- Hike to the ancient Maya ruins at Caracol
- Explore the underwater underworld of Actun Tunichil Mukna
- Horseback ride to the ancient city of Xunantunich
- Swim with sharks in Hol Chan
|Arrive in Belize City
|Transfer to San Ignacio via Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves
|Hike to the Ancient Maya City of Caracol
|Horseback Ride to the Xunantunich Maya Ruins
|San Ignacio Chocolate Tour
|Transfer to San Pedro & Explore Caye Caulker
|Free Day in San Pedro
|Snorkeling & Diving in Hol Chan/Shark Ray Alley
|Belize Cayes Sailing Cruise
|Return to Belize City, Depart
Day 1: Arrive in Belize City
Welcome to Belize! A driver will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel to start your adventure. On the east coast of Central America, bordered by Guatemala, Mexico, and Honduras, Belize is known for its barrier reefs, jungles, and Maya ruins. In Belize City, spend some time relaxing at your hotel, or get out to explore. Visit the Museum of Belize to learn about the country's Maya history, or visit the Old Belize Marina to breathe some fresh air.
Day 2: Transfer to San Ignacio via Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves
Today you'll strike out west, joining your driver for a two-hour transfer toward San Ignacio, the capital of Belize's Cayo District and gateway to the region's magnificent Maya ruins and plentiful outdoor activities. Your first stop takes you on a journey into the Maya underworld at Actun Tunichil Muknal (also called ATM), or the "Cave of the Stone Sepulchre," on a three-hour guided tour. See the cave's crystalline stalactites and stalagmites, and Maya artifacts, and learn about the history of the sacred burial place of the "Crystal Maiden" and the remains of 13 other sacrificed men, women, and children.
Upon arrival, you'll hike through the jungle and three stream crossings for approximately 45 minutes to reach the cave's entrance. Swim across a small spring-fed pool using a rope to assist you and wade through knee-high water to reach an underground maze of tunnels, passageways, and chambers. After the cave tour, hike back to the car for a picnic lunch and then continue another 45 minutes to San Ignacio, your base for the next four nights.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 3: Hike to the Ancient Maya City of Caracol
Lace up your hiking boots today to explore Caracol, an ancient Maya city covering nearly 6 square miles (9.6 sq km). At its peak, Caracol had more than 150,000 inhabitants and 30,000 buildings, including an astronomical observatory. Set high on the Vaca Plateau, in the heart of the Chiquibul Forest Reserve (a subtropical forest south of San Ignacio near the Guatemalan border), it is accessed through the Mountain Pine Ridge with its flowing rivers and hidden limestone caves. After a two-hour drive along dirt roads, passing small Maya villages and scenic countryside, you'll arrive in Caracol.
Learn about the area's history and its rare and endangered wildlife, such as tapirs, jaguars, oscillated turkeys, and coatimundis. Explore what was once the largest metropolis in the Maya Lowlands, hidden by a tropical broad-leaf forest where howler monkeys perch in mammoth trees. Learn how Caracol's history is documented in hieroglyphic carvings on monuments, stelae, wall facades, and altars. After the tour, enjoy a picnic lunch, and then continue to Pine Ridge to take a break at the Rio On Pools' natural swimming holes and waterfalls to cool down and relax. At the end of a full day, return to your San Ignacio hotel.
Day 4: Horseback Ride to the Xunantunich Maya Ruins
Riding through the jungle on horseback is how you'll discover the ancient Maya city of Xunantunich today. Begin the tour at a stable where you'll meet your riding guide, mount your horse, and get ready for adventure. Reach Xunantunich following a well-maintained trail through a private farm along the Mopan River's banks in the village of San Jose Succotz, riding among local birds and plants.Cross the river on a hand-operated ferry and then ride your horse up to Xunantunich. When you arrive, dismount and explore Xunantunich's temples and plazas on foot. Eat lunch at a restaurant or farm for traditional Belizean dishes, such as rice and beans with fish or meat, and then return to the stables to say goodbye to your horse. In the evening, go back to your San Ignacio hotel to rest after the day's adventures.
