The Best B&B in Caye Caulker: A Review of Yocamatsu

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As someone who stays mainly in hostels, I tend to feel out of place in the types of places where they provide you with towels and soap. I love a little luxury but it can be awkward walking in to a fancy resort with my bright green Osprey backpack. That’s why I was overjoyed to find this adorable little b&b on Caye Caulker.

Yocamatsu is the perfect mix of luxury and laid-back island vibes.

I stayed at Yocamatsu for all four nights that I was on the island but I’m secretly plotting ways I can move in and stay forever. The rooms are beautiful and clean and the exteriors are bright and colorful. It’s the kind of place where you feel pampered but don’t feel like you need to wear an evening gown to grab a drink at the bar.

There are only three rooms on the whole property: Sea, Sand, and Sunshine rooms. The rooms are actually individual cabañas so you really get a sense of privacy. I stayed in the Sea room and I seriously never wanted to leave.

The cabañas are straight out of my childhood island treehouse fantasies. The beds are ‘stretch out every limb of your body and still have extra space’ big. Comforters are typically laughable in Belize but the air conditioning is so good here that you’ll actually make use of it. Each room also has a TV, mini fridge, and coffee maker. Everything in the room is decked out in fresh jungle foliage when you first arrive. The bathrooms are the best I encountered on the island. They’re spotless and come with plush towels, unnecessary hot showers, and high-end toiletries.

Here’s everything you get when you book a room at Yocamatsu:

  • Air Conditioning

  • Plush Towels

  • Luxury Linens

  • High End Bath Amenities

  • Coffee Maker

  • Private Rooftop Bar with Ocean Views

  • WiFi

  • 24-hour On-site Management

  • Flat Screen TV

  • Full Breakfast

  • Housekeeping

  • Mini Refrigerator

  • Welcome Drink

Make sure you eat breakfast at the property. It’s seriously 5-star quality. I was the first vegan guest they ever had so I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve just got to say — they could open up a vegan restaurant with the quality of food I was served. Seriously think the most successful Pinterest recipe you’ve ever made and multiply that by 100 and that’s what was on my plate every morning.

Fresh fruit, oatmeal, and black bean sausages

Fresh fruit, oatmeal, and black bean sausages

Pancakes, fresh fruit, and a vegan protein smoothie

Pancakes, fresh fruit, and a vegan protein smoothie


The location of the property is perfect: convenient to all the main action, yet private.

It’s right in the middle of the action, just a couple blocks from the water taxi dock. Just a short walk down the main road and you’re at famous split and all the best restaurants on the island. But don’t worry — you can burn off that 5 pounds you just gained from breakfast with any one of the adventure activities nearby. I highly recommend a full-day snorkeling trip to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.

Yocamatsu is also secluded enough that you can hide away in your cabaña all day. The only entrance is from the soccer field so not much foot traffic goes by. The whole property is covered in trees so the rooms feel very private.

To get there you just walk down Front Street and turn left on to Chapoose Street. Walk until you reach the soccer field. Once you enter the field, Yocamatsu is about halfway down on the right.

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The staff were what made my stay really special.

Seriously, the only way they could have gone more above and beyond is if they gave me a piggy-back ride around the island and fanned me with leaves. The owner, Greg, is a top-knotch host. He arranged for a driver to pick me up from the Belize City airport and was waiting for me at the water taxi dock when I arrived on the island. He lives onsite so he is literally available 24/7. If all that isn’t enough, he cooks the best breakfast on Caye Caulker.

The manager, Ellis, also lives on the property. This guy is like a hospitality machine. He’s always got a fresh pot of coffee ready to go the second you wake up in the morning. As soon as you get back from a day of snorkeling or laying on the beach, he’s on his porch asking if everything is going okay with your stay.

I can honestly say I have never stayed anywhere with a more helpful and attentive staff.

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Final Thoughts

I really have nothing negative to say about my time at Yocamatsu. The staff is incredible, the location is perfect, and the rooms are clean and well-maintained. It’s the perfect property for couples or solo travelers looking to treat themselves a bit. The rooms start at a reasonable $109 a night. Check out their website here and their reviews and current rates here.

For high-end luxuries in a laid-back island setting, you can’t find a better property than Yocamatsu

*Note: Some of the above are affiliate links and I will earn a tiny percentage of the sale if you purchase through them at no extra cost to you. I received a complimentary 4-night stay from Yocamatsu. All opinions are 100% my own regardless of who is footing the bill. 

