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Cay Corker

Here you’ll find travel reports about Cay Corker. Discover travel destinations in Belize of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Day139

    After a relatively short and comfortable journey (6.5 hours yay!) We made our way to our main destination of Belize, an island just off the coast called Caye Caulker.
    As we arrived the water changed colour to a tropical turquoise and we saw palm trees lining the edge of the island. We started walking north up the island on the main road towards the direction of our hotel. There are no vehicles allowed on the island except for golf buggies and bicycles, so we started seeing them everywhere, along with lots of dogs. Everywhere you looked were lots of fun coloured bars, restaurants and hotels, often with swing seating and adverts of happy hour everywhere.
    After dumping our stuff and getting changed we went for a stroll and enjoyed exploring the island. It's not big at all so very easy to get around. We wandered up to the famous 'Split' where the south island is separated by the north after a hurricane divided the two. There was always a small channel for boats but the hurricane made it much wider, although still easy to swim across at roughly only 15 metres wide.
    By now we were very hungry after an early start (5am bus) so had lunch with a sea view and on some hanging swing seats. The food was delicious and we could feel ourselves relaxing and settling into island life! The day flew from here and we went and booked ourselves onto our full day snorkeling tour for the following day. Some of the snorkeling in this area is considered amazing as it's the second largest barrier reef in the world, so we were eager to get out in it. After booking our tour the man we booked it with said to stay with him on the beachside benches and have a beer or two. We ended up staying with Gerald for several hours and had a few rounds and great conversation. He is the brother in law to the owner ' Caveman' (of Caveman tours) and does all the bookings. He used to be a policeman but was medically signed off for a heart condition - which could be operated on but it won't be as it would cost him $10,000 dollars (!) So he just has to take each day as it comes. He also told us his wife was sick too, and she could also 'drop down any moment' because of her condition, a hynea. How incredibly humbling to us to hear conditions that could be treated for free at home are life threatening there. We didn't say of course, we couldn't be so unfair. Anyway it was a great evening and learnt lots about their island life. They also could not believe we don't really have guns in the UK. Culture differences are fascinating sometimes.

    The next day we went on our full day snorkeling tour. We were on the small boat of 8 people. Us and a group of friends from Israel. Firstly we went out to where the manatees graze and within minutes saw one coming up for air. It was so cool to see these large majestic animals. Sadly we couldn't get in with them but we enjoyed seeing one.
    Next we went through some choppy water and went to an area where fisherman clean their catch, because of this it attracts some larger marine animals such as stingrays and turtles. And I can tell you it really does! I jumped in and immediately I saw a giant stingray glide it's way through the sea grass under me, in fact every minute I'd see another large stingray. Amazing! Yet it got better, as I swam up to a fisherman's boat right there was a giant loggerhead turtle, it was huge! And so beautiful. It couldn't care less about me or the other people in the water and kept swimming around so close. At times I had to try and move to get out of it's way. In fact in one moment I had my head out of the water looking for Phil, when I felt very clearly the shell of the turtle touch my stomach...the turtle had swum right under me. I let out a little squeal in surprise and awe. That stop was a real bucket list moment.

    From here we went on to another well known spot called Shark Ray Alley. Similarly this is where fisherman used to come to clean their catch and this attached rays and sharks to the area, to which they rapidly grew and now live there permanently. As we arrived we started to see the tell tale signs of sharks with some fins out of the water. Lucky for me and my fear I had been reassured there are only really nurse sharks here which have no teeth, instead they use some sort of sucking motion to eat their food. One of our deckhands threw in some sardines and they went crazy sliding all over each other for it, then they told us to jump in! So we did it and got fairly close, it was very exciting to see from under the water. As they started to disipate it was quite a thrill having them swim underneath you as they swam away. We swam on to some nearby reef where we were told we'd see them more naturally, asleep on the reef. We found several and every time it would make me jump. Not from fear but surprise, as you'd be exploring coral and then a huge still shape would appear. Another marine creature we've seen wild and up close to tick off the list.

