- Cruise around the islands of Belize
- Snorkel at Belize's famous Blue Hole
- Kayak across the waters of Lake Atitlán
- Cycle through Guatemala and hike up volcanoes
|Day 1||Arrive in Belize City, Transfer to Ambergris Caye||San Pedro Town|
|Day 2||Catamaran Cruise & Beach Picnic||San Pedro Town|
|Day 3||Glass Bottom Boat Cruise||San Pedro Town|
|Day 4||Transfer to Caye Caulker, Snorkel the Marine Reserve||Caye Caulker|
|Day 5||Caye Caulker Free Day||Caye Caulker|
|Day 6||Blue Hole Snorkeling Day Tour||Caye Caulker|
|Day 7||Transfer to Guatemala City (Guatemala)||Guatemala City|
|Day 8||Transfer to Lake Atitlán & Village Tour||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 9||Visit Chichicastenango Market, Chocolate Workshop||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 10||Kayaking & Hiking Lake Atitlán, Transfer to Antigua||Antigua|
|Day 11||Antigua Countryside Bike Tour||Antigua|
|Day 12||Pacaya Volcano Day Hike||Antigua|
|Day 13||Transfer to Guatemala City & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Belize City, Transfer to Ambergris Caye
Welcome to Belize! This tiny nation is home to around 400,000 people, many of whom are Garifuna—descendants of Afro-Indigenous peoples exiled from Caribbean islands to the Central American coast in the 18th century. Unlike other countries in the region, the official language here isn't Spanish but rather an English-based dialect called Belizean Creole. Besides the rich culture, Belize abounds with history and natural beauty. There are many ancient Maya temple complexes on the mainland, and right off the coast lies the Belize Barrier Reef (the second-largest reef system in the world).
You'll catch a glimpse of the barrier reef straight away because after arriving in Belize City, you'll transfer by water taxi 1.5 hours north to Ambergris Caye. This idyllic coral isle has been inhabited over the centuries by Indigenous Maya people, Mexicans fleeing the Caste War of Yucatán and even European pirates. Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel in San Pedro Town, the only town on the island.
Day 2: Catamaran Cruise & Beach Picnic
Wake up early and hop aboard a 38-foot (11.5 m) catamaran for a pleasure cruise around the reef, atolls, and coral islands of Belize. Relax on deck with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair as you cruise along the very same trade routes favored by English merchants and European pirates in the 1600s.
During a break from the sailing adventure, your skipper will anchor near the coral-rich Mexico Rocks, a popular snorkeling destination. Here, you'll enjoy a barbecue on deck with fresh lobster and conch, depending on the season. After lunch, you can take a nap, do some sunbathing, or dive off the boat into crystalline waters for a swim. After a while, you'll cruise back to the pier in Ambergris Caye.
Day 3: Glass Bottom Boat Cruise
Board a glass-bottom boat today for a 2.5-hour cruise off the southern coast of Ambergris to 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 an incredibly biodiverse marine ecosystem. You'll witness all the activity of this diverse underwater universe right from the deck as you peer down at the corals through the glass. Examples of colorful marine life you'll see here include angelfish, trumpetfish, sea turtles, moray eels, and the gorgeous spotted eagle ray.
Once at Hol Chan, you'll anchor for up to 20 minutes. During that time, you can stay on board or hop in the water for a snorkel and a swim. Afterward, the boat will continue on to the famous Shark Ray Alley. This 30-foot (9 m) deep channel is filled with stingrays and nurse sharks, which you can see gliding beneath the boat as well. Just like at Hol Chan, you'll have the option to go swimming with these animals. No need to worry, as nurse sharks are perfectly harmless (but no touching).
Day 4: Transfer to Caye Caulker, Snorkel the Marine Reserve
After breakfast, you'll board a water taxi for the 30-minute ride south to the adjacent island of Caye Caulker. This tiny Caribbean island measures just 5 miles (8 km) long and less than 1 mile (1.6 km) wide and is known for its laid-back spirit. Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel in Caye Caulker Village.
A short while later, you'll get back on a boat for a five-hour tour of the island's biggest draw: the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve. This 61-square-mile (157 sq km) portion of the Barrier Reef runs parallel to the island's coast and features many world-class dive sites, three of which you'll visit for a snorkel. In this underwater paradise, you'll swim among coral gardens and see exotic fish, including rays, parrotfish, turtles, eels, and (perhaps) sharks. The remaining two stops on the tour are sightseeing excursions to try and spot tarpons and manatees.