Hol Chan Marine Reserve: Unbelizeable Snorkeling in Caye Caulker

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Caye Caulker is not the type of place you go to with a long list of things to do. You’ll more than likely just end up spending your days sipping Belikins and floating in the turquoise Caribbean waters anyways. And trust me, you’ll be fine with it. But there’s one activity that you have to do on Caye Caulker — a snorkeling trip to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.

Belize is actually home to the second largest barrier reef in the world. This means Belize offers some pretty incredible diving and snorkeling. Think colorful coral, huge schools of fish, sea turtles, graceful rays, and friendly nurse sharks.

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Shark-Ray Alley and Hol Chan Marine Reserve are two of Belize’s most popular tourist attractions. You’ll see brightly colored signs all over Caye Caulker offering full and half day snorkeling trips out to these hot spots. It can be overwhelming to choose who to go with.

I decided on Raggamuffin for a few reasons:

  1. Their commitment to sustainability. Unlike other tour groups, they don’t participate in the harmful practice of handling or feeding the sharks and rays. We saw other groups grabbing at marine life and trying to ride the sharks (seriously). They also don’t use any single-use plastic or styrofoam to serve up their delicious food (and rum punch) on board.

  2. They are the only tour company that goes out in sailboats. If you’re especially lucky, you’ll get to go out on their huge catamaran. Pull out your soft smile and condescending wave when other tour groups zip by you on their cramped speedboats.

  3. The crew is incredible. Raggamuffin has been operating tours around Caye Caulker since 2002 and they are the most trusted and reputable tour operator on the island.

The Stops

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We took a short walk to a small dock on the other side of the island and our guide bought a bag of sardines from a local woman. We watched in delight and horror as he waved the frozen fish above the water and giant tarpons splashed through the surface to grab a bite. Out of nowhere he was passing the bag around letting us practice our predator-feeding skills. I’m proud to say I left the scene with all of my fingers.

After that we boarded the beautiful catamaran and hit the open road (sea).

After a little while our driver stopped the boat and told us they had spotted a manatee. Our guides handed out the snorkel gear and gave us the okay to get in the water. I couldn’t believe I was actually seeing a manatee out in its natural habitat. Manatees need space to come up for air so we couldn’t get too close but holy sea cow it was amazing watching it swim around.

Holy sea cows!

Holy sea cows!

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A short while later the boat made another unexpected stop when a friendly sea turtle was spotted. Once again, we all got out and observed the beautiful creature swimming around in his ocean home. I swam with sea turtles in Mexico so I took this as an opportunity to practice my free diving and ask my guide for some tips. He sat patiently in the water as I flopped around and tried to get deeper than a few feet under the surface and then gave me pointers when I came up for air. Talk about a guide who goes above and beyond.

Our third stop was another unexpected one — exploring a shipwreck covered in corals. This was a barge that sank some 20+ years ago. Throughout the years its become an artificial reef and some friendly sea life now calls it home. I had never seen a shipwreck before so this was definitely a treat.

Next up we visited the star of the show — Shark and Ray Alley. Here, wild nurse sharks, stingrays, and schools of fish swarm the boats in hopes of being fed. This attraction is essentially manmade. For years, local fisherman cleaned their catch of the day in this area located just inside the reef. Nurse sharks and southern stingrays began congregating in the area on the lookout for scraps.

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It was a thrill being face to face with wild sharks and rays. Despite knowing full well neither were interested in snacking on me, I still lost my breath a few times when one passed right by my head.

I couldn’t believe how much marine life we had already witnessed — sharks, stingrays, turtles and manatees, oh my! But our day wasn’t over yet. Our last stop of the day was the famous Hol Chan Marine Reserve. 

‘Hol Chan’ is Mayan for “little channel”. The channel is about 75 feet wide and 30 feet deep. On either side of the channel are huge formations of coral that are home to more than 500 species of fish. The reef isn’t spectacularly colorful but it is much healthier than most of the coral I saw in Thailand. At one point our guide pointed out a little opening in the coral. Before we knew it he was diving into it and a couple seconds later he came out the other end. Several of my braver co-tourists took their turn but I wasn’t confident enough in my breath-holding abilities to attempt it.

