We stayed at Colinda's Cabanas 11/1 - 11/9. We flew in to BZE, took a cab from the airport to the water taxi pier ($25 for 2 people) and then took the water taxi to Caye Caulker ($38.50 rt for 2 people). We purchased our water taxi tkts in advance online to save time at the pier in the event our flight had been delayed and we were tight for time and for a slight discount. Water taxi ride is approx 45 min to CC.
You can also fly on Tropic Air to Caye Caulker. Cost was approx $280/rt for 2 people. If flying, keep in mind these are SMALL Cesna Caravan planes. They are not for everyone due to size! Tropic Air offers jump seat privileges for SWA pilots only. They offer a 20% discount for all other airline employees.
Golf cart taxis are waiting at the pier for you in CC. $5 for a ride to Colinda's Cabanas. Linda, the owner, will call the "taxis" if/whenever you need them during the wk. However, we never used them again. Everything is a close walk or bike ride so no need in my opinion other than when hauling your luggage to/from the water taxi pier. If you fly in to CC the airport is a very short walk from Colinda's even if dragging luggage, but keep in mind you are dragging luggage on dirt trails. I'm sure the airport would call a golf cart taxi for you. Much shorter distance to Colindas from the airport than the water taxi terminal.
We stayed in the upper ocean/beach front unit (2) I would have preferred the upper ocean front unit above the owners property b/c it has a 100% unobstructed view. Our unit has a palm tree that has grown above the patio line and partially obstructs the view. I am not complaining b/c it was still very beautiful, but if you book in advance and are able to request one unit vs the other I would.
The properties were exactly as described and shown online. Pictures on the web site were very realistic. We paid $140/nt- ocean front suite. This was a bit more than other ocean/beach front properties I researched. However, Colinda's provided much more for the money AND offered other units at a lower price of $60-120/nt. I felt the $140/nt was more than fair based on the reasons below:
2 bikes included w/ rental: Bike or walking is the main transport on the island. If you had to rent them it would be $10/day/bike. If we had stayed elsewhere we would have rented 2 bikes for the entire wk and that would have been an extra $20/day.
Kayaks and snorkeling equipment provided for all guests to use free of charge: If you had to rent kayaks they were $10/hr to rent elsewhere on the island. Not sure how much snorkeling equipment went for. Colinda's did not provide fins, though. Just masks and snorkels. There really is not much snorkeling to be had on the island from land. You really need to take an excursion to get out further to see any good sea life. I had zero luck in seeing any wildlife near the shore all week while snorkeling, kayaking and SUP (see below). I know others said they saw a few things. Perhaps it was just my bad luck w/ mother nature. Would have loved if Colinda's had a few foam floating noodles available. There were many times I swam at the end of the dock for a few minutes. Had there been foam noodles I would have stayed in the water much longer just because! $2 investment which I think would be used alot by visitors.
Size of the Unit: The unit was very spacious in comparison to other units we saw on the island. We stay in hotels frequently for work so when traveling for pleasure we prefer to have more space. The cramped feel of a hotel room makes it seem like work to us instead of fun. There was a good size living room, small dining room, large outdoor patio, efficiency kitchen, large bathroom (enough room for 2 people getting ready at the same time) and large bedroom. The kitchen did not contain a microwave, though, which would have preferred over a stove. We ate in numerous times after picking something up at a local restaurant. Portions were plentiful and we would have leftovers. A microwave would have been great! The tv is in the bedroom and none in the living room. Would have preferred in the living room for evenings when one goes to bed and the other stays up, afternoons when it is raining, afternoon retreats from the sun, etc.....
Pier w/ multiple decks and covered area w/ hammocks: Most other beach front properties I researched did not have a pier. They typically just had a sandy area at the water's edge w/ chairs for the guests. Many other properties are right along the main walking path so you would have some foot traffic of passer bys and it's a area shared by all at the property. Colinda's pier is set up so there are 4 "private platforms" and 1 is covered. Colinda's is very near the end of the main walking area so you had very little passer by traffic.
