Ah, Belize. Where you can find the perfect mix of relaxation and adventure. We’ve got an impressive list of the absolute best things to do in Belize whether you’re looking to kick back on a tropical beach or explore ancient civilizations,
This small country in Central America has it all – from exciting jungles with Mayan Ruins, caves, and ziplining to picturesque beaches with crystal clear, turquoise water, and “unBelizeable” water activities.
If you’re trying to figure out what to do in Belize to plan your itinerary, read on for the top Belize activities that’ll make sure your vacation is jam packed with equal parts R & R and excitement!
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Planning your trip to Belize last minute? Here are the tours and hotels we recommend.
- TOP EXPERIENCES & TOURS IN BELIZE
- Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave Tour and Picnic – The #1 tour in Belize.
- Tikal Day Trip with Local Lunch from San Ignacio – This is a “must-do” day trip from San Ignacio.
- Xunantunich and Cave Tubing Combo Tour from San Ignacio – the best cave tubing and mayan ruins tour.
- BEST HOTELS IN BELIZE
- Ka’ana Belize – The great rooms and fun activities made this the perfect stay in San Ignacio.
- Victoria House – We loved this beautiful hotel on the beach in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.
- Itz’ana Resort & Residences – One of the prettiest resorts in Placencia.
- PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR BELIZE
- Travel insurance with Safety Wing
- Skyscanner is great for booking flights to Belize
Best Things to Do in Belize – San Ignacio Cayo District
When considering the best things to do in Belize, the Cayo District should be at the top of your list. The San Ignacio area is known as the adventure capital of Central America and it’s easy to see why.
From zip-lining through lush jungle canopies, exploring mystifying cave systems, hiking to secluded Mayan ruins and horseback riding through untouched landscapes, there truly is something for everyone in this region of Belize.
How Long to Stay in San Ignacio
Ideally you need a minimum of 3 nights and 2 full days here. Honestly adventure awaits around every corner here. With so much to do you could easily spend a week and never be bored! It’s also a great place to just relax Belize style.
Where to Stay in San Ignacio:
- Ka’ana Belize Luxury Resort (9.3) This is where we stayed and it was amazing. They offer spacious, comfortable villas and beautiful suites with private pools. The resort is Eco friendly with an organic farm that you can tour. They offer fun activities, spa services and have a delicious restaurant.
- The Lodge at Chaa Creek (9.4) is a great choice for all travelers, but it’s especially great for family adventure vacations because they offer so many activities on the property. In addition to the eco-friendly pool, they have a butterfly farm where you can hatch a butterfly and release it into the jungle, go horseback riding, and canoeing on the Macal River.
1. A Day Trip to the Guatemala Tikal Mayan Ruins is a Favorite Thing to Do in Belize
How can a Mayan Ruin site in Guatemala be one of the top things to do in Belize? San Ignacio is only 10 minutes from the Guatemala border and everyone we met was heading over to check it out.
You might know that we’ve been doing a World Travel Challenge so we couldn’t pass up the chance to cross the border and go to Guatemala to see the most amazing ruins at Tikal.
It’s a Mayan Citadel (think Kingdom), about 10 times the size the famous Chitzen Itza. It has a staggering 4,000+ structures.
- How to Get to Tikal – If you rent a car, you can cross the Guatemala border by yourself. You have to go though a passport check. Then drive the 2 hours to Tikal. You will pass a backpacker town of Petén where you can stay if you want to do a sunrise tour of Tikal or prefer not to do so much driving in one day. For a luxurious experience, stay at Las Lagunas or La Lancha. Check out this post for a full Guatemala itinerary.
- Tikal Day Trip from San Ignacio – We didn’t have a car so we took a tour that picked us up from the hotel, helped with the border crossing, did a guided tour and took us for a delicious lunch.
2. Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave Tour
This ATM Cave Tour is definitely one of the best things to do in Belize. It’s a Raiders of the Lost Arc kind of adventure, climbing though caves, wading in water up to your waist, burial sites, preserved skulls and skeletons and more.
Exploring over a mile of cave, visitors are taken into an ancient underworld full of artifacts from centuries ago. Home to an array of crystalline mineral formations and Maya pottery, the caves offer visitors a chance to discover the secrets hidden beneath the surface.
This Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave Tour and Picnic is the most popular guided tour for those who want to learn about this mysterious world, as well as plenty of time for exploration and adventure. Lunch and all the necessary equipment is included.