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After awhile, we boarded the boat again and began our hour-long journey back to Caye Caulker. The guides broke out the bottomless rum punch and ceviche (vegan for me) and cranked up the reggae.

spoiler: vegan ceviche is pretty much just salsa

spoiler: vegan ceviche is pretty much just salsa

Queen of the rum punch

Queen of the rum punch

They dropped us off on the other end of the Split, at their beach club called Koko King. This may be an inconvenience for some, as you have to take a boat back to the main part of the island, but I didn’t mind at all. Koko King has an awesome beach bar, inner tubes to float in, a pool (for a fee) and a water trampoline. The perfect place to sit back and watch the sun go down. Plus we got wristbands that allowed us to use their water taxi service for free, which came in handy for the Full Moon Party they were hosting at Koko King later that night.

The Good

This was by far one of the best days I spent in Belize. The boat was amazing, the snorkeling was unbelizeable, and the free-flowing rum punch was icing on the cake. I had an incredible crew — if you ever take a Raggamuffin tour say hi to Carlos, Chris, Shaq, and Jerry from me. The crew is a lot of fun but extremely professional at the same time. Shaq took some incredible pictures and videos for me while I was snorkeling and pointed out all the different kinds of coral and marine life.

I also really appreciate their commitment to sustainability. Although their website says they participate in feeding the sharks and rays, they did not do this on my particular tour.

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The Bad

Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley were also extremely crowded. I got bumped into quite a bit and took a few flippers to the face. This is not a reflection of Raggamuffin, or any one tour company, but don’t go on this tour expecting to have intimate one-on-one time with the animals.

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Would I recommend this tour?

The crew

The crew

100%. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime type experience. Raggamuffin goes above and beyond to ensure that all of their guests have an incredible tour.

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary tour from Raggamuffin. As always, all opinions are my own. I would never promote a company that I don’t wholeheartedly believe in. 

12 Things to Know Before Traveling to Belize

Almost every local I met while traveling solo in Belize asked me the same question:

“Why did you choose Belize?”

And to be honest I didn’t really have an answer. I was browsing Southwest airline’s new Central American destinations one day (as one does in their free time). I had already traveled to Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica recently. Jamaica, Aruba, and the Grand Cayman islands all sounded out of my budget. So I landed on Belize.

It wasn’t until after I booked my tickets that I started researching what Belize had to offer and to be honest…the internet kind of let me down. There’s not as much information available for travel and facts about Belize as there are in places like Thailand, Indonesia, or Italy.

So here you go internet. I put together a list of 12 facts about Belize that will be helpful to know before traveling there.

It’s the only English-speaking country in Central America

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Many travelers are surprised to find out that English is the official language of Belize, especially because the country shares borders with Mexico and Guatemala. Belizeans speak English because the country was actually under British rule until 1981.

In fact, most Belizeans are actually trilingual – they speak English, Spanish, and Kriol. Some also speak other local dialects such as Garifuna and Maya.

English-speakers will find it incredibly easy to get around the country and chat it up with locals.


There IS a difference between rice & beans and beans & rice

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I remember one of my first days I asked my waiter what the difference was. He laughed a little bit and rolled his eyes and I could just feel the word tourist being branded onto my forehead. I’m here to save you from a tiny bit of embarrassment. Rice and beans consists of rice and beans MIXED together and cooked with coconut milk. Beans and rice refers to stewed beans in a broth with a side of rice.

The picture above is rice and beans and it’s my absolute favorite dish in Central America.


You can pay in US currency almost everywhere

Cash is king in Belize. Some restaurants, big stores, and tour companies do accept credit cards but there is often a large fee to use them. Luckily for U.S. citizens, the USD is accepted just about everywhere in the country.

The steady exchange rate of 2:1 makes it easy to pay in US currency. Fair warning though – you may get your change back in a mixture of US and Belizean dollars. And if you withdraw from an ATM you will definitely be getting Belizean currency.

Travel tip: make sure you clarify if the price quoted is in Belize dollars or USD. It’s easy to get confused when using the currencies simultaneously.


Belize is a teeny tiny country

The whole country is only about 70 miles east to west. This makes traveling between cities really easy and cheap. Do be aware that the roads are pretty rough and winding so it can take hours to drive between places even if they don’t look far apart on a map.

This also means that everyone knows everyone. In a country of only 350,000 people, you’re bound to run into someone you know. To put that into perspective, my home city of Milwaukee has a population of about 600,000 and I run into friends around town all the time. On bus rides across the country, passengers would often wave to friends and family from the window.


