With seven days in Belize, you want an itinerary that deftly balances aquatic excursions with off-the-beaten-path jungle adventures. This active holiday delivers on both fronts, starting in the western forests where you'll embark on nature hikes, explore river caves, and visit the ruins of ancient Maya cities. Stop at a nature reserve on your way to the coast to see big cats, then spend the remainder of your time on snorkeling trips around the south-coast reefs.


  • See blue morpho butterflies and exotic big cats on nature hikes
  • Snorkel famous sites along the Belize Barrier Reef, like Shark Ray Alley
  • Relax on the white-sand beaches of Placencia and visit Maya ruins

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Belize City, Transfer to San Ignacio, Visit Butterfly Farm San Ignacio
Day 2 Day Trip to Xunantunich, Visit Barton Creek San Ignacio
Day 3 Transfer to Placencia, Visit Jaguar Reserve Placencia
Day 4 Barrier Reef Snorkeling Tour Placencia
Day 5 Nim Li Punit Maya Ruins & Spice Farm Tour Placencia
Day 6 Hol Chan Snorkeling & Laughing Bird Caye Fishing Placencia
Day 7 Transfer to Belize City, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Belize City, Transfer to San Ignacio, Visit Butterfly Farm

Visit a butterfly farm in western Belize and marvel at the famous blue morpho

Welcome to Belize! People flock here to dive into the waters around the country's famous Barrier Reef. However, often lost in the excitement is all the terrestrial wonders this small Central American nation offers. That's what you'll experience first, as upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up for the 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.

After settling in, venture right back out to witness exotic wildlife firsthand on a visit to the Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm. Located a short drive from San Ignacio at the foot of the green Maya Mountains, this nature farm is the perfect place to meet the majestic blue morpho butterfly, known in the country as the Belizean blue. This rare species is one of the world's largest butterflies, with wings that span up to 8 inches (20 cm). Their signature blue color derives from microscopic scales on the wings that reflect light. You'll learn all this, plus see these exotic critters on a one-hour tour of the farm. 

Day 2: Day Trip to Xunantunich, Visit Barton Creek

Discover Xunantunich
Besides natural beauty, the San Ignacio region is also home to Maya ruins

Hit the road early on a trip to nearby Xunantunich, the ruins of an ancient Maya city located on a ridge above the shimmering Mopan River. On a half-day tour, you'll hike around the remains of a city that reached its height of power during the seventh century CE but was abandoned around 750 CE. It covers 1 square mile (2.6 sq km), and you'll explore the main area's six plazas and 26 temples and palaces.

Later, continue to 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.

Day 3: Transfer to Placencia, Visit Jaguar Reserve

With its white-sand beaches, Placencia is the Belize you see in postcards

It's an early start this morning, as you'll meet your driver for the three-hour ride from San Ignacio to the southern coast. The journey will take you east along the George Prince and Hummingbird highways, passing forests and citrus orchards. Eventually, you'll arrive in Placencia, a beach community on the tip of a peninsula in southern Belize. it's known for its white-sand beaches lapped by clear waters around its biodiverse barrier reef.

After dropping off your bags at the hotel, you'll head right back out on a trip to the nearby Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve. Here, a naturalist guide will lead you through this 153-square-mile (389 sq km) sanctuary on jungle trails to spot all five of Belize's native big cats: jaguars, pumas, ocelots, jaguarundis, and margays. Afterward, float down the South Stann Creek River by inner tube, then head to a local cacao farm to learn about the ancient Maya art of chocolate-making. Afterward, you'll return to Placencia.

Day 4: Barrier Reef Snorkeling Tour

Explore the aquatic wonderland along the Belize Barrier Reef
Plan your trip to Belize
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Rise and shine! This morning, you'll head to the pier in Placencia and board a boat for a full-day snorkeling tour to explore Belize's famous reef. As you zip across the turquoise and crystalline waters in the boat, you'll spot harmless nurse sharks swimming in the shallows.

Eventually, you'll arrive at a secluded beach surrounded by coral reefs. Take to the water and snorkel among exotic fish, including rays, parrotfish, turtles, and eels. Also included on this excursion are snacks and drinks. At the end of the afternoon, you'll return to Placencia.

Day 5: Nim Li Punit Maya Ruins & Spice Farm Tour

The name Nim Li Punit means "Big Hat" in the Maya language

Long before the Spanish arrived in the Americas, the ancient Maya people held sway over this region, which once encompassed parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize. This morning, your driver will transfer you two hours inland to one such ancient Maya site: Nim Li Punit. Located in the Toledo District of southern Belize, the site was once a vital political and religious center during the Maya Classic Period, between 250 and 900 CE.

You'll spend a couple of hours hiking around the ruins, and there's much to see. Nim Li Punit is known for its well-preserved stelae—tall stone monuments carved with intricate hieroglyphics depicting Maya rulers. There are also the ruins of prominent buildings and landmarks, like an acropolis, plaza, pyramids, and ballcourt. 

After Nim Li Punit, you'll transfer to a local spice farm for a tour. On a walk around the fields, you'll see the spice crops common to this area, including nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, and black pepper. A real treat is tasting some of these spices right from the plant. Later, you'll return to Placencia.

Day 6: Hol Chan Snorkeling & Laughing Bird Caye Fishing

Dive back into the water and swim with rays and other marine life

Get ready for another full day of snorkeling! Board a boat in the early morning and transfer 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. It's a top dive (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.

The next stop is at nearby Shark Ray Alley, a 30-foot (9 m) deep channel where you'll swim with stingrays and harmless nurse sharks. After that, you'll return to Placencia, but the fun isn't over yet. Hop aboard a fishing cruiser and head out to Laughing Bird Caye, a remote island off the coast of Plancia. The reefs here are home to a variety of game fish, including marlin, tuna, and wahoo. So cast a line—with a bit of luck, you'll catch your dinner tonight!

Day 7: Transfer to Belize City, Depart

Sun setting over the Caribbean waters of Belize
A week goes by fast when you're enjoying adventures by land and sea. Take this last morning in Belize to relax and enjoy a leisurely breakfast before meeting your driver for the three-hour ride north up the coast to Belize City. There, you'll transfer to the airport and catch 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 Nature & Adventure in Belize: San Ignacio & Placencia - 7 Days
Map of Nature & Adventure in Belize: San Ignacio & Placencia - 7 Days