Friday I visited Caye Caulker to meet with Harry Dole, the owner of Caye Colony Ltd – an office I had passed many times when visiting our neighboring island.
I had been to the Caye Colony website and in an earlier post declared it “depressing”. Maybe a bit unfair and judgemental on my part since I’d never met the owner nor had I been to North Caye Caulker. I focused on this statement: “Welcome to Caye Caulker’s only master-planned, guarded community!”
Mr. Dole, whose family had owned over 200 acres of North Caye Caulker for generations, contacted me. To come take a look at what he is doing up there…and after a few months, we finally coordinated a time.
During that time I googled H.L. Dole – OF COURSE. And asked around. That amount of acreage is a huge chunk of tiny, beautiful Caye Caulker. The world wide web yielded very little.
People I asked, those who know Caye Caulker, assured me he was part of the “Dole Pineapple Fortune”…empire is more like it.
I would have to ask.
There was an article about him and a connection to John McAfee…and that’s always interesting.
Mr. Dole wanted to show me a nature park or reserve that he is opening to the public. A perfect time to get the scoop.
Because everyone who visits Caye Caulker visits the Split…
and walks the sandy beach roads of the village but few people see this side…a totally different world a short boat ride away.
I met Harry at his office and, after asking two German tourists – Brita and Connie, if they wanted to join us, we headed up.
Here’s a map of the area. There are more on his website. His property goes all the way out to the tip of the caye.
The top 100 acres will be almost all private reserve, the bottom 50 acres are lots for sale.
And the google earth look at Caye Caulker. Village south…this land way north.
Mr. Dole told me he was NOT of the Fruit Doles but of the Kansas Doles (loosely affiliated with Senator Bob Dole) and only that his grandfather had purchased the property generations ago. He has been in Caye Caulker for over 20 years at times managing popular bars and nightclubs like the Lazy Lizard and Oceanside Nightclub.
After donating over 50 acres to the Government of Belize years ago, his acreage totals 153.
After a 10 minute ride, we pulled in to a small cove on the reef side of the caye and to a dock. TOTALLY different from the developed side of Caye Caulker. (My walk around earlier that afternoon on a BEAUTIFUL day.)
At one point, we had a visitor follow us a few feet…
Made me extra glad for the sturdiness of the walk-way.
It is EXTENSIVE…and impressive. One could quite easily get lost.
The beautiful marshlands near the shore.
Brita and Connie (who have travelled from Panama up to Belize and then are headed to Mexico) were excited about the park. Suggested a camp site for the more adventurous backpackers. A sort of “Survivor” like rustic campground. They cited The Lost & Found Jungle Hostel in Panama as a very popular example.
We headed back out to the boat…
As the sun was setting and one of the traditional fishing boats was going by…
And back through the Split so I could catch my water taxi back to San Pedro.
which I forgot to tell you, is called “The Estuary”. Lovely I think.
You can stop by the dock to check out the area. There are workers up there – you might need to shout “CHOOO! CHOOO!” like we did to locate them…or come by his office near the Caye Caulker Water Taxi dock in the village.
H.L. Dole is quite a character. And has a bit of the “wild west feel” about him. He’s been in Caye Caulker for a while. And…perhaps I am just wishing it so…probably has an extremely interesting story.
I was unable to extract too much…about how his grandfather came to buy 200 acres of Caye Caulker YEARS ago (probably when about 25 people lived there)…and why EVERYONE seems to think he is an heir to the pineapple/Hawaii Dole fortune…
But there is time, right? Something for my “To-Do” list.