We love Belize. We went to Caye Caulker on a recommendation and like all islands, it has a singular vibe. We promptly boarded a catamaran with a crew of Rastafarians and set sail for remote cayes. This 3 day trip was pretty unreal; swimming, snorkeling, camping, and playing drinking games with our fellow travelers. Bottlenose dolphins swam alongside the boat in the most stunning turquoise water I have ever seen. I wrote nonsense like SUN SUN RUM RUM WOW WOW in my little field notes travelogue. A fisherman handed me a rosy shell that I swam back to the boat like a trophy and we all ate the conch with a squeeze of lime. I will never forget encountering a giant spotted eagle ray in a shallow sea grass bed. And looking up at the sky to see shooting stars from a deserted island is truly exceptional. I would return to Tobacco or South Water Caye for a longer stay in a heartbeat.
The sail ended in the town of Placencia, where one of the 2 streets is a sidewalk famous for its narrowness. We stayed the night and took a bus north to Belize City along the Hummingbird Highway that passes through lush inland valleys. We must go back and explore Cayo. We made it back to Caye Caulker and I'm so glad I didn't line up any hotels in advance. We were able to walk around and check out a bunch of places — we saw some duds but landed in some real winners: a modernist guesthouse, a cabana with an outstanding terrace on the roof, and a sweet sanctuary near the Split, built around a banyan tree. It felt decadent to have some little luxuries because our lodgings up to this point had been fairly rustic. The food was good here too (rice, beans, plantains, always) but surprisingly never spicy! Even the hot sauce isn't spicy. Apply liberally to your fry jacks and johnny cakes. Plentiful smoothie stands, and the ubiquitous lager here is Belikin, which we tired of but wrote a jingle for, as we do with all national beers in countries we visit.
We did some of the most astonishing snorkeling of our lives on a day trip to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and surrounding areas along the reef. Like, I can't express the amount of sea turtles, rays, nurse sharks, and myriad other fishes we swam with (they are used to human presence because they're protected there) and the coral gardens were so good, our minds were blown.
We found Belize to be very approachable. The language is English (yet we hardly came across any Americans) and it felt very welcoming. One thing I wondered about a lot, being on an island and especially aware of resource use, was investment in renewables. Why are diesel generators supplying all the energy? This caye seems like an ideal place for developers, hoteliers or whatever, to set up solar and wind. Dear rich people who also like Belize, sustainable decisions would succeed here.