Day 5: San Ignacio Chocolate Tour
The country, which is today known as Belize, may be one of the first places where cacao was consumed. In early Maya culture, cacao was often used to make a bitter and spicy drink—which is much different than the chocolate we eat now. There are numerous ways to turn cacao into chocolate and other products, and today, you'll learn about the ingredient's history and how it was a staple for the Maya.
Following Maya tradition, taste chocolate that has a bitter kick to it, with different spices added to offer a variety of flavors. Learn how to make cacao into edible and drinkable Maya chocolate, using a stone to grind organic cacao beans into a paste, then mixing the paste with spices and melting it into a liquid. After your chocolate tour, the rest of your afternoon is free to relax at your hotel, explore the Rainforest Medicine Trail to uncover the medicinal properties of Indigenous plants, or take an excursion to the Cahal Pech ruins.
Day 6: Transfer to San Pedro & Explore Caye Caulker
In the morning, travel back to Belize City to catch a boat to San Pedro, located off the coast on the country's largest island of Ambergris Caye. The ride takes about 1.5 hours, and during the trip, you'll be treated to views of some of Belize's more than 400 cayes with their lush mangroves and white-sand beaches.
Upon arrival, you'll hop over to the tiny neighboring Caye Caulker, where you can relax on one of the idyllic beaches, swing on a hammock, and sip a cocktail. Or, spend an active day in and out of the water. Rent a bike and make your way around the island, stopping to buy fresh seafood for lunch. Or, go snorkeling, diving, or sea kayaking through the local marine reserve. After a relaxing day on the beach, take the boat back to San Pedro.
Day 7: Free Day in San Pedro
Today is free for you to discover more of San Pedro at your own pace. Browse shops, eat at restaurants, and of course, spend time on the beach. Enjoy the laid-back island atmosphere of sandy streets lined with palm trees and wooden houses as you decide how to spend your day.
To get to some of the beaches, you may want to hire a taxi or even a golf cart, especially for some of the more secluded spots such as Secret Beach, Boca del Rio, and Mar de Tombo. Lounge on a beach, go snorkeling, or go for a short boat excursion to the other cayes. Find a local fish restaurant for dinner to taste the catch of the day. If you have extra energy, go dancing at one of San Pedro's clubs or discos.
Day 8: Snorkeling & Diving in Hol Chan/Shark Ray Alley
Today's destination is Hol Chan, a famed dive and snorkel site with thousands of large and small fish to see in an underwater national park. Located 4 miles (6 km) south of San Pedro, the reef system that borders Belize is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Hol Chan (meaning "little channel" in the Maya language) cuts through the reef, to create one of the world's best diving sites for all levels. Spend about 2.5 hours exploring the reserve, which covers about 5 square miles (8 sq km) and is 30 feet (9 m) deep.
See angelfish, sea turtles, blue-striped grunts, schoolmaster snappers, and hundreds of other fish varieties in this protected area. Try to spot green moray eels living in sea caves as you navigate the water with your dive or snorkel gear. If you dare, you can even go for a half-four swim with the sharks and stingrays in Shark Ray Alley, watching as dozens of nurse sharks circle your boat. At the end of the boating tour, go back to San Pedro for a night out or to relax at your hotel.
Day 9: Belize Cayes Sailing Cruise
Your ride today is a 38-foot (11.5 m) catamaran, retracing the route of coconut crops and English merchants in the 1600s along Belize's cayes. There will be stops for snorkeling and diving in some of the most secluded and untouched areas, such as coral-rich Mexico Rocks—a popular destination for snorkelers of all levels. Lunch is a barbecue on deck with lobster and conch, depending on the season. After lunch, take a nap, sunbathe, or go for another swim.
Relax on the boat for the cruise back to land, and return to San Pedro to watch the sunset on the beach as you enjoy a dinner of drinks and ceviche or fresh grilled fish. Spend your last night in Belize enjoying the island's balmy night air and toasting the end of your trip.
Day 10: Return to Belize City, Depart
In the morning, make your way from San Pedro back to Belize City by boat. From there, you'll catch a flight to your next destination or back home. Safe travels!