Cleared swimming area around the pier: Most other beach front properties did not appear to have cleared the sandy area in the water in front of their property. Therefore, I wouldn't want to swim there. Colinda's clears the area around the pier and it's a nice sandy bottom and enjoyable for swimming. Otherwise, the only other option for swimming was really The Split at the other end of the island.
Location: The units are closely located to the restaurants, stores, etc of Front Street, but yet towards the end of the "main drag". Therefore, you are out of the way of the foot traffic as people walk along the beach, more privacy and less noise. For example, if you stay near The Split you'll hear all the music and commotion. At Colinda's it was very peaceful and quiet.
Upkeep: Colinda's appears to be one of the better kept properties on the island. Of course I did not see inside all the other properties, but based on the outside look of all the places we saw (and inside a few properties we peeked in) their property is one of the better if not the best kept.
Air conditioning: Air conditioning is NOT the norm in Caye Caulker. Be sure you research this when choosing where to stay. It's not as bad as you might think, though. Our unit had air cond. in the bedroom. The upper ocean front units get great breezes and it was never an issue, but having the air cond at night for sleeping was worth having! Also, when it rained hard and was difficult to have windows open for a breeze we were thankful for air in the bedroom.
Purified water: No need to buy bottled water. They provide purified drinking water in your unit. More $$ saved.
Wifi: Free wifi provided in the unit and reliable connections. Never had a problem. Not sure if other places provide free wifi or not, but assume some don't. Saw several restaurants in town that "advertised" free wifi to diners so thinking some properties don't offer this.
For all these reasons I felt the slight difference in price for Colinda's beach front property was well worth the extra money!!! With all the extras provided it almost became a wash. And again, the price difference wasn't really that much. Our last full day on the island was a complete wash out due to rain. Then we were really glad to have a bigger unit and more space instead of feeling cramped in a tiny unit w/ no air and raining so hard you couldn't open the windows!
If you are on a budget then I would recommend staying at Colinda's in their other units. You still get all the amenities of the free bikes and kayaks, pier, swimming area, etc. Prices for other units run from $60-120/nt. Slightly smaller and some don't have kitchens, but all just as nice! We researched alot of other properties prior to our stay and looked at a number of places during our stay. We would book this property again hands down!
Things To Do:
Diving: Number of dive shops on the island. Husband is an advanced diver and dove The Blue Hole. Therefore, we wanted the most reputable dive shop due to the nature of this dive. Chose Belize Diving Services. $255 + $30 to rent equipment. Blue Hole is ranked the #7 Best Dive spot in the World and it lived up to it's reputation. It's a long day (arrive at dive shop 5:15 a.m., return 5'ish pm). Other dive shops on the island, but this was the only dive he did. Others I think were a bit less expensive, but often smaller boats. My husband prefers larger boats especially for this dive which was a 2+ hr boat ride to the dive spot(s). All their dive equipment also appeared to be nearly brand new. Good ratio of divers to dive masters. I think for 15 divers they had 4-5 dive masters?
Snorkeling: A number of operators to choose from. Ragamuffin seems to be the most popular and the boat always looked full. BlackHawk Sailing was another choice. Ras Creek Tours offered the same snorkeling tours, but not a sail boat. He is a completely different experience! Snorkeling with the sharks and sting rays is a must do! We have snorkeled w/ sting rays before, but it was always a crowded environment. This is much more "intimate" and back to nature instead of feeling commercialized.
