Snorkelling in Caye Caulker with Ragamuffin tours

March 6, 2016

belize snorkeling, caye caulker, raggamuffin tours

The keys of Belize are sanctuaries for backpackers. San Pedro and Caye Caulker welcome throngs of them every week, all eager to party Caribe-style and enjoy some world-class snorkelling along Belize’s barrier reef – the second longest in the world.

When you arrive in Caye Caulker, you immediately pick up the Caribbean/party island vibe as you wander along the island’s sea front, filled with busy bars, Caribbean restaurants, reggae music, and the unmistakable whiff of ganja. At that point you know you’re going to have a good time.

My main objective for my 4-night stay was to snorkel as much as possible. I’d hoped by this point that I would have completed the Open Water diving course, meaning I’d be permitted to dive in the legendary Blue Hole. But a certain scooter collision in Cozumel and a subsequent damages bill totaling $500 had dashed that hope. So I’d have to make do with snorkelling instead.

caye caulker, belize, the split

Meanwhile in Caye Caulker, Belize…

Snorkelling in Caye Caulker

There are plenty of places to go snorkelling in Caye Caulker. You can go at The Split, where the water is perfect temperature but scenery is pretty limited, or – to get a real eyeful – take the Hol Chan Snorkelling Tour, which pretty much guarantees sea turtle, stingray and nurse shark sightings along the barrier reef. This is Belize snorkeling at its best.

Before you go, you’ll probably want to research some tour companies. I chose and can personally recommend Raggamuffin Tours. We were fitted for snorkelling gear before the tour began at 10.30am. After a 45-minute sail out to sea, we made three stops: one to get a closer look at the coral and smaller fish, another to witness a nurse shark feeding frenzy and the third to swim in the channel where sea turtles graze on the seabed.

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The second stop was the highlight for me; to get so close to sharks – some up to 6ft in length – and see them clambering over one another to get their lunch. Nurse sharks don’t go for humans, so there was no danger, but there were a few stingrays gliding beneath us, which can of course sting (RIP Steve Irwin), but they generally kept away from all the commotion.

belize snorkeling, caye caulker, raggamuffin tours, nurse sharks

SHARKS!

The third stop at the channel provided the best underwater scenery, and even a Green Moray Eel sighting. He was either very pissed off that we disturbed him or just really ugly, I’m not sure which.

belize snorkeling, caye caulker, raggamuffin tours

The Channel, Snorkeling Caye Caulker

The Raggamuffin team – from Charlie in head office to Captain Rob and his crew – were fantastic. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The crew guided us in the water and really knew their stuff.

Lunch was also included. This consisted of shrimp or chicken with rice, as much rum punch we could drink, and an abundance of ceviche on the return leg (soo good). We made it back to the dock for 16.30, thoroughly satisfied with a great day’s snorkelling. Check out the Raggamuffin Facebook Page to get a better idea of what they’re about!

belize snorkeling, caye caulker, raggamuffin tours

Digging into Ceviche on the return journey…

belize snorkeling, caye caulker, raggamuffin tours

Half the Ragamuffin Crew! 😀

belize snorkeling, caye caulker, raggamuffin tours

Raggamuffin! (and yes those twinkles are needless and kind of nauseating, sorry)

A bit more about Caye Caulker…

Nightlife

Where to start? The party never really stops in Caye Caulker but at night the place really comes alive. If you’re sick of the free rum punch at Dirty McNasty’s, then there are plenty of bars just a stone’s throw away. The most popular are on Front Street to the right of the water taxi dock and start to fill up at around 10pm. Bamboozle and Sports Bar draw the biggest crowds and play the loudest music. Beers are sold at 5 Belize Dollars a piece here ($2.50 USD) and there are happy hour deals on the cocktails in Bamboozle if you arrive early enough. At around 12, the crowds head to I&I Reggae Bar to finish the night. It’s cramped, but fun.

Where to Stay on Caye Caulker (on a budget)

dirty mcnastys, caye caulker, belize

The courtyard/volleyball court at Dirty McNasty’s Hostel, Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker hotels are very expensive. Backpackers will almost certainly favour budget hostels, which are aplenty on Caye Caulker, despite there only being a couple listed on Hostel World. The most popular and well-known is Dirty McNasty’s, where I stayed for $15/night in the cheapest bed available. Breakfast is included (omelette, scrambled eggs or French toast + coffee) and – best of all – rum punch is served FREE every night from 7pm (saving you A LOT of money). There wasn’t much else to write home, or indeed, blog about, but Dirty McNasty’s is a party hostel alright!

Where to Eat in Caye Caulker (on a budget)

caye caulker island, belize

Coconuts for lunch anyone?

Anyone traveling through Belize on a tight budget is going to feel the strain on their purse strings. It ain’t cheap, and Caye Caulker restaurants are no exception. A hot meal in a standard restaurant will set you back between $15-25 BZD ($7-13 USD), lunch a bit less and breakfast a bit less than that. Southside Pizza is a nice mid-range option, with pizzas selling for between 10 and 16 BZD. Cheapest meal you can get is chicken/pork stew with rice from ‘the huts’ at $8 BZD per serving. However, there are a couple of street vendors selling delicious burgers and pupusas for $3-5 BZD near the Sports bar late at night.

Other stuff to do on Caye Caulker

caye caulker, belize, the split

The Split, Caye Caulker

caye caulker, belize, the split, kayaking

Kayaking in Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is small and there isn’t much to do inland other than eat, drink and sleep! All the fun goes on in the water. If you’re not keen on snorkelling or diving, you might like to rent a kayak for the afternoon and row the length of the island. A great spot to just drift idly is The Split, where the water is shallow and crystal clear. You can paddle up to the dock and leave the kayak for a couple of hours while you enjoy the waterside bar and catch some rays!

Getting to Caye Caulker


To get to Caye Caulker you must take the Caye Caulker water taxi from the water taxi station (also the shuttle drop-off and pick up point) in Belize City. Return trips to Belize are regular. Here is the current schedule. (belizewatertaxi.com). The journey takes about 50 minutes each way.

To get to Belize City you can either take a shuttle or a ‘chicken bus’ from Flores or Chetumal, Mexico. Shuttles cost a lot more but are of course much quicker. Chicken buses rarely contain chickens, but they do take almost twice as long, usually involve two or three changes in random locations, and are often filled beyond maximum capacity – which is always “one more”. They are much cheaper than shuttles so better suited for travellers on a budget. Theft does occur but only if you let your guard down and are extremely unlucky!

Alternatively, there is a water taxi from Chetumal direct to Caye Caulker. This is more expensive but cuts out A LOT of hassle.

caye caulker water taxi, belize city

Belize City Water Taxi Station

Heading north to Mexico after Belize? Check out my post on the best cenotes in Tulum!

5 comments

  1. Comment by mc

    mc March 6, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    ! Livin the dream..Sounds like it’s a Nature Lover’s dream but would appreciate hearing more of a local slant when I travelled in South America I was with locals and it gave me a massive 4th dimension

    • Comment by Josh

      Josh March 15, 2016 at 3:05 am

      To be honest mate it has been difficult to mix with the locals! Seems I can’t find my way off the beaten track for the moment. Costa Rica coming up next – I’ll refer to your advice!

  2. Comment by Shari

    Shari October 28, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    I LOVE how the tagline of your blog is ‘A Solo Male Travel Blog’. Haha!

    • Comment by Josh

      Josh November 1, 2016 at 7:34 pm

      Well someone’s got to do it haven’t they! 😛

  3. Pingback: Things to Do in Jaco, Costa Rica | Cheeky Jaunt

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