Here’s all you need to know to reach Caye Caulker from your country.
Firstly you need to get to the country of Belize:
From the USA, you have a choice of airlines, flying from their respective hubs to Belize City (BZE), and connections to your home city.
Continental fly to Belize from Houston (IAH) two or three times a day. They also have some flights from Newark (EWR)
American Airlines fly from Dallas (DFW) and Miami (MIA)
Delta fly from their hub in Atlanta (ATL)
US Airways fly from their hub in Charlotte, North Carolina (CLT)
You can also bus or drive down from the USA through Mexico. It’ll take you about three days. Bus services in Mexico are very comfortable, safe and efficient. If you bring your own car, there is all kinds of paperwork to complete, and you may have to pay heavy import duties. Check your insurance too. We’ve never done it, so you’ll need to do your research elsewhere, but it’s certainly possible. Of course you can’t bring it to Caye Caulker so would need to find somewhere to store it in Belize City or elsewhere.
There aren’t yet any direct flights, but you can make connections using the hubs above. You should be able to get same day connections from Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. There’s been talk of direct flights for a while now, so we’ll update this post when we hear it’s happened.
Again, no direct flights yet, but you can either make connections using the above airlines or a European carrier. Unfortunately the times from all of the connections mean an overnight stay in a USA city. You shouldn’t need to stay again on your return though. You will need to pass through US customs and immigration even if you are in transit, so make sure your connections allow enough time for this (don’t believe the 45 minutes the airlines tell you, although they are responsible for your expenses if you miss the connection), and check all your paperwork is up to date. Many countries are eligible for a visa waiver program but you now need to register online before you first visit – check the link. If you need to get a visa, allow at least a couple of months for processing. All visitors must have a machine readable passport, so again check yours is OK several weeks before you travel.
Alternatively for those who want to avoid US immigration and/or it can work out much cheaper (especially for shorter visits) to fly to Cancun (CUN) or Cozumel(CZM) in Mexico and then bus down (details below) to Belize in less than a day. Obviously don’t use a US airline for this as they refuel in the USA, usually Miami, meaning you still have to go through immigration. Sometimes even the package holidays to Cancun or Playa del Carmen work out cheaper and then you can just ditch the hotel (make sure to tell them though, so they don’t think you’ve gone missing, and expect you for the return flight). Flights to Mexico City (MEX) can also be economical, and you can fly to Chetumal from there. Details of travelling from Mexico are below.
From South America/Central America
TACA flies to Belize City daily from it’s local hub in San Salvador (SAL), which connects to several South and Central American cities such as Panama, San Jose etc. They also fly to Miami.
COPA flies from Cancun, Mexico from Panama and many other South American destinations. Then it’s easy to bus down to Belize (details below).
Tropic flies from Flores (close to Tikal) to Belize City, although you should check the current situation as it sometimes get stopped for one reason and another.
There are plenty of flights from Guatemala City to Flores, though we don’t have the uptodate details.
Maya Island flies from San Pedro Sula to Savannah in southern Belize, where you change for a flight to Belize City.
Red Mangrove can book your flights on Tropic and Maya once you reach the island, but we don’t have online booking so please make your own way here. If getting a return is no cheaper than two singles on these flights (it often isn’t), why not keep the flexibility of booking once you’ve decided how long you want to stay (so many people decide to stay longer!)
By Boat from Honduras or Guatemala
Small local boats run daily from Puerto Barrios in Guatemala, or once a week from Livingston, both to Punta Gorda in the far south of Belize. From there you need to fly or bus to Belize City. There are no boats from Southern Belize to Belize City or the Northern Cayes.
Private companies run a weekly boat from Puerto Cortes in Honduras to Dangriga or Placencia. Again from there, you’ll need to bus or fly to Belize City. Red Mangrove can book the boat from Dangriga going the other way – ask us when you reach the island.
Flying from other countries
You can use the above US airlines and fly to their hubs from your country, which is generally the cheapest option. From southern nations, you can also fly to hubs in South America or Asia, but these are usually more expensive and involve more stops. Or as suggested for some European travellers, try looking for cheap flights to Cancun from a multitude of airlines, and then use the details below to reach Caye Caulker.
