My first trip of 2017 was an incredible success.
For 35,000 miles on United, I booked a round-trip ticket to Belize City, just in time to escape some nasty weather in San Francisco. I didn’t travel for all of December, so that I could focus on my health and fitness (more on that in a later post!), so I was really excited and anxious to leave the city.
I thought it would be a great idea to book a flight leaving at 12:50am Friday and landing around 9am Friday, but didn’t think it through. Although getting a full Friday in Belize was great, a 12:50am Friday flight meant I’d have to stay up until 12:50am on Thursday to check-in and to (hopefully) upgrade to Economy Plus using my Silver Premier status. Okay, I probably didn’t have to, but I am pretty neurotic about checking in for my flights exactly 24 hours before I depart. Fortunately, not only was able to land Economy Plus on my flight from SFO to Houston, but was upgraded to business class on my flight from Houston to Belize City, which was a great way to start the trip.
I had visited Belize in 2008 on a cruise, but didn’t really get to experience. I became interested in going again when someone I followed on Instagram posted a picture from an idyllic beach with his laptop and the hashtag #remotework. I knew I had to go there.
From the Belize City Airport, you can either fly to Caye Caulker (around $89 one-way for a 10 minute trip) or take a water taxi, and I chose the latter. It was a $25 cab ride to get from the airport to the water taxi station, which is easy to arrange from inside the airport (a lot of visitors do this).
Something that is really cool about Belize is that they accept USD everywhere, and their money is pegged to the U.S. dollar ($1 Belize dollar = $2 USD). In Belize, you can pay for things in USD and receive Belize dollars in change, although it usually doesn’t work the other way around.
In any event, it was about a 15-minute ride to the water taxi, where I purchased a roughly $20 round-trip ticket. The water taxi station was hot, with not a lot of air-conditioning, but coming from cold San Francisco, I enjoyed it a bit. The boat itself was a bit cramped, both with tourists going to Caye Caulker and the more populated Ambergris Caye (home to San Pedro), and with locals.
After about 30 minutes, I arrived in Caye Caulker, and my first view when I got off the boat was this.
I knew right then and there that I made a good choice in picking Caye Caulker.
I booked 5 nights through Airbnb at a hotel called OASI, run by a wonderful woman named Luciana. The price was reasonable (less than $100 per night), I had an entire floor to myself, a hammock, great WiFi, a huge kitchen, a beautiful pool, and free access to bikes to use.
Note that in Caye Caulker, there aren’t really roads or cars (except those working on construction). Instead, the “taxi” system is golf carts which are $5 Belize dollars/$2.50 USD per ride, but, really, everyone bikes everywhere. The island has only 3 streets running from east to west, so it’s really hard to get lost, even with little sense of direction.
The weather was absolutely perfect during my time there. It was sunny (minus one day of showers), it wasn’t humid, and there was a really great breeze. It was exactly what I needed.
My days in Caye Caulker were pretty regimented. I would wake up naturally (around 10am), and made breakfast. I’d then get ready slowly, hop on my bike, and go explore. But really, exploring just meant plopping down on the beach in front of Margarita Mike’s, where, if you ordered a drink, you’d have access to their free WiFi. I would grab lunch, tan some more, and by around 4pm, head back to my pad so I could get some work done.
January is a tricky time to plan travel if you’re running your own business, as business is usually picking up after a December slump around then. So, even though I was on a tropical island getting a ton of work coming my way, I was thrilled about it, since my December had been a bit slow. Aside from that, having lived on Guam for 2 years, I learned how to get work done while being on a gorgeous tropical island (not a bad skill to have).
I decided that I had to take a tour out to the reef, since the Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world. Although I am SCUBA certified, I am a little rusty, so I didn’t feel comfortable tackling the Belize Blue Hole yet, and hope to go back to do it. But the snorkel tour I did take, which I did through Caveman Snorkeling Tours, was incredible. I did the afternoon tour, which cost $35 USD, lasted 3 hours, and had 8 people on a fairly small boat.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was going snorkeling in Shark Ray Alley, which is exactly like it sounds – you are swimming with nurse sharks and rays, in the most amazing turquoise water.
Something I really loved about Caye Caulker was its animal shelter. Across from Margarita Mike’s is the Caye Caulker Animal Shelter, where you can walk in any day to play with the dogs, walk them, and you can even take one with you for the day, the weekend, or forever. I thought this was an incredible idea, and, as a dog lover, I had to stop by.
I opened the gate, with nowhere there except DOGS. EVERYWHERE. I was in heaven. About 5 minutes into my petting every single puppy I could get my hands on, Kenny introduced himself, and we spoke for about 10 minutes about his work. He was saying how passionate he was about the dogs, how he took them to the vet to make sure they were okay, and tried to convince me to adopt (I wish I could have).
Another great activity is spending time at the Lazy Lizard, a bar at the location where the island splits into two. This is the most touristy place on the island (there are no resorts or anything like that), but even there the food and drinks were reasonably priced.
One benefit of working remotely from Caye Caulker, aside from the weather and beautiful, is the time zone. Caye Caulker was on Central Time, which made it really easy to work with my clients in California, particularly as I am a night person. Cell service was pretty poor, but aside from that, the WiFi and other infrastructure was perfect for me, and allowed me to complete a lot of work, while enjoying the comforts of tropical paradise.