On this trip we used BlackHawk Sailing for our all day (10:30 - 4:30'ish) snorkel adventure. $60/person. Ragamuffin was $70/person. Both used sail boats, but Ragamuffin is a larger boat and definitely more people and more crowded. We had 4 people on our tour including us. Ragamuffin boats looked to have 20+ people. However, there were a few things to point out. Steve (tour operator) attitude w/ us in the a.m. was less than pleasant. We signed up for the tour 2 days in advance. He said check in w/ me at 9 a.m. the day of the tour to make sure we have at least 2 other people sign up and are still going. I gave him our names and where we were staying in case he needed to contact us. The night before the tour I sent him an email to see if we were still going. Didn't receive a response so arrived at his place at 9:08. He was upset b/c he had just turned away 2 people b/c he didn't think we were coming. Another couple showed up and we talked him in to taking us. When we signed up 2 days prior I asked about paying w/ cr card. He said no problem. Came time to pay that day and he was not happy about us using a card and said really, you don't have any cash? The other couple needed to use a cr card too and his response was oh $h!t! What he also had failed to tell us 2 days ago was there was a $12 surcharge for using the card. If he had told me that I would have brought cash. Prefer to use the cr card and get the frequent flier miles, but not for $12 extra. Another item was he said lunch would be fish burgers or veggie burgers. Veggie burger turned out to be a sandwich on fresh wonderful bread from the local bakery with lettuce, tomato and cucumber. Very good, but that's not a veggie BURGER. That's a veggie sandwich. The fish burger was also not a burger. It was canned tuna or fish of some sort which he used to make tuna fish salad sandwiches w/ lettuce and tomato. Again, very good, but that's not a BURGER. Fresh fruits were served after the 1st snorkel. Fresh conch ceviche and rum punch were served on the sail back to CC. Snorkeling was very good, but that has nothing to do with him. That's mother nature and luck of the draw on what you see or don't see. I might book this tour operator again solely based on the number of passengers on his trips vs Ragamuffin. However, I would first check around and see if I could find another small operator first.
Ras Creek Tours: He has an old boat that he has turned in to a lot of fun. The boat itself is part of the experience. He is parked at The Split. Day snorkeling tours are 12-5 ($50/person?). Evening sunset tours are 5:30-7 ($20/person). We went one evening to take the sunset tour. He still had his day snorkelers on board cooking them dinner (fresh caught fish from their trip that day). He told us he wasn't going out for a sunset tour b/c it was cloudy, but said come aboard and join the party (only 2 other couples). He proceeded to feed us dinner. He didn't ask for any $$, but we of course left him something for feeding us. He allows you to bring your own beverages on board if you like. $10 for 6 beers at the bar next door.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP): Contour Ocean Ventures is the only SUP on the island. This was my favorite activity of the week! We did the sunset paddle tour and was perfect for first timers. Tour was 4:30-6 for $30. The owner said if you want come at 4 and we'll let you just paddle around in the water for awhile to practice. Tour was supposed to end at 6, but really ended closer to 6:30. Really got our money's worth. Paddled to The Split and beyond, just as the sun was going down we sat on our boards to have a beer, and once the sun was down we paddle for a bit more before heading back. Not as hard as I thought, but I also do a lot of yoga and core training. My husband thought it was a bit more difficult, but he's also still healing from a sprained ankle. They offer several different tours, but would recommend this one to first give it a try OR rent by the hour to play around on your own. They offer a SUP Fitness and a SUP Yoga class. I wanted to try both, but unfortunately I was the only person signed up and the class was not offered. Contour also offers wind surfing lessons, but we did not try this.
Island Tubing: Anda Da Water Tours offers a fun tour of the island by pulling you behind the boat on an intertube all while enjoying your favorite beverage! We did not get to do this tour. They require a minimum of 4 people and no one else ever signed up besides my husband and I.
Beach Massage: There are several "formal" places to get a massage or spa treatment. However, if you go just before The Split (later in the wk he was located closer to The Split) there is someone set up at the beach. Most treatments were $15-25/half hour. However, on Monday he was offering a special of $30/hr for any treatment. He did an excellent job. Send your spouse to the Lazy Lizard next door for a $10 bucket of beer while you are getting your massage and tell him/her to save you one. Or, there are 2 tables side by side so have them join you! Not sure if this $30/hr special was random or offered every Monday. I'm sure if he was not officially offering it you could negotiate if business looked slow that day!
