Our next destination was Belize. We got ourselves as far as Chetumal in Mexico where we had two options: continue our overland bus journey into Northern Belize or leave Chetumal on a water taxi and enter Belize directly onto one of the Northern Cayes, a handful of small islands found off of the coast. The second option appealed to us much more, so we organized ourselves in the morning in Bacalar and headed out to catch the 3 p.m. water taxi. Bacalar is about a forty minute drive from Chetumal, and inexpensive buses run several times a day between the two towns for 30 pesos per person. Taxis also make the trip, and if you catch a cab with a Chetumal label in Bacalar (or vice versa) they can end up costing about the same as the bus, as they have to make the return trip anyways.
We read in our sometimes-not-so-trusty Lonely Planet that immigration formalities have to be completed at the office in Mexico before departing, simply just ask your taxi to drop you off at the oficina de migracion. Bad advice. Doing this leaves you at an office on the outskirts of Chetumal, where there is nothing at all for you to do. The immigration formalities that need to be completed can be done directly before boarding the water taxi, and require no special effort.
The water taxi leaves Chetumal and heads first to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, and then continues to Caye Caulker, which was our destination. The ticket costs 50 USD, and then there is an additional 10 USD “docking fee,” payable in cash and not featured on your receipt. We’ve heard since this is a bit of a scam, but I’m not sure how much of a fuss you could really put up about it. There is also a departure tax payable for leaving Mexico. If you have booked a return international flight to and from Mexico, the price will be included on your airline ticket, and you must present a copy of the receipt stating this in order to avoid paying it again.
We were loaded onto the water taxi, late, with a group of other tourists and all of the luggage. It took just over an hour to get to San Pedro, where everyone disembarked and passed through immigration. I’ve never been to an immigration office that has a sand floor before. No problems arose at immigration, and we were boarding a new water taxi bound for Caye Caulker shortly. Arriving by boat, with the sun long sunk below the horizon, to a foreign island was definitely a unique experience. We spent the next few days savouring the reggae beats, fresh cuisine, and permanently chilled out vibe of the caye.