Ya Betta Belize It !
Located only a mile offshore from Colinda Cabanas !
Belize has long been known as an excellent snorkeling destination. Located about a mile off shore from Caye Caulker is the worlds second longest coral reef. This makes Caye Caulker an excellent choice for a base of operations for those who want to experience some amazing underwater vistas.
There are about a dozen different snorkeling tour operators based on Caye Caulker. No need to pre-book your tours before your arrival, as there will almost always be availability among the different operators going to the various sites.
Most snorkeling tour operators offer a 1/2 day or full day tours of either the "Caye Caulker Marine Reserve" or the "Holchan Marine Reserve". The Holchan Marine Reserve has been established longer than the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve and as a general rule offers larger fish. Also although Holchan is a little further and costs more, you are almost guaranteed to see turtles,sharks and stingrays and sometimes even a Manatee !
For those who want to try something a little different, some of the tour operators also offer night time tours to the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve and are often treated to creatures not often seen during the day such as octopus and on occasion Hammerhead sharks !
Another popular destination from Caye Caulker for snorkeling is the "Turneffe Atoll". This Atoll is the largest coral atoll in Belize. The famous pirate "Blackbeard" captured a large ten-gun ship "The Adventure" off Turneffe in 1718. Located about an hour and a half by boat from Caye Caulker there are several outstanding snorkeling spots in and around the Atoll.
Full day tours to the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve will usually cost about U.S. $40.00 per person, full day tours to Holchan around $70.00 per person, and tours to the Turneffe Atoll around $150.00 per person. Most tour operators will supply all the necessary gear required and will also often provide fruit, snacks and beverages. Prices, equipment and amenities can vary widely among the different operators = shop around = ask at Colinda's for our current recommendations.
For those who are not into boats or large groups or are on a bit of a budget we offer free snorkel gear and complimentary Kayaks at Colinda Cabanas and can recommend some cool spots to go snorkeling nearby.
After your arrival at Colinda Cabanas we will be happy to suggest our favorite operators and point you in the right direction !
Complimentary Kayaks + Snorkel Gear !
Caye Caulker has many excellent spots to explore via Kayak. Many of our guests just like to go out for an hour or two and take a little spin around our neighborhood. But for those wanting a little more exercise or adventure, you can circumnavigate the South Island in about 2-3 hours with a little bird-watching and/or "crocodile-hunting" (don't forget your camera ! ) You can also circumnavigate the North Island in 4-6 hours with a stop for a picnic lunch at the Estuary/Boardwalks, and/or maybe some time out for some beach combing along the way.
Colinda Cabanas has 4 complimentary Kayaks available on a first-come basis for our guests to enjoy.
Two of our Kayaks are simple "sit-on-top" types suitable for single persons. These Kayaks are excellent to take on a tour around the island or to take on a local snorkeling "expedition". Their sit-on-top form makes them relatively easy to enter and exit the water. While you cannot take them to the barrier reef (protected marine reserve); there are several other good snorkeling spots about a 15-20 minute paddle away from Colinda Cabanas.
We also have a 2-person Kayak and have recently purchased a single professional Kayak for those who want to do some "serious" paddling." This single Kayak has also been specially designed for some off-shore fishing.
We also have some complimentary snorkel gear and have a good selection of adult and children life jackets for those who require them.
We will be happy to point out some local spots for you to go and explore !
Excellent Fishing right off our pier !
For serious fishers or professionals, there are many experienced local guides you can hire to take you to the flats to test your casting skills for bone fish. Or perhaps some deep sea fishing is more to your liking ? Whatever your style, budget and skill level you will find the fishing excellent on and around the Island of Caye Caulker. These professional guides typically charge around $200.00 for half a day or $350.00 for a full day; but please note that prices and amenities can vary widely between operators.
We have many guests who have caught Tarpon, Bone Fish, Black Snapper, Red Snapper, Barracuda, Grunts, Jacks and many other types of fish right off our pier = 100 feet from their room !
Want to try the local technique ? = Head up town and look for a sign on a locals house "Bait For Sale" . Buy a bag of "Sardines" for a couple of dollars. Come back to Colinda Cabanas and ask one of our staff to set you up with a hand line to give it a whirl !
We will be happy to recommend some good places on the island to try the local technique or we can recommend several highly skilled local fishing guides = Just ask !
Spectacular World Class Diving in Belize !
Belize's Barrier Reef is still very healthy and has an abundance of marine life. We have had many comments from guests over the years stating that they consider Belize's barrier reef one of the best areas for diving in the world !
