Well the day had to come that we finally left Mexico. My initial thoughts of Mexico were "I could stay here forever!!" but if I'm being totally honest I haven't enjoyed Mexico all that much since arriving in Merida. So it wasn't with a heavy heart that I left our hot concrete box accommodation in Tulum and set off on a new adventure.
Hello Belize! I'll let you in on a secret - we were actually going to skip over Belize as it was too expensive. Then I read it was no more expensive than Mexico and thus began our research and the realisation that we HAD to go.
We caught an overnight bus to Belize City which seemed like a good idea in theory but with a departure time of 11:30pm and two kids in tow it probably wasn't that practical. It also meant a 3am border crossing. Land border crossings aren't usually that painful but the guys working the border were trying to scam as much money out of everyone as possible. Not what you need when you're tired and cranky. And to make things even worse, the guy in front of us in line was in the country illegally. He had overstayed is visa by about 10 days. I think he was expecting to pay a bribe and get out but the officials weren't letting him. This was possibly because we were also in the room when he mentioned paying a bribe; he actually didn't hold up the departure of the bus and he didn't get deported. I'm assuming once he was in the room alone they were more willing to take his bribe. This is just my theory so don't quote me on it as being the actual happenings.
Arrival into Belize City was around 7am which meant we were on the first boat out to Caye Caulker. I thought maybe we had arrived in some outer part of Belize City because there was absolutely nothing there....nope, that's the city centre. Its about a 1/2 hour boat ride out to Caye Caulker so we arrived with the whole day ahead of us. Hooray!!
Originally we were supposed to stay 4 nights....we left after 19 nights. I think everyone would still like to be out on the island but our time in Belize is running out and there are a couple of other things we'd like to see. Didn't think to do a border crossing either which is something we have already done since leaving the island. That's not the point....the island is great - it has such a relaxed vibe and everyone is so friendly! Its the type of place you can go and sit in a hammock for days on end without feeling guilty. You definitely don't need to be doing something in order to have a good time.
When we did get out and do "stuff" we certainly weren't starved for options. Our first trip was out snorkelling to their barrier reef. It is the second largest reef behind the great barrier reef and full of so much life. Everywhere you look there are large schools of quite large fish, eels, crabs, lobsters, conch, little schools of fish, schools of baby fish (are they called fry??); just so much going on! We also got to visit shark ray alley and swim with the sharks and rays which was a lot of fun and not as dangerous as it sounds.
Basically your boat arrives in the "alley" and the sharks and rays come swarming in from all directions. The captain and his mate feed the sharks and rays while you swim with them. It should be pointed out the sharks are nurse sharks and they're not going to hurt a fly. We were able to touch them and to my surprise they are actually really rough - it was like touching coarse sandpaper. And after me asking Lucas several times to "take a photo of me with a shark" and after him yelling at me "I've done it, alright!!" we get back and find out there are no photos of me with a shark. Lucas's response "I got you with a stingray and look how good my shark selfies are". Not happy Lucas!
One of the other cool things you get to do on your snorkelling trips is visit the other side of the island and see the seahorse and tarpons. The tarpons hung out in big schools close to the mangroves. They are large and silver and kind of look like a barracuda. When you hold a sardine over the side of the boat they jump out of the water to eat it. It is so fast and you don't see them coming. One minute you have a fish and the next second you don't.
We also did a couple of fishing trips which proved quite successful and gave us a scrumptious dinner each time. The first trip we stopped at a spot to catch snapper - everyone caught something so we were all happy with our efforts. The second stop was at a reef where we would be able to find lobster and Adam could go spear fishing. Turns out my hidden talent is finding lobsters hiding in rocks - who knew?! I actually haven't tried to spear any of them so its a pretty useless talent if I can't catch them....but luckily we had a captain who was more than willing to catch them for us. Adams attempt at spear fishing was pretty dismal with the number of fish caught by him a big fat zero.
Our second fishing trip was the same program as the first however only James and the captain caught snapper at the first spot *Insert lots of sad faces here* On our way out we saw some manatees which are actually quite big! We also saw a pod of dolphins, which again, are actually quite big. We all know I usually don't find things big (pyramids, big pineapple, whale sharks....) so maybe its a sign I'd spent too much time on the island and lost all sense of perspective. Or maybe I gained it...either way they were big. After we gave up on catching snapper we headed to the reef to look for lobster and try our hand at spear fishing (again). Sadly we didn't get any lobster this time. We did find two but they were too small to catch. But when life gives you lemons you make lemonade and fortunately my demise as a lobster hunter was Adam's rise as a spear fisher! He caught a couple of fish then handed it over to Lucas who also caught another couple of fish. We were going to eat that night.
Our accommodation was located at the top end near "the split". Caye Caulker was actually split in two by hurricane Hattie forming two separate islands (obviously if its split in half!). On the large side (where everyone stays) the land around the split is now the beach where everyone goes to swim for the day. There are a couple of food stalls and a bar with tables on the sand and in the water and a lot of music playing. There is also a diving platform that the local kids do some amazing tricks off. We spent a bit of time at the split but we had a better bar out the front of our place with swings, tubes, a basketball ring, volleyball and slides. All these activities were in the water with the bar built out over the water. Lots of fun and quite cheap for drinks during happy hour.
The other place to spend the day in the water is on the other side of the split at King Koko. Take the ferry over from the big island and hop off at their dock. They have a bar which also serves food, inflatables in the water, tubes you can laze around in and a pool if you're not in the mood for the ocean. There are also sun lounges and cabanas for use - everything you need to enjoy your day there. The kids had a ball and we would have gone back but unfortunately things had to be packed away because of the hurricane.
We had some amazing weather whilst staying there. A couple of times we had a quick downpour during the afternoon but that is to be expected of a rainy season. On our second to last day there all shops boarded their windows and we went on storm watch.
There was a lot of rain and wind but pretty uneventful in the end. It also meant that mother nature was against us staying longer. The weather cleared and as a result we were able to leave and head to the mainland.
All of us were sad to leave but I'm pretty sure each of us will be back here at some point in their lives. Absolutely loved it!