What could be better than an adventure filled with mayan ruins, caves, sharks and miles of beach? Nothing! If this is the kind of vacation you’re looking for, then look no further because I’m about to share with you a destination that includes all of the above…the beautiful country of BELIZE!
Okay now first things first…Belize Puns are a common thing when you visit this country and I couldn’t resist using at least one, so it might as well be in the title of this post, right? Just don’t be surprised if a few more of them show up throughout!
Belize is a small country full of diverse landscapes. There is so much to see and do, and depending on the time you have to travel, you may need to choose what looks most enticing for yourself. We visited for 9 days, and packed as much fun as we could into our stay. Here’s the itinerary we’d suggest for you if you want an exciting yet relaxing adventurous vacation. You better Belize it! 😉
**Below the itinerary you’ll find links to all our airbnb bookings, restaurant reviews, tour websites, and more.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL AND SAN IGNACIO
Arrive at BZE Airport early afternoon. Make your way to San Ignacio. There are several options of travel from the airport. We booked a shuttle through Viator which cost us $45.00 USD per person, but it was so worth it after traveling all morning. Another option is to take the bus for around $6 USD per person. Not bad! We stayed at the Midas Hotel in a cute cabaña which I HIGHLY recommend! I’ll include links to their website below, or you can find them listed on Airbnb. Seriously, this was my favorite place that we stayed during our Belize trip.
Once you get settled in at your hotel, take some time to get familiar with the small town, grab some dinner from Ko-Ox-Han-Nah restaurant (They have great authentic belizean cuisine for a very reasonable price, and the food tastes great! Also, its the #1 must try place recommended by locals). Then make your way down to the river and take a dip in the nice, warm water before heading to bed a little early for your big day trip in the morning!
DAY 2: ADVENTURE TOUR
Today you have a couple options. We opted for a Cave Tubing Tour with Pacz Tours. They take you on a 40 minute hike through the jungle, pointing out wildlife and unique plants along the way. When you arrive at the river, everyone gears up and hops into their inner tubes as your guide leads you into the depths of the underworld…Scary! In all reality, this is a relaxing, fun float through a massive cave system where you will see all kinds of rock formations, waterfalls, and use your imagination as you go sail back in time to the historic mayan period. I recommend this tour for anyone looking for a laid back adventure through Belize’s cave branch system.
Another highly recommended tour is the ATM (Actun Tunichil Muknal) Cave. We missed out on this one this go-around, but you can be sure that the next time we’re in Belize, this is at the top of our list! You can go to the Pacz Tours website for more info on the ATM Cave as well.
DAY 3: XUNANTUNICH RUINS
Wake up early and head to Pop’s restaurant for a delicious breakfast of Fryjacks, a local specialty. Then jump on the first bus heading toward Benque. It is about a 20 minute bus ride and it will drop you off right next to the ferry to cross the river. This ferry is quite the adventure on its own! A man stands on this platform and cranks it across the river as you stand. The ferry is free to ride across, but you can tip them if you’d like:) The ruins are a 1 mile hike on a paved road. Bring plenty of water, as it is hot, hot, hot. But no worries, once you arrive at the top, you immediately forget all about the heat! Entry fee is $5.00 USD per person into the park. Once inside, we spent about an hour roaming about the ruins, taking in the views, and imagining the scene as it might have been when the Mayan people populated the city.
*Fun Fact: Only 30% of the Xunantunich Ruins have been uncovered. That means we probably walked over top of many other ruins without even realizing!
From here you will return to San Ignacio and make your way back out to Belize City, then take a ferry out to the island of San Pedro! We rode Ocean Ferry Belize and arrived on the island at 7pm, checked in at the Park Place Resort, then headed to Lily’s Treasure Chest for some late night ceviche.
DAY 4: SECRET BEACH
Wake up and rent a golf cart. Depending on your budget, you can rent one for the day, or for your entire stay. If you stay at the Park Place Resort, you can get a discount on rentals at Rio Rentals right across the street and you’ll pay $60 USD per day. Head to Secret Deli for a Belizean breakfast or a giant mango smoothie, then drive north over the toll bridge to secret beach. It’s about a 40 minute ride with some serious off-roading experience along the way (for a golf cart at least). Then you arrive at the most beautiful beach you’ll see on the island, Secret Beach. Spend the day here basking in the sun, snorkeling, and enjoying the yummy food and drinks they have to offer at one of the small restaurants.
