Planning Your Trip to Belize
A week is a good amount of time to experience Belize's incredible culture and scenery. You can do some wildlife spotting plus visit cascading waterfalls and jade rivers that snake through tropical rainforests. Other highlights include trips to ancient Maya ruins that rival those in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.
Seven days also allows for excursions to a couple of the country's offshore islands (called cayes) and dive sites. There are over 450 islands around Belize's 180-mile (290-km) Barrier Reef—the largest such reef in the northern hemisphere. That makes it a diver's paradise.
In 9 or 10 days you can see even more islands, plus take a wildlife tour. Belize's subtropical climate means fascinating species are abundant, ranging from monkeys and tapirs to jaguars and ocelots. Regarding the avian wildlife, Belize is home to over 580 species, making it a top destination for birders.
Belize in 7 Days
With a week in Belize, you can focus on the reef and cayes or embark on a combined inland/island trip.
For the best of Belize, there's this rainforest and reef exploration. The adventure begins at Dangriga, on the central coast. Venture into the surrounding Maya Mountains, hike to waterfalls, and sail over the treetops on the longest zip-line in Belize. A birding excursion reveals exotic avian residents like green macaws, toucans, and spectacled owls. Then it's off to Tobacco Caye, a highlight of Belize's Barrier Reef. This five-acre island is fringed with soft white sands and towering palms swaying in the breeze. Activities include snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, or lazing in a hammock at your lodge.
See more of Belize's famous reef on this 7-day island tour. Animal lovers will enjoy staying in a pine-forest lodge adjacent to the Belize Zoo. Trails along this tropical savanna allow you to view exotic wildlife like spider monkeys, tapirs, and wildcats. Go snorkeling around Tobacco Caye and kayak along the reef to South Water and Billy Hawk cayes as nurse sharks swim about in the water. Then visit a fishing camp run by local Garifuna (mixed African and indigenous) people to catch snapper and barracuda. Scuba lessons are available if you aren't already certified.
Many are aware of Mexico and Guatemala's rich Maya history, yet they may not know Belize is also home to Maya culture. A combined reef and caves trip includes exciting aquatic adventures in the cayes, but it begins with a walk through Belize's indigenous history. Exploring Western Belize's underground Che Chem Ha cave system, you'll see ceremonial altars and various artifacts like pottery and artwork. There's also a visit to Xunantunich, the ruins of a Maya city that rose to prominence in 600 CE.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Belize in 9 Days
Even adding just two more days in Belize can maximize the fun as you can include more nature tours and Caribbean excursions.
Indulge your inner naturalist on a combined wildlife, ruins, and reef tour. It starts with a visit to Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, a wetland area home to birds, reptiles, and mammals, including pumas, river otters, and manatees. Then take a scenic riverboat ride to Lamanai. Dating to 1500 BCE, this is the oldest Maya temple complex in the country. Hike to the top of the 108-foot (33-m) High Temple to enjoy the views to Mexico. A few miles east is Altun Ha, another Maya site that was once a vital trading center. Finally, snorkel/dive at Turneffe and Lighthouse Reef Atoll, home to the famous Great Blue Hole.
Belize in 10 Days
Tack on an extra day to round out your Belize adventure by including more indigenous culture with your nature activities and reef explorations.
On this adventure and culture tour, you'll paddle down the Moho River and marvel at the wildlife in Bocawina National Park. Then sit down to a homemade lunch with a local family in Santa Teresa, a small Maya village of barely 300 residents. Continue with a trek in the mountains around Big Falls, the center of cacao production in Belize. Besides visiting the nearby Maya ruins at Lubaantun, you'll participate in a traditional bean-to-bar chocolate-making lesson. The tour ends at Glover's Reef Atoll, boasting over 700 snorkeling sites. Besides water activities, you can meet with the Garifuna people to learn traditional Belizean hand-line fishing.
More Great Belize Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Belize? Check out these other Belize itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.