The best things to do in Belize

The best things to do in Belize

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for the best things to do in Belize.

Belize has something for everyone. Whether you are looking for a family vacation spot, long weekend escape from the U.S.A., romantic getaway or backpacking Central America (like us!) – you are bound to find plenty of activities to suit your tastes.

All together we spent ten days in Belize. After three days each on the Caribbean islands of Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye, we headed inland to explore the jungle around San Ignacio.

These were our favorite things to do in this un-belize-ably beautiful country.

Planning a trip to Central America? Check out our posts on BelizeGuatemalaHondurasEl SalvadorNicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

Live at the beach

After flying into Belize City (or catching a bus down from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico), it is an easy cab ride and ferry across to the islands of Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye. Alternatively, it is possible to fly to either island from the Philip S.W. Goldson International Aeropuerto in Belize City.

Both islands boast gorgeous beaches, with Ambergris Caye being more developed and commercial than Caye Caulker. If you like all-inclusive beachfront hotels, then head to San Pedro in Ambergris Caye. If you prefer a more tranquil spot with no cars (only golf carts) and an island motto of “Go Slow” then Caye Caulker is the place for you.

Caye Caulker Beach, Belize - Chantell Collins

On both islands, it is recommended to spend optimal time at the beach. One of the best spots to swim on Caye Caulker is at the “Split,” which you can find by heading north along the beach front. This is a fun place to hang out, wet your feet and even snorkel. Just be sure to slather yourself in sunscreen as the sun can be fierce here.

For the perfect place to stay on this island paradise, check out beach living on Caye Caulker, Belize.

The Split, Caye Caulker

Snorkel and scuba

Belize is well-known for having some of the best snorkeling and diving spots in the world. The Belize Barrier Reef, second largest only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, runs along the entire Belizean Coastline as well as extending into Mexico and Honduras.

After hearing rave reviews from our newly-made holiday friends, we decided to partner up with Caveman Snorkeling Tours on Caye Caulker. We met with the charismatic Caveman, who took time to explain the tour options to us with a relaxed smile and no pressure to book. In the end, we chose the popular full day tour which included the opportunity to swim with nurse sharks in Shark Ray Alley.

The full day tour started at 10am with a quick but thorough briefing. What followed was a jam packed day with five different snorkeling spots including Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Shark Ray Alley, Coral Gardens, Chatos Area and a ship wreck. As I lazily laid on the boat, Darrell delved into the clear waters encountering Puffer Fish, Moray Eels, a Great Barracuda, a Spotted Eagle Ray, multiple Turtles and, of course, Nurse Sharks!

Snorkeling with Caveman Snorkeling Tours - Nurse Sharks

In the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the Caveman tour guides took the snorkelers on a guided tour while pointing our various species. Overall, Darrell was impressed by their knowledge and by the variety of marine life he saw while underwater.

At the beginning and the end of the tour, our guides took the boat to different spots which were known for spotting manatees. Although we weren’t lucky enough to see any, there had been numerous sightings on the previous days before and our friends even snorkeled with two manatees.

Learn about the Mayans

After soaking up the sun on the islands, we took a two and a half hour chicken bus from Belize City to San Ignacio for USD $4 each. If you prefer to pay extra for comfort, there are options of taking a shuttle or even renting a car.

San Ignacio is close to the border of Guatemala, surrounded by dense jungle and hidden Mayan sites. Most of the Mayan temples and ruins require guides or at least transport in order to get there. Tours range from USD $70 – $150 depending on the site. After much research, we chose the ATM Caves as it is one of the only underground Mayan sites in the world that has not been excavated. Read about our adventures exploring the ATM Caves.

The two Mayan sites that are easy to see without a guide or transport are Cahal Pech and Xunantunich. Cahal Pech is located within the town of San Ignacio. Xunantunich is a short bus ride (USD $0.75 each), river crossing and hill walk. We went to Xunantunich by public transport and were lucky enough to make friends along the way who drove us back to San Ignacio. The entrance for Xunantunich was USD $5 each. If you do decide to opt for a guide, there are many offering their services at the river crossing.