There are dozens of excellent spots to dive near Caye Caulker. Just offshore from Caye Caulker is the "Caye Caulker Marine Reserve". This area has many different species of fish, as well as some very healthy coral compliments of the nutrients washed out to the reef from Belize's many rivers and mangroves. Other popular areas to dive close by are some good sites along the Northern Coast of Ambergris Caye. This area boasts more than 160 different species of fish and many different corals, algae and several types of sea turtles.
On many divers bucket list is the Great Blue Hole. Located about 1.5 hours by boat from Caye Caulker and made famous by Jacques Cousteau in the 1970's, the Great Blue Hole is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are several tour operators on Caye Caulker who regularly take expeditions to the Blue Hole. This is usually a full (very long !) day combining the Blue Hole with 2 other dives at "Half Moon Caye" and "The Aquarium" at Long Caye
About an hour boat ride from Caye Caulker lies the Turneffe Atoll. Measuring about 30 miles long and 10 miles wide, the sparsely populated Atolls waters are pristine. There are several spectacular dive sites around the Atoll. As one person remarked to us on his return at the end of the day "He didn't know places like that still existed in the world"
For those who are not yet qualified to scuba dive, there are several operations on Caye Caulker offering "PADI" certification. These courses combine online, confined water and open water training. After the online portion, the practical in water part of the course can usually be completed in 3-4 days.
There are about a half dozen scuba diving shops on Caye Caulker. We would be happy to recommend several of our favorites = Just Ask !
Over a Dozen Grocery Stores + 75 Restaurants on Caye Caulker
Local Tips !
Here is a list of some practical and "budget" " Insider tips " in no particular order……
U.S. $ are accepted pretty much everywhere in Belize. But be sure your bills are crisp, clean and are not torn. Businesses and banks will not accept a bill that has even a tiny tear or mark
Most restaurants do not accept credit cards, and those that do often charge a hefty 5% surcharge on your bill = always carry some extra cash.
Everything for sale in Belize is quoted in Belize $ with the exception of real estate and sometimes hotel rooms.
Items in stores always include the sales tax and g.s.t. = If the sticker says $10.00 = Its $10.00 at the till.
There are about a dozen grocery stores on Caye Caulker which are mostly located along Front Street and Middle Street. As a general rule those grocery stores located along Front Street which cater mostly to tourists can be quite a bit more expensive than those on Middle Street which cater mostly to locals.
Many of these grocery stores often "make mistakes" when they add up your bill = keep a running "Estimated Total" in your head as you are gathering your items and be prepared to question the bill in case your estimate and the shops total are far apart.
Canned Goods and all Imported Items tend to be very expensive in Belize.
If you "must have" that imported item = check the expiry date !
Coffee Cream is usually not available on Caye Caulker. But you can often find fresh milk. However fresh milk is crazy expensive and almost always goes sour long before the expiry date. You are far better off buying the readily available milk in cartons and/or canned milk right off the shelf.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are usually readily available on Caye Caulker. However they can be 50% higher on Caye Caulker than in Belize City. If you are on a budget and you happen to be arriving in Belize City by bus, you will arrive at what is known as "Novelos Bus Terminal". Right beside the terminal is a large market called "Michael Finnigans" selling fresh fruit and vegetables.
Saturday is a best day for buying fresh fruit and vegetables on Caye Caulker as the barge arrives on Fridays.
Mosquito Repellent and sun tan lotion can be crazy expensive in Belize = Bring it from your home country. Also more than a few of our guests have been severely burned by the sun after using sun tan lotion purchased on Caye Caulker = Hmm ?
Beef is not that great in Belize. Although you might luck-out and find a decent burger; you are practically guaranteed a tough steak in almost every restaurant in the country = Eat like the locals = eat fish and chicken and beans and rice and rice and beans and beans and beans and beans…….
There are many street vendors selling tacos on the streets in the morning on Caye Caulker. These tacos are either corn or flour and filled with a mixture of stewed chicken, vegetables and onions (and hot sauce if you like). These tacos cost 50 cents Belize for Corn and one dollar for flour. Grab 3 or 4 and you are good to go ! = This is a great time to impress your new friends by buying them breakfast !
Bottles of wine are very expensive in Belize and usually not that great. If you like to imbibe, be sure to bring a few bottles from your home country or pick up a few bottles from the airports duty free shop. Or if you are traveling to Belize via Mexico or Guatemala; you can usually pick up some good reasonably priced bottles from stores like "Mega" or "Sam's Club:".
