As I mentioned in Part 1, the second half of our Belize vacation was spent on a tropical island. We chose the limestone island of Caye Caulker, part of the Belizean coral reef. With the 45 minute water taxi ride from Belize City, Caye Caulker is just over two hours from San Ignacio. We stopped at the zoo on the way!
The little island is 5 miles long and less than a mile wide. Most of the locals are fisherman and you’ll find huge piles of conch shells near the water. We felt worlds away from the mountain jungle.
Legend has it the name “Caye Caulker” was originally “Cay Corker” as some older maps show. It’s believed that because of its plentiful supply of fresh water, pirates came to refill and cork their water bottles here.
The motto of Caye Caulker is “go slow” and the residents are undeniably laid back and very relaxed. I experienced that first hand as I was bicycling on a village path and the chain broke off.
I was struggling to fix it and getting pissed off, swearing and grumbling when this local Creole guy sauntered by smiling and sounding very relaxed saying “chilll bwayyy” meaning “chill out boy.” I just looked at him with a blank stare.
(“I just looked at him with a blank stare”)
The island has minimal vehicle traffic. While mostly pedestrian, many use bicycles and golf carts. There are plenty of indoor or outdoor restaurants with great views of the barrier reef. There was only one internet cafe on the whole island back in 2004.
(Pelicans fighting over food. 150 species of birds inhabit the island.)
Caye Caulker’s population is about 1,500 with a diversity of cultures such as Creole, Garifuna and Mestizo, and some Chinese. It is a very small village with a distinct culture.
(These local Creole girls acted like they’d never seen a camera before and demanded I take their pictures)
The residents are environmentally conscious. Our hotel, the Tree Tops had large cisterns to collect rainwater and you had to throw toilet paper in the garbage can, not flush.
(Mom took this photo of me on her old film camera. You can see my Belikan Beer shirt plus another shirt I tied over my head to soak up the sweat from the heat.)
(Mom looking very happy on the wharf at Caye Caulker. What an amazing time we had!)
All these photos were taken on the enormous brick of a 5 Megapixel digital Canon camera I bought in the year 2000. It cost $1,200! It was my first digital. Digital cameras were still in their commercial infancy back then. I bought a professional Canon EOS 20D SLR for the same amount in 2005 and didn’t upgrade until last month – nearly 10 years later. Canon rocks.
Watch [VIDEO] Belize Vacation Ten Year Anniversary
I also recorded most of these adventures on a huge clunky Digital-8 Cassette Video Camcorder which I carried around back then (I bought that at a pawn shop in 2003). You can see me wearing it in some of my pics. I have edited the footage into the compilation below. The soundtrack includes popular songs from 2004, which played a lot on the radio in Belize.
Belize Vacation Ten Year Anniversary Series
Belize 2004, Part 1 – Arrival in Central America
Belize 2004, Part 2 – Underground Mayan Waterways: The Caves of Barton Creek
Belize 2004, Part 3 – San Ignacio, Cayo District
Belize 2004, Part 4 – Maya Pyramids, Tikal, Guatemala
Belize 2004, Part 5 – The Coral Island of Caye Caulker
Belize 2004, Part 6 – Juni’s Sail & Snorkel Trips in Caye Caulker
Belize 2004, Part 7 – Lazy Lizard Bar & Grill at the Split, Caye Caulker