We’ll be down in August. It’s my opinion to try and leave a place better than I came. Is there anyone or anything I can bring to do this?
Also, bring natural, reef safe sunscreens that don't contain the following chemicals: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. The science is sound that these chemicals destroy coral reefs (and harms human bodies).
If you have questions about the safety of your sunscreen, please check out the Environmental Working Group's website: https://www.ewg.org.
Absolutely use barrier reef safe sunscreen as Skaerje mentioned :) There are at least a couple brands out there now. It costs a little more so it is best to bring it instead of buying local from my experience.
I've been "auditioning" reef safe sunscreens for use on my vacation in Belize later this month. I found two at my local Sprout's and found that I like Goddess Garden 30 SPF sport and MyChelle Sun Stick SPF 50. Rubbed in really well, that don't leave as much of a white residue as others I've tried.
I also found these two pages for charities in Belize (although totally defer to locals to say whether or not they're legit):
www.belizefirst.com/indexvolunteer.html (this one features both volunteer opportunities and charities)
Go spear lionfish! They are invasive and harm the ecosystem there.They are also good to eat. I also wonder if you are able to donate your catch to restaurants or local families. If anyone knows of a place that will take you to do this I really want to do this on my trip and maybe a get a couple lobsters along with it. I am going January 3-10th 2019.
Good idea, Reggi M!
Hamanasi Resort will take folks lionfish spearing: https:/…
According to Reef.org the following restaurants in Belize serve lion fish:
Da Lazy Fish in Punta Gorda, Belize
Pablito's Estrellas Del Mar in Sarteneja Village, Belize
Placencia Supper Club in Placencia Village, Belize
Rumfish y Vino in Placencia Village, Belize
Enjoy Restaurant in Caye Caulker, Belize
Habanero's Restaurant in Caye Caulker, Belize
Asha's Culture Kitchen in Punta Gorda, Belize
Backpacker's Paradise in Sarteneja Village, Belize
Gomier's in Punta Gorda, Belize
Hour Bar & Grill in Belize City, Belize
The Lionfish Grill in Hatchet Caye, Belize
Pirates Treasure Restaurant and Bar in Ambergris Caye, Belize
We just returned from Caye Caulker (8 days) where we spent considerable time talking with locals from the island and getting to know the entire perimeter of both islands via kayak and some of the outer flats and mangrove islands for fly fishing by booking a local boat that would take us to them, unguided.
After 8 days on the island we learned things from several locals that they wanted us to pass on to future visitors.
GETTING TO CAYE CAULKER
There are two ferry services that get you to Caye Caulker in ~45 minutes. It MATTERS which one you choose.
The Belize Express water taxi == NOT LOCALLY OWNED, TWICE AS EXPENSIVE FOR TOURISTS
Ocean Ferry Water Taxi == LOCALLY OWNED, Same price for locals and tourists, half the price of Ocean Express. Trip advisor won't let me put a link in here, but Ocean Ferry can obviously be found with a quick google.
This is really important to the locals. It seems the Belize Express Water Taxi is owned by Chinese or Taiwan foreign nationals that have undoubtedly bought access through corrupt officials within the Belizean government. This taxi has a price for locals that is comparable to Ocean Ferry prices but charges tourists twice as much. They are able to do this because they kick back money to taxi drivers that pick up tourists at the airport and bring them to their ferry instead of the locally owned ferry. When you arrive you will have a taxi driver that will charge you $25 US for the trip (this is for the whole taxi, so if you are traveling together it is still $25, find a person to share with if alone and pretend you are together) from the airport to the Ferry, if they ask you if you already have a ticket, and you say no, they will likely take you to the Belize Express because this company will pay them ~$2 extra per person. The two terminals are ~2 blocks from each other. You will then get charged ~$18 US one way for a trip to Caye Caulker which is what happened to us. On the way back we paid ~$9.50 US. If you say you already have a ticket with Ocean Ferry they may try to tell you that the terminal is closed right now or that the ferry isn't operating. Insist they take you to Ocean Ferry or walk the two blocks when they drop you at the Express terminal. Even if you don't book the Ocean Ferry in advance, if you say you have, you can go there and buy the ticket cheaper than the online advance price (I think online advance is ~$15 US).
If you are landing on the 1230pm flight, if you move quickly you will have time to go outside, get a cab, and get to the 130pm ferry and not have to wait for the next one.
Having ridden both Ocean Ferry and Belize Express the ride on Ocean Ferry was more comfortable (we had to stand on Belize Express), cheaper, and the money stays in the local economy.