Odds are you’re standing on a piece of history

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There are endless Maya ruins to explore in the country. Belize was once home to at least a million Mayas, and a lot of their stunning architecture remains intact. Some of the famous ruins are Caracol, Lamanai, Xunantunich, Altun Ha, and Cahal Pech.

What most people don’t know is that there are actually thousands of Mayan ruins around the country — and most are still buried underground. If you drive anywhere where there is land clearing you will see mounds dotting the landscape. These are actually Mayan houses and buildings that date back thousands of years so odds are you’ll be standing on a piece of history at some point during your trip.


The snorkeling is unbelizeable

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Belize boasts the second longest barrier reef in the world, which means it’s home to abundant sea life and colorful corals. In fact, many people travel to Belize for the sole purpose of snorkeling or diving — it’s that good.

The reef is located just off the coast of Belize, and is best enjoyed from Hopkins, Placencia, or one of Belize’s many islands. Most snorkeling trips take you over to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, where you can swim with nurse sharks, stingrays, turtles, tropical fish, and maybe even a manatee. I took a tour with Ragamuffin Tour Company and you can check out my review of the experience here.

Experienced divers can explore The Great Blue Hole, a huge sinkhole off the coast of Belize. The hole measures 984 ft (300 meters) across and 354 ft (108 meters) deep.


You’re on Island Time

Belize has a very laid-back Caribbean vibe, especially on the islands. The motto of the entire island of Caye Caulker is “Go Slow”. If locals see you power walking to the beach, they will laugh and yell at you to “go slow”.

This also means that you’re not going to be experiencing prompt service just about anywhere in Belize. Eating at a restaurant can be a long process involving seating yourself, flagging someone down for a menu, and then waiting a long time for your food to arrive. Tours often depart 20-30 minutes after their scheduled time.

Yes, it can be frustrating when you’re trying to fit a lot into your schedule. But just remember you’re on vacation. Chill out and go slow!


Marie Sharp is the only acceptable condiment

Marie started her hot sauce company in Belize in the early 1980s and you’ll see her hot sauce on every table in Belize. Restaurants, coffee shops, airports, bus station bathrooms, you name it and you’ll probably find Marie Sharp’s there. Even if you’re not a spicy food person you can’t leave Belize without trying the sauce.


You’re not as think as you drunk you are

The national beer is the Belikin and you will find it everywhere in Belize. It’s your basic pale lager, nothing fancy but it tastes great on a hot day in the tropics.

It isn’t until you finish your first Belikin that you realize you’ve been hustled. The bottles are the same size as regular 12oz bottle but the glass is much thicker. You’re actually only getting 9.6 ounces in each bottle. Yes, they’re still a great deal but you’ll probably need to buy a couple extra to make up for the trickery. But you probably won’t mind when this is where you’ll be drinking them.


Bus rides are a full-on party

Yes, your driver will be blasting those reggae remixes of pop hits the whole 4 hour bus ride. No, it will never grow on you. Just when you begin to relax, someone will hop on the bus selling meat pies and coconut treats. The buses are also extremely crowded. If you’re lucky enough to find a seat, hold on to it tight.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t ride the bus. Taking public transport is such an incredible way to get to know the culture of the country a little bit better. So ride the bus but don’t have any expectations of getting some shuteye.


You may see dead people

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There are several ways you may end up seeing dead people on your trip to Belize.

Belize has a unique way of handling their deceased. Instead of burying the dead, the cemeteries in Belize have above-ground coffins. They’ll often be colorful and have flowers and gifts placed near them.

If you want an up-close-and-personal experience with the deceased, you can take the ATM Cave Tour. This will put you face-to-face with ancient Mayan artifacts and real human remains. Isn’t that what you look for in a vacation destination — multiple ways to encounter the deceased?


It’s an incredibly diverse country

The five largest ethnic groups in Belize are Latino, Creole, Maya, Garifuna, and, surprisingly, Mennonites. You may also encounter Chinese, East-Indian, and Middle Eastern people. The diversity of the country is evident in their multitude of colorful celebrations, flavorful dishes, and languages spoken.


So there you go, 12 facts about Belize that you should know before you go. Just like every country, Belize has its own quirks that make it unique. Have an open mind and be ready to experience a country unlike any other.

Looking for places to stay in Belize?

Booking.com

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