Xunantunich, Belize

Meet the locals

While visiting the Mayan sites and trekking through the rainforest, keep your eyes and ears open for Howler Monkeys. We spotted a raucous family of Howler Monkeys while at Xunantunich, who paid no attention to us (except to throw tree bark at me) and spent their time chattering away at each other.

Howler Monkey, Belize

Green Iguanas are native to the Americas, however it is no longer common to see them in the wild in Belize. This is due to loss of habitat and the fact that Iguana eggs are considered a delicacy by locals. The Belize Iguana Project in San Ignacio was established as a conversation and breeding facility. All baby iguanas born here are done so with the view to be released into the wild.

The Iguana Project is open to the public with small group tours allowing visitors to get up close to these gorgeous creatures and learn more about them.

Green Iguana, San Ignacio, Belize

Eat street food

The best food that we ate in Belize was always on the street or in local restaurants.

For breakfast we loved finding hole-in-the-wall bakeries for Belizean Johnny Cakes, fried jacks and breakfast burritos, washed down with piping hot coffee. If you are staying on San Pedro and looking for cheap eats, try Ruby’s Cafe on the main street (next to Belize Chocolate Company).

Belizean Johnny Cakes

When it comes to dinner, it is time to hit up the food stalls. On Caye Calker a few local food stalls set up in front of the basketball court and in San Pedro they cluster in Central Park. Sink your teeth into Belizean stew chicken with rice and beans, tacos, burritos and even El Salvadorian pupusas. Most food stalls will also serve more Western style fast food such as hamburgers, hot dogs and corn dogs.

For a sit down meal, we liked Terry’s on Caye Caulker, Estel’s in San Pedro and Ko-Ox Han Nah in San Ignacio.


Caveman Snorkeling Tours, Caye Caulker, Belize

Caveman Snorkeling Tours are passionate about respecting the marine life and environment. Above all, they are dedicated to customer satisfaction. For the full list of tours and current prices, please refer to Tours.

Location: Front Street (Playa Asuncion / Avenida Hicaco), Caye Caulker, Belize.

Website: http://www.cavemansnorkelingtours.com/.

Caveman Snorkeling Tours

Adoration 4 Adventure received a small media discount from Caveman Snorkeling Tours, however our opinions are our own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.


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Adoration 4 Adventure's recommendations for the best things to do in Belize. Including activities in Caye Caulker, San Pedro and San Ignacio.

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Exploring the ATM Caves in Belize

Exploring the ATM Caves in Belize

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for exploring the ATM Caves in Belize, Central America by A4A guest writer, Darrell Whaley.

ATM Caves

One of the must do things when traveling through San Ignacio, Belize is the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Caves. These sacred caves give a feeling of stepping back in time to the Mayan world, experiencing first hand what would have been routine in the lives of the Mayans.

The only way to visit these caves is by going with a guide, and we were very grateful we did. When we arrived in town, we were connected with PACZ Tours, one of the few companies who are allowed to conduct tours of the ATM Caves by the Belize Tourism Board and the Institute of Archaeology. Our leader, Oscar, knew everything and anything there is to know about the ATM Caves, to the point that we were the first group going into the park and ended up being the last out, all because of the amazing historical information and cave secrets Oscar shared with us.

Planning a trip to Central America? Check out our posts on BelizeGuatemalaHondurasEl SalvadorNicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

Starting our trek

Walking from the park entrance to the cave entrance is a good 35-40 minute hike, while crossing 3 rivers. Yet, this is the driest point of the tour as inside the cave, there are points where you must swim across to reach the final destination. Along this path we begin to learn about the ATM Caves and its unique situation. The ATM Caves are conserved by the Institute of Archaeology, who try to limit entrance into the caves to 120 people per day, so the environment is preserved as much as possible. These same people are the ones who uphold the local’s wishes that the site not be excavated. In fact, everything within the site is still in place and practically the same as its initial finding.

