We attempted to arrive at the island early on the 10:30 ferry from Belize City, but were told it was having propellor problems, and the next boat wasn't until 1:30. So I bought tickets for the ride over to Caye Caulker, which only took an hour, and we started to stroll the island in search of a place to stay for a couple nights.
After several attempts we were able to locate Morgan, the young owner of Morgan's Inn, a place situated next to a tiny cemetery to the south of the water taxi dock. Natasha and I got situated in our cabana and headed out on foot to explore the island before sundown.
We walked to "The Split," the local swimming and sunning area on the north side of the island which separates it from the Forest Reserve to the North, the two separate islands making up Caye Caulker. Wandering through one of the side streets we stumbled upon Caye Caulker Animal Shelter, run by a delightful local named Kenny. He gave us a tour, let us feed the three newborn kittens, and pet the other animals, all while giving a history of the place.
After saying our goodbyes we meandered down another small side street on the back of the island, so-called I'm guessing because it doesn't get the beautiful breeze that the Caribbean side does. At an apparent dead end we came upon a small inlet lagoon where I noticed a good size fish surfacing, and spotted a couple people lounging in hammocks dockside. They invited us to join them and explained that the giant fish were tarpon that they fed regularly.
There were around one hundred of these tarpon, all measuring 3 to 4 feet in length. We thought we should keep with the feeding the animals theme, but decided to just dip our fingers in the water and let the tarpons nibble our empty hands instead.
We ended ended our stroll on the sunset viewing dock at the Iguana Reef Inn, so I could snap some shots and enjoy the view. Chatting with other travelers, I spotted a huge stingray floating by the dock and pointed it out to the couple nearest us. Then I seemed to be "locked in," spotting its partner, and later two baby sting ray and a juvenile trying unsuccessfully to bury and hide itself in the sand.
We awoke the next day at 5:30am, not uncommon since our move to Belize, and sat on the dock to watch the sunrise. I had read about a trail that winds around the less inhabited southern part of Caye Caulker, so around mid-morning we set off for a hike. Whew! It got HOT! But it was well worth it as we spotted many local birds on the way, including spry and frigatebirds.
At the southernmost point of Caye Caulker is a dock dock jutting out amongst mangroves, and after a brief survey for crocodiles, I decided to jump in. It didn't provide much reprieve from the heat, however, as the water temperature was like a cooled hot tub.
In the blazing sun we followed "The Trail" along the island's airstrip and witnessed an out-bound plane take off. After a quick water break in the shade we headed back to the cabana, went to the store for supplies, and made burgers for lunch. I snuck a quick 30 minute nap in and then we both enjoyed the eternal breeze from our porch, reading & writing, while the neighbors in the cabana behind us sang Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds," the man strumming his guitar while the woman sang.
Waiting for the sun to start to go down and provide some relief from the heat, we planned to go out for dinner. First was the necessary stop to the Iguana Reef Inn dock to shoot the sunset, where we ended up meeting two guys on a work trip. Their insurance jobs set them up in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, but the pair flew down a week early to rent a car and drive to Belize. Smart move! After a drink and some small talk with Brian, from Virginia, and Dan, from Washington D.C., we followed them back to their room, where Brian called it a night, and me, Natasha, and Dan went out for some local cuisine.
After that the night progressed rather quickly. Drinks lead to dinner, which led to renting a golf cart to drive a block and a half, then to the Caye Caulker Sports bar, where more drinks were had while meeting new people and soaking up the island life!
For tips on shooting with a wide angle lens, go to my post Wide Angle Photography Tips.