10 Activities you should have on your Belize Travel Itinerary for a Vacation in Belize
Whether you are an adventure lover or sun-seeker, Belize is the kind of destination that has something for everyone. With sun-soaked islands, lush jungles, vibrant towns and one of the greatest reefs in the world, you really can’t go wrong taking a vacation in Belize. From exploring dense jungles and ancient Mayan ruins, to diving in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, there are plenty of adventurous things to do in Belize. We did our best to take on a little of each adventure, from beach to jungle, and came up with a solid Belize itinerary and Belize travel guide that will give you the best of both worlds.
Are you ready for the ultimate adventure travel itinerary for Belize? Here’s 10 things to do in Belize that you can add to your itinerary. This can all be done within 7 days, or modified to however long you will be on your vacation in Belize.
This Belize Itinerary had us staying in Placencia at Naïa Resort & Spa. However, Hopkins Belize is another great village to stay in that works with this itinerary. The second half of our trip had us staying at Hidden Valley Inn & Reserve. Alternatively there are numerous jungle lodges surrounding San Ignacio, or you could stay in San Ignacio itself. You can read about my experiences at these places in detail here with photos!
Thanks to the Belize Tourism Board for inviting me to visit Belize and for sharing some of the best adventures the country has to offer
1. Visit Maya Center Maya
We kicked off our vacation in Belize with a cultural experience at the Maya Centre. As responsible travellers, it is important to learn about the culture, history and traditions of the countries we visit and as such I recommend starting your Belize Holiday here. The Maya Centre does a phenomenal job explaining the history of the Maya people while giving you the opportunity to interact with its traditions. It was here we learned about the chocolate industry in Belize; how to make traditional Mayan chocolate and how to cook like the Maya.
Fun Fact: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge started their vacation in Belize here.
Che’il Mayan Chocolate Making Tour
At the Maya Centre, we enjoyed a chocolate making tour at Che’il Mayan Chocolate that took us from farm, to bean, to bar. We learned about the history of the chocolate industry in Belize as well as the significance of chocolate in Mayan society. Our tour included a visit to the cacao farm as well as to the museum where we used ancient Mayan tools to create a deluxe piece of chocolate.
At the farm we were first given a demonstration of types of cacao pods. Our guide then showed us how the Mayan people opened cacao pods and extracted the seeds. We had the opportunity to taste the white pulp before changing locations to the museum to turn it into edible chocolate. At the museum we were given roasted cacao beans and used a Mayan Metate (stone grinder) to literally crush the beans into a paste. I was shocked at how we were able to liquefy them so quickly. Once the beans were crushed, our guide mixed together traditional ingredients including sugars and oils to create a delicious cacao rich piece of chocolate. It was divine and even better knowing we made it by hand. Our guide, was an absolute treasure. We had so much fun together as a group.
Mayan Cooking Class
We joined a Mayan culinary class at the Maya Centre. This was so educational. We were able to spend time with two spectacular women in the Mayan community who were open to our questions about Mayan traditions and lifestyle. First and foremost, they taught us how to cook. We learned how to make traditional corn tortillas on a Matate as well as a chicken based soup. Beyond this, they spent time teaching us their language, both Kekchi-Maya and Mopan Maya. We chatted about Mayan home life, rituals, customs and history. Honestly, we ate well in Belize, but this soup was the best thing I had. It was so delicious. This was a really cool experience at the Maya Center.
2. Go Horseback Riding in the Rainforest with Outback Trails
Explore the natural beauty of the Belizean rainforest by joining Outback Trails for an afternoon of horseback riding. This trail ride takes you through the Belize jungle, along the Sittee River and is one of the best things to do in Belize.
After meeting with our guide and mounting our horses, we started riding through open fields with palm trees appearing sporadically in the distance until we reached the edge of the forest. Once we hit the trail we were instantly surrounded by the flora of the Belizean rainforest. We could see naturally growing orchids on massive trees with a canopy reaching high into the sky. The palm leaves were the size of buildings and for my plant folk, wild Monsteras frequented the path. Once we reached the Sittee River, we were able to dismount our horses and have a moment to take it all in. For those who desire, when the river is calm, swimming is possible.
The Outback Trail guides were experienced and projected confidence onto the guests making this a very comfortable experience, even for those who have never ridden a horse. They were knowledgeable about the area and were very entertaining. This is a really unique opportunity that gets you up close and personal with the nature of the the jungle in Belize.
We took the Jungle Adventure Ride tour with Outback Trails
3. Take a Full Day Island Hopping and Snorkeling Tour with Go Sea Belize
A diving/snorkeling experience is bound to be the highlight of any trip to Belize. The country is famous for its crystal clear blue water, abundant sea life, picturesque cayes and beaches, and for its access to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. From the moment I saw the water outside the plane window, I had been itching to dive headfirst into Belize’s turquoise coloured Caribbean Sea.
