Caye Caulker Belize
Caye Caulker is a small limestone coral island off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean Sea measuring about 5 miles (8.0 km) (north to south) by less than 1 mile (1.6 km) (east to west). The town on the island is known by the name Caye Caulker Village. Some have said the island's name is derived from the practice of caulking or sealing the seams in wooden boats to make them watertight, due to the high number of shipwrights on the island. "Caye Corker", the alternative spelling of the name used by British cartographers, has largely fallen into disuse. This was a phonetic spelling which in older English was pronounced the same.
It is now generally agreed that the name was derived at a much earlier date from the Spanish name for the island "Cayo Hicaco". This refers to the Hicaco plum (Coco Plum) which grows wild on the island and was gathered by Spanish seafarers to combat scurvy.
Caye Caulker is located approximately 20 miles (32 km) north-northeast of Belize City, and is accessible by high-speed water taxi or small plane. In recent years the island has become a popular destination for backpackers and other tourists. There are over 30 tiny hotels, and a number of restaurants and shops.
The island is basically a sand bar over a limestone shelf. Underwater caves are found in the limestone (which have claimed the lives of several scuba divers exploring them). In front of the village, a shallow lagoon, between 6 inches (150 mm) and 14 feet (4.3 m) deep, meets the Belize Barrier Reef to the east. In front of the village, the reef is known as a dry reef with the reef exposed at the surface, while further north the reef is a deep reef and lies under 2 to 8 feet (2.4 m) of water. This area is popular with windsurfers.
A narrow waterway known as the Split divides the island in two. Some people state that the Split was created by Hurricane Hattie in 1961 which devastated Belize City, however that is a myth. Villagers who actually hand dredged it maintain that it is largely a man-made feature. The Village Council Chairman at the time, Ramon Reyes, recounts that he and others dredged the waterway by hand after Hurricane Hattie opened a passage a few inches deep. This made a practical water way between the west and east sides of the island, intended at first for dugout canoes. The increased flow of tidal water has naturally dredged the opening to 20 feet (6.1 m) deep until larger boats can now easily pass. The natural erosion continues to this day and threatens the soft sand banks of the waterway.