River Crossing on the path to ATM Caves. Photo credit: PACZ Tours

Upon entering the hourglass shaped entrance of the cave, one of the first sights to behold is the outline of Chaak, the Mayan Rain God. It is believed the Mayans would alter the rocks to make shapes or outlines of the Gods they are praying specifically to. As caves are the entrance to the Underworld in Mayan culture, and a way to reach closer to the Gods, it is believed the ATM Caves were used primarily in a time of drought and need of rain, hence the sight of Chaak.

ATM Caves hourglass entrance. Photo credit: PACZ Tours

Inside the Cave

Along the way towards the main chamber is the sight of shimmering quartz taking different shapes like jellyfish and mushrooms, additional rock formations in the shapes of jaguars and knives, and other signs of Mayan life left behind. Once we climbed up to the main chamber, we were able to see real, physical Mayan artifacts left behind from pots that were used to prepare food for the Gods. Each of these pots were unable to be used again according to their practices, in which they would break them in some fashion as an offering to the Gods.

As we moved further up into the chamber, we began to see obsidian blades, which is a sign of blood letting or blood sacrifices. Near here we saw the first human remains. According to Mayan history, it was common to go from food offerings, to blood sacrifice, to human sacrifice, depending on how desperate the tribe was.

We finally arrived at the very top chamber where we saw the Crystal Maiden, the skeleton of a teenager who was thought to have been a sacrifice to Chaak. At times of the year, the Crystal Maiden is completely underwater, which has given a crystallized look to the remains. After this somber view into the past, we began to head back out of the caves.

The Crystal Maiden. Photo credit: PACZ Tours

Much to our group’s surprise, the water had risen over a foot during our time in the chamber. We had to climb, jump, and squeeze through small spaces to make it back to the hourglass entrance. In some parts, our guide Oscar had us experience going through the caves as the Mayans would have, in complete darkness. This journey in the darkness would have caused even the toughest person cause for hesitation.

What we took away

These caves are a completely unique experience. Usually any historic site is immediately excavated and artifacts are taken away for carbon dating and testing, but this is a rarity in that it still intact. Of course this can be a hazard, because many people are not careful when around such history. There have been three instances where people have caused damage to the human remains and one where a camera was dropped on a skull that is estimated to be over 1,000 years old. Because of carelessness, all cameras are now banned inside the cave and there is even a movement to close the cave for a time. There is now much more caution taken by the Belize Tourism Board and guides in preserving this historic wonder so it can be seen by people from all over the world.

The Main Chamber in ATM Caves. Photo credit: PACZ Tours

This tour would have not been the same without our amazing guide Oscar, with PACZ Tours. The love that he has for his job and the ATM Caves shines through his every word and piece of knowledge he shares.

PACZ Tours took care of everything, from transport to and from the caves (nearly an hour each way), a personal guide for the entirety of the tour, lunch, and even an informative briefing on the dos and don’ts of the cave (definitely do not wear flip flops).


PACZ Tours, San Ignacio

PACZ Tours leads daily tours to all of the known sites and quite a few unknowns ones as well. To see all the tours they offer check out their Adventure Tour options.

Location: PACZ Tours, Burns Avenue, San Ignacio, Belize.

Website: http://www.pacztours.net/.

Tour group being led by guide in ATM Caves. Photo credit: PACZ Tours

Adoration 4 Adventure were complimentary guests of PACZ Tours, however our opinions are our own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers. All photos in this article are the property of PACZ Tours.


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Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for exploring the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Caves in Belize, Central America.

Have you visited Belize or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

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Beach living on Caye Caulker, Belize

Beach living on Caye Caulker, Belize

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for beach living at Tree Tops Guesthouse, Caye Caulker, Belize.

How do you choose the perfect place to stay on an island paradise? That was the question Darrell and I faced once we decided to travel to Caye Caulker in Belize. For us, the important factors for accommodation were privacy, comfort, peacefulness and of course, proximity to the beach.

I had only looked at a couple of hotels on the island, when I came across Tree Tops Guesthouse. A creamy white, three-story high guest house peeking up out of the tree tops. A tranquil retreat just meters from the waterfront and a short meander to the town center. It ticked all the boxes.

We confirmed our stay at Tree Tops Guesthouse and with great anticipation, jumped on a flight to Belize!

