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Belizean Bike Utopia

Just 21 nautical miles from the Belizean capital of Belize City and roughly 70 nautical miles from the southern Mexican city of Chetumal, lies a small patch of paradise.

 

 

Having spent a couple of weeks exploring Mexico's Yucutan and Quintana Roo states, Kate jumped on a boat in Chetumal to spend a few days soaking up the sun in the Caribbean sea. Here's what she found. 

 

 

Composed entirely of white coral sand, Caye Caulker (pronounced 'Key Corker') is a small island that is big on bikes. In fact, bikes (and golf buggies) are the only way to get around 'quickly'. 

Now, at just five miles long (two and a half miles cyclable), and less than a mile wide, Caye Caulker is not the place if you're looking for a hardcore ride: you can rent a bike with a few gears and a basket for $5 a day, but travel at over 6 or 7 mph and the locals will call at you to follow the island motto and 'go slow'! 

 

 

Caye Caulker is a laid back place with incredible nearby reefs, mouth-wateringly fresh seafood, and oodles of tropical wildlife. So, of course, the main reason to visit is not to go biking. But with a bit of free time between snorkelling trips, kayaking through the mangroves at the south end of the island, and lazing the days away at 'The Split', Kate decided to rent a bike for a morning of touring. 

Bikes can be rented from a number of grocery stores on the island's Front Street, right by the ferry terminal. Kate picked one up there before cycling half a mile or so up to the north end of the island, grabbing a coke for some liquid energy, and turning around and to head down south. 

 

 

With no traffic to contend with, Kate could spend the whole (short) ride taking in the sights, sounds and smells of Caye Caulker. The air carried the wafting scent of Errolyn's Fry jacks being prepared for breakfast, and the calls of some of Belize's tropical birds; flowers popped colour over fences and walls, and dogs roamed the island freely in search of some food or a pat. 

 

 

There wasn't much of particular note to see but somewhere just after halfway, Kate came across the Caye Caulker airport and stopped to watch a couple of flights take off and land. Some were heading off for flights over Belize's Great Blue Hole, while others ferried passengers to and from Belize City. 

 

 

This point also marked the end of the hard packed sand 'roads'...and the beginning of 'off-road'! Kate continued as far as she could but eventually ended up getting stuck trying to cross tree roots over sand that was too wet. She also began to wonder how long it would be before she came across a creepy creepy crawly or a snake. Time to turn around!

She cycled back down to the south end, parked up her bike (locks schmocks), jumped in the water at the Lazy Lizard, and ordered lunch. 

What a morning!

Caye Caulker is, of course, a tiny island with a population under 2,000 but it did make Kate wonder whether a cycling utopia could actually exist. What's the closest you've ever visited to a biking paradise?