There may soon be direct flights from Cancun to Belize City (we’ll update this post as and when), but at the moment, you need to travel by bus (or by taxi service – ask us for details). From Mexico City, you can fly to Chetumal (prices on the website quoted in pesos, so take off a zero for approx USD costs) .
Mexican bus services are very efficient, and leave from Cancun airport directly to Chetumal (the city right on the border) most hours of the day. It’s the same travelling from anywhere in Mexico, you need to head to Chetumal. If you don’t get on a direct bus from the airport, change in Playa del Carmen. Depending on the time you arrive, you may easily make it across the border the same day (takes about six hours). If not, we suggest you stop in Tulum or even Playa del Carmen. Chetumal itself doesn’t offer much for the tourist (although it has a very good museum on the Maya).
Once you’re in Chetumal, you can travel across the border on a Belizean bus service leaving from the market place early in the morning, or get a taxi across to Corozal. Most buses will take you to Belize City. If you’re not on an express bus, they may stop in lots of places on route. You can also get a direct bus to Belize City on San Juan or Linea Dorada, which are Guatemalan companies. Red Mangrove may be able to sell you tickets for your return journey on these buses (The Belize government is changing the regulations on them picking up and dropping passengers in Belize -so check with us for current information).
From Corozal (Northern Belize)
If you’ve travelled across the border from Mexico and decided not to get the bus to Belize City, you have two options. You can fly to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye from the airstrip in Corozal, by either Tropic Air, or Maya Island, or you can catch the Thunderbolt water taxi which also takes you to San Pedro. They leave Corozal and San Pedro at 7am and 3pm for travel either way.
From San Pedro, you can either fly to Caye Caulker (10 minutes), or catch the water taxi (30 minutes).
From Belize International airport
You can fly on Tropic Air or Maya Island directly to Caye Caulker from the international airport (the least hassle option) which takes around 10 mins flying time. Or if you still want to fly but at a cheaper price, ask us to book you a taxi from the International airport to take you to the Municipal airport (about 30 mins, $US25 per person/couple), where you’ll get flights at about half the price.
Red Mangrove can book your flights on Tropic and Maya once you reach the island, but we don’t have online booking so please make your own way here. If getting a return is no cheaper than two singles on these flights (it often isn’t), why not keep the flexibility of booking once you’ve decided how long you want to stay (so many people decide to stay longer!).
A word of advice – most people leave Caye Caulker at the last time possible for their return flight home. There is no need to spend a night in Belize City, unless you especially want to. The first flight from Caye Caulker to the International airport leaves at 7.10am and the first water taxi leaves at 6.30am, so there’s plenty of time.
We can arrange for a taxi to pick you up from the International airport and take you directly to the marine terminal, where you catch a water taxi (not known locally as a ferry) out to the Cayes. The longest serving, most reliable company is the Caye Caulker Water Taxi. The fare is Bz$25 (US$12.50) return, there are boats approximately every 1.5 hours, and the first water taxi for Caye Caulker leaves at 8.0am and the last at 5.30pm. The journey takes approximately 45 minutes. Most of the boats are covered and your luggage will travel separately from you but is well looked after – so don’t panic! There is always another boat on standby so there’s no need to rush to get a seat. And please look out for other passengers with small children. Like the airlines, the water taxi should let them board first, but they don’t. You buy your ticket from the water taxi office, and there are no advance reservations.
It can be nice to boat in and fly out. That way you get to see the reef from all angles! Getting the water taxi on arrival is a nice way to blow out the jetlag after a long flight. And flying out allows you to see from the air what you’ve seen from ground/sea level during your stay – you’ll appreciate it more on the way out. Just a suggestion!
Once in Caye Caulker
If you’ve arrived by boat and haven’t booked a hotel, you are welcome to leave your bags in our back office while you look around. We are a few minutes walk from the water taxi dock.
If you know where you’re going, you can either get a golf cart taxi (they usually meet every boat and flight), or walk. There are also cycle taxis at the water taxi dock to take your bags if you wish to walk. Both of these charge around Bz$5 per person to anywhere in Caye Caulker.
It’s all much easier than it sounds!
We look forward to seeing you in Caye Caulker and please email us if you have any more questions!