Ticking Off the Bucket List

Risk your life trying to get to Caye Caulker, Belize. It’s worth it!

By on February 20, 2013

There have been four times in my life when I thought I was going to die, literally.

Two near drownings as a child, one very scary charter plane flight during a thunder and lightning storm for work and most recently during our trip to Belize.

We actually thought we were lucky scoring one of the last standby spots on a water taxi from Chetumal in Mexico, which would take us on an hour and half journey to the island of Caye Caulker in Belize.

Getting the tickets is where the elation ended and the waiting began.

After an hour past departure time, the Mexican army showed up.

Our smiles were wiped from our faces when told to line all our bags up on deck for border security.

Authorities and drug dogs checking our bags at the water taxi in Chetumal, Mexico

Of course we didn’t have anything in our bags that would arise suspicion but you can’t help hold your breath when the drug dogs pass your luggage, just praying they don’t sit down.

Some fellow travellers we met celebrating the end of the world in Playa Del Carmen, weren’t so lucky.  Their bags were searched and the hippy trinkets, natural remedies and skull crystal they had packed raised suspicions and further delayed our travel.

Eventually they were free to go but then the Captain raised concerns that the boat was overbooked with too much luggage and too many people.  Despite this, given the water taxi was the only one departing that day, they packed everyone and everything on board and set sail.

Finally we were off and our smiles returned, momentarily.

Our smiles returned as we set off for Belize on the water taxi

We opted to sit up top with about ten other people.  I think there would have been about 40 people underneath.

At first the choppy conditions were funny, passengers getting smashed by waves brought about nervous laughter all round.

It was when the boat started really swaying and the deckhands were running to each side of the boat, hanging off the sides to counterbalance it, that we knew we were in some trouble.

Suddenly the nose of the water taxi dove into the current and it tipped at what felt like a ninety degree angle.

At that point I was hanging off the side, leg in air, ready to jump and thinking even if I leaped as far as I could, the boat was going to come down on top of me.

In a moment that felt like a lifetime, the boat corrected itself which gave us time to collect our thoughts.

I immediately turned to Brad and asked what should we do if it happens again.  It did, but not as bad.

Nobody said anything for the rest of the journey, cold, scared and silently praying we would get to land safely.

Sunset brought about better conditions and a calm inner peace that we would be okay.

Sunset from Mexico to Belize

We didn’t arrive on Caye Caulker until well after dark.  It was when the Captain gave a ‘Hail Mary’ when we docked that the seriousness of the journey really dawned on me.  It also became the talk of the island over the next few days.

Caye Caulker is an amazingly colourful and relaxing island paradise off the coast of Belize.  Belize and the island are also English speaking which for a country nestled between Spanish speaking Central and South Americas, is truly a mind trip.  Belize used to be ruled by Britain but is now an independent country which accepts both Belize and US dollars.

Caye Caulker, Belize

Its characters will intrigue you, food delight you and its activities will keep you busy for hours.  We stayed four days, but could have stayed many more.

Colourful characters of Caye Caulker

I definitely recommend just ‘hanging out’ at the Lazy Lizard and The Split where tourists and locals alike mingle to sunbake, eat and drink beside the aqua blue calm waters while others take advantage of snorkelling, kayaking and tubing.  It is here that days turn into afternoons and evenings very quickly.

The Split, Caye Caulker
Tubing at The Split, Caye Caulker

One of my favourite memories down by The Split on Caye Caulker was becoming a wedding crasher.  As it turned out, the couple getting married were from Noosa in Queensland.

We became the closest friends they had to home and gladly accepted an invitation to their reception which included several other travellers they had met on their journey.

We became wedding crashers on Caye Caulker

We were lucky enough to be there at Christmas time. No shoes, no shirt, no problems.

And one of Brad’s best memories, he will tell you, is swimming with sharks.

In just a half day snorkelling tour, we experienced moray eels, barracudas and many sharks and sting rays.

Snorkelling off Caye Caulker
Snorkelling Shark-Ray Alley off Caye Caulker

Despite the rough beginning, Caye Caulker was worth the harrowing journey getting there.

It is definitely one island paradise I will return to one day.

Caye Caulker is the perfect place to relax and unwind


  1. captain ramsey
    February 21, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    from what i understand of this story,the boat ride seen like someting that happens on a rough day at sea,perfectly normal.

  2. captain ramsey
    February 21, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    off tomorrow on the 3 day trip,looking forward to it!!

  3. Zoe x
    February 22, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    No it wasn’t normal, the boat was overloaded, passengers underneath were screaming, staff commented when we got to land that it was far from normal. I don’t know what boat trips you’ve been on but I certainly have never thought my life was in danger before being on a boat in rough conditions and I’ve been on a few.

    I am sure this is a rare occurance though, all the locals said they’d never heard it being so bad and word of mouth spreads quickly on the island. Have a great trip though, you’ll have a blast!

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