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Day 393-401, 8-16 Aug 09: The Islas Bonitas of Belize: chillin on San Pedro & Cay Caulker

Kiet, San Pedro, Belize
"Tropical the island Breeze, all of nature wild and free, this is where I long to be, la isla Bonita…"

East side, Abergris CayeMadonna already sang it over 20 years ago: ‘I used to dream of San Pedro…’. San Pedro is the town on Ambergris Caye, better known as La Isla Bonita from Madonna’s hit-single.

Kiet and Dawn, San pedro, BelizeBut that was in the 80-s when San Pedro probably still was the paradise she sang about. Since then it has been invaded by US tourists, many of which have bought a piece of land and/or built a house. The palms are still there and though there are no real beaches, the water is clear and the fish abundant in the corals reef just off the coast.

Family in San Pedro, BelizeAll of this new money has made the prices too high for the locals and at the same time has attracted a lot of shady people as we had already met in Belize City, who offer to ‘help’ you at every street corner.

Many of these call themselves ‘Rastafari’, but as they do everything that a true Rastafari would not (eat anything that basically was alive and walking or swimming at some point for example), it seems more an excuse for being lazy, which is just on the other side of the thin line separating it from ‘relaxed’.

They also supply al possible drugs possible, which in return has attracted a less joyful crowd of young US teens visiting the island.

Us in San Pedro, Belize (2)Meanwhile you cannot cross the once empty streets without getting run over by a golf-cart, the most popular way around, both for owners as well as visitors.

It is difficult to find a decent place for a decent price, but Pedro’s Inn offered both including a swimming pool which of course is the best place to be during some of the short but torrential rains! Still, a tiny 2 person-room without bathroom costs B$ 20 (USD10) and eating out was expensive as well, so our budget went through the roof…

Here are some impressions:

Guatemalan vendor, San Pedro, BelizeBikebabe on San Pedro beach Local girl on swing, San Pedro, BelizeLas chicas, San Pedro, BelizeThe old man by the sea, Belize Middle street at night, San PedroBaby gecko, San Pedro beachhouses, San PedroSidestreet, San Pedro, Belize

Go Slow on Caye Caulker: this is where we want to be…

Caye Caulker beach, BelizeWe quickly had enough of the busy San Pedro, and hopped on another boat which dropped us off on the next Island: Cay Caulker. It is much smaller, only a few km long and between 100m & 400m wide. At many places on the island you can stand in the middle and see the sea on both sides 🙂

Main street, Caye Caulker, BelizeWhat’s more, the only pavement on the entire island is the small airstrip, the few other roads are all unpaved and sandy.

Everybody is either walking or cycling and the Island’s motto is “Go Slow”.

This is truly the paradise that Madonna was singing about, likely resembling San Pedro from the 80-s.

Fresh fish, Caye CaulkerMain street, Caye Caulker, Belize (2)

Sandy Lane

Our balcony at Sandy Lane, Caye CaulkerWe found a cheap place at the Sandy Lane’s guesthouse, which is unique in that it is probably the only place on the island without a sea view 🙂

Sandy Lane Guesthouse, Caye Caulker

But for B$25 per room (USD 12,50 for 4 persons together, not counting the in-house gecko which served as a ecological mosquito–trap), we were not complaining.

Besides, we had a front-row seat to the football matches and the sea was less than 100m away on both sides…

Here are some more pix of our ‘area’ and of some other, more expensive hotels on Cay Caulker:

Stevie, Caye CaulkerSoccer championship, Caye Caulker Waiting for dinner, Caye CaulkerSeaview from the guesthouse, Caye Caulker

Beach road hotels, Caye CaulkerTropical Paradise Hotel, Caye Caulker Ignacio's, South Caye Caulker Firestation, Caye Caulker Drinking is fun, Caye CaulkerSide street, Caye Caulker

Chilling at The Spit

Young biker near Lazy Lizard, Caye CaulkerThere is a small channel, separating the inhabited Southern Part from the uninhabited Northern part, called ‘The Spit” and there is the only real beach. Accompanied by the beats of the nearby Lazy Lizard pub you can snorkel or relax.

Gate of Lazy Lizard, Caye CaulkerThen it is a maximum of 10 minutes walk back to your hostel, while on the way you can order some ‘fry lobsta’.

Cleaning fish, Caye CaulkerWe felt much more at home on Caye Caulker, without all the hustle and bustle and nightclubs of San Pedro.

The people living here seemed more friendly and truly relaxed, not the pushy fake ‘relax, man, we just want your money’-attitude from San Pedro.





Here are some more pix of The Spit:

Lobster, Caye Caulker fastfoodBeach at The Spit, Caye CaulkerLazy Lizard art, Caye CaulkerThe pier at the spit, Caye Caulker

Lazy Lizard, Caye CaulkerTouring boat, Caye Caulker

Playing with Stingrays

Stingray alley, Caye CaulkerWe wanted to go on at least one snorkelling tour and took the popular one that would take us to two of the reefs and to the Stingray alley.

Stingray alley, Caye Caulker (2)The tour was great and we all enjoyed snorkelling through clouds of colourful fish and corals.

Beach view, Caye CaulkerThe special part was when we stopped at a shallow part, where stingrays up to several feet in diameter came up to us. You could touch them and even hold them which was wonderful.

