6 of the Most Incredible Eco Lodges in Belize (For All Budgets)

If you’re into sustainable tourism, it’s likely that staying in a jungle eco lodge in Belize is high on your bucket list. And with good reason – Belize is becoming one of the world’s premier ecotourism destinations for its dedication to .preserving biodiversity, reducing waste, and living in harmony with nature.

I stayed in an eco-lodge during my time in Belize and it was a great experience. There’s nothing that quite compares to waking up in the middle of the dense jungle, awoken by the other-worldly alarm of a chorus of howler monkeys. Well, to be frank, howl is putting the noises they make lightly, but I digress…

There are countless eco resorts in Belize, many of which are well worth a visit. Picking the right eco lodge in Belize is a matter of considering your budget and what level of luxury you like. Belize is not a cheap destination the way its neighbors are — but it’s also not an insanely expensive one, either.

Budget at least $100 a night for a comfortable, clean eco lodge in Belize, but keep in mind that if you want a luxury eco lodge experience you’ll be looking at closer to $300 a night, on par with luxury experiences elsewhere in the world. Still, no matter what your budget, you’re sure to get a memorable experience: beautiful accommodations in the middle of the Belizean jungle, supporting eco-friendly practices while staying in comfort, a stone’s throw from countless adventurous activities ranging from caving to horseback riding to tubing and beyond.

Things to Consider When Picking an Eco Resort in Belize

The majority of the eco lodges in Belize are centered in Cayo District, nearby the town of San Ignacio. San Ignacio is a popular tourist destination for its proximity to several adrenaline-pumping adventure activities, from cave tubing to exploring the ATM cave to climbing the Mayan ruins of Caracol to horseback riding in the mountains. The Macal River winds through the Cayo District and it’s a popular location for many of the eco lodges in Belize.

There are two major considerations you should keep in mind when picking which eco lodge in Belize is right for you. Number one: your budget. I’ve sorted my recommendations into 3 tiers: budget (around $100 a night), mid-range (between $100-250), and luxury ($300 and up). I still do recommend looking at each hotel individually as prices truly depend on seasonality and availability and you may be able to find a steal, according to the time of year. Conversely, if you are traveling during the most popular times of the year, you may find that the eco lodges I’ve recommended don’t correlate to the prices I’ve given… so take these recommendations with a grain of salt.

Prices in Belize are at their highest between December and April, which correlates to both the holiday season (when prices are their highest) and the dry season. You can get a great deal with likely-to-be excellent weather by traveling in the shoulder season, especially in May and early June when the rainy season hasn’t fully started yet but spring break and winter getaways have ended.

The other thing to consider is transportation. Staying in an eco lodge often means getting quite ‘off the grid’ in Belize, and if you don’t have a car rental, this can add up to serious taxi or shuttle costs over the course of a stay. I recommend looking for places close to San Ignacio if you don’t have a car while you are in Belize. Cahal Pech Village Resort and San Ignacio Resort Hotel are both located right in town. However, the nicest and most authentic jungle lodge experience in Belize will be found outside of the city (of course), so it’s a matter of balance.

My Top 2 Budget-Friendly Eco Lodges in Belize

Keep in mind, again, that Belize is not the cheapest destination in Central America. That said, many properties do still offer a great value, blending economy and comfort in a way that is not fancy or fussed-over, while benefiting the environment around it.

I consider budget-friendly in Belize to be around $100 per night for a simple double-room at an eco lodge; however, be aware that prices will vary based on time of year and availability!

Pine Ridge Lodge

Located within the natural wonder of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, the Pine Ridge Lodge offers a comfortable stay in an eco lodge in Belize at a reasonable price. Close to the ancient Mayan city of Caracol, an ancient city that archaeologists believe once had a population of 185,000 people, this simple but beautiful resort is perfect for a stay focused on appreciating the outdoors and comfort over luxury.

Their accommodations consist of a number of charming little bungalows that provide beautiful forest views. Nature lovers will find plenty to love about Pine Ridge Lodge’s location: surrounded by many waterfalls and natural pools that are perfect for swimming, excellent hiking trails nearby, and plenty of opportunities to spot birds and other wildlife. The lodge also has its own orchid garden for guests to enjoy, and there is an in-house restaurant, where you can order meals with fresh ingredients which are gathered from their own organic gardens.

The nearby Rio-On Pools

Note that it is located quite far outside the town of San Ignacio, so you will need to either have a car rental (recommended) or arrange for a transfer from town or the airport, which could add on some expenses given the distance. 

Check prices, reviews, and availability of Pine Ridge Lodge here.

Cahal Pech Village Resort

It’s a testament to how green Belize is that you barely have to leave the city of San Ignacio to feel like you’re in your own personal jungle paradise.

Cahal Pech Village Resort is actually located within the city of San Ignacio but you wouldn’t know it from the environs: lush trees planted everywhere, and an infinity-style pool overlooking the river valley below (perfectly oriented for sunset). The name Cahal Pech comes from the Mayan ruins located right nearby the eco resort: a couple blocks away is the Cahal Pech archaelogical site, where you can find Mayan ruins quite literally in your backyard.

Cahal Pech is well-known for its thatched-roofed cabanas that offer incredible views of the Belizean countryside. Each one has its own personality and comes with writing tables, private verandas, and hammocks. This resort also features three different fresh water pools, which makes it a great spot for swimming and lazing away in the Belizean sunshine. The eco resort also has a spa and a restaurant serving authentic Belizean cuisine — or you can simply walk into town and enjoy one of the many excellent restaurants in town (I recommend Ko-Ox Han Nah or Serendib on the main street for excellent  – and quite spicy – Sri Lankan cuisine!)