You can buy beer and pop by the case of 24 bottles at wholesale prices on Caye Caulker by going to the Beer/Coca-Cola distributor and picking it up yourself. The distributor is called "Bowen and Bowen" and is located at the back of the island beside the commercial pier.
If you do not have heart or cholesterol problems, another good choice for a cheap breakfast on Caye Caulker is a "Errolynns house of Fry Jacks" which is located across from the Atlantic Bank. These are like a fried dough stuffed with whatever you want like chicken, beans, cheese, eggs etc etc. They cost around $4 Belize.
On Saturdays on Caye Caulker many individuals set up bar-b-ques. One of our favorites is Alma's chicken and ribs who sets up just down from China town grocery store on Middle Street.
There are about 70 restaurants on Caye Caulker. As a general rule those run by Belizean's are usually far less expensive than those run by foreigners. However again as a general rule the service in Gringo run places is usually far superior. = If you are in a Belizean run restaurant; when the waitress finally comes to your table order 2 beers instead of one.
If you come across a guy roasting a pig on a spit or see a whole hog on the bar-b-Que = keep walking.
Chef Juan's Kitchen which is located near a couple of hostels has excellent desserts such as Cherry Cheesecake and Caye Lime Pie at a fair price !
There are 2 water taxi operations serving Caye Caulker from Belize City. One is called "Belize Express" and the other is called "Ocean Ferry" . Taxi drivers will usually opt to take tourists to Belize Express because it has more runs and it also has the latest departure from the city. But remember the water taxi beside the metal swing bridge which is called "Ocean Ferry" is significantly less expensive !
There are 2 airlines serving Caye Caulker. "Maya Island Air" and "Tropic Air". Maya Island is usually a few dollars less expensive. But sometimes Tropic Air runs seasonal specials. = Check both airlines online booking calendars !
NEWS FLASH - THE AIRPORT ON CAYE CAULKER IS CURRENTLY CLOSED FOR REPAIRS AND SCHEDULED TO RE-OPEN OCTOBER 01 / 2018 = UNTIL THEN YOU HAVE TO TAKE A WATER TAXI .....OR SWIM....
Coming from or going to Chetumal Mexico ? : There are 2 different water taxis which run on alternate days of the week. Be sure to book your ticket with the correct company on your departure date. and if you are not exactly sure of your return date; just buy a one-way ticket so you can keep your options open and return with the alternative company if you need to……
There are several professional "touts" on the island that collect money for "Kids Sports Clubs" and other nice warm and fuzzy sounding charities. Several other "touts" will pitch snorkel or fishing tours at "unbelievable prices" and ask for advance reservation deposits. Most of these are scams and you will lose your money……Remember this important rule = If he acts like a weasel, and he looks like a weasel, and he sounds like a weasel, and he talks like a weasel………Keep Walking !
If you do want to help the local community; there are several excellent ways to help. Here are a couple of suggestions : Donations of cash to the local high school "Ocean Academy" or to the village chairperson "Enelda Rosado" to help support the elementary schools kids lunch program. Another amazing organization always in need of funding is the Caye Caulker Humane Society……..
Taking a local bus somewhere in Belize ? - Most of the time you will just line up and when the bus comes in there will be a "Mad Rush" to get on board. If it is a 72 passenger bus and you are # 73 - you get kicked off the bus. If you are a couple, one person stands in line and quickly gets on the bus and grabs 2 seats, while the other person goes to the back of the bus and loads the luggage. Once underway the drivers assistant will make his way down the aisle and collects the fare.
Before going to bed at night, lock your bicycles and remove any valuables from your porch and LOCK YOUR DOOR !
If you arrive on Caye Caulker with no reservation, there are dozens of small family run hotels and places to stay that are not listed anywhere on-line. You can almost always (except for New Years Eve and Easter weekend) find a suitable place to stay.
There are local "Touts" that meet the incoming boats and ask the disembarking passengers if they need a room. These touts will usually take tourists to the closest place that offers the tout the biggest commission. These touts are very good at what they do and will say or do anything to make money. If you have already have place in mind; they will often lie and say the place is dirty or has no vacancy in order to steer the tourist to alternate inferior places offering commissions. The operator of the accommodation will also quote the tourist a higher price because he has to pay the "tout" a commission. Do not follow the tout or allow the tout to follow you. On the other hand, if it is late, you are tired, and just want to get a room; these touts can provide an invaluable service… …"Caveat Emptor"
Do not throw your bones or lobster shells in your garbage can = After cleaning and/or eating your fish walk to the end of the pier at night and throw the bones and shells off the end. This is a great food source for the crabs and small fish = and you won't be wondering what that weird smell is at 2:00 a.m.
