Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Sunrise/Sunset on Caye Caulker

One of the top activities on Caye Caulker is watching the sunrise and sunset.


I’d like to pretend that we are such cool people, that we purposefully got up to watch the sunrise. This was not the case. We had a tour on the mainland, and needed to catch the first water taxi of the day. We arrived to the water taxi dock to find that it wasn’t open yet. We noticed people here and there meandering to the waterfront; some carrying fancy cameras and tripods. Yuma’s Hostel, which looked like a great place to stay if you’re on a backpackers' budget, had guests lined along the balcony. 

We realized that people were up and out to watch the sunrise. Since we had time to kill, we settled down at a vacant picnic table to witness the first rays of sunlight dance across the water.  

It was an excellent way to begin what would turn out to be an amazing day. 

I’m happy that we got to experience the sunrise. We should probably plan to do it more often in our future travels.

There is something about physically watching the sun awaken that really puts the fact that you are beginning a new day, a day that is completely unique, a single day that will come and go, a day you will never have again, into perspective. 


We experienced the sunset two ways while on Caye Caulker. 

The Fun Way

The Split is a famous spot on Caye Caulker. It has calm waters, which are perfect for swimming and snorkeling. A bar called The Lazy Lizard, 

provides an expanse of docks with perfectly placed tables, that make an ideal spot for viewing the sunset.

The Split is the happening place to be at sunset.

Prior to our trip, I read several blog posts and reviews that complained that The Split was crazy, noisy, and raucous. I’m not sure if we just happened to be there during a calmer time, or if the people writing the reviews had never accidentally stumbled into the Santa Pub Crawl in Philadelphia, but the scene at The Split seemed pretty tame to us.  People were just genuinely having a good time. There was corn-hole to play. One night there was salsa music, and a couple got up to showed off some impressive dance moves. 

Everyone was smiling, chatting, laughing, but no one appeared to be overly inebriated. There were no crazy shenanigans of any kind.

The Lazy Lizard offered half-priced sunset drinks. Of course we had to get their signature Lizard Juice. When we asked the bartender what was in it, she laughed and replied,
“Rum, rum, and rum.” 

I’m still not sure what attributed to the drink’s neon green color.

The Lazy Lizard is also the place where you can find restrooms, located in their own, separate, building. The first time I went to use the restroom I thought, this should be interesting, but I was surprised by how clean the ladies room was (Shannon said the men’s room was not quite as clean). In one of the stalls I read a note that said, “I enjoyed puking in this bathroom.” That's quite the endorsement.

For two nights in a row, Lizard Juices in hand, we had no trouble finding a couple of free spots on the dock. 

While we were hanging out on one of the nights, we saw a stingray jump out of the water. He jumped so high, there was a second or two of hang-time in the air before he fell back into the water. It was totally awesome! 

There was a nice comradery amongst the sunset watchers. 

It was a great celebration of a day well spent and a hopeful night filled with good food and good friends.

The Contemplative Way

On the backside of the island (around where Terry’s Grill is located), there are some spots where the sunset can be watched. There are no drinks, or music, there are still people there, but less of them. 

It’s a place to quietly contemplate the ending of a day as opposed to celebrating it. A place to think about if you made the most of the hours you were given, and a place to admire the artistry of nature.

We divided our time. We watched the sunset twice at The Split, and twice at the backside beach area. If you are on the island, I recommend doing both as each offers its own unique experience.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

IL Pellicano-Caye Caulker

After a few days of seafood and chicken, we wanted pasta. We had a restaurant in mind. We passed it every night. Of course that restaurant's day off happened to be the night we wanted to go there. 

We walked around trying to see if another cuisine would pique our interest, but still we wanted pasta. I had not planned to go to IL Pellicano, as I knew already that it was considered the fanciest restaurant on the island. We walked by the menu, figuring that it wouldn't hurt to take a look. The menu looked pretty good. Hungry, and in need of pasta, we decided to visit the fanciest restaurant on Caye Caulker.

The atmosphere was lovely. Foliage, music, and mood lighting, made for a nice, romantic evening

There was a musician playing acoustic guitar. We started playing a fun game called, what song is he playing now? I only guessed one that Shannon didn't know. Shannon knew a lot that I didn't know.

We started our meal with a caprese salad. It was tasty.

Then we finally got the pasta that we were craving.

I got the spinach pasta with mushrooms and peas. It was served in a cream sauce. 

Shannon got one of his favorites, lasagna. Both entrees were good. 

Shannon wasn't feeling dessert, but I couldn't help but get a little tiramisu. 

Everything we ate was satisfying. The pasta and other ingredients were nice and fresh. It just felt a bit strange. If not for the palm trees, Il Pellicano could have been any restaurant at home. It felt a bit like we were somehow cheating, like the time in Panama when we went to TGI Friday's (in my defense it was when the U.S. took Oreo Madness off of the menu, but at the time Panama still had it. We just went for the Madness, I swear). 

Given that it's a little more expensive than other Caye Caulker restaurants,I started thinking that Il Pellicano wasn't a place for budget backpackers, when a group of backpackers arrived.  They appeared to be smaller groups who converged to enjoy dinner together. The small groups started going around the table, telling the story about how they met. One duo met at a deplorable bungalow accommodation. I didn't catch which country it was. The girl had some sort of debacle that involved gross fly paper. The gentleman helped her, they bonded over how terrible the bungalows were, and they have been traveling together ever since. I wished our meal wasn't at its end, because I wanted to hear all of the stories. "How I Met My Travel Partner," would make an excellent travel anthology.

I think that Il Pellicano is a great choice for a romantic dinner, and/or for travelers who maybe aren't adventurous eaters. It's good tasting, familiar, Italian food. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

We Eat A Lot of Ice Cream-Belize Edition

For being a small island, Caye Caulker had a surprising amount of ice cream choices. There were so many choices, there were many left untasted. 