Day 5: Caye Caulker Free DayToday is yours to enjoy Caye Caulker however you wish. Relax at your hotel, stroll the alleys of the town center, try a refreshing gelato, or hop around the different bars and restaurants to mingle with locals and immerse yourself in the culture. Another option is to head out and explore the island. Since cars are prohibited on Caulker, the most enjoyable way to do this is in a golf cart, which you can rent for the day. You can also hop on a bicycle for a ride around the island or stroll around it on foot.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Blue Hole Snorkeling Day Tour
Before the sun rises above Belize's coastline, you'll leave on a full-day snorkeling tour to the famous Blue Hole, a giant marine sinkhole that first formed as a limestone cavern during the last Ice Age. This popular dive spot, which can be seen from space, is an icon of Belize due to its almost perfectly circular shape—it measures 1,043 feet (318 m) across and 407 feet (124 m) deep. Your journey here begins around 5:30 am with a 2.5-hour boat ride southeast to Lighthouse Reef and the dive site.
The early start is well worth it, as you'll 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 be treated to visibility of up to 200 feet (60 m). In this environment, you'll see everything from giant underwater stalactites to reef sharks, parrotfish, and turtles cruising past.
Day 7: Transfer to Guatemala City (Guatemala)
In the morning, you'll board a water taxi for the 45-minute ride south from Caye Caulker to Belize City. There, you'll transfer to the airport and catch a 1.5-hour flight to Guatemala City, which kicks off a new adventure in this wonderland of a country. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel.
After checking in, feel free to embark on a self-guided tour of the Centro Histórico ("Historic Center"). Head to the Plaza de la Constitución, where you can visit the National Palace. Guatemala's most iconic building was once the headquarters of the president, but today it's a museum. Nearby are famous religious landmarks like the 18th-century Iglesia San Francisco, St. Augustine Rectory, and the Iglesia del Cerrito del Carmen.
Day 8: Transfer to Lake Atitlán & Village Tour
Your driver will pick you up this morning for the three-hour ride west from Guatemala City to Lake Atitlán, the most famous lake in the country. The drive to get there is a treat in itself, as it follows a section of the Pan-American Highway, which stretches from one end of the Americas to the other (Alaska to Argentina). Along this road are stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Upon arrival at the lakeside town of Panajachel, you'll check in to your hotel for the night. Then, hop on a boat for a tour of the towns around Atitlán. In the company of a local guide, you'll stop at villages far off the tourist trail and experience their authentic culture. For example, you'll visit a local women's weaving co-op and see how they turn cotton into beautiful textiles by hand. You'll also visit a shrine to Maximón, an infamous Maya saint known for his depraved behavior.
Day 9: Visit Chichicastenango Market, Chocolate Workshop
Today, you'll transfer to Chichicastenango, which locals call "Chichi." This Indigenous town in the Guatemalan highlands is home to the largest and most famous public market in all of Central America. Held every Thursday and Sunday, it draws locals from surrounding villages who come to sell handicrafts, textiles, regional clothing, and fresh produce. Upon arrival, you and your guide will spend time browsing the market and chatting with locals.
Also here is the Iglesia de Santo Tomás. This 16th-century Roman Catholic church is built on the site of a former Maya temple and is a striking example of Guatemalan syncretism (a mix of ancient Maya religious beliefs and traditional Catholicism). During the trip, you'll also sample typical foods such as the sweet snack pan de muerto (bread of the dead). Afterward, you'll get in the car for the ride back to Antigua.
Day 10: Kayaking & Hiking Lake Atitlán, Transfer to Antigua
After a leisurely morning, meet your guide for today's five-hour expedition on and around Lake Atitlán. Start in a kayak as you paddle westward along the north shore of the lake for roughly two hours. Pass by villages perched on lakeside cliffs, hop in the water for a swim, or even do a little cliff jumping.
Eventually, you'll arrive on the shore between the villages of Tzununá and San Marcos La Laguna, where you'll leave the kayak behind and lace up your hiking boots. Follow the trail between the villages, taking in views of the San Pedro, Tolimán, and Atitlán volcanoes. Hike along the shoreline and through small villages for about 1.5 hours until the circuit leads you to the town of Jaibalito.
Day 11: Antigua Countryside Bike TourIn the morning, you'll meet up with a group for a cycling trip to explore the nearby villages, ruins, and stunning scenery around Antigua. It's a packed excursion in which you'll visit a macadamia nut farm, coffee plantations, and a textiles and handicrafts market in the mountain town of San Antonio Aguas Calientes. The best part is that throughout the ride, you'll enjoy panoramic views of Guatemala's verdant western highlands. Of course, there will be plenty of opportunities to stop and snap photos. When you return to Antigua, you'll have the rest of the day to relax and enjoy the city.
Day 12: Pacaya Volcano Day Hike
Get an early start and meet your group for a guided climb up the 8,370-foot (2,552 m) Pacaya volcano, whose slopes are home to some of the most impressive volcanic landscapes in Central America. Set in its own national park, Pacaya cuts an imposing figure with a continuous plume of smoke drifting from its summit and the massive lava field at the base of its caldera.
The trip up and back takes about six hours, but horses are an option for those who'd prefer a more relaxed ascent. Upon arrival at the summit, you'll enjoy a picnic lunch amid panoramic views of nearby volcanoes Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango. The hike down traverses more dried lava fields before descending through tropical forests and farmland on your way back to Antigua and your hotel.