Random Yoga: They are located on Front Street across from Contour Paddle Boarding. They offer a sunrise and sunset yoga class. All levels of experience welcome. No cost. Donations requested. Sunrise vs sunset offered on alternate days. Sunrise at 6 am and sunset at 5 pm. Didn't not try the sunrise class, but definitely enjoyed the sunset class.
Nature Trail: At the south end of the island is a nature trail. You see very little written about it on Trip Advisor, etc. You don't hear many people on the island talk about it. No idea why. Good place for a hike, a bike ride or a run. Some of the various plants are marked and they are somewhat groomed trails. From the restaurant Tropical Paradise cut through the cemetery to the beach front. Follow the beach front past Colinda's Cabanas and just stay on the trail. You'll pass the airport and just keep going. We were unable to take the full trail b/c at one point it was flooded out b/c of the recent rains.
Kayak and bike rental: If your hotel/cabana does not provide bikes or kayaks I would definitely recommend renting for at least a few hours. We used the kayaks almost every day of our trip. The water is very calm all around the island. The visibility is also very good so you could possibly see alot while kayaking. I had terrible luck and saw almost nothing all week, but others said they saw lots of fish, sting rays, etc.... Again, that's mother nature and it's a gamble what you will and won't see.
Fishing: I know there are a number of options for fishing tours. This is not something we are interested in so I don't have any information on these tours.
Outdoor Movie Theater: We did not check this out during our visit. We had wanted to, but the movies shown where never ones we were interested in. I believe they are only shown on M/W/Fr, but confirm this. $6/person and they sell popcorn, etc.... It's outdoors so be sure to take your skin so soft or oil to avoid sand fleas.
Manatee Tour: We did not do this tour. We have actually swam w/ manatees in FL. Based on the locals I spoke w/ this tour would be a big disappointment in comparison. You do not get in the water with them and it's hit or miss if you see just a few.
Soooo many dining options to choose from on this little island! You'll eat extremely well and very reasonably priced. MANY places which offer a full lobster meal (lobster, veggie, rice, bread) all for $10. Many will then offer a free rum punch drink from like 5-7 pm. Portions are large everywhere you go and my husband and I typically split a meal. Some of the places we enjoyed:
Enjoy Bar and Restaurant: On Front Street near the pier. We had a chicken dinner, veggies, rice, garlic bread (he even brought us more bread at no charge) for $7.50! This same meal after 5 pm also included free rum punch and dessert.
Grills on the beach: There are several places which just have a grill fired up along the beach serving up the local catch. Don't pass these places by! Good food and good deals.
Frans: Located on Front Street. Walked by one evening and they were grilling on the beach. $10 for grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, garlic bread and 2 rum punches. Even gave me more garlic bread for no extra charge. One of more favorite meals.
Panda Dragon (across from Frans): Serves a hamburger and fries for $3.50. However, we never personally ate there.
Blue Water Deli: Can't remember the side street it is located on, but is located behind Random Yoga. Sorry! Very good and again inexpensive. Lobster ceviche $7.50, HUGE chicken burrito $4 and $2 for some local appetizer. Again, don't pass up the places that look like someone put a few picnic tables in their yard and will cook for you. Best meals!
Barrier Reef Sports Bar: We did not eat there. Stopped for a drink our 1st night to check it out b/c it's so talked about on Trip Advisor. Quickly realized it's not for us. Was loud and service impersonal. If you want to watch your favorite team, though, this seems to be the place to go and perhaps the only place to go.
Tropical Paradise: This restaurant is the closest to Colinda's Cabanas. Waterfront dining. We had the lobster kabobs. Probably our least favorite meal of the wk. Most expensive, worst service and smallest portion. Bucket of 6 beers came w/ free chips and salsa = $10. $10 for 6 beers is typical anywhere else, but they were the only place we saw who then threw in free chips and salsa (one small order only, no refills). (2) Lobster kabobs w/ 2 small sides was $13. Solidified our earlier thought of we are better to dine at the off the beaten path places.