In order to get the most out of our day at sea in Belize, we joined a full-day island hopping and snorkeling expedition with Go Sea Tours in Placencia. This tour gave us the opportunity to explore the islands around Placencia and to get to know some of the marine life in the area.
During the tour, we visited 3 different paradisaical islands within an hours boat ride from Placencia. The first island we visited was called “Silk Caye”. This small sandy island, boasting but a few palm trees, was where we stopped to take a guided snorkeling tour. Go Sea Tours provided us with quality snorkeling gear with which we used to follow our guide around the island while he pointed out marine life for us. While we were swimming the other guides prepared us a delicious Caribbean BBQ meal for lunch.
Our next stop had us anchoring in the middle of the sea where we had the opportunity to swim with two 100 year old sea turtles, a barracuda, 2 spotted eagle rays, 1 Caribbean sting ray and a nurse shark. Honestly, this is why you dive in Belize. Our third stop included a quick visit to Ray Caye, a private island resort which comes with a giant ocean water slide and jumping platform. Nearing the end of the day, we stopped at one final Caye with a beach to relax on before taking an exhilarating boat ride home.
This was a well run tour. The guides were knowledgeable and passionate about the environment. They were positive, they never ran out of water or food, we never felt rushed, and the equipment was quality. When I return to Belize, I will definitely use this tour operator for a Belize scuba diving trip.
This is the tour we took with Go Seas Belize
4. Visit the Maya King Waterfall
Maya King waterfall is one of the most beautiful in the county and should be on your list of places to explore in Belize. Two cascading waterfalls gushing over the rocks into a clear blue pool, surrounded by lush green rainforest makes this destination a stunning backdrop for photo-shoots and picnics. Swim in the cool fresh water pool, embrace the waterfall as a natural shower and live that tropical moment. The site comes with bathrooms and change rooms and requires little physical effort. If you want to learn more, check out Bella and Karin as they explored Maya King while Nicole and I went rappelling.
5. Go Waterfall Rappelling at Mayflower Bocawina National Park
For the adrenaline junkies! Mayflower Bocawina National Park is located on the edge of the eastern Maya Mountains, next to the Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve. If adventurous activities like rappelling and zip-lining are up your alley, then a trip to Bocawina is a great idea for your Belize itinerary.
The tour includes a 20 minute hike through the jungle to the top of Antelope Falls, roughly a 1000ft accession. Here you take a swim in a waterfall pool above the falls before making your way to the start of the rappelling journey. You get harnessed up with all the safety equipment (included) and prepare yourself to rappel 250ft down the face of the waterfall.
The rappelling is done in two stages, the first section is 150ft and the second section is 100ft. Physically I would rank this a 5/10; it is something most people can handle. It is awesome to be standing horizontally against the rocky face of a waterfall, with water streaming down both side of you, splashing you in the face while you slowly lower yourself via rope. There is no way you don’t feel cool doing this. We had a blast rappelling in Bocawina National Park, it was a highlight to our vacation in Belize.
This is the tour we took at Bocawina National Park
6. Take a Barton Creek Cave Canoeing Adventure in Mayan Sacrifice Caves
Canoeing into the Barton Creek Caves marks the perfect mixture of adventure, exploration, spirituality and history. This is one of the most unique things you can do in Belize. The Barton Creek Caves were known to the ancient Mayans as one of the entrances into Xibalba. Essentially these caves are the Mayan River Styx.
It was here where they practiced the fascinating tradition of human sacrifice. Why they sacrificed humans is still a concept undiscovered. Some of our guides mentioned it might be an honour to the gods, some say it was in desperation for unexplained circumstances like drought. As of yet, archaeologists have discovered the bodies of 28 humans in the Barton Creek Caves along with other offerings such as ceramics.
On this tour you will climb into a canoe, with a guide and he will paddle you almost 1 mile into the caves. There are no lights, save for the supplied headlights. Your journey will take you alongside magnificent stalactites and stalagmites, some which have grown into columns and bridges over time. There are a few claustrophobic moments where the ceiling of the cave is so low you need to lay back in the canoe, but there is also something exciting about seeing limestone 4 inches from your face.
The majority of the cave is cathedral like, with bats swarming high above your head. The guide will point out important areas like alters, any archaeology left behind, skulls, and rocks faces that when the light hits them just right, mimic jaguars. This was one of the tours that left me feeling connected to the ancient Mayan civilization. This is a one of a kind tour that exists nowhere else so if given the chance, the Barton Creek Caves should be on your Belize itinerary.
7. Go for a Swim at Rio on Pools
These natural swimming pools formed by the river itself are an excellent way to polish off a day after visiting the Barton Creek/ATM Caves in Belize. The water is refreshingly cool, and the Mountain Pine Ridge area where these pools call home is a breath or fresh air from the humid rain forests of Belize.
