Caye Caulker to Dangriga to San Ignacio!
I can’t Belize it’s been two years since our trip to Belize. Mark and I spent our “10 years together, 4 years married” anniversary taking our first international trip together to Belize in 2019. Since it’s been two years, AND we are excited to say we booked a return trip for Mark’s milestone birthday this year- I thought it would be fun to recap our adventure to drum up the excitement for our next trip this November! We flew from Tampa International Airport to Miami International Airport and just a few short hours later arrived in Belize City, Belize at the Philip Goldson International Airport!
Belize City Airport was interesting and a tiny bit hectic in customs but once we got through the long line, we were greeted by our driver Richard from Discounted Belize Shuttles and Tours who I had hired to drive us to all of our adventures around the country. It was awesome to step outside of baggage claim and have a smiling local standing there with my name on a sign to whisk us away from the chaos that is Belize City. On the way to the San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi, he recommended we grab a drink and a bite to eat at The Last Drop Café while we waited on our next mode of transportation to Caye Caulker. It was fantastic and a great way to calm our nerves before the next leg of our trip. The terminal for the water taxi’s to Caye Caulker was full of shops and eatery’s which felt like a typical tourist trap area full of cheap souvenirs where some vendors are a bit aggressive but like anywhere you go you just have to watch yourself and your belongings, but we never felt unsafe and were grateful for the good recommendation and AC while we waited. The hotel we booked had already arranged our tickets and made the process much more simple because we already had a reservation. Boarding the water taxi also felt a bit hectic as it was a large mixture of both locals and tourists, with many people and their luggage crammed into a space I didn’t think we could all fit in. Keep in mind this was in September 2019 (pre-covid) so I have no idea how this boat ride would be now, but looking back, it was one of the more spontaneous and fun experiences we had getting to paradise! There are also many options to charter a more spacious and private boat or plane to get to the islands but since this was our first trip and we were trying to be as economical as we could… we went for it and now it’s a great memory to look back on.
Once we arrived and gathered our back packs that had been crammed under the seats of other passengers, we walked up the dock and again were greeted with a lovely local named Leroy who was holding a sign with my name on it – it really does make you feel a little VIP when you watch everyone else scramble for transportation – yay for researching and planning ahead and requesting that our hotel pick us up. Leroy was on a huge luxury golf cart that was arranged by Jan’s Hotel in Caye Caulker. Before arriving at the hotel to check in, Leroy drove us all around the island and pointed out all the shops, restaurants and vendors that he recommended, and it was such an awesome extra bonus – basically a FREE tour to help us learn the lay of the land. We checked in to the hotel and were given room #206 with a queen size bed, a side water view balcony and a gorgeous surprise – they had decorated the bed with bright pink petals to welcome us for our 10-year anniversary! So special and something we definitely weren’t expecting. As soon as we dropped our bags in our room we hit the streets to explore, I only booked one night here, and we have since regretted that we didn’t stay longer, but hey – something to go back for right?! – so we only had the one evening to see what Caye Caulker had to offer.
We spent the evening walking the main drag, shopping at local vendors, and enjoying a waterfront meal and drinks at Sobre Las Olas. We walked to The Split, the Caye Caulker Sign and then headed toward the west coast to take in a sunset and were amazingly surprised when we stumbled across another hotel that had some amazing amenities – tons of waterfront seating, outdoor Tiki Bar, in the water hammocks AND huge stingrays and sea horses to swim with in their natural environment!!!! The Iguana Reef Inn looked absolutely amazing and even though we truly loved our stay at Jan’s Hotel – we just might go back to stay there next time! (Our trip in November 2021 is all about the Jungle!) After an epic sunset we walked back towards our hotel and stopped to pick up the famous local Belkin Beer that Belize is known for and took advantage of the roof top patio at Jan’s Hotel, which we had all to ourselves. After a whirlwind day of adventure, we got some much-needed rest – because the following day was going to be the start of a once in a lifetime adventure….
The next morning, we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast and Bloody Mary’s right next door at Paradiso Café, took another quick walk around the island (it’s so walkable! but you can rent bikes and golf carts easily), checked out of Jan’s Hotel and walked right across the street to check in for our Raggamuffin Tour – a 3 day 2 night snorkeling and sailing adventure! We spent 3 indescribable days sailing on the Ragga Queen from Caye Caulker to DANGRIGA with 10 strangers from all around the world with 3 vibrant and hilarious hosts, all while snorkeling and sleeping on private islands along the way. Our Captain Jerry was jolly, comical and full of stories, and our guide Dane was an expert in fishing and snorkeling and knew all the good spots which helped us find sharks, sea turtles, eels, sting rays, manatee and some of the most gorgeous fish and reefs I have ever seen. Lastly, our chef was Lithon supplied never ending fresh shrimp ceviche, cooked up all the sea food we caught along the way, served endless fresh fruits and vegetables and poured unlimited Rum Punch! We tent camped on Rendezvous Caye our first night, and knowing what we know now, we would have figured out a way to bring an air mattress LOL! We have both agreed we were glad to have done this trip at the ages we are because it just wouldn’t be possible later in life with all of our existing aches and pains. But looking back we will absolutely never forget how amazing it is to sleep like that on a private island. The next day we continued to sail and snorkel, explored a few random islands like Tobacco Caye where we met so many island kitties and then spent night two in an over the water bungalow in Ragga Caye, another exclusive private island (and two island dogs!). The bungalow itself was nice, but I won’t hesitate to say that the toilet situation was pretty scary! (and I have been on a train in India!!) Anyways, it was worth the few extra bucks to have our own hut versus sleeping in bunk beds with the other passengers – and man oh man was it cool to experience a thunderstorm sleeping out over the water – epic memory when you absolutely love storms! The next day after breakfast we all waved goodbye to our guides and our island as we hopped on speedy transport boat that took us to Dangriga where our sailing trip would end… this was also a little sketchier than I expected, meaning the dock was very run down and there were a lot of locals standing around looking to “help” tourists for tips – but once again – my trusty driver from Discounted Belize Shuttles and Tours was waiting to take us to the last leg of our trip – into the Jungle!