Then of course: back to the hammock office and deciding which catch of the day we would eat…

Belizean houses, Caye CaulkerBeach grill, Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker office, BelizeView from the office, Caye CaulkerGo Slow, no hospital, Caye Caulker

Goodbye to my sister and niece, together alone again

Dawn in private plane, Caye CaulkerAfter spending nearly two weeks together, it was time to say goodbye.

To avoid the hassle and unfriendly crowds in Belize City, we decided it would be better if Margriet & Dawn used one of the small planes to get to the International airport. Besides, it would give them one more evening and night with us!

Go Slow sign, Caye CaulkerWe were surprised to see that as they were the only 2 persons flying, only a small Cessna showed up: a private plane!

Ivana in sea, Caye CaulkerWe said our goodbyes, not sure when and where we would see each other again…

We stayed another few days on the Island as we had to await for Jorge to come back from vacation, as our bikes were still stored at his place in Belize City.

But that was no hard thing to do, it was nice to have some extra time on the ‘Go Slow’ island, catching up with some work, swimming more and preparing mentally for the next part on the bike: down South through Belize towards Guatemala!

A final look at Caye Caulker: as always:

click to enlarge automagically, see the photos section for more pix of Belize and the islands!

Ivana at Sandy Lane guesthouse, Caye CaulkerFruity palms, Caye Caulker Street in Caye CaulkerStreet in Caye Caulker (2) Creole wisdom, Caye CaulkerCaye Caulker taxiRico Novelo, Caye CaulkerMain street, Caye Caulker (2)Caye Caulker head Main street, Caye Caulker (3)Go Slow, Caye Caulker Beach hotels, Caye CaulkerSide street, Caye Caulker Traffic jam, Caye CaulkerMain street, Caye Caulker (4)

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10 Responses to “Day 393-401, 8-16 Aug 09: The Islas Bonitas of Belize: chillin on San Pedro & Cay Caulker”
  1. cristi says:

    si mi querido mejor escritor ,esto es lo que me gusto mas”go slow”que maravilla cayo caulker es preciosa y si esta para cantarle UN VIAJE A LAS ISLAS CON HARRY KIKSTRA !

  2. Jelle says:

    Hi Harry and Ivana,

    After dinner with romke i realized I didn’t visit your blog for a long time! But still thinking and talking about you guys a lot! My son Maarten is only 9 years old but talking proudly on his dad’s friend who is doing those adventures…
    Is it just the light in the tropics or are the pictures different (enhanced? filter?). They look great. Nice recognizing Margriet as well. Not changed that much since “dr nassau” (a little bit more margriet maybe)
    Good luck, looking forward seeing you again.

    • Harry says:

      Mr King! Thanks for your comment, good to know you are still reading this 🙂
      Yes, I do edit all photos, currently in LightRoom (I actually created a special ‘La isla Bonita’ preset). That is one of the main reasons the blog is behind: as I shoot in RAW, I need to process them first.

      But the light on the islands is great as well 🙂 Say hi to Maarten & the rest of the family! Cheers from the tropics, H&I

      • Rob Lanting says:

        Hey Harry, jee wat een foto’s… paradijs zeg..

        Ongelovelijk wat jullie allemaal zien en meemaken, ik neem aan dat er een aantal nieuwe boeken voor je in het verschiet gaan liggen??
        Ik mail je even over het volgende, ik ben naar een Kilimanjaro presentatie geweest en kwam daar in contact met een aantal kerels die op hun 30ste allemaal naar Kilimanjaro samen willen gaan. Ik heb ze enthousiast gemaakt en ga binnenkort naar ze toe om mijn belevenissen van destijds te vertellen. Ik heb ze 7summits al aan de hand gedaan en ze hebben daarmee al contact gehad. Waarschijnlijk ga ik vaker dit soort kleinere presentaties houden over een aantal reizen die ik deed. Je zult er waarschijnlijk baat bij hebben maar ik vraag het toch maar even, kan ik jou naam en het bedrijf 7summits gewoon overal aanhalen en noemen en mijn ervaringen daarover vertellen?

        Heel veel succes in jullie trip verder!! We mailen nog..
        greetz Rob Lanting, Enschede

        • Harry says:

          Ha Rob,

          bedankt voor je comment! Natuurlijk is het prima om 7summits te noemen, graag zelfs!
          Ik ben altijd positief over de 7summits Expedities maar het is altijd veel beter als mijn klanten positief zijn 🙂

          Groetjes vanuit Colombia!

  3. Happy happy memories of Caye Caulker where I learned to scuba dive years ago…
    Man I need to get out on an adventure…

  4. andy schocken says:

    Hey guys! Looks pretty nice out there. Where are you in real time (as opposed to blog time)? I’m going to be in Nicaragua for new years. I’d love to meet up if you’ll be nearby.

  5. Anne says:

    I just spent a week in Belize (early Jan.) and read “The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw” after coming home – lots about the zoo lady. I was searching for some pics and found your wonderful travelogue. Terrific photos! I’ll be following you on Twitter!

  6. I miss Caye Caulker ! Realx days in the balcony, walking the sandy streets … snorqueling with colorful fish ! Ahhh !! This is where I want to be !!! La Isla Boniiiita !!!

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