The Creamery

This place certainly lived up to its name, the ice cream was incredibly creamy. Just how I love my ice cream. 

I had the Chunky Monkey, and Shannon had the Mocha Chip. 

The inside is tight, but there is a nice little porch outside with cushioned seating. 

Verdict: This was my second favorite, but Shannon's third. 

Gelato Italiano

First, this place won major points for atmosphere. The porch spreads around the back, with a seating area that looked out over the water. It's a place to sit and really savor your gelato.

There were some great flavors. It was almost impossible to choose. I got one scoop of pistachio, and one scoop of cherry. Shannon got one scoop of cherry, and a scoop of marscarpone. The gelato was super creamy, and the flavors were bold. There were lots of chunks of fresh cherries in the cherry. It might be the best cherry flavored ice cream treat I have had thus far. 

Verdict: This was number one for both of us. 

Scoop D s 

This was a cute little ice cream place. 

They had swings as seats, though we didn't use them since we used it as more of a hit and walk. 

I got the Peanut Butter, 

while Shannon got Mint Chocolate Chip. 

The ice cream here was a harder, icy ice cream, and not as creamy as the other two.

Verdict: This was number three on my list, and Shannon's second favorite. 

If you like ice cream, Caye Caulker is a good destination. I wish we were able to try a few more places, especially the place that advertised sweet corn ice cream, but overall I was pleasantly happy with the places we picked. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Cave Tubing in Belize

I see you rolling your eyes. You know who you are. You're the one saying,

"Cave tubing, really? Isn't that the most touristy thing you can do in Belize?"

Yes, yes it is, but this is the Obligatory Blog, so it seems only appropriate to do the obligatory thing you do in Belize.

After flying through the trees on ziplines, we settle back into the van, and make our way to the cave tubing site.

We change into our swimsuits in the changing area. We then put our bags back into the van to be watched over by our driver. 

We pick up our tubes, and began the hike to the caves. Though it is a leisurely hike, it would be difficult for someone with a mobility issue. 

Oscar, our guide from Cavetubing.bz, stops us along the way to show us the plants that are still used as medicine, or to point out some wildlife. He tells us the story of a once beautiful, nearby resort, that is now abandoned. 

It is only at the end of our river float that Oscar reveals that he smelled a jaguar (they apparently have a distinct odor) during our hike. He didn't tell us at the time because he didn't want to scare us.

We set down our tubes, and enter a cave by foot. Knowledge about caves is dispensed, and we get to hear and see a few bats. 

Oscar gives us a chance to vote, majority rules. Since we aren't on a strict time schedule, we can go to the normal tube launch spot, or we can hike an extra fifteen minutes to an alternate launch point, giving us the ability to float through two caves instead of just one. The vote is 6:1 in favor of the alternate launch point (one of the young girls from the Iowa family we were paired with did not fancy an extra fifteen minute hike). 

It's the kind of site that leaves you breathless. 

The pictures turned out nice, but I promise they do not do the color of the water justice. 

The limestone creates the magical, aqua-blue water. 

After taking a few photos on the dock, we launch into the water. 

The tubes have bottoms, and backs, so the only part of you that really gets wet are your feet and hands. 

Our group gets tethered together, allowing Oscar to guide us like a floating train. 

It's interesting floating deeper into the darkness, watching the cave's entrance grow smaller and smaller. 

We have head lamps, so we can easily see the cave's interior formations. There are times when Oscar encourages us to turn off the lamps, plunging us into complete blackness. We float silently, able to better feel the chill of the air, and hear the drips and drops without our sight. The cave's size is immense, so there is never a feeling of claustrophobia. 

We emerge from the first cave into a fun bit of rapids, then float our way into the second cave. 

The second cave is larger, and longer than the first, and has the coolest feature, a cave waterfall. The sound of the waterfall echos off of the walls and ceiling. Oscar steers us towards the falls so we can run our hands through the water that splashes and dances over the rocks. I am overwhelmed by the awesomeness of the experience. 

We exit the second cave, and I'm a little sad because I know the adventure is almost over. 

There is still some impressive nature to behold, as we peacefully float down the rest of the river. 

It's so peaceful in fact, and the tubes are so comfortable, I nod off for a moment. 

We arrive back on dry land, stack our tubes, change, and then load back into the van. We arrive at Cavetubing.bz's headquarters, where we are treated to lunch. 

We start off with extra cold, refreshing, rum punch. The food is the same for everyone. Slow-cooked, fall-off-the-bone chicken, rice and beans, and coleslaw. 

The food is delicious, especially after an active day. We are allowed to have as much as we want, and everyone gets seconds of the yummy chicken. 

Cave tubing was such a fun, cool experience. I feel sad for people who would skip it based on the fact that it is a touristy thing to do. Touristy or not, it was a day, and adventure we will always remember. 

Important Disclaimer: I read a lot of blog posts/reviews hating on the whole cave tubing experience. They complained that that the river was overcrowded, that the experience was rushed, etc... I think that we lucked out. We ended up going on a non-cruise ship day. Cave tubing is one of the most popular activities for cruise passengers. Oscar told us that they could have thousands of people come through on a cruise ship day. Since there were no cruise ships docked on the day we went, with the exception of passing two other small groups, we had the caves and river to ourselves. Though I can't speak for the experience with other companies, I thought Cavetubing.bz was top notch. They are a local, family owned company, that ensured that we had an incredible day. If you do go to Belize and decide to go ziplinging and/or cave tubing, I would highly recommend Cavetubing.bz. I would also recommend seeing if you can book the trip on a non-cruise ship day.