As our driver George drove us away from the coast and towards the jungle he pointed out local area gems, told historical stories and even pulled over to make sure we saw the sleeping giant in the Maya Mountains. At this point we had interacted with so many locals and were so overwhelmed by the pride they have for their beautiful country, we completely fell in love with Belize. We received so many recommendations and to hear the joy and excitement in everyone’s voices – and how much they want to share it with others, it was truly something we will never forget.
Our last stop of the trip was two hours into the jungle at Table Rock Jungle Lodge. The moment we saw the sign and the palm tree lined driveway we were head over heels! This is one of the most magical places on earth and its all been created by a couple of newlyweds from Florida! Learn the full story and why we choose this ecolodge on their About Us page. Also here is a preview:
WE CAME FOR AN ADVENTURE . . .
WE STAYED FOR A LIFE UNCOMMON.
Sustainable tourism is not just a buzz word, it’s a way of life. At Table Rock, we believe in helping the environment and our local community, and emerging travelers into our world of endless adventures, sustainability, and conservation.
Our story begins in 1998, when newlyweds Alan and Colleen honeymooned in Belize with only a rented 4×4, an axe, and a paper map. With little distraction, they became enamored by jungle life–the land, the flora and fauna, and most all, perhaps, the people. Belize became the spot they returned to again and again.
Pretty awesome start to what became Table Rock Jungle Lodge that is situated on a 105-acre jungle reserve along the Macal River, with 10 intimate, eco-friendly cabanas, farm-to-table cuisine, infinity pool, and a full on working, organic farm! We just can’t say enough about this place, it’s incredible and that is why we are going back and this time taking friends! Check out their photo gallery at the link and some of our photos below!
From the moment we stepped into our room and out on to our balcony in the jungle, a piece of my heart decided to live there. Our room was gorgeous, airy, clean, and decorated for our anniversary. We had a huge hammock for our patio, complimentary local rum, and our own little fruit bats!!!! Some people might not be excited about that lol but we loved it! We only had a couple of nights to enjoy this slice of tranquil paradise and we spent every day waking up to the sounds of the jungle, specifically howler monkeys, walking the vast property, feeding the farm animals, hiking the trails along the river, swimming in the gorgeous pool and eating the most amazing food for 3 meals a day – the craziest part is that September is a slower season for them and there was one whole day and night where we were the only guests there! A completely private resort all to ourselves!!!! Even on the days other guests were around we hardly noticed, it was a dream.
We did venture out on a guided tour at the archeological site of Xunantunich (pronounced “shoo-NAN-too-NICH”). Meaning “Stone Maiden” in Maya. My husband was in heaven! The last full day we had was spent using their complimentary canoes to adventure along the Macal River to get drinks at another near by resort that was recommended to us by our resort staff. We tied the canoes up and headed up the bank to The Lodge at Cha Creek and were again just blown away by what we found. This resort had amazing amenities like nature preserve trails, infinity pools, natural history center, and butterfly exhibit. Not to mention THE BEST MARGARITA OF MY LIFE at their restaurant Mariposa. Just ask my friends, I never stop talking about the jalapeño infused margarita I got in Belize and every time I have one at home I always compare it to that one! Besides the epic margarita, the best experience came just as we were about to head back to our resort… Toucans, Tarantula’s and Howler Monkeys oh my!!! We had amazing sightings of multiple toucans, but the sighting at Cha Creek was incredible. On the way back down the hillside to the canoes, I got distracted by the Mexican red-rumped tarantulas that were all along the bank and was watching where I was walking and staring at the ground when all of a sudden Mark froze in front of me and said my name in a weird way… honestly thinking it was probably the biggest spider of my life I didn’t even realize he was pointing up…. MONKEYS were all over the bamboo and hanging out sleeping right above our heads. INSANE and hands down one of the greatest moments of my life. A troupe of howler monkeys complete with a very tiny baby in their natural environment…. Ahhhhh Incredible and the most perfect way to end our first of many trips to Belize!