    From here we went straight to the Hol Chan marine reserve which is an area of protected reef to see more underwater life. We stopped on the boat for lunch then shortly after dived back in. Now this area has a channel that leads out to a deeper reef and waves crash close by. This in turn causes a strong rip tide so it was important we stayed with our guide and snorkeled as a group so not to get dragged out there. He did tell us people had drowned out there so they took the risks very seriously (that incident happened with a man who said he was a marine guide but had only ever done land tours... he had no idea what he was doing, very bad). Anyway some of our group were not very confident swimmers or snorkelers and decided to use life jackets. Even then they struggled and one girl had a freak out. At this point the guide said she should probably go back to the boat and she agreed. She was very slow and we were all tredding water waiting for her to be seen safely back. She didn't manage it and thankfully another boat came and picked her up. We were understanding, however she never said she was a poor swimmer when asked at the beginning of the tour, which was frustrating to the guide as it obviously it caused these problems. Finally we got moving and the guide was excellent, constantly diving down to show us things, tell us the names and guide us round. He even 'snake charmed' a moray eel out from it's lair for us to see, awesome!
    We snorkeled for around 45 minutes to an hour and really enjoyed still seeing so many new things.

    From here we went to our final snorkeling spot called Coral Gardens. I was the first one in and practically landed on a nurse shark! Eek. Thankfully it swam quickly away but was very cool to see again. From here only us and another couple got back in and we explored close to the boat. By the now the sea was a little rough so we didn't want to venture far. We still saw new corals and things of interest so it was a nice way to end.

    Finally the tour stopped on the other side of the island to see a seahorse reserve and some Tarpon fish. At the reserve you could look down into the water from a pier, and see both brown and yellow tiny seahorses clinging onto ropes and debris purposely placed in the water. They are adorable and we loved looking at them. Back on the boat just upstream is where Tarpon fish live, huge fish that were about 3 foot long, but can get big enough to be 300 pounds heavy. We had some sardines to feed then and they leap out of the water to snatch it out of your hand. I did it once but it made me scream so let Phil do it several times instead. I think you could easily mistake these fish for small sharks. We also fed some greedy pelicans who stopped by.
    This marked the end of the tour and we returned back to land exhausted but thrilled with the range of wildlife we'd seen that day.

    Over the following days we took the time to wind down and 'go slow' as the Belize people say. We slept, ate and swam the next few days away. Also enjoying meeting up with some fellow travellers we'd meet on route. One evening we found a secret spot of the other side of the island to watch a fabulous sunset. As we were sat with our feet in the water we saw movement. Right there was a small striped stingray gliding around. The water was so clear you could see everything, and not long after the ray we saw more aquatic life including a very large hermit crab (which Phil tried to pick up but chickened out...it did have big claws) and other crabs and fish. It was awesome to have found this spot and have this underwater display all to ourselves.

    On our final day we went kayaking with a lady who'd lived on the island for 20 years and knew all about the mangrove habitat, that Phil was particularly keen to learn more about. We hopped on to our kayaks, including a tag along in the form of her adorable dog who sat on my lap most of the way. Very cute. We learnt about the algae, and even ate some (!) As well as all there is to know about mangroves. Again we saw the Tarpons and looked at the seahorses again. This time seeing many more including some pregnant ones up close. We continued to kayak including crossing the Split, and seeing some of the more wild north island and hearing about how the island has changed.
    Truthfully the island doesn't have the charm it once did years ago and we felt that even when we arrived. We really enjoyed it, but the very high expectations we had were probably more appropriate for some years ago when the island was more quaint. Suddenly big hotels are popping up and the island is growing too fast. Hopefully it won't loose all it's charm in the upcoming years.

    Before long it was 7am one morning and it was time to get the water taxi to Mexicos border and say goodbye to this unique and beautiful island.

    Beth
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  • Day12

    Relaxing day today and these are some of my favourite days.

    Walked around town stopping in various spots just staring at the ocean - various photos of my chill zones attached.

