The Ultimate Guide to Caye Caulker’s North Island

Your Friend the Nomad

The Ultimate Guide to Caye Caulker’s North Island

I recently spent a month exploring Belize and one of my favorite spots was the rustic, undeveloped Caribbean beaches of Caye Caulker’s North Island.

The North Island of Caye Caulker is only a ~2 minute boat ride away from the most popular part of Caye Caulker (the Split), but feels worlds away with very few people and only a few businesses.

In this Caye Caulker North Island travel guide I’m sharing all the best things to do on the North Island, how to spend the perfect day (or half-day) here, and where to stay if you want to escape to this tranquil island paradise for more than a few hours.

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🌺 My Belize Favorites 🏝

🤿 Barrier Reef Snorkeling & Diving: Belize has the best snorkeling I’ve ever experienced! You can book guided snorkel and dive trips from Hopkins, San Pedro, or Caye Caulker. Browse Belize snorkel and dive trip.

🌲 Escape to Mountain Pine Ridge: Climb up in elevation to a cooler (and less visited) area with gorgeous waterfalls, fun swimming holes, Mayan ruins, and so much more! You will need a vehicle with 4WD here, but this day trip from San Ignacio is also an option.

🥾 Cave Adventures: Cave tubing is an adventure unique to Belize, and many people come all the way here to experience the ATM Cave, where you can witness human remains and Mayan artifacts.

🚙 Explore the Hummingbird Highway: This breathtaking lush scenic drive connects the Cayo District and the Caribbean coast. Stop along the way at waterfalls, a cenote, a chocolate workshop, caves, and more! My guide to the Hummingbird Highway.

🌴 Where to Stay: A sustainable jungle treehouse beside the beach in Hopkins at Hamanasi, a quiet breezy room at Weezie’s on the vibrant small island of Caye Caulker, or a luxury bungalow overlooking waterfalls at Gaia Riverlodge.

Find more of my Belize favorites and Belize travel tips at the bottom of this article!

Exploring Caye Caulker’s North Island

Until you visit Caye Caulker, Belize, you might not realize that this charming little Caribbean island is actually split in two! Some say that it was a hurricane that split the island, but the reality is that a canal between the two parts was created to make it easier for fishermen to journey to the other side. Of course the hurricane in question did impact the Split (the Split is what the waterway between the two sides is called), but it did not cause the north and south island to separate.

The vast majority of Caye Caulker’s hotels, restaurants, and other businesses are located on the southern island, and very few visitors ever make the short journey across the Split to the North Island.

But if you’re like me, a 2-minute boat ride won’t stop you from exploring the hidden gems of Caye Caulker’s 4+ mile-long North Island.

Is Caye Caulker’s North Island worth visiting?

Caye Caulker’s North Island was definitely worth visiting for me! Of course you’ll need to keep in mind that there isn’t much to do on the North Island besides visiting undeveloped beaches, bird watching, and cycling down dirt roads.

How long do you need to see the North Island of Caye Caulker?

You can easily experience the best of Caye Caulker’s North Island in a few hours, though you may want to stay longer to spend extended time at the beach or dine at a restaurant here. Keep reading for my thoughts on how to spend a half day on the north island!

Should you stay on Caye Caulker’s North Island or the main island?

Most of Caye Caulker’s visitors end up staying at the main island of Caye Caulker. It’s a darling cute walkable island where there are no motor vehicles (only golf carts). The motto of the island is ‘Go Slow,’ but to be honest, life on the main island is definitely a little more fast paced than I was expected. It’s still a lovely place to stay (definitely recommend Caye Caulker!!) and you have plenty of hotels to choose from, some close to the bars, others more secluded on the quiet southern part of the main island.

Caye Caulker’s North Island is an incredible place to stay if you want to be far from the noise and liveliness of Caye Caulker, but still close enough to dine at all of Caye Caulker’s best restaurants and snorkel along the nearby barrier reef. There are a handful of gorgeous resorts and hotels on Caye Caulker’s North Island that I share about later in this guide.

Taking the Caye Caulker North Island Ferry

The ‘Split to Split’ Caye Caulker ferry is part of the fun of exploring the North Island! You’ll cross on a small boat that crosses the Split almost all day long, everyday. The ferry leaves from the northwestern tip of the southern island of Caye Caulker (The Split). It costs $5 BZE ($2.50 USD) one way and takes just a minute or two to cross! You can bring a bicycle with you, which I recommend since it makes getting around the North Island easier.