Tightly seal any snacks such as cookies and chips and remove garbage and empty bottles from your cabana at night and be sure to clean up any spilt pop = or you are going to have a bug-party in your cabana and it ain't pretty !
Sometimes at dawn and at dusk; and especially on dead-calm days with no wind, sand flies can be a problem on the Caye's. Who invited the sand flies to our party ? = Sand flea's, sand flies, sand gnats or no-see-ms are all the same thing. They live in the sand and are attracted to white and light and therefore anybody with pale skin and particularly those who are new to these parts like tourists = beware!. The only prevention for sand flies that is 100% effective and environmentally friendly is baby oil or a product from Avon that we supply to our guests called "skin so soft". If you think you might be a "Bug Magnet" bring some "skin so soft" from home as it is not available in Belize. = If you are feeling your ankles getting chewed = move locations quick !
Marijuana is readily available on Caye Caulker. You may see locals smoking it and may even be offered some for sale. However please note that Marijuana in larger quantities is still illegal in Belize. If the police catch you with some significant amount of weed you may suddenly find yourself in jail…. or broke…. or both.
There are 2 ATM machines on Caye Caulker. These machines dispense Belize $ only. They often malfunction and/or run out of cash. Some European debit cards do not work in Belize = check with your bank in your home country before leaving. = carry some emergency $
If you are staying in a cabana that has a kitchen and want to buy some fish, walk to the end of the pier and look up and down the coast. Watch for a flock of Frigate birds circling a near or faraway pier. This will mean a fisherman is cleaning his catch (and may have some for sale). You can usually expect to pay around $6.00 per pound for whole fish and around $12.00 per pound for fresh snapper or Barracuda fillets.
"Rambo" the fish monger comes through Colinda Cabanas on a regular basis selling his "brothers" catch of fish fillets or lobster and conch in season. Talk to Juan or Emelita at Colindas and tell him " Me need some fish Mon ".
Another good place to buy fish is beside the fisherman's co-op at the back of the island beside the beer distributor. The fishing boats usually come in around 3:00 p.m. = Don't be afraid to ask !
To be continued………………….
Excellent Bird Watching from your Private Covered Deck
There are over 100 species of birds that live permanently on Caye Caulker or migrate here during North Americas harsh winter months. Sitting on your porch at Colinda Cabanas you can regularly spot ; Night Herons, Great White Herons, Kingfishers, Frigate Birds, Grackles, Bananaquits and Hummingbirds.
Just South of Colinda Cabanas is a large Ospreys nest on a hydro pole beside the airport that offers some excellent viewing and photo opportunities. Beyond the airport is a littoral forest trail which circumnavigates the island. Birders can often spot Frigate birds, gull-billed, sandwich and royal terns, Roseate Spoonbills, Green-breasted mango, Cinnamon hummingbirds, Peregrine falcons, Mangrove warblers, Caribbean elaenia, Yucatan vireo, Black catbird and white-crowned pigeons.
Often there are schools of fish under Colinda Cabanas pier which attract Ospreys and Pelicans. Watching the Pelicans dive into the water can be very entertaining ! Did you know that after a Osprey catches a fish they will maneuver and turn the fish around so that the Fish faces forward when the Osprey is flying through the air.
For those guests that are interested in identifying some of the various birds around the property; there are some Belize Bird Identification books in the office as well as a few pairs of binoculars = Just ask ! = Enjoy !
Go to the mainland for exciting Day Tours !
Trips to the Mainland
After a few days of exploring the sights and the sounds of Caye Caulker many of our guests choose to take a reasonably priced water taxi to the mainland and do one or several of the interesting activities available as day trips. The following is a list of just a few of the most popular activities…..
Altun Ha :
Altun Ha is a relatively close ancient Mayan Site located about 30 miles north of Belize City. The original site covers an area of about 5 square miles, but the excavated and restored part of the site is only about a mile square. This makes it a relatively easy site to visit for all age groups and different physical abilities. The Mayan site of Altun Ha can easily be combined with 1 or 2 other activities listed below.