Bring a dry bag with an extra change of clothes sine this is a wet tour. With its unique mix of history and nature, an ATM Cave tour is not to be missed during your stay in Belize.
3. Horseback Riding Tour to the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins
Horseback riding can be combined with other attractions in Belize like Mayan Ruins or cave tubing. This Xunantunich riding tour takes you along the Mopan River where you’ll see tropical birds, rustling howler monkeys in the trees.
You’ll head to Xunantunich, the majestic Mayan complex with six main plazas and 26 buildings dotted about. These ancient sites date back centuries and include El Castillo pyramid at 130 feet tall – the second tallest structure in all of Belize.
Climb to the top and see the stunning friezes, the intricate bands of carvings. Then at the apex, enjoy the 360 degree views that go all the way to Guatemala.
You will truly appreciate having a guide sharing in depth knowledge of the history of Xunantunich and the intricacies of the Mayan culture. Finish your tour with a peaceful ride back to the stables.
4. San Ignacio Farmer’s Market
Mingle with the locals at the Saturday Farmer’s Market in San Ignacio. One of best Belize tourist attractions frequented by locals too, this vibrant market is full of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices—all of which are grown by local farmers.
Try the pupusas, an El Salvador specialty that everyone is wild about in Belize. Drink the water out of a chilled, freshly cracked coconut. It’s fun to watch the mad skills of the coconut vendor. For dessert, get a huge, sweet papaya cut open for you.
There is also a wide selection of handmade crafts and products made by the talented artisans in Belize. It’s a great place to shop for Belize souvenirs. San Ignacio Farmers Market is definitely an experience that shouldn’t be missed!
5. Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
Nestled in the Cayo District of Belize, Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is one of the best places in Belize for an adventure.
It’s home to a variety of magnificent attractions, including some of Central America’s tallest waterfalls, deep cave systems and the ‘Green Lagoons’ – two small cascades creating unique displays in calm shallow pools.
This reserve is expansive and you can find plenty of activities for all kinds of travelers- from camping and swimming, to exploring trails on a mountain bike or an ATV.
Additionally, visitors can take pleasure in bird watching and enjoy countless hikes across wetlands and meadows taking in the undisturbed beauty of nature.
Take a full day Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve Tour which includes:
- Explore the Rio Frio Cave (more info below)
- Visit the Caracol Mayan Site and climb to the top of Caana Temple.
- Enjoy swimming and having fun on nature’s waterslides at Rio on Pools
- A delicious Belizean lunch
6. Rio Frio Cave
Rio Frio Cave is one of the best caves to visit in Belize with families. Unlike some of the other more strenuous caves, this is a gentle walk that kids can do and the largest easy cave entrance.
The cave is both educational and exciting with stalactites, stalagmites, and Mayan artifacts on display throughout. With a guided tour you can witness over 10 million years of history up close.
The crystalline waters flow through giant bats, birds, and other wildlife that call the cave home.
During the journey you may spot some gooey oil deposits that are said to have healing properties – making Rio Frio one of the most unique experiences that Belize offers. Bring some water shoes that you can use here and at Rio on Pools.
7. Belize Cooking or Mixology Class
Looking to explore the flavors and culture of Belize while on vacation? Check out the Maya Cooking Class at Ka’ana.
Guests are invited to immerse themselves in Mayan cooking traditions as well as expand their palates with unique dishes crafted from ingredients sourced locally. Learn the traditions and methods handed down for thousands of years.
Ka’ana Resort also has the most fun Mixology class where I learned to make a Watermelon Mojito and a Mango Habanero Margarita. The bartender patiently guided me through his process in making refreshing drinks.
The culinary experiences offered here will leave each visitor thrilled with a newfound appreciation and understanding for the local cuisine. Don’t miss out on your chance to create lasting memories through food when you visit Belize!
8. Belize Botanic Gardens
Nature lovers visiting Belize should add a trip to the Belize Botanic Gardens to their itinerary. This hidden gem offers tropical gardens and a collection of plants with species native to Belize and the surrounding region.
Wander along winding trails, observe exotic birds perched atop ancient trees, and learn about local foliage on a guided tour. The 45 acre grounds are also home to a tropical fruit orchard and rainforest trail.
It’s a great thing to do on a mellow day and it’s only 15 minutes from San Ignacio..
9. Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area that spans over 160,000 acres of tropical rainforest and provides a home to jaguars, pumas, ocelots and several species of birds.
Not only can visitors observe abundant wildlife in its natural settings, they can also explore hiking trails that wind through beautiful landscapes of rolling hills and shimmering waterfalls.
