow....:)))
$60.00 USD per person one way
Four-passenger island hopper planes are common. If you have a fear of flying, these planes are small and bumpy. Suggest taking the water ferry instead.
Cost for one-way on Tropic Air was US$30 per person.