Info Caye Caulker
Caye Caulker is a small limestone coralisland off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean Sea measuring about 5 miles (8.0 km) (north to south) by less than 1 mile (1.6 km) (east to west). The town on the island is known by the name Caye Caulker Village.
Caye Caulker is located approximately 20 miles (32 km) north-northeast of Belize City, and is accessible by high-speed water taxi or small plane. In recent years the island has become a popular destination for backpackers and other tourists. There are over 30 tiny hotels, and a number of restaurants and shops.
Caye Caulker is popular with backpackers and budget travellers for its (relatively) cheap prices, laid-back vibe, and abundance of restaurants and bars. There aren't really any proper beaches to speak of, but plenty of docks are spread around the island where you can pull up a plastic chair and get your sun on, or hang out at one of the ocean front restaurants or walk down to "The Split" which is a popular swimming area and if you're feeling a bit thirsty, The Lazy Lizard Bar is just couple steps away from the water.
There are only three roads in town, all sandy. Front Street runs along the east coast, Back Street along the west coast, and Middle Street exactly where you'd expect it. The vast majority of places of interest to a visitor will be found along Front Street and the west coast.
The local cultural influences are Mestizo, Garifuna and Creole.
The island is basically a sand bar over a limestone shelf. An underwater cave named Giant Cave is found below the Caye in the limestone. In front of the village, a shallow lagoon, between 6 inches (150 mm) and 14 feet (4.3 m) deep, meets the Belize Barrier Reef to the east. In front of the village, the reef is known as a dry reef with the reef exposed at the surface, while further north the reef is a deep reef and lies under 2 to 8 feet (0.61 to 2.44 m) of water. This area is popular with windsurfers.
A narrow waterway known as the Split divides the island in two. Some people state that the Split was created by Hurricane Hattie in 1961 which devastated Belize City, however that is a myth. Villagers who actually hand dredged it maintain that it is largely a man-made feature. The Village Council Chairman at the time, Ramon Reyes, recounts that he and others dredged the waterway by hand after Hurricane Hattie opened a passage a few inches deep. This made a practical water way between the west and east sides of the island, intended at first for dugout canoes. The increased flow of tidal water has naturally dredged the opening to 20 feet (6.1 m) deep until larger boats can now easily pass. The natural erosion continues to this day and threatens the soft sand banks of the waterway.
The main industry on the island prior to tourism was fishing. The island sits in the middle of natural migration routes for fish, and feeding grounds for conch and lobster. During World War II, fishermen living on the island also collected debris from torpedoed ships in the Caribbean that came floating ashore. The most lucrative were bales of rubber. The fishing industry is thought to support about 80 families on the island.
The growth of tourism on the island
Tourism first started on the island around 1964, with only a few visitors on weekends from the mainland Belleview Hotel, brought out by a local boat called 'Sailfish', built by a schoolteacher beside the then Teachers House. The early tourists were mostly people working with the Belize Government. Around 1969, Dr. Hildebrand of the University of Corpus Christi started visiting each winter with a Marine Biology Expedition of around 24 students. Backpackers also found their way to the island at this time, but transportation was only by fishing sailboats and there was no accommodation. The Alamina, Reyes and Marin families pioneered the tourism industry and the first scuba diving lessons and trips were started around the late 1960s.
As speedboats came into use in the 1970s tourists became more regular. Hippies following the so-called "Gringo Trail", of Isla Mujeres, Tulum, Caye Caulker, Tikal and Lake Atitlan in Guatemala passed through the island (many of them making use of the easily available marijuana). The reputation spread by word of mouth.
Today, the diversified economy of the village still includes lobster, fish, and tourists. Internet e-commerce is growing in a small way. Recent hurricanes had a major effect on lobster fishing as well as dramatically affecting the vegetation. The island ecology is slowly returning to that prior tto he storms. The island is now becoming a center for many painters and some musicians. There are also a few up and coming lyrical artists on the island, prominent among them include Alexander Joseph, otherwise known as "Bobbo youth" and ILYA Rosado a.k.a. "ILLA-G" who have developed a local islander fan base with their rap and reggae style music.
The small airplanes and asphalt-paved airstrip of Caye Caulker Airport may appear small to visitors accustomed to jet airliners and long concrete runways, but the system of barrier islands support a lively network of air transportation with an array of travel times. For those passengers preferring a route more commonly adopted by locals, there is a regular water taxi service providing transportation to and from the island. Taxi service is available from the main Belize City airport. The speedboats used are capable of carrying around 50 people. The watercraft typically sport two or three large motors and make the journey in about 45–50 minutes.
Once on the island, the main mode of transport is simply walking. The paths are well defined, and crossing the island takes 20 minutes at most. Bicycles and golf carts are also common and can be rented. Visitors prone to sunburn should take precautions, as the island is entirely white coral sand, and reflected sunlight can cause mild sunburns even in the shade. The Island is also used as a popular launch off for scuba diving the Great Blue Hole, with several expeditions per week.
On early British maps the island's name is spelled "Cay Corker." Known historically for its plentiful supply of exposed fresh water at La Aguada, one theory holds that this island was a favourite stop for sailors to replenish and cork water bottles. The Spanish name of the island is Cayo Hicaco, which means "the island of the cocoplum." "Caye Caulker" could be an anglicised pronunciation of Cayo Hicaco. Another theory is that boats were caulked in the protected bay, La Ensenada, on the western side of the island leading to the "Caulker" name.
Recent history of Caye Caulker began when Mestizo refugees from the Mexican Caste Wars arrived. With few inhabitants, food could be grown with sustainable methods of agriculture. The coconut and the fishing industry became important economic staples of the island. Even today a few of the older women continue to process coconut oil for their own use and to sell, although generally the coconuts themselves are harvested and shipped to the mainland.
Caye Caulker has internet access, but the island is served by a single hard line to the mainland and is therefore prone to bandwidth problems and interruptions.
There are a few internet cafes and WiFi hotspots on the island.
- Cayeboard Connection is open from 8AM-9PM.
- Caye Caulker Cyber Cafe open from 8AM-10PM.
- The Island Link Internet Cafe & Ice Cream Parlor is open from 8AM-9PM. They also have delicious ice creams and is owned by a local Caye Caulker native.
- Young's Internet Cafe on the back street