There are also lookout points where visitors can take in vistas of the valleys below. For those interested in visiting Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, it offers adventurers an unforgettable experience with its wilderness charm.
10. Cave Tubing & Zip Lining Combination Tour – a Must Do in Belize
Exploring Belize must include the adventure of Cave Tubing and Jungle Zip Lining!
This full-day combination adventure from San Ignacio brings you floating in an inner tube down the Caves Branch River, while taking in the beautiful scenery of a series of caverns.
At times you’ll be wholly engulfed in darkness as your guide will point out some unique selections of rock formations, and stalactites that existed long before Belize was a nation.
Afterwards, take to the sky on a zip line adventure, soaring through the jungle canopy, tree to tree, for a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the incredible landscape below. Get ready for an unforgettable experience in Belize!
Things to Do in Belize – San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
There are more than 400 little islands off the coast of Belize, called cayes (pronounced keys), that are part of the Belize Barrier Reef. Two very popular beach destinations in Belize, Caye Caulker and it’s larger neighbor, Ambergris Caye get a majority of the visitors. Water sports reign supreme and people come to enjoy the stellar diving and snorkeling.
How Long to Stay in San Pedro
If you are planning to do any snorkeling or diving, you need at least 3 days on Ambergris Caye. It’s a very low key relaxing place that is the perfect spot to relax after doing so many adventurous things in the Cayo district.
If you prefer more action and nightlife, considering staying on nearby Caye Caulker. It’s also more affordable if you are looking for lower priced accommodations.
Where to Stay in San Pedro
- Victoria House Resort & Spa (9.6) is a dreamy, palm-lined, beachfront resort with 2 pools, restaurants, bars and water activities onsite. I was ready to move in to the luxurious suite with 4 poster mahogany bed, huge bathroom, and private terrace. You will definitely love staying at the gorgeous hotel that’s just a 10 minute drive from downtown.
- Alaia Belize, Autograph Collection (9.3) If you want to be right in San Pedro, you will find this modern pool hotel with stunning ocean views and rooms from studios to 3 bedroom suites and villas. Guests rave about the amazing breakfast.
11. The Coolest Thing to Do in Belize is a Flightseeing Tour of the Great Blue Hole!!
You know when you get really excited to see something and it doesn’t measure up to your expectations. Well, the Great Blue Hole does not disappoint. It was better in person than we hoped.
This world famous 400′ deep sinkhole off the coast of Belize has some of the most amazing, advanced diving in the world but the best vantage point is from the air.
You can either get there by private helicopter or a scenic flight on Tropic Air Belize. We chose the Tropic Air flight because it’s much more affordable. but you can have your hotel coordinate a 4 or 6 person helicopter if you prefer.
The Tropic Air 1 hour plane flight is a propeller plane and everyone gets a window seat. They circle the Blue hole 2 times in both directions so everyone gets an amazing view for the perfect photo.
We loved every minute of it. We wrote a blog post with everything you need to know to book a scenic flight over the Great Blue Hole.
Pro Tip: Ask if you can ride in the co-pilot seat. It’s first come, first served. There are also boat tours to go diving and snorkeling. Keep in mind that diving at the great Blue Hole is only for advanced divers.
READ NEXT: Epic Flight over The Great Blue Hole Belize
12. Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley
The Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO Heritage site, is the 2nd largest reef in the world running along 185 miles of Belize coastline. Because of it’s protected status, the marine life provides top notch diving and snorkeling opportunities.
The Hol Chan Marine reserve is only 4 miles off the coast of Ambergris Caye making it one of the best things to do there. There are 4 distinct areas – Coral Reefs, Grass Beds, Mangroves, and Shark Ray Alley.
Each has their own marine life. You can spot anything from beautiful coral, sea grasses, large schools of brightly colored fish, lobsters, sea turtles, sting rays, and nurse sharks.
Victoria House has a Dive Shop right on their own pier where you can depart for snorkeling and scuba diving. In addition to renting all equipment, they also offer multiple dive courses from a-3 hour refresher course to full 3 day diving certification. If you are staying elsewhere, your hotel can help you coordinate half or full day trips.
13. Rent a Golf Cart and Take a Tour of the Island
One spectacular way to experience the beauty of Ambergris Caye is by renting a golf cart and taking a tour of the island. Surprisingly Ambergris Caye is 25+ miles long.