DAY 5: HOL CHAN/SHARK RAY ALLEY SNORKELING TRIP
If I could choose just one thing to do over and over on our trip in Belize, it would be this! We had our hotel book us a tour with Searious Adventures, and they did not disappoint. The cost was $45 USD per person. Our tour guide Miguel was fun, entertaining, and also showed us the ropes to make sure everyone felt safe along the way. Our first stop was Hol Chan. This part of the tour is a guided 45 minute swim along the reef where you’ll see all kinds of fish and underwater wildlife. Then you’ll go to Shark Ray Alley where you will jump in the water with dozens of sharks and rays surrounding you, and it is a sight to behold! I thought I would feel so nervous, but once I jumped in, I couldn’t have felt more at peace! After this stop we headed back inland, and on the way we got a special treat to see a Giant Sea Turtle eating conch alongside a fisherman’s boat! Our guides were so nice to stop and let us watch. I cannot say it enough, you MUST go on this tour. If not once, then 3 times! It is worth every penny.
DAY 6: RESORT AND RELAX
Choose a resort along the northern stretch of the island. This is the ultimate relaxation time. We booked a stay at Sapphire Beach Resort on Airbnb. Everyone working at this resort was so helpful from the very start, providing information about the island, transportation, and always willing to go above and beyond! The resort itself is a bunch of condos literally ON the beach. We could walk out our door and be on the beach within 10 steps. They also have 3 pools which was such a relief from the hot Belize sunshine! The main reason I recommend a stay here is because right next door is the Chat N’ Chill restaurant/coolest hangout spot on the island. They serve delicious Mexican style food with some of the most AMAZING salsa we’ve ever tasted. Chill out at their cute-colored tables while you enjoy our food, then take advantage of all of the activities they have there, right on the beach. You can play Volleyball, bean bag toss, sun bathe, and much more. We were literally the only people there that afternoon, too, which made it feel like we got prime service from the staff!
DAY 7: TRANQUILITY BAY
About 5 minutes by boat is another resort where you can snorkel right off the dock and all the way to the reef. Yes, it’s THAT close! There are a few sweet coral structures and lots of area you can cover right along the reef. It’s a fantastic place to spend the day if you want to hang out on the beach and snorkel your heart out. They have a fun restaurant on the dock, too. Be sure to choose a seat right next to the glass doors and you can feel the ocean breeze and breath taking views. The chicken wrap and conch stew were our favorites on the menu, and one of the workers there was kind enough to cut down coconuts from the palm trees on the beach and serve them to us at the restaurant, free of charge! Talk about fresh, am I right?
DAY 8: CAYE CAULKER
Take the first ferry out from San Pedro to Caye Caulker. Drop off your luggage at Popeyes Resort then head on over to Amor y Café for a breakfast of gourmet toast and yoghurt smoothies. Roam the island and get familiar with the lay of the land. You can walk from one side of the island to the other in less than 10 minutes! Explore the shops and local vendors, you can find great treasures here such as hand carved wooden stingrays, conch shells, handmade jewelry, and much more. The split is the go-to hang out spot on Caye Caulker. Grab a towel and lay out at the beach, swim in the ocean, and definitely be sure to indulge in the gelato sold nearby at Gelato Italiano. I got the hazelnut and coconut flavors, and I could have eaten them all day..They were delectable!
Sunsets on Caye Caulker are to. die. for. You must, I repeat MUST, go to the west side of the island at the end of the day just before the sun starts to set and sit at the end of one of the docks. It is one of the most beautiful sights you will ever see. I’m not kidding. Some day you’ll thank me for insisting.
You can try dinner at one of the many BBQ restaurants on the island, for us, we really wanted to try caribbean jerk chicken before we left so we chose La Cubana. They have a great deal where you get a main course, three sides, and three drinks all for $10.00 USD. Their Jerk Chicken was awesome. After dinner you can head to one of the clubs, the nightlife is hoppin’ in this backpackers’ paradise. Or if you’re like us, head back to the resort and watch the night sky from the balcony on the beach.
DAY 9: HOMEWARD BOUND
With all the fun you’ve been having, you’re probably never going to want to leave, but alas, the time has come to travel home. Book an afternoon flight home so that you can relax a little in the morning, pick up some stuffed fryjacks from FryJacks for only $3 USD, then make your way back to Belize City to catch your plane and start planning your next vacation! 🙂
WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY:
If you’re like me and you want laid back, cheap, and chill, then here’s what I would change in this itinerary. Skip the resort on day 6 and head straight to Caye Caulker. Spend 3 nights there and get to know the locals, visit the animal shelter, go on another snorkeling trip, basically whatever your heart desires. Caye Caulker was one of my favorite places on this trip, and spending more time there would definitely be worth it!
San Ignacio: Midas Belize
Caye Caulker: Beach Front Condo
Adventure Tours: Pacz Tours
Our hope is that you’ll be able to take from this itinerary your favorite parts and use it to plan your next Belize vacation! The most important thing to remember is that if your dream is to travel, just make it happen. Book the trip, then pack up and take flight. AIM to overcome whatever is holding you back and just explore!
What are some of your favorite Belize Activities? 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to read our first post ever, and stay tuned for more!
-Seth and Alyssa-