Caye Caulker is such a small island, but it does have a rather busy little downtown area, and we were VERY happy we'd chosen this place, mainly because of the location. It's about a 10 minute walk south from the town center, in the quietest area of the island, which turned out to be a blessing. Upon arrival we discovered that we'd gotten there just in time for the island's annual 3-day lobster fest, which is apparently their biggest event all year, and one that the locals take very seriously. We'd originally planned on staying at the Costa Maya beach cabanas, but changed at the last minute, and boy were we glad. The lobster fest was a blast, but it was loud and boisterous, running the length of front street, RIGHT in front of the Costa Maya, as well as several other hotels, and we would have been miserable there.
The other reason that the location of this hotel is so important is that it is absolutely the coolest and breeziest spot on the entire island. Caye Caulker can be downright blazing in July, but no matter how hot we were, the moment we got to our little home, the brisk, neverending breeze would immediately cool us down. The breeze is even better on their lovely private dock, and I spent many an hour lounging in the hammocks out there. I would always take a book with me, but I didn't end up reading much -- I was always way too entertained by watching the everpresent pelicans as they dive-bombed for food directly in front of me.
Now, about the hotel itself. We didn't stay in the main building -- we were in the Caribbean Cabana, which is a little house raised up on stilts behind the main building. We liked it a lot. It wasn't perfect, and I will detail all that in a minute -- but it's important to recognize that there are certain circumstances that affect any property on Caye Caulker...and to take into account the price. For what we paid, we were thrilled. Sure there are nicer places on the island, but we priced them all, and anything nicer was also significantly more expensive. If you want luxury, you gotta pay for it -- and we were on a budget. For $69 a night (off season rate), this place was about as luxurious as you're gonna get on this island.
What we liked: it was quite roomy, with a decent-sized living room, a full kitchen, and a slightly cramped bedroom. But it's about twice the size of any of the rooms we'd looked at, for half the price. It's your own little house, which is raised up on stilts. This apparently serves two purposes: it keeps it cool, as the constant breeze flows all around it; and it keeps out the sand flies. I'd read many complaints of sand flies in many of the properties on Caye Caulker, but we never saw a single one. The decor is bright and colorful, especially the exterior paint. Oh, and you have your own little front porch, which is a GREAT place to sit to enjoy the breeze.
The website says that it has a nice view to the beach, and it does -- as I said, it's behind the main house, but you can look along the side of the house and see the beach. The main house itself is literally ON the sand, something that very few hotels in Caye Caulker can say.
The bedroom has AC that works quite well. This really helped with sleeping. The rest of the house is cooled by a large fan. We were always very comfortable, no matter how hot it was outside. The water on Caye Caulker is not drinkable, but they provided a large bottled-water dispenser right in the kitchen, which probably saved us a lot of money in buying water bottles. It was great to have a big refrigerator -- we always had cold drinks, and ate several breakfasts there.
A previous reviewer complained about the cleanliness. We had no problems with that. They have a sign right there in the room that they don't change towels/sheets every day, but if you ask them, they will. If you leave the towels on the floor, you'll have fresh ones waiting for you the next day. As for changing sheets, do YOU change your sheets every day? We sure don't! We were there for one week, and they changed the sheets once mid-week. I don't even change my own sheets that often. I have no problem helping the island inhabitants save on precious water by sleeping in sheets for a few nights. The maid didn't do dishes, but there's a sign there that you have to do your own, which is fine -- I wouldn't expect a room maid to clean up my cooking mess. I did my own dishes.
What we didn't like: It's a little shabby. It's such a cute little house, and while it's decorated with a little bit of Belizean art, I couldn't help but look around and think of all the things that could be done for very little money to make the place look adorable and charming. It's clearly not a "new" structure -- the kitchen fixtures were rather old. The bathroom is a bit rough, but everything certainly worked fine. One thing that was rather icky is that you can't put used TP in the toilet -- you have to place it in a little trash bin. However, this appears to be the way it is island-wide, as we saw the same sign in every bathroom we used. I guess their island plumbing is somewhat lacking.
The bed is a bit hard, but the mattress wasn't lumpy or saggy, so we were reasonably comfortable.
The maid did skip one day of cleaning, which was a little troublesome, given the TP situation. Our little wastebasket got rather full. But the other days she came, she did a fine job.
We didn't have a chance to get to know the owners. We were there to scuba dive, which we did every single day, so we weren't around much. I did meet them briefly, and they were quite nice. They pretty much left us alone, which was fine. Speaking of the people, we enjoyed the people on this island tremendously! Everyone was wonderfully friendly and genuine. We never felt like anyone was trying to make us spend our money or scam us. People were just...nice. We also felt VERY safe. Clearly the people on this island know where their bread and butter comes from, and while I understand there is some petty crime on the island, it's mostly among the locals...the tourists are off-limits. We met quite a few women traveling alone, and many of them said they came to this island BECAUSE it's known to be so safe.
The important thing with any accommodation is to know what to expect. This is an adorable, relatively unspoiled Caribbean island, with mostly rustic clapboard buildings throughout. The Barefoot Beach is a charming budget hotel. If you're looking for the Ritz, you won't find it here. But if you're looking for a beautiful island, spectacular sunsets, a quiet and comfortable place to stay, and the best breeze on the island, come to the Barefoot Beach.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Barefoot Beach is the Caribbean vacation spot that dreams are made of. We feature rooms, suites, cabanas, studios, huts and cottages just steps from the water's edge with a spectacular view of the reef 3/4 mile away. Our accommodations are modern, clean, and quiet with all the comforts of home. Our sunning deck, hammocks, and dock tiki are ideal to get you into the "island mode". For casual relaxation off the beaten path, but only 4 minutes walk to town, treat yourself to our beach front hide-a-way.Take off your shoes along with your worries! Let us help make your island dreams come true. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Barefoot Beach Belize Seaview Hotel