• JUDITH BAKER

What a Caulker! Going slow on Belize


Belize has more than 200 cayes, ranging from lively resort spots with back to back bars and eateries to remote cut-off islands where time seems to have stood still. Some of them have odd names, Frog Caye, Hen & Chicken Caye,Laughing bird Caye and even Shag Caye

But a walk around one of the most popular Cayes in the North of Belize, Caye Caulker, sums up what makes these spots so attractive to travellers of all ages.

There are no cars on Caye Caulker, so only golf carts and bycycles pass by on a stroll that takes us from the Split to the tiny ferry port which brings visitors and locals from other islands. It is the busiest place on the island with a bustle of arrivals and departures, deliveries unloadings and greetings.

It is only five miles by one, but the little limestone island makes up in personality what it lacks in size. The sign ‘Go Slow’ is everywhere and is more of a slogan for life than a road sign. Caye Caukers also like the ‘No Shirt No shoes No problem’ motto outside their cafes and bars which are plentiful and run the length of the beach.

There are no big hotels here and no fast food chains. Accustomed to the Caribbean of mass tourism I have found it a refreshing change. The quaint, rustic signs outside bars, shops and guest houses swing in the breeze and their simple hand-painted charm epitomises the slightly old-fashioned, unspoilt appeal of the cayes.

It seems to be Happy Hour all day from the Lazy Lizard on the Split to Bambooze Beach Bar and Barefoot all serving the ubiquitous Rum Punch but a host of other Belizean cocktails and drinks from th national beer Belikan to Caye Caulker Tea (laced with rum!)

Belize has about 386 km of coastline, with the cayes, reefs, and islands jutting out in theCaribbean sea. Most of these form The Belize Barrier Reef, the longest in the western hemisphere at 322 km (200 mi). The reef and its islands have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.It is 40 years this year since Belize changed its name from British Honduras just 4 years before it became independent from the UK in 1981. English speaking, and with many UK connections, there are no direct flights from the UK but the country can be accessed via a number of US airports, Cancun or Guatemala. And once here, its difficult to prise yourself away.

I shall be heading back there in the autumn with the intention of visiting as many of those strange-sounding cayes as possible.

www.travelbelize.org

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