Surrounded by 300 square miles of forest reserve these crystal clear pools are one of Belize’s most beautiful natural swimming holes. Hangout under waterfalls, slide down the smooth rocks, lounge in the calm pools and soak up the sun. There is something for everyone at Rio on Pools and its a great stop for anyone on vacation in Belize.
8. Explore Xunantunich Maya Ruins
Xunantunich is an ancient Mayan archaeological site located in western Belize, near the Guatemalan border. Visiting Mayan ruins should be on the top of everyone’s list of things to do in Belize. Archaeological sites like Xunantunich differ from sites such as Chichen-Izta and Tulum because they don’t require the same level of crowd control. While they are equally as accessible, the quiet exploration of the Xunantunich Temple really connects visitors to the Mayan history surrounding them.
Majestically interwoven within the jungle, this archaeological site includes six-plazas, two dozen palaces and temples, pok ta pok ball courts and hundreds of mounds yet to be uncovered. The total area of the site is about 1 square mile.
The tour takes visitors through smaller structures, into a possible bedroom of an elite member of society, to a series of tombs, ball courts and then finally up El Castillo, the highest pyramid. If you have ever wanted to climb the steps of an ancient Mayan Temple and catch an impressive view of the jungle and subsequent ruins below, Xunantunich is for you. El Castillo is 130 feet high and is the second tallest structure in Belize.
There is also a museum on site at Xunantunich that showcases an actual human skeleton uncovered at the site along with a number of preserved pieces. It’s important to embrace opportunities like this to really appreciate where you are traveling. Xunantunich is a must-see site to add to your Belize Itinerary.
This is the tour we took to Xunantunich Mayan Temple
9. Go on an ATV Tour, a fun addition to a vacation in Belize
I love taking ATV tours while traveling. They are just one of the most entertaining ways to explore the topography of an area. I have never taken an ATV tour that didn’t result in being my favourite experience on a trip. You have to try it at least once, as soon as you do, I know you will be sold!
This ATV tour was located 3 miles from the Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve. Drivers licenses are not required. From your ATV you rip through the rugged landscape, winding through the forest, plowing through puddles and mud, and just enjoying the adventure. Our tour took us into small Belizean Villages and through scenic palm lined fields ending at a rushing jungle river. This adventure can be as wild as you make it. You are the driver! ATV tours are led by experienced guides who are familiar with the area and will help teach you how to drive your machine. This is one of the most fun things you can do on your vacation in Belize.
10. Cave Tubing
If you are looking for adventurous things to do in Belize, Cave tubing is a popular choice. Cave tubing Belize takes place about 1 hour away from Belize City at Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve. When you arrive at the site you will be given a life jacket, helmet, headlamp and giant tube which you have to carry over a 30 minute jungle hike to the entrance of the cave.
Take a swim at the cave entrance before hopping in your inner tube, which is tied to the others. As soon as you’re set, you are free to sit back, relax and enjoy your float into ATM cave system darkness. The cave tubing tour lasts about 1 hour and 30 minutes and is a low energy, yet still adventurous option for your vacation in Belize.
Find a Butts Up! Cave Tubing Tour here
Ultimate Belize Travel Guide for an Adventure Vacation in Belize
When you are planning your trip, use this ultimate Belize travel guide to learn a little about what to expect traveling in Belize. This includes things like when is the best time to travel in Belize, what is the weather like, where should you base yourself, what language and currency do they use, how do you get there, and what is Belize famous for. Coupled with this travel itinerary for Belize, and this full packing list for Belize, you should be all set to start planning your vacation in Belize.
Taking an adventure style vacation in Belize is a bucket list experience. Belize is a beautiful country with much to offer its visitors. Whether you are interested in soaking up sun-drenched Caribbean views backed by warm turquoise waters, or in exploring the depths of one of the worlds most impressive marine life abundant reefs, there is something for all. Adventurers can spend their days wandering through lush jungle intertwined with ruins and history. Wild life aficionados have the opportunity to see monkeys, coatis, and toucans in nature while plant lovers can gush over the many orchids that grow naturally in Belize. You will find everything you need here to start planning your adventure and when you are ready to get packing for your trip to Belize don’t forget these 13 essential items to bring with you! If you are a nature lover and adventurer at heart, a Belize holiday needs to be on your bucket list and I hope this guide for an adventure trip in Belize inspires just that.
Adventure Girls Vacation in Belize
My vacation in Belize would not have been the same with out these lovely ladies. If you have ever considered taking a girls trip to Belize, I can tell you now, it’s a great plan! Bella, Nicole and Karin joined me in Belize, you can check them and their adventures out on Instagram!
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