Nearly a month into our travels, we discuss how visiting a tiny island in Belize helped us get into the swing of travelling. Read on to learn about us finding our feet on Caye Caulker.
As a couple, since we met, we have been travelling. Only a couple of weeks into dating we headed to Budapest for a weekend and then went for a 2 week holiday to Cuba before we’d been together for 6 months. As active people, we’d try and fit everything in, organising our days in advance to make the most of our time in each location.
Travelling is a totally different mindset and it takes a little time to get into the swing of it all. It’s not a normal holiday and you don’t have to have the next two weeks booked in advance. You can change your mind on a whim and visit somewhere you’d never even heard of before, all based on someone’s recommendation. It’s amazing to feel so free. But suddenly being so free can be overwhelming.
Coming from the UK we often joke that summer lasts about two weeks but you just can’t predict when those two weeks will fall. It’s never actually as bad as all that, but the gist is that summer is unpredictable and it is not guaranteed. So when the sun is out, you are out, because there is always this British part of you that shouting inwardly, “THE SUN’S SHINING…..YOU HAVE TO BE OUTSIDE DOING SOMETHING”. This mindset presents some issues when you are travelling through hot countries!
When we set off travelling there was that same nagging feeling that we should be doing something every day, but actually travelling on a budget doesn’t always allow that. Plus sometimes you’ve travelled for hours getting from place to place and you are tired. You have to learn that you are allowed down days and that relaxing is also an important activity so you aren’t utterly exhausted.
We’d started our travels slowly, easing in with a few simple but lovely hotels before going full “16 people in a dorm madness”. We’d attempted the dorms first in Tulum because Tulum is crazily expensive and you just have to do it or else you’ve blown your travelling budget in 2 weeks and you’re heading home.
We found that with hostels we had to ease ourselves in – we definitely weren’t ready to be hanging out in huge groups straight away, but instead we were more comfortable sitting nearby, listening to all the exciting experiences everyone had had, whilst quietly noting down the ones that would be of interest to us. We also couldn’t go out every night in Tulum – head to the wrong bar and suddenly you’re paying $25 USD for a drink, so we were excited about letting our hair down on Caye Caulker.
Mexico had been so much fun and we were excited to be heading to Belize. With hazy memories of visiting the island back in 2003, I struggled to remember much about the island other than rum, sunbathing on the Split and diving the Blue Hole. We looked at prices for the Blue Hole this time round only to discover that this now costs upwards of $300 USD per person, so was totally out of our budget.
As we headed to Caye Caulker, we knew we were in dorm territory again. We had read various articles about Caye Caulker and all the wonderful wildlife and all the day trips we could do and they were not cheap. We knew that most of our budget would be going on activities, so where do you make a saving in the budget? On accommodation.
We searched Booking.com and Hostelworld and after long conversations and convincing ourselves it would all be alright (mainly because of the cheap rum punch on offer) we booked ourselves into Dirty McNasty’s Party Hostel. Now, since visiting Caye Caulker, we dread the moment where people asked us where we stayed – the name is so dreadful it genuinely shocked me that other people were staying there! But it turned out to be pretty fun. The owner was very funny, amusing us with his past escapades and staying in such a large room introduced us to so many like-minded people. It was a blast.
Caye Caulker for us ended up being the place where we finally relaxed into travelling. Every day we were waking up on a Caribbean island but even more than that, we were meeting the most amazing people. Friendly smiling faces all came together over extremely cheap rum punch in the evenings. We swapped travelling stories, recommendations on where to visit and where to skip and then danced to music in the Sports Bar and then the exact same songs (no joke) later at the nightclub.
Whilst dancing we laughed at the dreadful Christmas decorations on the wall in the nightclub and the repetitive song choices, but mostly we just laughed.
Ads and I met some wonderful people during our 5 days on Caye Caulker and for us, it was those fabulous people and all our experiences that cemented why we’d set off on an 18 month around the world adventure. We went snorkelling with stingrays and nurse sharks, spearfishing and caught a lobster and then ate our catch, sitting on the main street in Caye Caulker whilst drinking rum with our new friends from the trip.
We watched the sunset at Iguana Bar and ate cheap burritos from the stall near the basketball court. Our hostel, located on the aptly names Crocodile Street, even had a baby crocodile out the back of our hostel in the mangroves. All these new experiences made us feel so alive and so grateful that we’d given this opportunity to head off around the world. We are well aware that not everyone is so lucky.
The sunsets in Caye Caulker are something we’ll never forget and the wildlife was so abundant it’s hard not to be awestruck by the beauty of it all. If you haven’t been, you must go. A place that will forever have a place in our hearts, we loved every moment and all the people we met there.