TAXI SERVICE TO AND FROM THE AIRPORT
Our Taxi driver taking us to the airport from the ferry terminal, enlightened us on some of the other corrupt aspects of the trade. He said people at the ferry will say you have a taxi waiting for you at the other side, and we did, but they had called ahead to friends that would then kick them back money for setting up rides in advance. This is a problem because our driver booked more people than he could carry and we had to find someone else. It is $25 one way (for all people in your party, NOT $25 each), our cab driver said that it is supposed to be equal opportunity for them to book fares from the terminal but once again the politician in charge of the taxi commission was likely taking bribes from certain groups to enable them to garner more fares.
This corruption has real effects on the locals and our driver said that if one of them were to speak out about the corruption, someone would likely show up at their house and beat them or even kill them for pressing the issue on equal pay/opportunity for all. The bottom line is that there will be taxis at the airport and ferry terminal, they all cost the same (just ask first to be sure), so don't be persuaded to go to a certain ferry or arrange a ride ahead of time, it doesn't help the people actually performing the jobs on the ground.
This small key is quite laid back and relaxed. I initially looked into Ambergris because of the fly fishing there, but I hear it is the "Party Place" and everything was more expensive. There is a range of lodging on Caulker and we found an excellent place ~2 blocks from "The Split" (the narrow chanel that separates the two islands), with free bike and kayak rental, AC, private bath, and mini-fridge for ~$80 US/night. No golfcart is necessary, this place is small, $5 Belize if you need a ride with your luggage after the ferry, after that bikes are more than adequate. I think only a few vehicles are even permitted on the island.
The roads here are sand, and occupied with foot, bike, and golfcart traffic. The island wasn't busy even though it was supposed to be high season. It was quiet most nights after 10pm, although one could wander around and find food and bars open later.
There is one bank and one credit union on the island, we were able to get money from both, although the credit union only accepted one of our two banks.
The food and lodging here is not as cheap as other central american countries, but it is incredibly safe (kids are out on the street late into the evening) and we never got even a little bit sick from eating in restaurants every night (can't say the same for when I was in El Salvador). There is a lot of outdoor barbecue places that do jerk chicken and rice with beans. I recommend these places. If you swing around to the back side of the island near the split, Maggie's kitchen and Dee and D's are both excellent, a little slower, and super nice folks. The Fry Jack place Elwyns or whatever is excellent as well.
People mention the seaweed. It is true the sea grass can accumulate and the resulting sulfides don't smell great. However when raked up this isn't an issue, and near the split it doesn't accumulate so it isn't difficult to escape this.
This is not a highly developed island. The place is laid back and locals for the most part are friendly. There are many grocery stores, beer is $3.50/bottle BZ ($1.75 US) booze (rum) is pretty cheap in the store. I didn't go to the bars here except that when I ordered one margarita on the main strip it was $9 US. One can buy a whole bottle of rum for $12 US and make their own Pina coladas.
RENTING A BOAT FOR FLY FISHING
We looked at some of the guide services and they all wanted $250-300 US for 1/2 day and $400 US for a full day of guided fishing. I already know how to fly fish for bonefish (and can learn pretty damn quick for Permit at this price) so this seemed exorbitant since what I really needed was a boat ride to different flats in the area. After having some luck with bones and a couple tarpon around the islands doing some self guided kayaking and fishing the split at night, I found a local guy who would take me and my girlfriend out for the day for ~$250 US + some gas money. He knows how to fly fish and would come out with us, and catch which was fun. He didn't have a flats boat and that was fine. I prefer to wade and stalk. Also, he could spot tailing bones from 100 yards (He did it more than once), and knew the local flats so we were into mangroves and tarpon spots as well as big flats where we caught bones, barracuda, and chicken fish. We didn't see any Permit but they sometimes are in these spots. Unfortunately there was a tropical depression off shore and I think this messed up the fishing for a couple days. It was good until this moved in, then it slowed down (no fish in the flats), then picked up again when we got the boat to take us off shore. You can see if our boat guy and his brother are available, Charlie is actually a licensed fly fishing guide he just charges less because he is not affiliated with a lodge and doesn't have a fancy set up. Take a few flies and leaders for them. Also, if you ask around about where to find Charlie, many of the locals might say he isn't there anymore because they get a finder fee for taking people to the more expensive places.
Charlie's contact info is:
Facebook Search for: Laban Rubio (he has two profiles for some reason, neither indicate he is a fishing guide but if you ask him he will take you out, and has a business card for it).
The information about how to help support the local ferry business and taxi service is very helpful. Will be in Belize (Faye Caulker) in 10 days. So when we return from Caye Caulker to Belize City to head to the airport we should just navigate our own taxi once we get off of the ferry instead of having someone on the ferry call ahead? I'm assuming that the ferry terminal will have several taxis waiting for customers. I just want to get this right to help support the locals. Thanks for any more insight.
Taxis wait outside the water taxi terminals -- no need to reserve in advance.