Vegetarian or Vegan on Caye Caulker

While I was researching for my trip to Caye Caulker I found it difficult to find info about what to eat and where to eat for vegetarians and vegans. My friends who’d been to Belize went a long time ago and stayed on Ambergris, so they weren’t any help either.

So I decided to write this post for future travelers who could benefit from knowing where to go in search of vegetarian and vegan food on Caye Caulker.

There are no completely vegetarian/vegan restaurants on the island. If there were that’d be amazing. But let’s face it the only places you find those kinds of restaurants are in big cities like San Francisco, New York and LA.

But there are several vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants on Caye Caulker. I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much there was.

Vegetarian Definition: no meat including no chicken, fish, eggs. I know you’re wondering about the egg thing and asking yourself is that really meat? And so does that mean you’re vegan or vegetarian? I consider myself a vegetarian that doesn’t eat eggs. I am working towards being vegan but let’s face it, I have no will power when it comes to cheese.

Before I tell you about all the great food options, a few photos =p

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My husband and I strolling around the island

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Welcome to Caye Caulker!

{Vegetarian and Vegan Options}

Every restaurant had at least 1 vegetarian option which either was already vegan or could be made vegan. Plus, traditional Belizean food is rice and beans and the way it’s cooked with spices, is really tasty.

{Personal Food-Related Stories to Share}

I want to share a food-related experience I had one Caye Caulker:

We went out for dinner at Chef Juan’s and I grabbed a couple of seats at one of the communal tables, while my husband went to the window to order our food. I struck up conversation with the family sitting next to me, who was visiting from DC. We talked about what dishes we ordered and I mentioned that I’m vegetarian. Their teenage boy looked at me and said, “why?” as in why are you vegetarian? I said, “I practice a small religion from India called Jainism. And we believe in non-violence.” His response, “that’s a good religion”. His mom followed up saying he’s gonna Google it now when we get back to the hotel.

I LOVED that simple exchange. Quick, direct and it’s nice to finally not be looked at like I’m weird. Growing up in Orange County, California in the mid 80’s and 90’s, vegetarianism was a completely foreign and unaccepted practice which lead to some awkward and unfortunately sometimes unpleasant social situations growing up. Thirty years later, the world has caught up and being vegetarian or vegan is spreading. In general, people are more aware of these diets, which is like a breath of fresh air.

Story from the flight back: 

So we were on our flight back to the states and my husband and I started chatting with the guy sitting next to us. We mostly talked about our respective trips, where we went and what we ate. And again I casually mentioned that I’m vegetarian. When the stewardess came by selling snack boxes, before ordering he asked me, “is it ok if I eat meat in front of you guys?”. I’d never impose my values on someone else. Of course it was ok. The fact that he asked was super courteous and again I couldn’t help thinking how far the wold has come!

{Where to Eat on Caye Caulker
for Vegetarians and Vegans}

Ok let’s get to the good stuff, where to eat on Caye Caulker!

Il Pelicano: Arguably the fanciest restaurant on the island. It’s open for dinner only from 5:30pm-9:30pm Tuesday-Sunday. On busy nights like holidays, make a reservation. We tried to go there on New Year’s Eve and they were completely booked for the whole evening! Turned out they had a pre-fixe, with mostly non-vegetarian items anyway but unexpected in such a laid back place. We did eat there our 1st night on the island and I ordered a delicious funghi pizza and my husband had the eggplant lasagna which we each really enjoyed.

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Chef Juan’s: I forgot to get a photo, but it’s like small a portable and they offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. We went there for lunch and dinner and enjoyed the vegetable coconut curry with white rice, plus a side of your choice. It was light food but filling and packed with flavor. The seating is a handful of small and larger communal tables under the stars.

 

Chef Juan’s is cash only

Caribbean Colors Art Cafe: their menu has several delicious vegetarian dishes as well as specifically states which items can be made vegan as you can see in the photo below. We ate there our last day on the island. I love the view. Directly across the restaurant is a basketball court and behind that…the ocean.

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View from Caribbean Colors Art Cafe…the basketball court and of course the ocean.
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Gazpacho watermelon soup appetizer, served on a bed of ice.
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Veggie skewers served on a bed of fried rice flour crisps. I got excited when this dish arrived as those fried crisps bring back memories of visiting India as a kid. My grandfather used to gather all of us kids and buy us that as a savory snack from the local street vendor.
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My husband ordered a veggie loaded savory crepe.

Rainbow Grill & Bar is waterfront and has an actual vegetarian section on the menu!Rainbow-Grill-Vegetarian-Caye-Caulker.jpg

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The portions were really big. The chips & salsa alone could have been a whole meal. You can see the plate of spaghetti as well, which hit the spot.
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Vegetarian burritos in Belize were really tasty. They load them up with veggies and they’re huge!

