Walking along Caye Caulker’s coastline, wherever you look the scenery is pleasing to the eye. Along the village’s front street, an expansive soft-sand beach extends towards the multi-hued aquamarine sea. The sea breeze ruffles the plentiful coconut palm fronds and cools your skin. It’s easy to be enchanted by the beauty, charm, and tranquility of this tiny Caribbean island.
Vivid purple, raucous orange, and cool lime kiosks line the packed-sand street. Funky beach bars—with names like Lazy Lizard and Mara’s Sip & Dip—tempt you to drop in for a frosty Belikin beer, or a tropical cocktail. Strolling past the Ragamuffins kiosk, a friendly tour guide invites you to sail inside the protected reef, to a pristine caye, or to join him in search of shy manatees.
“Go Slow” signs, scattered around the island, are a constant reminder of the island’s motto. Locals and tourists walk leisurely along the village streets or bike to their destination. Once in a while a golf cart passes by.
This little caye can cast an irresistible spell. Paulette, now in her 70s, had spent years planning to retire in France. But everything changed on her first trip to Caye Caulker. She recounts, “I got off the boat, stood on the dock, and instantly knew I would live on Caye Caulker.”
When she returned to Minneapolis, her friends tried to dissuade her. But she set her affairs in order, packed up, and moved to Caye Caulker with Amelie, her canine companion. She’s lived happily on the island for over two years. A professional artist, she paints, exhibiting her art at The Red Flower Gallery, which she owns.
About 2,000 people live on Caye Caulker, which is five miles in length and a mile wide. According to one long-term expat, less than 100 expats actually live on the island year round. But during the high season—December through April—the snowbirds descend. That’s when the expat population can reach as high as 500.
During the last 10 years this island has become quite popular…but it’s remained quintessentially Caribbean. Caye Caulker offers more amenities and options than ever but it hasn’t succumbed to the over-development and gross commercialization common on other Caribbean islands. You won’t find cookie cutter chain stores and hotels here. No cruise line visitors hit the shore of this little caye.
The entire village can be covered on foot in less than an hour. Explore further afield and you’ll find neighborhoods where homes are being built on the south and north sides of the island.
Beachfront homes and condos for sale here are usually snapped up quickly. Currently, a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo on the beach is on offer for $275,000. For those who prefer to build their own a home, off-beach lots start as low as $25,000 in the Bahia area. You can build a concrete home starting at $100 per square foot for a basic finish.
If you’d like to give Caye Caulker a test drive, long-term rentals start at $1,000 a month but if you are on the ground you may get lucky and find one of the deals for between $600 and $700 a month.
Living on Caye Caulker, you can’t help but appreciate the natural surroundings. Frigate birds hang suspended above the sea, coasting in the breeze. Foamy white waves crash on the barrier reef, less than a mile offshore.
A short walk to the back lagoon and the scene is totally different, but equally beautiful. The sea is utterly still, its surface smooth as glass. It’s a perfect place to swim or to cool off.
Swimming, snorkeling, diving, fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, bird watching, and gardening are all favorite pastimes here. It’s equally pleasant to just lie in a hammock, book in hand, in the divine breeze.