Belize has lots to brag about besides being one of the most gorgeous countries to travel to. Its home to the world’s second largest barrier reef, the most massive ocean sinkhole in the world, the largest cave system in Central America, and happens to also have Central America’s longest zip line. With all of these unbelievable wonders to discover, who could resist beautiful Belize?
The best tip for any traveler? Don’t hesitate to dive right in! Follow this advice as you land in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. This is Belize’s largest island, and the most opportune spot for all of the oceanic sight-seeing you’ll be doing. From San Pedro, catch a boat to take you off the East coast to The Belize Barrier Reef. Settled right next to one of the mini-reefs, Lighthouse Reef, is the famous “Great Blue Hole”. You can explore it by aerial view; hop in a helicopter or plane and circle around the famous point, gazing in awe at the deep blue that seems to descend forever. For those who like a challenge and a scare, scuba diving and snorkeling tours give you an insider’s view. The hole extends some 410 feet down, and 984 feet across, so there’s lots to spot down below like rare stalactites and other rock formations, as well as sharks, sting rays, turtles and fish swimming nearby. You’re going to want to have a waterproof GoPro or case for your iPhone—Your friends will need to see it to believe it when you tell them about your experience!
Next, you won’t want to miss out on Hol Chan Marine Reserve. It’s the most well-known marine reserve in the country, and with good reason. Take a glass-bottom boat ride over the clear, turquoise waters as you keep an eye out for marine life. You’ll dock at different areas along the way to snorkel vibrant and lively coral reefs. At the end of the smooth boat ride, an opportunity to cross an item off of your bucket list will arise… The last stop is none other than Shark Ray Alley. Don’t worry: guides will help you interact with the nurse sharks and stingrays in a safe way as you’re lowered down into the ocean. It’s even encouraged for you to reach out and gently pet the harmless creatures! Even though these sharks aren’t carnivores, you’ll still get brownie points when you boast to your friends about swimming with sharks.
By now, thoughts of food are circling around your head. Satisfy your appetite by heading back to San Pedro for some good eats. At the Rain Restaurant & Rooftop Terrace, Chef Hugo combines Argentine, Spanish and Caribbean cooking to bring a delicious culinary indulgence forth. The highlight of the restaurant is undoubtedly the rooftop terrace which offers amazing views of the sea, reef and sunset to accompany your meal. Hugo tends to focus on seafood, so that’s your best bet when placing your order. Try the lobster ravioli—it’s said to be mouthwatering!
After dinner, party like a Belizean by heading to Rojo Beach Bar & Lounge. This bar has a pool close to the ocean waves, and seaside couches available. Their drinks are served ice cold with only fresh juices and mixes, making them exceptionally good. Order a Belikin, Belize’s main beer, or an icy rum creation, a specialty at the bar!
Settle down for the night at the Matachica Resort & Spa. This resort is more like a village, with tons of brightly colored casitas lining the sandy beaches of Ambergris Caye. They boast an “adult-only environment” and freedom from “intrusive technology” to allow you to unplug and unwind. Their Jade Spa uses natural ingredients from the local wilderness with treatments like banana and papaya facials to coffee-infused scrubs, and chocolate body wraps! Their most popular room option is the Luxury Beachfront Villas; you won’t regret your choice to bunk in this room with two private terraces, and a beachside hot tub. The resort offers plenty more with an infinity pool, gift shop, Mambo restaurant, and organized water activities like paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, and sailing.
On your second day in Belize, wake up early to travel back to the mainland. You’ll find yourself in Western Belize, in the Cayo District, where there’s no shortage of adventures to embark on. Book a Xunantunich & Cave Tubing tour with St. Leonards for an exhilarating day. Strap on some hiking boots to prepare for Xunantunich, an Ancient Maya archeological site. The ruins go back as far as 650-1000 A.D., when the Mayans built the area as a village. El Castillo, which includes the temple, “The Sun God,” is a notable part of the ruins; it’s a 130-foot-tall pyramid that provides a spectacular 360-degree view once you reach the top. After trekking through the ancient ruins and learning about its rich history, enjoy an included Belizean lunch to help you fuel up for the next trip. With your guide, continue on until you reach the nearby Cave Branch River. Survive the 20-minute hike unscathed as you splash through the water and dodge vegetation as if in an action movie. Once you reach the mouth of the cave, change into your swimwear and hop in a tube for a dreamy cruise through the rivers. Don’t forget to look up—with your provided headlamp there will be lots to scope out from cave formations, to crystals, and even bats!