Although the Split to Split ferry is the most commonly used transportation to Caye Caulker’s North Island, you can also hire a ferry to take you anywhere else on the island, and many of the North Island’s hotels operate ferry services for their customers.

Woman wading through water on Caye Caulker's North Island

Wading through the water at ‘Refugee Beach,’ a small hidden beach on Caye Caulker’s North Island

The Perfect Half-Day on Caye Caulker’s North Island

🚲 What to bring: Bicycle (highly recommended), sun protectant clothes + reef safe sunscreen, water bottle, bathing suit, towel, cash, and snacks.

Start your day early so you can enjoy the North Island before it gets too hot! And be sure to figure out a bike rental in advance. Some hotels and Airbnbs have bikes for guests, but you can also rent a bike from several shops on the south island.

There is one main road that runs through the middle of the island, and lots of offshoots leading to the shore on either side. Some places to see or stop along the way include:

🍍 The Palapa Pineapple House: This fun building right off the main road looks a bit like Spongebob’s house! It is not marked on Google Maps but here is the exact location if you’re looking for it. You might get lucky and meet the owner who can tell you all about his unique home!

🐚 Wild Beach & Refugee Beach: These two small, undeveloped beaches are located right next to each other and make up my favorite part of the North Island. Since there aren’t really many beaches on the main island of Caye Caulker, this is the perfect place to go for a swim and sunbathing sesh!

💙 Blu Zen: BluZen is the main development on Caye Caulker North Island. There are a few onsite restaurants, including La Fogata, a wood fire pizza restaurant.

🐊 Crocodile Lagoon: Try to spot a crocodile at this lagoon, near the Pineapple Palapa. I didn’t see any crocodiles when I was there but I’m glad I rode over to check it out!

🦞 Happy Lobster Restaurant: This lowkey eatery in the middle of the North Island is one of the island’s few businesses. While I didn’t dine there, it seems like others enjoy it!

🏖 Bliss Beach Club: Journey a few miles north to the most gorgeous secluded beach club on Caye Caulker! Expect tranquillity and delicious tropical cocktails. Keep in mind that the bike ride here takes about 20 minutes, so plan ahead and bring a headlamp if you plan to return after dark. Some folks prefer to book a private ferry, which costs about $40 BZE ($20 USD) roundtrip. If you want to take the ferry, ask about it at the Split!

Other things to do in and around Caye Caulker’s North Island

🛥 Sunset Tiki Cruise: One of my favorite memories from our Caye Caulker vacation was this sunset tiki cruise. We cruised along the western side of the North Island, sipping rum punch as our guides (who grew up on Caye Caulker) told us about the island’s history. Along the way we saw dolphins (right by our boat!!) and watched the sun set over the Caribbean ocean. Even though it was a tour, it felt like one of the most ‘local’ experiences I had in Belize as the guides openly shared about life growing up here as though we were friends, not tourists. Tour details.

🐊 Mangroves tour with Richard: You’ll notice a shack near BluZen with signs for ‘Richard’s Adventures‘. Apparently, a local tour guide lives here and he’ll take you on unique tours through the mangroves. I didn’t have the chance to meet Richard, but he sounds like a character and I’m sure he’d be able to show you parts of the island you’d never see otherwise!

Pool with lounge chairs, palm trees, and cabanas at El Ben on Caye Caulker North Island

The pool at El Ben Cabañas

Where to Stay on Caye Caulker’s North Island

The North Island of Caye Caulker is quiet and secluded, and if that is the type of place you enjoy on vacation, I definitely recommend booking a hotel here instead of on the main island. There are only a few options, but I visited the best North Island Caye Caulker hotels to help you make the choice!

🥥 El Ben Cabañas: I loved the feel of El Ben Cabañas, with its gorgeous high-end thatched-roof cabanas, incredible service, and picturequse setting on the turquoise blue Caribbean. It features a highly-rated onsite restaurant, a small but beautiful pool, and a dock stretching into the shallow ocean. Check current rates.

🌴 Bay Towers: This budget-friendly family-run property is situated on the western side of Caye Caulker’s North Island with its own beach, dock, and pool. When I visited they were working on building a restaurant and bar, so expect that in the near future! Check current rates.