Planning a trip to Central America? Check out our posts on BelizeGuatemalaHondurasEl SalvadorNicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

Guest house

After flying into Belize City we made the easy connections to Caye Caulker by taking a cab, then a water taxi to the island. At the pier we were greeted by helpful locals who offered their services of golf cart transportation. As we were traveling light with only carry-on backpacks and did not have far to walk, we politely declined. As a testament to the relaxed vibe of the island, our refusal was met with “No worries”, a smile and directions on how to get to Tree Tops Guesthouse.

Tree Tops Guesthouse is located less than a five minute walk from the center of the village, sitting back just 40 or so meters from the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Beach front deck chairs await those who like to soak up the sun and work on their tan.

Tree Tops Guesthouse - Caye Caulker Beach

Suites

Tree Tops Guesthouse has six guest rooms, all with a distinct destination theme. We stayed in Room 1, the “Mayan” themed room which was adorned with wooden Jaguar totem heads on the walls. Room 1 is located on the ground level of the building and has views of the sea.

All rooms are furnished with an in-room strongbox, air conditioner and fan. In our room we had a mini fridge which provided the perfect place to store bottled water, leftover jerk chicken and chocolate treats. We were also impressed by the television channel selection with major satellite channels, including movie channels to amuse us on our quiet and relaxed nights.

For those who are, like us, visiting Caye Caulker for work and play, there is free Wi-Fi available and seating areas in the rooms. I loved alternating between working on the sun lounges in the courtyard and the comfortable chair in our room.

Tree Tops Guesthouse - Bedroom 1

Next to the “Mayan” themed room, is room 2 the “Indonesian” themed room. The two rooms can be connected with an adjoining door and have a shared bathroom. This would be a great option for anyone who is traveling as a group. Otherwise the two rooms are completely separated by a closed door and are well insulted from noise. All other rooms have an en-suite bathroom.

Tree Tops Guesthouse - Bedroom 2

While staying in Tree Tops Guesthouse we had such a strong feeling of seclusion and peacefulness. In fact the whole time we stayed there, we barely heard or saw any of our neighbors. It felt as if we had the whole place to ourselves.

Amenities

Our bathroom was thoughtfully stocked with complimentary toiletries, as well as aloe lotion and hydrogen peroxide for guests who happen to get a nasty sun burn. We found that after a long and fun day of snorkeling in the Barrier Reef, that even those who swore they never burn had a red tinge to their skin.

Tree Tops Guesthouse - Shared Bathroom (Room 1 and 2 only)

Outside the ground level entrance, is the courtyard garden with a water fountain, hammocks and various sun loungers to stretch out on. Tree Tops Guesthouse also offers bicycle rentals.

Tree Tops Guesthouse - Bikes for rent

Service

Tree Tops Guesthouse is owned and operated by Doris Creasey, a long time resident of the charming Caye Caulker. Upon arrival and check-in Doris shares her local knowledge with guests, pouring over the local map and recommending particular restaurants and dive shops.

Daily housekeeping is provided by the friendly staff who move swiftly, refreshing the rooms with fresh towels and soaps. The staff around Tree Tops are happy to stop and have a chat, or leave you in peace with a friendly smile and a nod of the head.

As is evident by the resounding reviews and warm messages left in the reception guest book, many travelers have found comfort and tranquility at Tree Tops Guesthouse.


Tree Tops Guesthouse, Caye Caulker

Tree Tops Guesthouse offers a collection of uniquely decorated rooms for different tastes and budget levels. For the full list of accommodations and current prices, please refer to Rates.

Location: Tree Tops Guesthouse, Caye Caulker, Belize, Central America.

Website: http://www.treetopsbelize.com/

Tree Tops Guesthouse - Courtyard

Adoration 4 Adventure were complimentary guests of Tree Tops Guesthouse, however our opinions are our own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.


Pin it for the next adventure!

Adoration 4 Adventure's recommendations for beach living at Tree Tops Guesthouse, Caye Caulker, Belize. A tranquil retreat just meters from the waterfront.

Have you visited Caye Caulker or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.