Caye Caulker History
Caye Caulker was originally a fishing settlement. It became popular with 17th-century British buccaneers as a location to stop for water and to work with their boats. Like Ambergris Caye, it grew in population towards the War regarding the Castes, and it is mainly a Mestizo island. It absolutely was purchased in 1870 by Luciano Reyes, whose descendants still live on the island. Reyes parceled the land out to a small number of families, also to this very day descendants of the first landowners still live in the typical vicinities of those original parcels. These islanders were self-sufficient and exported turtle meat before the turtle population was decimated.
During much of the 20th century coconut processing, fishing, lobster trapping and boat building formed the backbone of the island’s economy. Caulker was among the first islands to establish a fisher folk cooperative when you look at the 1960s, allowing members to get fair costs for the lobster and other sea life pulled from their waters.
Caye Caulker remains a fishing village in mind, and fishing (along with boat design and construction) continue. Tourism, which began as a little part of Caulker’s economy in the late1960s and 1970s (when small numbers of hippies found their solution to the island), happens to be its prime economic mover, and also the notion of Caulker without tourism would strike most Belizeans as ludicrous. Today, many islanders operate tourism-related businesses, but there are not any plans for large-scale development. Caulker residents take pleasure in the slow rhythm of life just as much as visitors do.
Things To Do In Caye Caulker
Caulker village has 3 main north–south streets: Front, Middle and Back Sts. The streets are now officially called Avenidas Hicaco, Langosta and Mangle, though you’re unlikely to hear the latest names used.In 1961 Hurricane Hattie carved ‘the Split’ through the island just north of the village.
North of the Split is mostly undeveloped (but not for considerably longer, as the land happens to be subdivided for housing). A couple of folk go on the North Island just over the Split. The most northerly part of Caulker is the Caye Caulker Forest Reserve.
Caye Caulker Marine Reserve
Even though reef is regenerating after patchy hurricane damage, it really is rich with sea life, including colorful sponges, blue-and-yellow queen angel fish, Christmas tree worms, star coral, red band parrotfish, yellow gorgonians and much more. Between April and September snorkelers and divers might even spot a turtle or a manatee. Declared a marine reserve in 1998, the 61-sq-mile Caye Caulker Marine Reserve includes the portion of the barrier reef that runs parallel towards the island, plus the turtle-grass lagoon next to the Caye Caulker Forest Reserve. All local snorkel and dive operators lead tours to the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve
Caye Caulker Forest Reserve
The mangroves root systems support an intricate ecosystem,including sponges, gorgonians, anemones and a multitude of fish. The littoral forest on Caye Caulker is mostly red, white and black mangrove,which grows into the shallow water. The northernmost 100 acres associated with island constitute the Caye Caulker Forest Reserve, also declared in 1998. Coconut palms and Australian pines are not indigenous to this region, but there is no shortage of those. Besides the mangroves, the forest contains buttonwood, gumbo-limbo (the ‘tourist tree’), poison wood, madre de cacao, ficus and ziracote.
Bird life is prolific in the mangrove swamp, especially wading birds for instance the tri colored heron and songbirds including the mangrove warbler. Somewhat rare species that can be spotted range from the white-crowned pigeon, rufus-necked rail and black catbird. Inland lagoons provide habitat for crocodiles and turtles, all five types of crab, boa constrictors, scaly tailed iguanas(locally called ‘wish willies’), geckos and lizards.
The forest reserve is an excellent (if ambitious) destination for a kayaker. Many places to stay have kayaks available for their guests; otherwise, you can easily rent one from Chocolate’s Gift Shop(click the link). You may prefer to paddle up the calmer west side of this island to avoid strong winds and rough seas. There is a visitors/research center and picnic area, and a platform trail through the mangrove forest.
Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary
About 19 miles southwest of Caye Caulker, the vast Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary spans nearly 9000 acres, including Swallow Caye plus some components of nearby Drowned Caye. Here the ocean floor is covered with turtle-grass beds, which support a little population of West Indian manatees.