You’ll pass by typical coastal towns, bays, lagoons, nature reserves, mangroves, and other breathtaking scenery that is sure to amaze you. Be sure to stop at Robin’s Kitchen for some mouthwatering Jerk chicken and Secret Beach for a fun time.
The best part about traveling around Ambergris Caye in a golf cart is that you can take as much time as you want while also getting an up-close look at what this amazing island off the coast of Belize has to offer.
14. Secret Beach
Secret Beach on Ambergris Caye is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Belize. It’s a hidden paradise lying beneath low limestone cliffs, bordered by a cluster of palm trees and bathed in turquoise waters.
With an abundance of sea life and coral formations, snorkeling here is a delight. For those who want to explore further, jet skis and kayaks are available to rent and take you on an adventure amidst mangroves and secret coves.
With an unspoiled white sand beach surrounded by vast blue seascapes, this picturesque hideaway is ideal for families or friends looking for some tropical fun.
Secret Beach is the not so secret place everyone goes. It’s a drive to the other side of the island so your golf cart will come in handy.
15. Day Trip to Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve
Accessible only by boat, this protected area is part of the Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the top attractions in Belize for divers. It is located on the northern tip of Ambergris Caye by the Belize/Mexico border.
Bacalar Chico National Park features stunning coral reefs, turquoise lagoons, mangrove forests, dense jungles and an abundance of wildlife.
In addition to its natural attractions, the park is also home to the ancient Mayan Ruins at Marco Gonzalez – a fascinating glimpse into Belize’s rich cultural history.
With hundreds of bird species, tropical fish, turtles, jaguars and other animals living in the area, visitors will be able to get up close and personal with nature.
Other Fun Things to Do in Belize in San Pedro
- Go fishing or just rent a boat and take a ride in San Pedro Lagoon.
- Chicken Drop – Only in Belize can you gamble on chicken poop! Thursday night at Wahoo’s Lounge, they put a chicken on a large game board to see where he will make his drop.
- Take a chocolate making class or just get a treat at Belize Chocolate Company.
- Hang Out & Relax – Drink coffee at Rum + Bean Coffee, go for Tacos and Margaritas at The Truck Stop, or have drinks while floating in an innertube at The Palapa Bar.
How to Get Around in Belize
Understanding the layout of the country is the best place to start. Most people fly into Belize City but it’s typically just a pitstop to your final destination.
Because of that, there is either a big drive, a short flight or a ferry ride next. This post is focusing mainly on 2 areas of Belize – The Cayo District and Ambergris Caye.
If you have more time, you might head to the beach towns of Placencia or Hopkins. Ka’ana Resort, the amazing place we stayed in San Ignacio just built an even more amazing resort in Placencia called Itz’ana Resort & Residences.
We’re dying to go check it out. The beaches and water are gorgeous! This area also puts you in closer proximity to Mayflower Bocawina National Park – home to Belize’s longest zipline and some really cool rainforest friends like Howler Monkeys.
Belize Transportation Options
- Belize airlines – Tropic Air and Maya Island Air. Flying to the Cayes is the fastest and not that expensive. Flying to San Ignacio (Cayo District) is expensive and takes longer than driving because there’s a stopover.
- Shuttle service – Belize Shuttle by William – reliable and Wifi on board.
- Ferry – Belize Water Taxi
- Car Rental – Major car rental companies operate in Belize and Crystal Auto Rental has good review.
- Chicken Bus – the least expensive option for backpackers.
Best / Fastest Options:
- Rent a car at the airport, drive 2 hours to the Cayo District, return the car at the airport and fly 15 minutes to Ambergris Caye. It gives the most flexibility and the roads are good.
- Take the shuttle from Belize Airport to San Ignacio (Cayo District) $50. Then fly from there to Ambergris Caye on the 1 hour flight $155-$200 one way. The shuttle and ferry option is 4 hours for $75.
Things to Pack for Belize
- Check out this Complete Belize Packing List with a bunch of the things you need and might be forgetting.
- Insect repellent We luckily had no problem in the hotels where we were staying but you definitely want to bring it with you for the day.
- Quick Dry Water Shoes will be useful for everything from cave activities to walking on the beach.
- Waterproof Dry Bag is necessary to protect your belongings for many activities in Belize like caves, tubing and snorkeling.
- Anti-Theft travel bag – stay safe from pickpockets when you are traveling through airports and tourist areas.
- Travel insurance for Belize Having travel insurance is important any time you are in a different country including Belize SafetyWing is a great company and you’ll have the peace of mind that you’re covered if anything happens.
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