    Got a chicken egg and cheese flapjack from a little place run by two women for breakfast. So cheap and so filling it was breakfast and lunch.

    Had such a lovely day. For dinner I went back to the street vendor and then for dessert I wanted to try the key lime pie from a women who sells slices of homemade cakes and desserts outside het home but she had sold out. Disappointed! But good for her!Read more

  • Day175

    We had a lazy morning, munched some granola and sat outside reading. We headed out to get Anna her iced coffee, me a not great coconut and a fruit smoothie to share (4,5,5B). It was absolutely roasting and we were hot and sweaty when we returned so jumped off the dock into the sea.

    After hiding in the aircon for a bit we headed to the bakery for a cinnamon roll and a ‘cookie’ which was sort of shortbread with sprinkles and jam. Then we settled at Sip N Dip, a colourful dock with seating and ladders so you can pop in and out of the water to cool off. Anna tried 2 more beers whilst I had 2 ice creams - one was chocolate fudge brownie which was absolutely amazing. Once the sun had gone, we went home to change and then came out for the sunset at the Split which wasn't great and the sand flies were out in force as there was no wind.

    We went to Aladdin’s for dinner and had lamb and falafel wraps, iced tea and sour sop (a nice local fruit smoothie) for 41B. It was probably the best falafel wrap I've had on all our travels so far...absolutely perfect! The poor lady then told us how her ex boyfriend was trying to destroy her business / life and she had to go to court soon - Latino men don't seem to make great partners from what we've heard. As we were having dinner we saw a bright red, huge, full moon rise out of the sea! It slowly turned to orange and then normal moon colour as it rose higher. An amazing sight I don't think I've seen before.

    Quote of the day from a rasta man: Slow down or you'll get a speeding ticket! Hannah will attest to the fact that we walk pretty slowly these days. We don't seem to be able to walk down the main strip without everyone wanting to talk to us. It already feels like we know half the people here and has such a lovely vibe. Definitely my favourite place so far.
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  • Day11

    A fantastic day snorkeling. Whilst the reef wasn't very colourful the fish, giant sea turtles, sting ray and nurse sharks that we swam with were incredible! A real highlight.

    Wish I had had an underwater camera but on the other hand that would take you away from being in the momentl.

    This time with the sea turtles you were really close in crystal clear water and I got to do a mermaid dance (over under and beside it) with one of them as it swam around. I had to make sure I didn't touch it. Such docile and beautiful creatures. Although I did see one get very annoyed with a smaller mate knocking it until it swam away! I guess we all have days where alone time is required!

    There were quite a few sting rays as well but the turtles got my attention every time!

    I was so absorbed everyone else was back on the boat and one of the crew had to come and get me!

    Next was the sharks and how exciting was that! There were so many of them and schools of colourful fish swam around you. Once again could have stayed there for ages.

    We also saw a ship wreck which was interesting - apparently it was carrying cement power and in a storm it got wet and the extra weight sank the ship!

    We even saw Dorie from Finding Nemo and the elusive angel fish which is on the Belize dollar.

    At night we went for a stroll down the main street and for dinner had a burrito from a street vendor where all the locals were going. $1.75 and it was huge with lots of filling.

    Next I decided I would check out the local reggie bar which opens at midnight! I had arranged to meet some of the group after they finished having drinks at the Sports Bar. Yes the name pretty much sums it up and its for tourists only altough the young Belize men hang out there as well then move onto the reggie bar.

    The Belize men are very 'attentive' and marriage proposals are common. And if you can't get picked up at a bar in under a minute then there must be something wrong with you.

    So we get to the reggie bar and every drunk backbacker who is staying on the island is there. Lots of dancing and they had the cool bar swings.
    I lasted about half an hour! But at least I checked it out, had a drink, a dance and declined three belizian men. Not bad for half an hour.

    The little shack was snorkeling headquarters and the big plastic bottle contains a stable on the island - rum punch! Lastly thats my travel buddy from the tour at the street vendor!
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  • Day114

    To say we went to Belize is a lie. In fact, we're doing our best to avoid it. We've been warned of dangers many times and it only takes a quick scroll through the local rag to make that assertion yourself. Instead, we'll stick to the touristy hot spot of Caye Caulker.

