Travelers with a taste for the Caribbean shouldn't sleep on Belize. This Central American nation packs a punch in the form of its offshore barrier reef, which is the largest in the Western Hemisphere. You'll have plenty of time during this seven-day adventure for epic snorkeling tours and hops around postcard coral islands, but first up is a memorable journey deep into the jungle for nature hikes, visits to ancient Maya archaeological sites, and tours of mysterious river caves.


  • Hike the nature trails and explore the river caves of San Ignacio
  • Tour Belize's highlight snorkeling spots, like Shark Ray Alley and the Blue Hole
  • Relax with your feet in the powdery white sands of Belize's famous cayes (islands)

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Belize City, Transfer to San Ignacio, Street Food & Hike San Ignacio
Day 2 Day Trip to Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave San Ignacio
Day 3 Hike to the Ancient Maya City of Caracol San Ignacio
Day 4 Barton Creek Cave, Transfer to Caye Caulker & Snorkeling Caye Caulker
Day 5 Blue Hole Snorkeling Tour Caye Caulker
Day 6 Caye Caulker Free Day & Helicopter Tour Caye Caulker
Day 7 Transfer to Belize City, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Belize City, Transfer to San Ignacio, Street Food & Hike

Your grand Belize adventure kicks off in the river town of San Ignacio

Welcome to Belize! Though a tiny Central American nation, Belize offers everything a traveler could want in a Caribbean holiday. It abounds with coral islands, lush tropical forests, mountains, waterfalls, and the largest barrier reef this side of Australia. Plus, there's great food and music, thanks to the welcoming Garifuna (Afro-Caribbean) residents. And for those worried about a language barrier, don't fret—Belize is an English-speaking country. 

On this seven-day itinerary, you'll experience the country's highlights, from the forest to the islands. It begins with your arrival in the nation's largest metropolis, Belize City, where a driver will meet you at the airport for the two-hour ride inland to San Ignacio, located near the border with Guatemala. This town sits on the Macal River and is surrounded by jungle, which allows for some great nature tours and visits to archaeological sites. Once here, you'll check in to your hotel.

Spend the rest of the day getting to know Belize and its people. One of the best ways to do this is through its delicious street food. Meet a local guide for a walk around town, during which you'll sample traditional quick eats, like tamales, fry jacks (donut-like fried bread that can be sweet or savory), conch fritters, and the downright addictive stewed chicken. Later, work off the calories on a quick nature hike in the forest right outside town. You can opt for various trails ranging in difficulty and length, but each puts you up close with the region's exotic flora and fauna, plus some ancient Maya artifacts.

Day 2: Day Trip to Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave

Spend part of the day exploring the vast underwater caverns at "ATM"

Leave after breakfast on a journey into the Maya underworld at Actun Tunichil Muknal (also called ATM), or the "Cave of the Stone Sepulchre." During this three-hour guided tour, you'll see the cave's crystalline stalactites, 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 jungle and across streams for approximately 45 minutes to reach the cave's entrance. Then, wade through knee-high water as you cross a spring-fed lagoon to an underground maze of tunnels, passageways, and chambers. After the cave tour, hike back to the car for a picnic lunch and return to San Ignacio. You'll have the rest of the day free.

Day 3: Hike to the Ancient Maya City of Caracol

Hike around Caracol, a once-bustling Maya city
Another outdoor adventure is in store this morning as you 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 a plateau in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, it's accessible via the rivers of Mountain Pine Ridge and its limestone caves. After a two-hour drive along dirt roads, passing small Maya villages and scenic countryside, you'll arrive in Caracol.
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Learn about the area's history and rare and endangered wildlife, such as tapirs, jaguars, 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, walls, and altars. After the tour, enjoy a picnic lunch, then continue to Pine Ridge to take a break at the Río On Pools' natural swimming holes and waterfalls to cool down. At the end of a full day, return to your San Ignacio hotel.