For years guides have been bringing tourists for this spot in the hope of catching a glimpse of these gentle creatures while they chow down on the turtle grass. However the constant traffic put stress on the habitat, getting the unintended effectation of harming the manatees. After tireless efforts on the section of conservationists and guides, a wildlife sanctuary was finally established in 2002
Now strict guidelines come in place to protect the manatees and also to cause them to become remain in the area. Swimming with manatees has become forbidden because of the Belizean authorities and signs have already been posted to dissuade boat operators from employing their motors nearby the manatees and from speeding through the region. (Propeller injuries are one of many chief reasons for manatee deaths.) There clearly was a permanent caretaker during these waters, while some complain that this is simply not enough to adequately enforce regulations
Nonetheless, those that monitor the manatees are encouraged by the upsurge in numbers at Swallow Caye. Patient visitors are usually rewarded with several sightings of breeching and feeding manatees, often including a mother and calf swimming together.
Common dives created from Caye Caulker include two-tank dives to your local reef (Belize dollar 170 to Belize dollar 200); two-tank dives into the Hol Chan Marine Reserve area (Belize dollar 180, plus a Belize dollar 20 marine-park fee); three dives off Turneffe Atoll (Belize dollar 250 to Belize dollar 330); and three-dive trips into the Blue Hole Natural Monument and Half Moon Caye (Belize dollar 300, plus Belize dollar 80 for park fees).
- Belize Diving Services, Professional and highly recommended dive shop that runs PADI-certification courses and Advanced Open Water courses. It focuses on excellent trips to Turneffe Elbow, but does not go directly to the Blue Hole. It is Belize’s only technical training center.
- Frenchie’s Diving Provides full-day trips (three dives) to Blue Hole and Turneffe,and half-day trips (two dives) to Hol Chan, Caye Chapel or Spanish Bay. Night dives at Caye Caulker Marine Reserve cost Belize dollar 120. It promises sets of 10 divers or fewer.
You’ll be able to snorkel all over Split and from the pier near the airstrip, but to really experience life underneath the sea it’s necessary to sign up with a trip operator and head out towards the reef. Although it is only a brief boat ride offshore, only licensed guides are permitted to take snorkelers out to the reef, which helps with protecting this fragile ecosystem. Most guides are experienced in the reef and adept at spotting and identifying many hidden creatures.
Widely known destination for snorkeling trips is Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley. Half-day trips (Belize dollar 60) leave at 9:30am or 10:30am and 2pm. Full-day tours(Belize dollar 100) include an end in San Pedro for lunch (not contained in the price).
Other half-day snorkeling trips visit the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve (Belize dollar 60), departing at 10:30am and 2pm. Destinations include Coral Gardens, the Swoosh (a stand of coral near an opening within the reef where in actuality the current and swells attract a beneficial variety of marine life) and Shark Ray Village, Caulker’s own shark and ray habitat.
Some tour operators also take snorkel groups to Turneffe Atoll, a longer trip that promises a more pristine reef and a much better number of fish. Dedicated snorkel tours to Blue Hole and Lighthouse Reef are rare, although snorkelers are usually welcome to tag along side dive boats.All associated with tour operators in town take groups snorkeling, as do the sailing companies.
- Carlos Tours, Carlos is an established underwater photographer and offers all his guests a CD featuring photographs from their snorkel outing.
- Anwar Snorkel & Tours
If you don’t have any luck spotting manatees each day, the boat might return to Swallow Caye when you look at the afternoon to give it another go. The tour usually lasts from 9am until 4pmand costs BZ$120 to BZ$150. Tours are available to monitor the manatees’ journey to Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary, an dare accompanied by one or two snorkeling stops and a lunch break at Sergeant’s Caye or Goff’s Caye.
Chocolate Heredia was among the first Caulker fishermen to start ferrying backpackers out to Swallow Caye on his fishing boat. He has got also played a crucial role when you look at the establishment regarding the wildlife sanctuary and also the continued protection for the sea mammals.
- E-Z Boy (Tour Company), email them
Several companies organize sailing trips, nearly all of which are run in a similar fashion towards the snorkel tours, visiting 2 or 3 different sites – usually Caye Caulker Marine Reserve and Hol Chan Marine Reserve – and stopping somewhere for lunch. At BZ$90, the purchase price is comparable to the regular snorkel tours, however the difference is the fact that your journey is supposed to be wind powered. As a whole, the sailboats are large, meaning they are able to take larger groups compared to the little motor boats other tour operators might use.
Besides the snorkeling trips, these companies might offer sunset cruises and moonlight sailing trips . Island-hopping trips include overnight excursions to Lighthouse Reef or Turneffe Atoll, along with multi day trips in to the southern cayes and Placencia .These tours usually involve one or two nights camping in the beach, as well as a great amount of snorkel stops.