Southside Pizza: This is a little restaurant with an open air kitchen. A friendly Garifuna guy works there and makes you feel right at home. There were only 1-2 other couples seated when we got there – one of which was already eating and the other was waiting for their food. We ordered a medium, vegetarian pizza and they said it’d be around 25-30 minutes. I could see the two ladies in the kitchen making the food and couldn’t help but reflect on how different it is from here where the employees move quickly and are trained for fast turn around.

These ladies took their sweet time. There was no rush at all. 🙂Southside-pizza-Caye-Caulker.jpg

Honorary shout out: You kinda can’t go to Caye Caulker without visiting Herrolyn’s House of Fry Jacks, at least once. We actually didn’t go at all. We tried Fry Jacks in San Ignacio and came to realize it’s exactly like a bhature, as in chole bhature that you find in Indian food. It’s insanely delicious but also fried and you feel heavy after eating, so we appreciated from afar.

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As you can see Herrolyn’s is super popular, especially in the morning for breakfast and brunch.
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Is this a bhature or a Fry Jack? That’s how similar they are!

There were a few restaurants we heard about but didn’t try: Hibiscus (formerly Habaneros), Rose’s Grill & Bar, Amor Y Cafe. We’d heard not so great things about Rose’s and Amor Y Cafe. And we took a look at the menu at Hibiscus and weren’t feelin’ it.

{Being Vegetarian on Caye Caulker on New Year’s Day}

The only thing that did kinda suck was on New Year’s Day the majority of restaurants were closed. We had a harder time finding food that day and ended up eating fries at the Lazy Lizard and buying snacks at one of the many grocery/convenience stores.

Fun Fact: Most of the grocery stores on Caye Caulker are owned by Chinese people. About 2% of the population of Belize identifies as Chinese.

{Fast Food This Is Not}

The “Go Slow” vibe really manifests itself when it comes to eating at restaurants. Some restaurants on the island are notoriously slow. Other tourists shared stories of how they left after waiting for an hour and other people who arrived after them got their food, before them.

I’d say the only place where we really felt that way at Southside pizza which took almost 30 minutes to make a medium, veggie pizza. There was only 1 only other couple waiting to get their food. But we weren’t in a hurry and understood that that’s part of the charm of the whole experience. And the pizza was delish!

{Other Caye Caulker Tips}

Money. Bring cash to Caye Caulker (either USD or Belizean). We thought we wouldn’t need cash but some of the smaller restaurants are cash only or there’s fees (tax) on credit cards. For our snorkeling tour they had to charge 12.5% GST if you paid by credit card.

There is an ATM on the island or take USD with you. Don’t bother getting Belizean dollars before you get there. US dollars are accepted everywhere and they’ve pegged their dollar to the USD. $1USD = $2BZD

Language: everyone speaks English on Caye Caulker. You do not need to know Spanish from the airport, customs, taxi to the water taxi ferry, and on the island itself. In San Ignacio, I found that knowing Spanish was helpful. While all the people in tourism such as guides and hotel staff know English, some of the taxi and tour drivers did not. And the day we crossed the border to see Tikal I used Spanish a lot that day.

Health: Take bug spray with DEET in it. I use the one Costco sells and it’s worked well for us. You can buy it on the island too. They also sell Aloe Vera to relieve the itching in case you do get bit.

Healthcare: As you may know the motto on Caye Caulker is “Go Slow”. They lovingly and jokingly say that they have two cemeteries but no hospital on the island, so go slow. As I mentioned earlier, since there the Caye Caulker airstrip is closed the only way to get off the island is via boat. For some this may be an important factor in your decision to stay on Caye Caulker vs. Ambergris Caye.

Safety: I felt super safe the entire time I was there. A couple times random guys (locals) came up and started talking to me but they seemed harmless. I was there on New Years Eve and saw that both the Sports Bar as well as the Lazy Lizard stepped up security that night. On New Year’s  Eve local kids were exploding firecrackers which was mostly a nuisance as opposed to a safety issue. Like any place you go, be alert and do not make yourself a target.

Groceries: There are loads of places on the island to buy fruits, veggies, toiletries, snacks etc. so if you’re AirBnB’ing, don’t feel like you have to schlep all of that with you.

{Summary}

I was really pleasantly surprised at how much vegetarian and vegan food there was on Caye Caulker. I hope that this article helps anyone dissuaded for that reason to reconsider a trip to Belize and specifically Caye Caulker. It really is a beautiful and unique place!


I hope you’ve enjoyed our dive into vegetarian and vegan food on Caye Caulker. And mostly I hope this helps you plan your trip there. Let me know if it did in the comments. I love hearing from our readers, as well as your fun, funny, interesting, and helpful stories from your travel experiences! You might like to follow us on Facebook and Instagram too, where we share a lot of different content and images.

Other PassportPages posts you might like:

Things To Do On Caye Caulker
Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker?
Getting to Belize’s Cayes


Woman with long hair smiling
Samta, Founder of PassportPages

 

 

*all photos in this article, except the Fry Jacks, are PassportPages originals.

 

 

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