Budget travelers traveling to Caye Caulker to enjoy the “Go Slow” vibe might find the island to be a bit more expensive than the rest of Belize. Not to mention its neighboring countries such as Guatemala, Honduras or Mexico. But it doesn’t have to be! After backpacking Caye Caulker for over a month, we decided to write a “Cheap Cheat Sheet” (try saying that five times quickly without twisting your tongue… I bet you can’t :D) for Caye Caulker to help you spend as little as possible while still enjoying the island.
Getting to Caye Caulker from Belize City
From the Bus Station:
Option 1: Leave the station and take a cab to the water taxi for $7 BZ ($3.50 US). The taxi drivers waiting for you at the door might try to charge you $10 BZ ($5 US) or more. As always, confirm the price before you get in the cab.
Option 2: Take the 5-minute walk to the water taxi. Pretty easy and straightforward, and if you ask anyone they will tell you how to get there.
Caution: Many locals will advise you against walking because Belize City is not necessarily the safest of cities, but if you are short on cash it is an option. That being said, we walked on our way back from Caye Caulker and didn’t run into any trouble.
Water Taxi to Caye Caulker
Most people traveling to Caye Caulker or San Pedro usually take the San Pedro Express Water Taxi because it’s well advertised, plus taxi drivers usually get a commission if they drop you off at their pier.
However, we suggest taking the Ocean Ferry Belize taxi, as it’s way cheaper and less crowded. A one way ticket with the Ocean Ferry costs $19 BZ ($9.50 US), while a one way ticket with the San Pedro Express costs $30BZ ($15 US). That’s a five dollar savings! Oh, and if you buy a round trip ticket (it’s good for up to a month) at $29 BZ ($14.50 US), you’ll save even more.
Best Cheap Places to Stay in Caye Caulker
We have an enormous love for this place, so much so that we stayed there for a month. Pause Hostel is a relaxing and laid back hostel on the calmer side of the island. Besides having free kayaks, a private dock, endless free coconuts to drink and a private beach at your disposable, it is also part of a non-profit animal sanctuary (P.A.W. Animal Sanctuary). All proceeds from the hostel go straight toward supporting and maintaining the animal sanctuary that cares for 80+ cats, 5 dogs and a duck. The hostel has a spacious 10 bed dorm for $12.50 US a night, and a 6 bed dorm with a private bath. Private rooms are also available.
Sandy Lane Guest House & Cabanas
This lovely guesthouse is operated by the friendly owners Rico and Elma. Sandy Lane is conveniently located on the main street of Caye Caulker and offers both rooms with or without a private bath. They also offer private cabanas with a private bath and kitchen. The rooms and cabanas are simple, yet clean. The rooms cost around $25BZ – $35BZ per night and the cabanas are about $65 BZ ($32.50 US). Because this place is so cheap and popular among travelers, it is usually booked out for months in advance. So make sure to book (via phone: 501-226-0117) in advance.
Best Cheap Places to Eat in Caye Caulker
A delicious seafood plate in Caye Caulker can easily cost $25 BZ ($12.50 US), which isn’t too bad, but if you are like us and plan to stay in Caye Caulker for more than 2 days, $25 BZ for each meal for 2+ weeks starts to add up and put a hole in your budget very fast. So here are some of our suggestions for cheap places we not only recommend but also enjoy eating at.
Wish Willy’s Restaurant
The restaurant is located in the backyard of Willy’s house where he makes all the meals himself. Everything on the menu costs only $18 BZ ($9 US). That includes lamb, fish and lobster. My favorite part about this restaurant is that while you wait on the food you can chill in the hammocks and listen to some awesome reggae. Waiting never felt so relaxing.
Errolyns House of Fry Jacks
This local restaurant has been operating since before Caye Caulker became a touristy island. Both locals and tourists love this inexpensive place around lunch time. They mostly sell fry jacks, but once in a while they also have other cheap meals available, such as grilled chicken with beans and rice.
Usually open for breakfast and lunch, this local food sells out fast. If you want some of Mama Lizz’s delicious food, you need to get there early. Ask any local and they will tell you how fast this place sells out… it’s that good. Meals change every day. You can also get fry jacks here for breakfast.
Catch Your Own Dinner
This is what we did 70% of the time. We went fishing at the Split or the pier. All we used were sardines for bait, a hook and some fishing line, which all cost under $5 BZ ($2.50 US) and can be bought at most of the supermarkets. Neither one of us had fished before, let alone killed and cleaned our own catch, but you better believe that after our first unsuccessful fishing day we never went home without a minimum of two fish. Our success was not due to the internet or luck, it was the locals. They were friendly and showed us how to do it, and without asking, they offered advice and always told us what kind of fish we had caught.
Buy From the Fishermen
If you buy straight from the fisherman your food will cost much less than in the restaurants. If you don’t have a kitchen in your hostel, no worries! There are actually restaurants that will grill your catch (or fisherman bought food) for you!
The fishermen usually charge between $6 – 7 BZ ($3 – 3.50 US) for a pound of fish and $12 BZ ($6 US) for a pound of lobster. You can find fishermen at the co-op by the main pier or toward the opposite end of the Split, on the same street as Yuma Hostel. The fishermen usually come out around 3 – 5pm and usually sell out fast, so get there early.
Street Food at Night
In front of the basketball court on the main street you can get a chicken/beef burrito or Pupusa for ~$3 BZ ($1.50 US). Another place where you can get street food is from the lady that sells homemade food from a cart behind the big Chinatown supermarket. Plates start at $6 BZ ($3 US).
Get Insured Before Backpacking Caye Caulker
No matter how long or short your trip, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and trust us, you don’t wanna get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it. We recommend World Nomads.
Even if you don’t get travel insurance with World Nomads, please make sure to get travel insurance from somewhere.
After saving all that money with this guide, while you’re in Caye Caulker you at least have to go snorkeling through the second largest barrier reef in the world. And for goodness sake, you’re on an island, have at least one lobster meal. Budget or not, enjoy the island. If you plan on exploring more of the country, make sure to check out our backpacking guide to Belize!