💙 Blu Zen: This collection of rentals and residences on the eastern side of the island features several pools, restaurants, a fitness center, and a small shop. It’s a popular place to stay and has regular ferry services to and from the main island. Check current rates.

North Island of Caye Caulker view from Bay Towers

Bay Towers, one of the best places to stay on North Island Caye Caulker

Getting Around Mainland Belize

🚙 Renting a Car: The best way to experience all (mainland) Belize has to offer is to rent a car! Just keep in mind that some roads are not in the best shape and you should never drive for the first time after dark (learn the potholes in the light first!) You can compare rental prices from various rental companies here, but I usually end up renting from locally-owned Crystal Auto Rental when I’m in Belize.

🚕 Private Shuttles (and Tours): If you prefer not to drive in Belize, you can easily get around by booking a private shuttle from the airport, and then going on guided tours for all your jungle adventures. This shuttle is also the best option for folks flying into Belize airport and then going directly the islands!

🚍 Public Busses: Riding the local chicken bus is a popular way to get around Belize for backpackers and budget travelers, but I wouldn’t recommend it to most people as the busses are hot, crowded, slow, and unreliable. Spend the extra money for a private shuttle (or car rental) so you can get your destination more quickly and maximize your time in beautiful Belize.

Best Things to do in Belize

🌲 Explore Mountain Pine Ridge: Perhaps the most underrated area of Belize, Mountain Pine Ridge is full of beautiful waterfalls and fun swimming holes, plus the most striking cave I’ve ever seen! You will need a vehicle with 4WD here, but this day trip from San Ignacio is also an option!

🏺 Discover Ancient Ruins: There are far more Mayan ruins here than you could ever expect. I recommend a day trip Tikal (UNESCO World Heritage Site) in nearby Guatemala, a river cruise to Lamanai in Northern Belize, and/or a visit to Xunantunich near San Ignacio.

👙 Experience ATM Cave or go cave tubing: Dare to explore the famous ATM cave system, where you’ll swim upstream until you find rooms with hundreds of Mayan artifacts and human remains. Book your ATM tour here ahead of time (they sell out!) Or, go on a more relaxing cave experience, cave tubing!

🚙 Drive the Hummingbird Highway: Belize’s most scenic drive connects the Cayo District to the Caribbean coastline. Chase waterfalls, swim in a cenote, indulge in local chocolate, go caving, and taste Belize’s famous hot sauce along the way. My guide to the Hummingbird Highway.

🦈 Coral Reef Snorkeling & Diving: Whether you stay in Caye Caulker, San Pedro, or Hopkins, be sure to book a guided snorkeling or diving experience on Belize’s gorgeous barrier reef!

My Favorite Places to Stay in Belize

🤿 Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort in HopkinsThe best place I’ve stayed in Belize! Hamanasi is located in Hopkins, which is said to be the friendliest place in Belize. The town is full of Caribbean charm, and the resort itself is incredible with next-level service, a gorgeous oceanfront property, and wonderful guided day trips to both the jungle and islands. Read my review of Hamanasi.

🌺 Weezie’s in Caye Caulker: My favorite hotel on the vibrant island of Caye Caulker. Weezie’s has a beautiful property on a quieter part of the island, but it is still very close to all of Caye Caulker’s restaurants. Check Weezie’s nightly prices.

🚠 Gaia Riverlodge in Mountain Pine Ridge: The most breathtaking (and peaceful) hotel I’ve ever seen! Gaia is situated on a cliff overlooking the river and mountains in Mountain Pine Ridge, with an excellent onsite restaurant, and a tranquil area by the waterfalls below to relax. Check Gaia Riverlodge nightly prices.

More Belize Travel Guides

🏺 Worth It? Belize’s ATM Cave Tour

🚙 Unforgettable Stops Along the Hummingbird Highway

🚤 Best Lamanai Belize Tours & What to Expect

🐠 My Honest Review of Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort

Final Thoughts: North Island Caye Caulker Travel Guide

I hope you enjoy Caye Caulker’s North Island as much as I did! Although there isn’t a ton to do here, biking around and relaxing on the North Island’s secluded beaches was one of the highlights of my trip to Caye Caulker.

As you continue to plan your Belize travels, be sure to browse my other Belize travel guides!

This post The Ultimate Guide to Caye Caulker’s North Island first appeared on Your Friend the Nomad.