    Caye Caulker is a tiny island off the east coast of Belize, barely above sea level and  protected from the trades by the mesoamerican coral reef. The surrounding waters are super shallow, barely deep enough for the ferries and not even deep enough to swim! It's got that caribbean island feel. Time is just a distant concept, happy hour is every hour and everybody is your 'man' or 'bro' especially if you like green or white.

    We spent four nights here, getting in some serious feet up time. Our first two nights were in Pause Hostel, which clearly should be spelt Paws as it was an animal sanctuary for birds, cats and dogs - dozens of all of the above. It was a feral place; the grounds smelt like cat piss, the ocean, showers and bathroom wreeked of human waste, the room was filthy and our beds still had the previous occupants sheets on when we arrived (at night). The bathroom was disgusting, there was no hot water, the toilet had no seat and finding tp was a difficult ask. It was humorously awful until we discovered that a raw faecies were being discharged directly into the same place we were swimming. That was the straw the broke the camel's back, so we moved elsewhere.  M&N Hotel felt like a luxury hotel based on our previous experience, infinitely better with lovely staff and not only towels, but fresh towels daily. What a treat! Not to mention it was cheaper than Pause!

    We spent our days on the island wandering the streets, unwittingly in search of the finest cheap dining. There are a surprising number of bars and restuarants with quite a variation in price range and style of food. Undoubtedly best at breakfast was the local Fry Jacks hut. Deep fried corn bread/tortilla stuffed with your choice of chicken, ham, cheese, beans or eggs for a mere $1.50 US. A great start to every day! We also took delight in the local grill with unlimited rum, pulled pork buns, key lime pie and a variety of bakery treats enforced by the rising king of the donut, Scott.

    The highlight of Caye Caulker would have to be the snorkelling. We took a full day trip with the Caveman and were not disappointed. It was an eight stop affair including swims with turtles, sharks, stingrays, eagle rays and plenty of fish and coral. The biggest prize (and main reason for the trip) proved too elusive on the day - no manatees for us. I was gutted, I've always wanted to swim with these creatures but like Caveman said "you can't control mother nature!" Our final two stops were to feed the tarpon (big fish) and the kite birds. Our guides were young and fun and very efficient which was a welcome change from some, who treat you like you can't tie your own shoe. There were plenty of options for snorkel tours as there's not too much else to do in the island. The interesting thing was that the reef extents from Cancun almost to Panama but they all snorkel the same spots. Surely there's some hidden gems they're not showing the tourists?

    Caye Caulker is also one of the closest ports from which to visit the Blue Hole - a giant circular depression inside the lagoon. I would have loved to dive this or even fly over it, but at $120US it was too hard to justify. The woes of sticking to a budget...

    MERC got up and running again on the island. Still working on any measure of base fitness, I was stoked for some suuuuper flat running. Unfortunately, the entire length of the island can't have been more than about 2.5km somewhat limiting explorative distances. An intervals session was proposed at the local soccer field and for the first time in MERC history, appeared successful despite a barrage of verbal insults from the local kids. The second run more than circumnavigated the island, and almost ended in disaster for me, coming through a bout of the old Delhi belly. Almost. Things are looking up for the club!

    All in all it was a solid few days rest on the island. It took some adjusting to go back to english speaking, with accidental 'Holàs' slipping out on occasion. I'm sure, however, it'll be harder to go back to Spanish.

    We caught the ferry back to the mainland  (Belize City) which was surprisingly well run, except for the fact it was overbooked and we had to sit on the floor. From the we split Belize in two, bussing five hours due west across the border and into Guatemala. I was humoured by the emigration agent playing games on his phone whilst processing people, barely bothering to batan eyelid. Love it. We'll spend the night in Flores and set out to explore Tikal tomorrow. Fingers crossed for no rain!

    For now our biggest conundrum is whether or not to visit Honduras. Suggestions welcome!
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