Lamanai which means "Submerged Crocodile" in ancient Mayan, was a large Mayan ancient City located about 2 hours North of present day Belize City on the the banks of the New River. After traveling an hour from Caye Caulker to Belize City via water taxi, your prearranged land guide will pick you up at the terminal and drive almost 2 hours to just outside the city of Orange Walk. From there you will be taken by boat up the New River for about an hour until you get to the site. Along the way you will often see crocodiles and various birds as well as some of the indigenous population. After disembarking at the site, your guide will usually break out a picnic lunch and then take you on a guided tour of this amazing ancient Mayan City. Then its back in the boat for some more crocodile hunting on your way back down stream. Your land guide will be waiting at the boat dock, and will whisk you back to the water taxi station and then back to Caye Caulker. This tour will take up most of the day and cannot be combined with any other tours.
Baboon Sanctuary :
The Black Howler Monkey Sanctuary (called Baboons by the locals) is located approximately 35 miles northwest of Belize City. It is a unique conservation effort bringing together 8 villages to protect the population and habitat of Belize's Black Howler Monkey. The sanctuary consists of about 20 square miles along the Belize River. After disembarking from the water taxi from Caye Caulker, your guide will start the tour with a drive and tour through Belize City. Then up the northern highway to the ?cut off? of Burrell Boom Village. You will then travel to the village of Bermudan Landing along the narrow "Boom road and can often spot the monkeys in the trees along the way. After arriving at the final destination, a local guide will accompany you on some trails where you can view the monkeys in the trees in their natural habitat. This tour can easily be combined with another tour such as Altun Ha or the Belize Zoo.
Cave Tubing :
Upon your arrival in Belize City by water taxi from Caye Caulker, your prearranged guide will be waiting for you and will take you by vehicle to the Caves Branch Archeological Reserve which is located about an hour from Belize City. Most Cave Tubing Tours include transportation, life vests, tubes and head lamps, tour guide, national park fee, refreshments and lunch. After reaching the Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve you will hike for about 30 minutes through the Belize Rain Forest and through a couple of dry caves until you come to the opening of the first cave through which the underground Caves Branch river flows. This is where the fun begins as you will begin floating down river through the caves. It's a short but amazing journey of about 45 minutes to an hour to drift slowly through 3 huge different caves. This tour can easily be combined with another tour such as zip lining which is also located at this site or the Belize Zoo.
Belize Zoo :
The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center is a non-governmental, non-profit organization focused on wildlife conservation through wildlife rehabilitation and environmental education. Located about an hour South-West of Belize City on the Western Highway. It's setting is outdoors upon 29 acres of tropical savanna. It exhibits over 170 animals which represent over 45 species which are all native to Belize. The Zoo keeps animals which were born at the zoo, orphaned, rescued or sent to the zoo as donations from other zoological institutions. The zoo has an excellent trail system and is fully accessible to persons with disabilities. The zoo makes an excellent day tour and can be combined with one or sometimes two other tours. Colinda Cabanas General Manager "Juan Choco" worked for several months at the Belize Zoo and can provide much practical and useful information about this tour. Be sure to ask Juan about the night the Jaguar almost had him for dinner !
How slow can you go ?
Imagine………. You are laying in a hammock listening to the birds in the trees and reading a book you found on a shelf in your cabana…… The warm tropical breeze is gently rustling the coconut leaves next to your porch……..Somewhere in the distance you can hear the rhythmic beating of some drums…….. Some children are laughing as they cut-thru on their way back to school……..A housekeeper is cleaning the cabana next to you……. she is softly singing……..the hammock is swaying …back…. and forth…..back......and forth......
You open your eyes………. It is getting dark………Momentarily confused……. you suddenly realize you have fallen asleep in the hammock ! ……..For 2 Hours !
Welcome to Colinda Cabanas !
Yoga Classes for Everyone On Caye Caulker !
RandOM yoga is a donation-based yoga studio located on Caye Caulker. Classes are held on a nearby hotel rooftop which offers a panoramic view of Caye Caulker. You will enjoy amazing sunrise and sunset views, a great tropical breeze, and a amazing view of Caye Caulker village from one of the highest venues on the island. Classes are are an island-paced Vinyasa flow, and are suitable for all levels of practice including beginners. Classes are taught by Jessie Wigh, a US-certified yoga instructor.
Jessie has been teaching yoga in Belize for seven years, and co-operates Belize Yoga, a yoga retreat company, with her husband. Participants can sign up for classes at the little blue gift shop located in the heart of the village on Front Street.You can also contact Jessie at 001-501- 637- 4109 or email : firstname.lastname@example.org or talk to Juan or Emelita at Colinda Cabanas and they will point you in the right direction …