Beach time.

Caye Caulker Travel Blog

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We drive to Belize City for our first view of the Caribbean and board our water taxi for the short journey to the tropical island of Caye Caulker. Once a pirate lair, this tiny but beautiful island lies 34km northeast of Belize City and about 1.6km inside the greatest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. Speeding through turquoise waters during the one-hour water taxi transfer is a highlight in itself. We reach our beach hotel and book up excursions for tomorrow. I choose a snorkelling trip to Shark Ray Alley.

It's off to dinner and drinks at a bar that has been recommended to me,The Lazy Lizard.

A great spot to sink a few cold beers and watch the sun go down. Located next to the split that divides the Island in two.Stories abound that the split was caused by Hurricane Hattie in 1961.The truth of the matter is,so I was told that a small channel was hand dredged to allow easier passage of boats to the western part of the Island.

Recent history of Caye Caulker began when Mestizo refugees from the Mexican Caste Wars arrived. The area that became the village on Caye Caulker was formally purchased by Luciano Reyes around 1870. Lots were sold to other families, most of which still have descendants on the island today. The influence of these families is still very apparent.

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.

Large scale lobster fisheries arose in the 1920's, when the lobster trap was introduced to the caye by Canadian Captain Cook and modified for use with the spiny lobster by Marcial Alamina. In 1960 the Northern Fishermen's Co-operative Society Ltd. was formed with thirty plus members including some women, which allowed fishermen to export both fish and lobster, eliminating the middleman. Due to its great success, the cooperative became a model for other cooperatives in Belize.

Caye Caulker is also noteworthy for its tradition of ship building. The Young and Alamina families historically are known as skilled shipwrights constructing wooden sailboats with a frame construction.

Caye Caulker remains a shipbuilding and boat racing center of Belize with the Alamina and Young families still prominently active in these endeavours. The Belize Marine Terminal and Museum has an excellent exhibit of the Caye Caulker shipwrights, their tools, and the boats they have built.

Fishing continues to be an important industry, but tourism has gradually become an important force on the caye as well. Since the 60's and 70's, when small numbers of hippies found their way to the caye, tourism has grown each year and many islanders now also operate restaurants, hotels, or other businesses in the tourism industry.

Despite the growth of tourism, Caye Caulker remains a small village with a distinct cultural flavor not necessarily found in large-scale tourist development. Almost all the businesses are locally owned, vehicles larger than golf carts almost never roam the streets, and lodging is small scale and relatively inexpensive compared to many other tourist destinations.

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Sunset at The Lazy Lizard
Sunset at The Lazy Lizard
Shark Ray Alley
Shark Ray Alley
Caye Caulker
photo by: vulindlela