Caye Caulker Forest Reserve

Caye Caulker

The northernmost 100 acres of the island constitute the Caye Caulker Forest Reserve, declared in 1998. Birdlife is prolific in the reserve, particularly wading birds, such as the tricolored heron, and songbirds, including the mangrove warbler. Somewhat rare species that can be spotted include the white-crowned pigeon, rufus-necked rail and black catbird. Inland lagoons provide habitat for crocodiles and turtles, five species of crab, boa constrictors, scaly tailed iguanas (locally called 'wish willies'), geckos and lizards.

The littoral forest on Caye Caulker is mostly red, white and black mangrove, which grows in the shallow water. The mangroves' root systems support an intricate ecosystem, including sponges, gorgonians, anemones and a wide variety of fish. Besides the mangroves, the forest contains buttonwood, gumbo-limbo (the 'tourist tree'), poisonwood, madre de cacao, ficus and ziracote. Coconut palms and Australian pines are not native to this region, but there is no shortage of them.

The forest reserve is an excellent, but very challenging destination for kayakers. You may prefer to paddle up the calmer, west side of the island to avoid strong winds and rough seas. There's also an excellent new tour with Richard's Adventures that brings intrepid guests along a 1-mile boardwalk through the crocodile habitat.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Caye Caulker attractions

1. The Split

2.51 MILES

A narrow channel that splits Caye Caulker into two, the Split has clean, deep waters free of seaweed, making it one of the island's best swimming areas…

2. Public Beach

2.58 MILES

There is not much in the way of sand at Caye Caulker's public beach, just before the Split, but sun lovers make use of the crumbing sea wall to take a…

3. Caye Caulker Marine Reserve


Declared a marine reserve in 1998, the 61-sq-mile Caye Caulker Marine Reserve includes the portion of the barrier reef that runs parallel to the island,…

5. Catholic Church


The island's Latin roots can be observed at the simple Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion church which serves the Catholic community.

6. Shark Ray Alley

4.96 MILES

Only snorkeling is allowed at this perennially popular spot, which is in a shallow part of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Shark Ray Alley was traditionally…

7. Hol Chan Marine Reserve

5.46 MILES

At the southern tip of Ambergris, the 6.5-sq-mile Hol Chan Marine Reserve is probably Belize's most oft-visited diving and snorkeling site. It offers…

8. Hol Chan Canyons

5.76 MILES

Four miles south of San Pedro, this part of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve is famous for its dramatic canyons and ample sea life, including eagle rays,…