Whether to visit Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker is a question that every travellers who goes to Belize faces. Both lie in the Caribbean Sea just a few miles from each other and the mainland of Belize, but they are a world apart from each other in many ways. It’s a tricky one as both have their merits, and it really comes down to personal taste, and perhaps budget. Some people will defend the smaller Caye Caulker for its laid back atmosphere, while others will push for the nightlife and things to do on Ambergris Caye. Here’s everything you need to know to make the right decision for you.
Caye Caulker is the smallest of the two, at just 5 miles long and 1 mile wide, though in parts just100 metres wide or so. When you arrive on the island, you have a couple of choices for getting to your hotel – walk or golf buggy taxis. No vehicles are allowed on the island. During the high season, there are around 40 little hotels and guest houses, as well as a couple of dozen restaurants and bars, which close fairly early. It’s got a laid back atmosphere, with tiny little beaches flanked by shallow and calm aquamarine waters. Though it’s 5 miles long, much of the island is inaccessible due to dense mangroves. The island buildings are colourful wooden Caribbean shacks. Days can be spent on the little spits on beach, swimming or snorkelling in the ocean, paddle boarding or sea kayaking, or eating in the local restaurants. Towards the top of main island, there is ‘the split’, a break in the island caused by a hurricane in the 70’s. There are only 1,500 or so permanent residents on the island, though this swells with tourists during the high season.
Ambergris Caye is much larger, with a population 10 times the size of Caye Caulker. It stretches for 25 miles and is up to a mile wide. The main town of San Pedro is much bigger than its Caye Caulker counterpart with hundreds of hotels and guest houses on offer. There are also countless bars and restaurants offering everything from Belizean to Italian cuisine. Ambergris Caye doesn’t have any cars either, but unlike Caye Caulker, the distances can be far, so it’s worth hiring a golf buggy to get around. Ambergris Caye is much more built up with large concrete buildings. The clubs and bars teem with tourists that spill out onto the beach and offer live music and cold drinks.
Both cayes offer access to the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest reef in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, so this shouldn’t sway your decision. In conclusion, if you are looking for a quiet holiday in a more charming location, and don’t mind the lack of beaches or the limited variety of restaurants and bars, Caye Caulker is your island. If more choice for restaurants and nightlife is important, and you don’t mind the quicker pace, later nights, and noise, then stay on Ambergris Caye.
To visit either Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye, or any other part of Belize, call or travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.