Winter Island Escapes: Caye Caulker, Belize

Start planning where to warm up this winter. We’ve made it easy with these 15 adventure-packed, off-radar island hideaways.

Nov 8, 2012
Outside Magazine

Belize commute.    Photo: Jeremiah Watt

Five square miles
Manta rays, reggae bars, permit fishing

“Go Slow” is Caye Caulker’s official motto for a reason. A long, narrow scythe of land in the Caribbean, it has just three streets—Back, Middle, and Front—all of them unpaved. Fishermen and local shop owners join visitors to wade and swim at the Split, a channel where decades ago storms bisected the island. Several boats make the trip to Shark Ray Alley—where you can snorkel with rays and nurse sharks—but none with more adventurous spirit than Raggamuffin Tours ($50). The ecotourism pioneer Lionel “Chocolate” Heredia, now in his eighties, still poles clients around the Swallow Caye marine reserve to observe manatees without spooking them. All year round, there’s unparalleled fly-fishing for bonefish, tarpon, and permit; go with the guides at Anglers Abroad ($330 per day). Front Street has punta and reggae bars and lodgings—like Colinda Cabanas (from $50), where you should request a beachfront room, and the Iguana Reef Inn (from $140). One block over, the Little Kitchen cooks up traditional Belizean salbutes (small, spicy tostadas) and garnache (fried tortillas with refried beans, cabbage, and the ubiquitous Marie Sharp’s hot sauces). Afterward, follow the locals to the Lazy Lizard for a cold Belikin beer.

ACCESS: Ten minutes from Belize City by prop plane (Tropic or Maya Air).