Trip report: Caye Caulker, Belize

Trip Report: Caye Caulker, January 15, 2010
Location: the northern island of Caye Caulker, Belize
Participants: Tom Moran and Amy Marsh, Fairbanks, Alaska
Length: 2 miles (?)
Time: 2 hours

This was more of a brief excursion that a trip. Caye Caulker consists of two islands, the southern one (where 98% of the buildings and people are) and a northern one, a slender, 3-mile-long expanse of mangrove swamps. It’s possible to float all the way to the northern tip of the island, where there is a dock and nature trail, but we opted to just tootle northwards for a mile or so.
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We put in at the Split – the northernmost top of the south island – and paddled up the west side of the north island. Winds on Caye Caulker predominantly come from the east, and we were there in the middle of some unusually fierce windstorms, so the sheltered western side was our only option.
Even then, paddling was a real workout – this trip is more commonly undertaken in sea kayaks, for good reason. The current flows northward, so the trip up was reasonably easy, but the return took about twice as long and wore us both out. This is definitely a trip best reserved for calm days.
The float itself was gorgeous. The vibrant aquamarine of the water contrasted with the brooding tangles of mangroves, which we were able to penetrate briefly via a small channel.
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The end of our trip was a small, secluded beach, where we went for a cooling swim before turning around.
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Though the trip was a rewarding one, we would have preferred to go all the way to the northern tip of the island. Unfortunately, we only had a morning to spare, and a six-mile roundtrip is an all-day proposition. Furthermore, the winds were definitely less than ideal for a long day’s paddle.