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Also, the paths are dark and jungly at night and either your imagination or a stubbed toe will get the best of you. Grab a soda out of the community fridge and write it down on the honor system.

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Daytime lounging in jungle heat will inevitably lead to a dip in the river. We grabbed a few old inner tubes, asked for basic directions and headed out for a float. A few fish bites to the bum were a small price to pay for our own private canine lead tour in emerald green waters surrounded by jungle noises. When lounging and floating turns mundane, you bring out the big guns of local adventures.

Caracol and Tikal are the nearby Mayan ruins reminding us that we are mere blips on the timeline of civilization. Horseback riding, river tubing and of course caves round off the smorgasbord, but one of these grottos will nestle deep into your memory for life: Walking into a cave can be intimidating enough. If there has ever been a place to ruminate on existential matters, this is it.

This is the real deal.

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This is you as Indiana Jones exploring something remarkable. No cameras are allowed in the cave, so staying present is a bonus side effect. We absorbed the gravity of that sentiment when our group turned off their headlamps to experience the engulfing blackness. On the way out, we took the shortcut via underground stream and swam through rock formations, turning our heads sideways not to get stuck.

Goonies never seemed more real. By the time the fireflies came out, we were back at the lodge. In the residential area of town, they amassed several massive barbecues, covered tents in case of rain and a speaker system to rival any club in Ibiza. When the night ended, we retreated to our cabin by the river, where Mayan spirits spoke to us in hushed tones. From San Ignacio, we craved the beach again and headed back toward Belize City, where you can catch a scenic flight on a small plane to Ambergris Caye.

After the peaceful seclusion of the jungle, the bustling, touristy town felt a bit overwhelming, so we hopped a ferry to Caye Caulker instead, more of a backpackers' paradise with sandy streets and less buzz.

Beyond the resorts and postcard views is a wild, wild country

This caye we liked so much that we settled in for four nights and used it as our home base for exploring the outlying reefs and dive sites. Accommodations are fairly basic, but a few nicer hotels and bungalows will appeal to even the more discerning traveler. As always, the local spots deliver the most authentic and satisfying choices.

Words to live by. The best part of Caye Caulker is the laid-back island vibe. No one is in a hurry to do anything or be anywhere. Days are spent at the Split , a popular swimming area that divides two sections of the island, roaming the sandy streets in search of cocktails and jumping aboard excursions. The biggest dive adventure in Belize is undoubtedly the famed Blue Hole. Stalactites are readily visible and otherworldly in this submerged seascape. Coral and the occasional napping shark can be spotted along the ledges. What is, in my opinion, even more marvelous than the Blue Hole itself is the system of reefs and atolls that surround it.

Lighthouse Reef , Half Moon Caye Wall and The Aquarium are the other dive sites most outfitters combine with the Blue Hole experience, and all are stunning in terms of biodiversity, biomass and reef health. Sponges the size of dinner tables, sea turtles and reef sharks dominate your view as schools of tropical fish engulf you like colorful swarming butterflies. We stopped for lunch on Half Moon Caye amidst elegantly tall palms that swept the cerulean sky with their crowns and swayed indifferently in the soft breeze.

Thousands of hermit crabs parade from one side of the caye to the other, patrolling the sand for edibles and shell upgrades.

Caye Caulker Belize: A Slice of Paradise

As a matter of fact, at the heart of what makes Belize so extraordinary is exactly that: Bells, whistles and amenities be damned when life slows down to a leisurely pace and warm sand cushions your steps toward tropical waters. You've successfully subscribed to the New York edition of InsideHook. Perhaps you want more? Site Search Guided Search.

What it also contained was the snake to my Indiana Jones. And in the jungle you are. Live a more interesting life. Sign up to get the best of InsideHook delivered straight to your inbox every weekday. In our experience you're apt to arrive later than you think anyway - just the way it usually works in CA. Although the water will be calmer inside the reef than outside Tobacco Caye is right on the reef , my experience with boats - I would think especially true if you have to scrounge something up after dark - is they tend to have very little freeboard and very few life jackets.

In other words, I wouldn't make that crossing so late in the day. Dangriga isn't the greatest place to hang imo - any chance you could arrive a few hours earlier?? This is the first time I have ever been on the tripadvisor forum Thanks guys for the info!!! Wish we could arrive earlier, but our flight doesn't get into Belize City until 3: Thanks to you, we won't make the trip to Tobacco Caye until the morning: Also, since we will be in Dangriga for the evening Sorry - I can't help much as have only been in Dangriga a few times passing through.

You could check out the cool downloads on Lan Sluder's site below or check in your guidebook. You could also look into staying somewhere near the airport and flying down the next day - there are some good options and it might be nice to break up the travel time there. I haven't been to Tobacco Caye for several years, so I hesitate to comment on safety. We felt perfectly safe. The island is so minuscule that there would truly be no where for a 'bad' person to hide, at least not for any length of time. Hi, just reading your post as this is my same dilemma- please can you update this on your experience on Tobacco Caye and where you stayed and cost?

I really like Tobacco Caye. It is a very unique place -- funky little Garifuna village packed into a very, very small Caye. Excellent snorkeling off the south end of the Island. Been there many times, often with charter guests, and never had any concerns about security. Don't know of any problems that have occurred there. Funky little beach bar on the west side of the island is a good place to have a few Belikins and watch the sun set. We loved our experience on Tabacco Caye.

We usually are more resort kind of people, but this was such a great experience. Another couple and us were the only ones on the island beside the people who live there full time. We checked out both hotels when we got to the island and stayed at Tobacco Caye paradise. It isn't much, but the rooms are clean and the food is great and plentiful. The staff is also very hepful!!

Belize, a paradise for tourists and drug traffickers

Oh, and you can't beat the price!!! We felt very safe the whole time! I don't think I would have wanted to stay in Dangria for the night if I didn't have to. There didn't seem like much to do there! We did eat down by the boat dock and had a good meal. We also bought supplies and drinks before we went over to the island.

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Tabacco Caye Paradise is the place to stay if you are going to the island! It is really basic, but very clean. The decks over the water are what make this place the best to stay on the island. The water is so clear and you can see rays and fish right off your deck. Alvin, the manager was so helpful! He likes it if you call him by his middle name, so be sure to ask him what that is.: The food was great and there is always plenty of it!

George is a must for snorkling or lobster fishing. Also, AC is great!!! He will take you snorkeling or fishing AC's family is so nice too! Tobacco Caye is such a neat experience!