Glenda's: Morning cinnamon rolls - 50 cents each. Go early b/c sells out by 8:30'ish. Everyone raves about them on Trip Advisor. Weren't my favorite. They were definitely soft, fluffy and fresh, but they were dry in my opinion. They do not have any frosting. Would be good for coffee drinkers to dunk in coffee.
Caye Caulker Bakery: Cinnamon rolls for $1.00. They were larger than the ones at Glenda's and I thought they were MUCH better! They had frosting on them, raisins and some type of jam cooked throughout. Much preferred them to the ones at Glenda's that everyone talks about.
Breakfast tacos: There are several vendors who sell breakfast tacos from a street cart. We had 6 small chicken bkst tacos for $1!
Syd's: Fried chicken and mashed potatoes for $4.50. Very popular and was good, but preferred a few other places we tried.
Chan's: Offers take out meals. All around $5'ish. We tried the stewed chicken + rice/beans + potato salad for $3.50. Located on a side street.
Marins: Roof top dining located on the side street down from Tropical Paradise. We had (2) 10 inch burritos + 2 beers for $11. Serve bkst as well. One of my more fav meals. Cute and off the beaten path which is what we prefer.
88 West: Taco Tuesday all day long! $1.50 tacos which are somewhat small, but very good. Located near Belize Diving Services on Back Street. Otherwise, I thought their prices were high especially considering they are near the back of the island.
Wish Willys: Our final meal on the island was at Wish Willy's. Great way to finish our trip. All meals are $7.50 and include veggies and rice. He also typically brings out free cocktails later in the evening if you are still around. We had 2 entrees, 4 beers and he brought us 4 rounds of free rum drinks. Only charged us $20! My husband had spicy shrimp, I had the veggie plate and friends we met had jerk chicken and the lobster plate. Everyone raved!
Delivery: Heavy rain most of our last day on the island unfortunately. Found out most places will delivery for an extra charge of $5.
Grocery Stores: Many options, but like any other Caribbean island prices are high. We found the best option to be the one recommended by Colindas. They are located on Middle Street - China Town Supermarket.
Slow Season: First part of Nov is still considered slow season. There were some places that were not open, just returning and/or we had issues w/ tours not having enough people and getting canceled. We travel this wk every yr for our wedding anniversary. We love it b/c wherever we go it's "slow". We've never had an issue w/ tours getting canceled, etc. Instead we usually end up w/ very small and sometimes private tours. This island is a lot smaller, though, so its a bit different. Just keep this in mind. Prior to your trip don't be set on certain tours on certain days especially if traveling slow season. I am usually a planner, but was much more flexible w/ this trip. If Sep/Oct/Nov you may find some tours are not available or get canceled b/c not enough interest.
Sand fleas: Take skin so soft or some type of oil to protect yourself against the sand fleas. Colinda's Cabanas kept this on the owners patio and available for guests at all times. Be sure to use it. One night of not using it and you won't forget again!
Water bottles: We always travel w/ 2 empty water bottles to fill during our travels. Colinda's offers a water "cooler" in each unit so was perfect for filling our bottles each day instead of buying water.
Rain: In the event of rain there is not much else to do on this island. In fact, there is NOTHING to do unfortunately. Our last full day on the island was a complete wash out. Was glad we had a few odds and ends of food in our cabana so we didn't have to go out and drown along the way. Colinda's had a rain poncho and umbrellas available for us. There is also delivery available for $5 fee.
All in all, EXCELLENT trip! We are very active people and were concerned we would not have enough to do. NEVER once felt that way. Colinda's Cabanas was a gem of a place to stay. Wish we could find somewhere like this to stay everywhere we travel! Favorite excursion: Stand Up Paddle for me and Blue Hole diving for my husband. Favorite meal: Wish Willy's for both of us!
If anyone has any questions feel free to contact me.
Go Slow and Enjoy!