Keep the adrenaline going by exploring the rest of Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch. The site contains numerous caves, rivers, luxury treehouses, and countless expeditions to choose from. Take part in an Indiana Jones-esque escapade by booking the Lost World Ceremonial Cave Tour. This hidden cave was a Mayan spiritual rite center and was home to many sacrificial offerings. If you can handle the creep factor, this is an excursion that you will talk about for years to come. It starts off with a 40-minute hike through the jungle, eventually leading you right to the same steps that Mayans climbed years ago. Ascend the ancient steps, and head into the mouth of the cave, to witness breathtaking views. This crystal cave still shines just as bright as it did centuries ago, and is relatively untouched; 2,000-year-old artifacts such as ceremonial fire pits, pottery, wall carvings, glyph writings and even the actual skeletons of sacrificial victims are still lying around. It’s not every day that you get to examine untouched Mayan ruins!
If the Mayan cave scared some hunger into you, make your way to neighboring city San Ignacio. The Guava Limb Restaurant & Cafe will serve only the best to contain your appetite. They serve farm-to-table fresh ingredients and won “Belize’s Top Restaurant” in 2015. Their seafood is always fresh and based on what’s available, so you can always count on an interesting seafood dish. Try the Belizean coconut shrimp, or get a basket full of whatever deep-fried seafood you desire!
End the night at Ka’ana Resort’s The Wallace, a bar that maintains both elegance and a local vibe. The mixologists at The Wallace craft inventive cocktails and refreshing variations of classics to impress and satisfy. However, if it’s a glass of wine you’re craving, Ka’ana’s Wine Cellar is where you need to be. They pride themselves on having the largest wine cellar in Western Belize with over 1,000 bottles to choose from. Take your drink of choice and wander around to the courtyard, where you can almost fall asleep next to the fire pit. All cozied up? Book a room! Ka’ana Resort’s One Bedroom Private Pool Villa is positioned off of a garden pathway and includes a private plunge pool, garden, outdoor shower, and outdoor terrace for secluded peacefulness. To help you go about your day, you also receive a personal butler, designated housekeeper, private dining options and a personalized mini-bar! With all of these luxe amenities, you’ll sleep soundly.
If you still haven’t gotten enough, one more thrill awaits you…Travel to the city of Hopkins to come across the exceptional Bocawina Rainforest Resort. They have a myriad of on-site activities to end your trip with a bang. Book the Belize Antelope Package and start the expedition off with an intense hike through the rainforest, taking in all of the nature and wildlife. When you’ve worked up a sweat, your tour guide will lead you to the top of a waterfall for a soothing dip in the pools.
Make sure you enjoy the downtime because soon enough you’ll be 250 feet above the ground!
Hang tight as you scale the waterfall and the rocky exterior on two rappels. The view from beneath the waterfall is said to be astounding! Finally, end the day with a ride down Central America’s longest zip line which extends 2,300 feet long across 12 platforms. Each platform offers different speeds and steeps, with the last one being the most extreme. It’s the lengthiest zip line, lasting a little over 30 seconds. Glide breezily across the jungle rooftops like Tarzan, gazing at waterfalls and birds as you breathe in the fresh air! bocawina.com
At the close of your trip, you certainly knocked a couple of items off of your bucket list. Belize is a country full of adventure opportunities, from shark-swimming, to waterfall-rappelling, to cave-exploring, there’s an abundance of expeditions to satisfy your dare-devil desires. Hold on to your pictures and videos, these memories are once-in-a-lifetime. A trip to Belize is a tale to tell all!
By Aaliyah Pasols