Snorkeling with sharks and rays on Caye Caulker

I visited sunny Caye Caulker twice during my travels in Central America. I loved it so much I had to go back for some more of the slow going lifestyle.

The first time I visited Caye Caulker (early September 2018) I stayed at the ‘Cat Hostel’ Pause. If you are used to staying in hostels in South- and Central America this is like any other hostel. Except there are free kayaks to use, tidewater, and many cats! I’d say, if you hate cats please don’t go here. The cats are rescues and it’s their home. There might be around 70 cats, but they are never all out at the same time.

Some of the cats and free kayaks at Pause Hostel

Other than tidewater reaching my doorstep to my cabin and getting flea bites from sitting on a cushion on a chair on the bridge this place was great for a few nights.

There are, although, plenty of other hostels to choose from, and the second time there I stayed at the Go Slow Guesthouse. Both places had their pros and cons. Pros for ‘Pause’ was definitely the free kayaks (although I didn’t use them – well because of the crocodile that resides near Caye Caulker 🙂 ), the location on the beach and the dock/bridge from where you can watch the sunset!

Go Slow Guesthouse had free bikes and mosquito free hammocks. As a solo traveler, I preferred Go Slow, as I stayed in the mixed dorms and met loads of people. When I first arrive on Caye Caulker I had my own dorm at the Pause Hostel, which I thought was better at the time.

Spend your afternoon at the Split, enjoying a rum drink or cold beer while watching the sunset

If you plan on spending your days at the Split with drinks, I recommend that you stay at a hostel in the northern end of the Caye. Caye Caulker is a fairly small island, and you can easily walk to the center on foot.


Koko King perfection

If you prefer a perfect white sandy beach with reggae music and hammocks, follow this advice and you will have a day (or several!) you will never forget:

Follow the road from the docks of where you arrived with the Belize Express water ferry (road called Calle del Sol), continue straight to the west side of the island. There is a ferry dock with a sign for Koko King Beach.

Front row sunbeds, the restaurant and bar at the Koko King beach

Check the schedule for the water taxi and read the rules. You can take the ferry for free to the north island of Caye Caulker. To return for free, you must spend 25 BZD at Koko King. Which is easy, if you rent a sunbed or chair or an area with beds, shade, and hammock (ideal if you got completely burnt the day before from an adventurous snorkeling trip!).

Furthermore, you can buy delicious lunches there, and not to mention the rum drinks! All while sitting on a platform by the water. This spot is perfect to watch the sunset. There are even tubes to soak in the water and swings from where you can see the sunset.

Be sure to check when the last ferry leaves, if you are prepared to leave this relaxed place 😉.


Full day snorkeling trip

I booked a full-day snorkeling trip, which lasted about 5 hours and had around 4 stops. I went with the company French Angel Expedition due to good recommendations, price and how the staff were in person. In high season it might be good to book at last a day before, but there are lots of different diving companies that offer more or less the same trip.

My focus was to be on a boat with as few people as possible, and we ended up being only four people that day, and what a day we had!

The first stop we made was by a manatee that was hanging out on the seabed. Then, as we were swimming above it, the manatee came to the surface for fresh air! That was an incredible experience.

The next stop was by a green sea turtle, but we had to keep up since it was swimming very fast! The sea was teeming with beautiful corals, hundreds of species of fish, some Nurse sharks and Moray eels.

Swimming with a harmless Nurse shark

One of the stops included feeding rays and nurse sharks (no kidding!), this was nice since it’s completely safe to swim with these animals. It’s not very Eco-friendly to feed the animals, but on a budget, it’s hard to come around a trip without feeding the animals.

I had ordered a waterproof phone case to try and take underwater photos, and this was my best shot (see pic above). As you can see, it’s not of any good quality despite I have a decent camera in my Huawei phone (P10).

For the 65 USD I paid for these five hours, including water, Hol Chan National park fee (you get a bracelet for the day), lunch, (a severe sun burn on my back), snorkeling gear and many stops along the way. The guides tell you about the fish and corals, and they might challenge you to free dive! Only do this if you don’t have issues with your ears since you need to even out the pressure.


Pro tip

Bring an underwater camera and make sure you apply sun block at least half an hour before going into the water. Otherwise it will wash off immediately. A t-shirt helps, but only your shoulders/upper back 🙂


As a new thing I will make sure that my posts contain some bird related material. Here you go :). I hope you enjoyed my post about Caye Caulker and it’s amazingly laid back lifestyle.

// Rie

Yellow-crowned night heron
Laughing gull

6 thoughts on “Snorkeling with sharks and rays on Caye Caulker

  1. I think you must have a lot courage for snorkeling with sharks eheh love to see all those cats 🙂 happy travels and read you soon 🙂 cheers from Portugal, PedroL

  2. Pingback: Hostels and hammocks in Hopkins | A traveling female ornithologist

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