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Beautiful Caye Caulker Goes Slow

Belize is a slow-paced English-speaking country tucked in between Mexico and Guatemala where you have the option to go to the jungle — if you are adventurous — or to the beach — if you are into water sports and relaxation (or do both.)  

In the jungle, you can go cave tubing, explore sacred Mayan caverns and hike the tropical forest.  Staying in the middle of the jungle in a wooden cabana is as relaxing as spending the day at a Korean spa: you find yourself in a completely different world and you forget about the hustle and bustle or your urban jungle. 

We spent four days in the Belizean jungle (back in 2013) at a family resort called Caves Branch.  Our cabana was made of wooden planks and large mosquito nets covering wide openings all around the room.  There was electricity in the adjacent bathroom only and we were forced to use oil lamps in the bedroom (we did have a ceiling fan). 

At Caves Branch, we spent our time chatting with fellow travelers (families and couples of all ages) as well as swimming and hiking up and down narrow passages in dark caves, jumping off cliffs and hiking the jungle.  All of this was so exotic to us that we felt the same way Harry Potter must have felt when he first got to Hogwarts: completely out-of-place.  The Belizean jungle constituted a real break from the stressful routine of our city lives.  

Now you most likely feel confused by the title of this blog post since I have yet to mention a place called Caye Caulker.  

Caye Caulker is known as the spot in Belize for those who live for everything water-related.  If you do, then you must hop in one of the water taxis that take you to this tiny Belizean paradise.  (The water taxis run daily from Chetumal, Mexico, and Belize City.) 

There are many ways by which you can relax in Caye Caulker.  The first way — and the one that requires no effort on your part — is to adopt the motto of the island: "Go Slow."  Walk slowly, bike slowly, eat slowly and speak slowly.  In other words, Belize could very well be the epicenter of Mindfulness — a place where you are constantly in the "moment."  The only thing that seems to make Belizeans go fast is knowing that they're about to do something that they love (like a dive instructor who is about to go diving.)  

The second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh ways ways to relax in Caye Caulker — as far as I know — are the following (in no particular order): go snorkeling with exotic aquatic fauna; dive in the famous Blue Hole — or in any of the other amazing dive sites; go fishing; rent a jet ski to go around the island; go kite surfing; walk dogs from the pet park; or take a yoga class on the rooftop of a hotel.  

All of the above can be done in two or three days if you can wake up early in the morning — to go diving the Blue Hole, you need to show up at the dive shop at 5:30 a.m. — and the sacrifice of a good night of sleep is well worth it.  Let me ask you something: What would you do to be able to see Manatees, Sea Turtles, Manta Rays and Sharks?  Pretty much anything, right? 

We saw all of the aforementioned with the exception of the Manatees — we didn't go to their natural habitat —  at the Blue Hole, Half-Moon Caye and Long Caye Aquarium.  While we didn't see a lot of marine life at the Blue Hole (with the exception of one shark), we saw a lot of it at Half-Moon Caye and Long Caye.  (We felt as if we jumped inside a giant aquarium at Sea World.) 

So Caye Caulker is a nice piece of exotic land in the Caribbean where you will find plenty to do despite its small size.  I would recommend that you don't spend more than two to three days there otherwise the island would feel very small.  (Most shops, bars and restaurants are located on the same street.) 

Because it is an island, most things tend to be on the expensive side (a main course at a restaurant costs between $10 and $25.)  The good news is that walking dogs from the pet park is free and the yoga instructor only asks for a voluntary donation.  One can also stroll along the beach from the main street towards a bar called The Split to look at artists stands – everything from paintings, wood carvings and jewelry made from seashells.

Getting to the island is an adventure in itself: the boats that come from Chetumal (Mexico) make a stop on the island of San Pedro so that you can go through customs and switch boats.  

All of your hard work and patience will be rewarded by the warmth and peacefulness of Belizeans once you reach Caye Caulker.  Your dollars will be well spent in this small paradise that offers countless opportunities to enjoy the marine life of the Caribbean.

- Vincent