Andy and I started our around the world trip in Belize. From there we had to figure out where we wanted to stay – knowing that we would likely end up on one of the islands. It was a tricky order as we wanted to pay $50 or less per day as we budgeted, but also wanted to have a private environment. Not only was Belize the first stop on our trip, but we would be celebrating our first anniversary there. I knew finding a place that met our requirements would be quite a challenge on a Caribbean island but I am always up for finding a deal.
Finding the Bay Breeze Apartments
I first did a search on Kayak as I normally do to get pricing of hotels in the area. I found that just about every hotel was above the $50 per night budget that we set and also did not include a kitchen. This meant that we would need to spend even more on dining.
In order to stick more closely to our budget, I went to a less conventional method of Airbnb. It was here that I found options that fit our needs. Not only was the pricing better, but many of the options also included a kitchen. While my original plan was to stay at the Cozy Cabana, there was no availability on the days that we were wanting to stay. This lead me to dig deeper where I found the Bay Breeze Apartments. With the Airbnb fee and cleaning fee, the price came in at a very reasonable $241 for the week.
The Bay Breeze Apartments
We got off of the water taxi and told a taxi driver where were were going. I did not have an actual address, only a screenshot of the property which I hoped would suffice. Luckily, with the island being so small, everyone knew where Hilda’s place was. When we arrived at the apartment, Hilda was not there but she arrived less than 5 minutes later. She gave us the keys and the run down of not only the apartment, but also the island.
Hilda is a high school principal who has lived on Caye Caulker her whole life. She has a total of 4 units in the same complex which she rents out. The units share the common outdoor space which includes a rooftop deck as well as an outdoor dining area. While I would have liked to use the outdoor space more, a mix of the heat and insects in the area deterred us. One of my concerns was that we may have noisy neighbors but in actuality we only saw one set of our neighbors one time as everyone was off doing their own thing.
While the apartment was basic, it had everything that we needed:
Our bedroom came with a full size bed and 4 pillows. While the bed was a little springy and not our favorite type of pillow, it was certainly not the worst bed that we have ever slept on.
The bathroom had 2 towels and 2 washcloths. It got a lot of use from us as we were showering 3-4 times a day due to the excessive heat.
The bathroom had hot water through what is commonly referred to as a “suicide shower”. This type of shower head heats hot water on demand instead of pulling water from a tank and is common in Central and South America. While the idea of electrical wiring so near water scared me a little, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did it heat the water to the perfect temperature, I did not have any issues. Andy can not say the same – he accidentally hit his head on the shower head and got a zap of electricity. Don’t worry though, he is OK and learned how to safely use suicide showers as we will continue to have them throughout our trip.
The kitchen had a mini-fridge, 2-burner stove, microwave, toaster oven, cookware, dish ware, and silverware.
I was excited to get a kitchen as I had grand plans of going to the market, picking up fresh seafood and cooking up dinner. Unfortunately for me, groceries on the island are obscenely expensive which meant that eating out was actually less expensive than cooking.
We used the stove to boil water into safe drinking water. This saved us money from purchasing bottled water as well as the hassle of hauling drinking water from the store to our apartment.
The only issue we had was with the mini-fridge which seemed to be cold, but never quite kept our beverages cool enough for when we took them out. We learned that once we took out a beer, we had less than 10 minutes to drink it before it turned warm.
Our rental included 2 bikes that were an absolutely necessity for getting around the island easily. Since we were so close to the ocean, it is quite easy for the bike chains and other bike components which are not made out of stainless steel to get rusted. This meant for some rough riding, but we took the island motto of “go slow” seriously and leisurely rode our bikes around. There was a second reason that we had to go slow – our seats were completely in the wrong position. Both of us like to sit high and use our full leg length to pedal, but with the seats so low we were only able to use a fraction of our leg muscles.
The internet was reliable but somewhat slow. Hilda, our host, is a high school principal who allows her neighbor and students to use the internet. Whenever the neighbor was at school or in bed the internet seemed to move somewhat faster albeit still very slow compared to US standards.
One of the perks that I didn’t even think that I would care about was the TV. I was excited when I was flipping channels one day and discovered HGTV. I was happy to be out of the heat and watch some home renovation shows. Even though the remote didn’t always work, I just went old school, standing in front of the TV and changing the stations manually when needed.
There was a small air conditioner for the unit and while we were both quite hot, we decided not to turn it on. This might be perplexing to you, but we were simply preparing for our Guatemalan hotel which we knew did not have air conditioning. We figured it would be harder to go from air conditioning to no air conditioning. I’m not sure if this was actually necessary, but we figured it would be a good idea.
The location was the biggest drawback to this apartment. You are living where all the locals live, not where there are a lot of restaurants or shops.
To get anywhere in town you need to ride your bike. While this may sound appealing, it is super hot on Caye Calker. Consider the heat then add exercise to the equation and you always seem to arrive at your destination sweaty with pieces of sand stuck to your legs. Alternatively you can also hire a taxi, but after a while, the price would get quite high.
For those that want a quiet getaway, this is an absolutely ideal place. For those that like to be in the center of the action, you may want to consider a different location closer to the downtown area and the split.
Hilda was extremely responsive and sweet as can be. That being said, the Bay Breeze Apartments were certainly a value for the price we paid. If I were to do it again, I would find an apartment near the downtown area which is better suited for our needs.
Frustrating enough, when we were walking in the downtown area, we saw plenty of apartments and hostels with private rooms that were very inexpensive and had availability. I’m not sure if availability is always this good or if they were just available as it was rainy season.
I am still mastering how to find the best places for our trip online. I really hope that I get better at finding these hidden accommodations as we have many hotels to book between now and the end of our trip in April.