- Reef Water-sports, This newly opened shop located right at the split offers Jet Ski rentals. In addition it does various packages including wake boarding and water skiing. Look at the website for package details.
- Raggamuffin Tours, All-day trips to Turneffe Atoll cost BZ$150. Three-day sailing and camping trips to Placencia depart every Tuesday and Friday. Raggamuffin’s has a reputation as an event boat.
- Blackhawk Sailing Tours, Domestically held and managed since 2000,Blackhawk does sailing and snorkeling tours, overnight sailing trips and sunset cruises.
The docks are meant to be public, but hotel owners are becoming proprietorial, putting up gates to give privacy for their guests who use the sun lounges and deck chairs provided. Hurricanes Mitch and Keith in 1998 and 2000, respectively, left strips of sand on Caye Caulker where there were in the past sea shrubs, and local authorities have also built up sandy beaches. However, sea grass lies beneath the water along much of the shore, which doesn’t allow for pleasant wading or swimming; you’ll find a very good swimming is off the end associated with docks that line the east side of the island.
Caye Caulker’s public beach has reached the northern end for the village at the Split. It is possible to snorkel around here, but beware of boats cruising through deeper water from the north shore. It’s a favorite spot for both tourists and locals, who drink at the Lazy Lizard and do cannonballs through the new diving board. The beach is small and scattered with debris – sunbathers lounge on a broken seawall that is crumbling into the ocean – but the water is cool and clean, due to the currents that pass through the Split.
The water is clear of sea grass, but fish hover into the shade under the dock, making for decent snorkeling. If you want to catch your rays without having the clamor of crowds, there is certainly a lesser-known public dock south of town, nearby the airstrip. There’s no ladder, and that means you must wade in through the foliage or try to climb out onto the dock. Having said that, getting away from the water is a bit precarious.
The surf breaking on the barrier reef is easily visible from the eastern shore of Caye Caulker. Don’t try to swim out to it, as powerful boats speed through these waters. Crocodiles are now living in the waters in the west region of the island.
Windsurfing & Kitesurfing
With an easterly wind blowing most of the time, as well as its shallow waters protected by the barrier reef, Caulker has superb conditions for windsurfing and kitesurfing, especially between November and July. To rent equipment or subscribe to lessons, that provides a three-hour introductory course or a nine-hour basic course , in addition to equipment rental for windsurfing . Experienced kite boarders can subscribe to a Kite safari, makes it possible for you to definitely spend the whole time surfing downwind, stopping for an escape and lunch at remote islands as you go along.
Almost any skipper will need you fishing, also it’s cheaper from here than from Ambergris Caye. Grand Slams are not unusual (catching permit, tarpon and bonefish all in one day); other fish often caught include snook, barracuda, snapper and shark, usually on a catch-and-release basis. If you head out for deep-sea fishing, seek out wahoo, sailfish, kingfish, snapper,grouper, jacks, shark and barracuda.
Half-/full-day fly-fishing or deep-sea fishing trips for just two to 3 people run at Belize dollar 400/600.Anglers Abroad and Tsunami Adventures will take anglers out for fishing into the deep water, flats or reef.
Hiking, Cycling & Birding
Swim or paddle over the Split to attain the north side, since it is called, that is still untouched by the tourist boom. Only a few residents live across the main road, meaning there is a good amount of opportunity for exploring the more remote parts, and spotting birds as well as crocodiles.Alternatively, paddle all of the way as much as the northern end associated with the island towards the Caye Caulker Forest Reserve, which includes a quick trail that leads through the mangrove forest. It really is an excellent destination to spot water birds, including rails, stilts and herons, in addition to ospreys and mangrove warblers.
A rough trail suited to hiking or biking follows the perimeter for the southern tip, beginning and ending in the airstrip. The southern an element of the island is also relatively undeveloped, especially in the inside, even though houses are now being built over the coastline south for the airstrip. The airstrip itself is flanked on both sides by swampy marshland, rendering it a fantastic place to spot birds, including the killdeer, the black-necked stilt, the typical black hawk and herons of most kinds. Be on the lookout for airplanes that fly inside and out of here without paying much heed to who or what may be in the airstrip.
Just north for the airstrip, the Caye Caulker Mini Reserve is run by the Caye Caulker branch regarding the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA). The small visitors center has information on the island’s plants and creatures, and a brief interpretative trail runs through the littoral forest.