A 30-minute water taxi ride was all it took to go from La Isla Bonita to La Isla Cariñosa, better known as Caye Caulker or Caye Corker. Aaron and I disembarked, headed up the dock, and grabbed a taxi to take us to our Airbnb.
This was no ordinary taxi, though. The only motorized vehicles navigating the sandy streets of Caye Caulker are golf carts. We even spotted a shop selling rims for these little open-air chariots.
The mantra of Caye Caulker is "Go Slow." I have to admit, I thought the slight downshift was pleasant compared to the exhaust fumes and maniacal drivers in San Pedro.
Caye Caulker is very walkable, with most things around a mile in any direction. This was good since, as we have found with many things elsewhere in Belize, the bikes that our Airbnb provided were in far less than prime condition. After our first experience with flat tires, slipping chains, and a bike lock that didn't work, we decided that our feet were as good or better than wheels.
Similar to San Pedro, there are basically three north-south streets in Caye Caulker. Also similar, "Front" street (closest to the reef, or east side) was the most populated and tourist-oriented route. The restaurants and shops to the west seem to have more reasonable prices and less frills.
In some ways, Caye Caulker seemed to be slightly cheaper than San Pedro. Snorkeling tours were as little as $30US per person, and you could get a big, delicious, filling-stuffed fry jack at Errolyn's for only $1.50US. However, the Banana Factor was the lowest thus far, with a purchasing power of just 4 bananas for 50 cents US.
We stayed at "Gumbo Limbo," located just one lot back from the beach on the reef side of the island, but the water near us was tainted with smelly seaweed that our host said was a recent appearance. The view was pretty, if you held your nose. :-/
The far north side of the island had the best spot for enjoying the water, at a beautiful area called The Split, where there is a narrow channel separating Caye Caulker from North Caye Caulker. The Split has a sea wall with stairs leading down to clear, blue-green water, a high-dive, several bars and restaurants, and no stinky seaweed. I even braved the high-dive once... fun, but one time was definitely enough for me.
Night time on Caye Caulker was relatively lively, with the streets lit up and people out strolling. Vendors sold burritos, pupusas, tostadas, salbutes, and other treats for reasonable prices. Who needs Taco Bell when you can get a big, fresh handmade burrito for $1.50US?
Belize's ongoing "charm" of things being broken, half-functional, held together with string and masking tape is wearing a bit thin. The water taxi here has a route that goes directly to Mexico, so we decided to head to Tulum and points north for a while. We may return to Belize in a bit... time will tell!