Day 4: Barton Creek Cave, Transfer to Caye Caulker & Snorkeling

Snorkel in the waters around the UNESCO-listed Hol Chan marine reserve

This morning, you'll say goodbye to San Ignacio and western Belize, but not before visiting Barton Creek Cave, the largest river cave in the country. Tour the collection of huge caverns used in Maya times for everything from fertility and agricultural rituals to bloodletting and human sacrifice. After about four hours of exploration, you'll return to your hotel in San Ignacio.

Later, you'll transfer back to Belize City by vehicle and hop in a water taxi for the 45-minute ride north to Caye Caulker. This tiny, car-free coral island (it measures just 5 mi/ 8 km long) draws snorkelers and divers from all over to its unspoiled marine reserve, which is part of the Belize Barrier Reef (the second-largest barrier reef system in the world). Welcome to the islands! Upon arrival, you'll drop your things off at the hotel, then return to the pier, where you'll board a boat that will take you to some of the best reef locales for snorkeling.

The first spot is Hol Chan, Belize's first-ever marine reserve. This UNESCO World Heritage Site protects 7 square miles (18 sq km) of coral reefs and mangrove lagoons, home to a biodiverse marine ecosystem. It's a top site for snorkelers/divers (one of the best in Belize), and you'll spend about 2.5 hours here swimming with schools of exotic fish and marine life like turtles, moray eels, and the gorgeous spotted eagle ray. Next, stop at nearby Shark Ray Alley, a 30-foot (9 m) deep channel where you'll swim with stingrays and harmless nurse sharks. Afterward, return to Caye Caulker.

Day 5: Blue Hole Snorkeling Tour

Blue Hole
There's no more famous dive spot in the Caribbean than the Blue Hole

No tour of Belize is complete without a trip to the country's most iconic dive site. Before the sun rises, you'll board a boat at Caye Caulker and ride 2.5 hours out to the famous Blue Hole, which is part of Lighthouse Reef. This giant marine sinkhole and popular dive spot formed as a limestone cavern during the last ice age and can even be seen from space. It's unique due to its almost perfectly circular shape, which measures 1,043 feet (318 m) across and 407 feet (124 m) deep.

The early start is well worth it, which you'll quickly discover once you plunge into the Blue Hole and swim beneath its shimmering surface. As you break through the thermocline layer into the deeper, motionless waters below, you'll enjoy visibility of up to 200 (60 m) feet. In this environment, you'll see everything from giant underwater stalactites to reef sharks, parrotfish, and turtles cruising past.

Day 6: Caye Caulker Free Day & Helicopter Tour

Settle into the slower pace of life on Caye Caulker, which golf cart is the main mode of transport

No cars are allowed on Caye Caulker's sandy streets, so the best way to get around is by golf cart. Pick up your keys in the morning and zip around the island, browsing shops, exploring the coast, feasting on local seafood, and hitting the beach bars. No rigid schedules today—you're free to spend your time however you like. 

You will, however, carve out a couple of hours to soar over the Blue Hole on a helicopter tour. You've seen it from under the water, but nothing tops the views of this limestone formation from above. The ride will also take you near shipwrecks and, at times, fly right over the water, where you can see sharks, rays, and manatees beneath the surface. There's no greater photo-op in the country.

Day 7: Transfer to Belize City, Depart

Farewell, Belize
Time flies when you're enjoying the weeklong adventure of a lifetime. Alas, now it's time to depart. Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before hopping in a water taxi for the ride back to Belize City. There, you'll transfer to the airport in time to make your flight home. Safe travels!

More Great Belize Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Belize? Check out these other Belize itineraries, explore more ways to spend a week in Belize, or learn about the best time to visit Belize.


Map of Belize Discovery Tour: Natural Wonders & Maya Culture - 7 Days
Map of Belize Discovery Tour: Natural Wonders & Maya Culture - 7 Days