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Caye Caulker is a small limestone coral island off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean Sea measuring about 5 miles (8.0 km) (north to south) by less than 1 mile (1.6 km) (east to west). The town on the island is known by the name Caye Caulker Village. The island is basically a sandbar over a limestone shelf. An underwater cave named Giant Cave is found below the Caye in the limestone. In front of the village, a shallow lagoon, between 6 inches (150 mm) and 14 feet (4.3 m) deep, meets the Belize Barrier Reef to the east. In front of the village, the reef is known as a dry reef with the reef exposed at the surface, while further north the reef is a deep reef and lies under 2 to 8 feet (0.61 to 2.44 m) of water. This area is popular with windsurfers.
Some people state that the Split was created by Hurricane Hattie in 1961 which devastated Belize City, however that is a myth. Villagers who actually hand dredged it maintains that it is largely a man-made feature. The Village Council Chairman at the time, Ramon Reyes, recounts that he and others dredged the waterway by hand after Hurricane Hattie opened a passage a few inches deep. This made a practical waterway between the west and east sides of the island, intended at first for dugout canoes. The increased flow of tidal water has naturally dredged the opening to 20 feet (6.1 m) deep until larger boats can now easily pass. The natural erosion continues to this day and threatens the soft sandbanks of the waterway.
Tourism first started on the island around 1964, with only a few visitors on weekends from the mainland Belleview Hotel, brought out by a local boat called 'Sailfish', built by a schoolteacher beside the then Teachers House. The early tourists were mostly people working with the Belize Government. Around 1969, Dr. Hildebrand of the University of Corpus Christi started visiting each winter with a Marine Biology Expedition of around 24 students. Backpackers also found their way to the island at this time, but transportation was only by fishing sailboats and there was no accommodation. The Alameda, Reyes, and Marin families pioneered the tourism industry and the first scuba diving lessons and trips were started around the late 1960s.
As speedboats came into use in the 1970s tourists became more regular. Hippies following the so-called "Gringo Trail", of Isla Mujeres, Tulum, Caye Caulker, Tikal and Lake Atitlan in Guatemala passed through the island (many of them making use of the easily available marijuana). The reputation spread by word of mouth.
Today, the diversified economy of the village still includes lobster, fish, and tourists. Internet e-commerce is growing in a small way. Recent hurricanes had a major effect on lobster fishing as well as dramatically affecting the vegetation. The island ecology is slowly returning to that prior to the storms. The island is now becoming a center for many painters and some musicians. There are also a few up and coming lyrical artists on the island, prominent among them include Alexander Joseph, otherwise known as "Bobbo youth" and ILYA Rosado a.k.a. "ILLA-G" who have developed a local islander fan base with their rap and reggae style music.