Caye Caulker looks beautiful and it’s not even a clever marketing ploy. It really does look as beautiful in real life as it does on the photos!
It’s a tiny island only 4 miles long at the longest point and separated into two by a hurricane in the 1960s and 90s.
We were upset to see how much of an environmental nightmare it was. I was shocked because this little island should be in pristine condition. After all it’s not that hard to keep a small place clean. Right?
So we’ve compiled a list of the worst offenses we came across and how YOU can challenge, change and improve the island so people don’t add further damage to its environment.
The worst environmental offences
- The island is mostly powered by a diesel generated power plant.
- Trash is buried in land fill – it’s a BIG fuck off sand-castle in the ocean. 20 miles off the coast of Belize mainland.
- Trash covers the mangroves and beaches – we saw locals just throwing trash in the streets, popping their bottle lids off outside the shops and stomping them into the sand.
- Tourists and tour agencies alike feed the marine animals and birds.
- Booze cruises dominate tour agency’s agendas.
- Many fishing spots are over fished because of the mass influx of tourists and the necessity to feed them.
- Straws are given out with every drink.
- Boats & jetskis nearly always disturb the waters.
- Loud parties cause noise pollution for the entire island.
- Sun cream is sprayed randomly or slapped on moments before people get in the ocean.
- Bug spray confuses the crap out of me. Why would you want to spray DEET into your lungs? The DEET washes off and gets into the water system further poisoning marine life and ourselves.
How we can improve Caye Caulker
- Pick a hotel with a good environmental policy. Maybe it relies entirely on solar and wind power or maybe it has a no plastic or no waste policy? What happens to toilet waste? Ask questions because the more you ask, the more people will understand that it’s a serious issue that won’t remedy itself.
- Take a tote-bag for your shopping and refuse plastic bags when shops give them out. Don’t accept take-out food in polystyrene boxes and say no to plastic cutlery.
- Assist on a beach clean up or if there isn’t one, take yourself off and clean the beaches or mangroves. In the mangroves to the south of the island, there are petrol bottles, food containers, tins, plastic bottles, bags… pretty much every type of trash.
- Pick an eco-friendly tour that DOES not feed the animals. Feeding them changes their naturl behaviour and robs them of critical life skills. The best eco-tour we found was Stressless Eco Tours. I wouldn’t recommend any other tour.
- Booze cruises might sound or seem fun but the impact upon the environment is great. The noise disturbs all animals especially marine life who can get confused. Plastic cups and trash end up being thrown overboard, people are sick into the ocean, alcohol gets tipped into the ocean and drunk people can abuse animals.
- You can make the choice not to eat the fish or crustaceans, if you eat them make sure it has been caught on a pole and line in a sustainable manner (not spear fishing or anything that causes harm to the coral). Definitely do NOT waste food by over-ordering multiple portions of fish. It is always best to order twice than order once and waste food.
- Take your own metal or bamboo straw and make a point of not accepting them in bars. You’ll need to tell them ‘NO STRAW’ before they arrive with your drink.
- Don’t rent a jet ski. They pump out fumes, pollute the water, the noise confuses marine life and they cause physical damage to animals big and small.
- Establishments which offer loud parties (especially into the night) can be encouraged to think about acoustics and how noise can be minimalised.
- Sun cream is killing the reefs. Buy a reef friendly sun scream and put it on at least an hour before you get in the ocean. DO NOT buy spray ons and do not spray your sun cream on minutes before you enter. It’s utterly pointless (as it washes off) and you’re merely poisoning marine life and definitely coral (which is a living organism). Instead of wearing sun-cream, consider buying a UV swim top (rashie) to wear.
- Mosquitoes are less attracted to you if you wear light colours. Also cover over with a shirt and wear natural repellents which focus on using natural oils.
Super easy to pin this to your board.
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