Caye Caulker is one of the most popular islands among the Belize Cayes.
Just eight kilometres long and at its narrowest point only 250 metres wide is the small island south of Ambergris Caye. Since only the southern part of the Caye, which has been split since Hurricane Hatti, is accessible and not covered by mangroves, hardly any of the inhabitants or visitors need a vehicle, even if bicycles are rented in many places. Only those who have to transport loads can fall back on one of the golf carts. On old British maps one finds the name Cay Corker. The island was known for its rich fresh water supply. Seamen used this to fill up and cork their water bottles. Another theory attributes “Caye Caulker” to an anglic pronunciation of the Spanish “Cayo Hicaco”. More plausible appears the third theory, according to which the present spelling of the island goes back to the caulk of ship walls in the protected bay of La Ensenada.
The more recent history of the island begins with the arrival of Mestizo refugees who tried to escape the war of the castes on Yucatán in the middle of the 19th century. In 1870 Luciano Reyes bought the island and sold land to a handful of families. Descendants of these families still live on Caye Caulker today. Until well into the 20th century, the few inhabitants were able to feed on the yield of sustainable agriculture, supplemented by fishing, coconut oil production and since 1920 by a rapidly growing lobster catch.
To this day, fishing is an important economic factor, but it is increasingly overshadowed by the steady growth of tourism. More and more islanders operate hotels, restaurants and other tourist facilities.
In spite of this rapid development, Caye Caulker has retained its cultural character and the leisureliness of everyday life far away from the hustle and bustle. Among the preferred activities on the island, apart from idleness and sunbathing, are snorkeling and diving tours. Typical tours offered by several tour operators lead to the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve with coral gardens, nurse sharks and eagle rays. Often you can also see bottleneck dolphins up close. Another popular destination is the Hol Chan sanctuary. Many species of fish, especially groupers, could grow to considerable size here.
A tour to the sharks and rays of Shark-Ray Alley includes a stop in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.
You can also rent a kayak to explore the calm and shallow waters around the island on your own.