You can organize a tour into Caracol, the biggest Mayan ruins in Belize

Of course, if you want to explore the Cayo District, Cahal Pech Village Resort has some amazing tours available, which you can organize through their front desk. There are multiple ruins you can explore, including the homes of former Mayan kings. You can also go horseback riding through the jungle or canoeing down the Macal River. I recommend the ATM Cave tour (be sure to book places in advance as it can sell out due to limited places).

Check prices, reviews, and availability of Cahal Pech Village Resort here.

Mid-Range Eco Lodges in Belize

As I’ve defined it, mid-range in Belize will get you a private room in a gorgeous setting for somewhere between $100-250 per night. These are not quite exactly the top offerings in the country, but they offer amazing amenities at affordable prices. They’re perfect for a special stay while still remaining budget conscious and saving money for activities and enjoying Belizean cuisine.

I tend to prefer traveling in the mid-range because I enjoy spending more of my money on experiences rather than accommodations, but of course, your preference will depend on what kind of holiday you’re after and what is a comfortable amount to spend on your budget.

San Ignacio Resort Hotel

San Ignacio Resort Hotel is an award-winning resort (it won the Best Hotel in Belize award in 2016) that’s located within a 17-acre private estate, right in the heart of San Ignacio town proper — perfect if you don’t have a car rental during your time in Belize.

The team at San Ignacio Resort Hotel has been providing some of the highest quality accommodation in the country since 1976. This resort features a 5500 square foot conference room that’s perfect for weddings or special occasions. For those just looking to relax, there is also a gorgeous pool with plenty of loungers to relax around, a luxe spa, and a tennis court. Don’t forget to try some Belizean cuisine at the Running W Steakhouse and Restaurant, which received the Best Restaurant of the Year award from Belize’s very own tourism board — a high accolade!

Despite its proximity to the city, San Ignacio Resort Hotel can easily help you get out into the Belizean nature by organizing tours in and around Cayo District. Birdwatchers will enjoy their birding tours, where you can spot hundreds of different bird species.

If you’re lucky you may spot a toucan in Belize!

Or if you’re looking for a little more excitement, you can go on a ziplining tour through the canopies of the Belizean jungle. This resort also supports the Green Iguana Conservation Project and has won awards for its participation in helping support Belize’s wildlife. You can learn more about these amazing creatures while supporting their conservation by participating in projects at the eco-friendly resort.

Check prices, reviews, and availability at San Ignacio Resort Hotel here.

Mystic River Resort 

As you might expect from a place called Mystic River Resort, this resort offers some of the most incredible views you’ll ever see. It’s located in the jungles of Belize, up on a cliff with stunning views over the beloved Macal River.

Along with its gorgeous rainforest surroundings, Mystic River Resort also specializes in weddings and honeymoons. Located 7 miles away from San Ignacio, you’ll find all you need at the Mystic River Resort, including an open-air restaurant, an inventive bar specializing in fun cocktails, a full-service spa, a pool with rainforest surroundings, a yoga deck, and an “adventure desk” which can help you book tours in the region.

Caracol – one of the best tours in the region!

Inside the room, there’s plenty of luxury to be had as well: we’re talking king-sized beds, patios, and gorgeous forest and river reviews. The rooms come in a range of options, varying from sensible studios to two-bedroom suites with private pools and outdoor showers.

On top of all this, there are also a great number of adventures you can have when you stay at Mystic River Resort. They have everything from kayaking and birdwatching to exploring ancient caves and ruins.

Of all the eco resorts in Belize, this resort goes above and beyond when it comes to protecting the environment. They generate their own electricity, purify their own water, and continuously replant trees that have been cut down in the surrounding rainforest, in addition to contributing to several local conservation projects. 

Check prices, ratings, and availability at Mystic River Resort here.

The Top 2 Luxury Eco Lodges in Belize

For a truly special occasion, a luxury eco lodge in Belize is the way to go. These resorts offer superb hospitality and ultimate tailor-made luxury in lush jungle settings. They’re the perfect way to commemorate special events like a honeymoon, anniversary, or birthday.

Most of the top eco resorts in Belize are located just outside the city of San Ignacio, combining the convenience of being close to the city while also providing so many luxury amenities that, frankly, you’d be hard-pressed to find a reason to leave.

Ka’ana

Appropriately nicknamed “the Heavenly Place”, Ka’ana is one of the top luxury hotels in Belize. As a result, this eco lodge has a great number of amenities available, more than most of its competitors in the area. They have a pool in a lush jungle setting, a spa with luxurious cocoa and coffee treatments, a rave-reviewed restaurant, and a yoga deck where you can perfect your asanas surrounding by the chorus of the jungle. The food from the restaurant is sourced from their own organic farm, and their creative cocktails also take inspiration from the jungle settings.

Impressive trees in Belize’s jungle

Ka’ana also has tour packages available that allow the visitor a closer look at its magnificent surroundings, including the Mayan ruins which are quite literally right next door. You can also enjoy its many surrounding adventure activities, in particular, exploring the fantastic ATM Cave which is among the best things you can do in Belize. You can even take a Mayan cooking class during your stay and learn how to use tropical Belizean produce in traditional yet innovative ways.

In keeping with its eco lodge status, Ka’ana has a strong focus on combining sustainability and comfort. The resort hires locally, sources much of its food from its own organic farm on the premises, and uses energy saving techniques to minimize waste.

Despite its luxury offerings and multiple 5-star awards, you can actually stay at Ka’ana for affordable prices during the off season. I recommend checking it out and seeing if it suits your budget during your stay. At the same time, if you’re after a more luxurious, once-in-a-lifetime kind of stay, Ka’ana also offers private pool villas fit for a honeymoon or special occasion.

Check prices, availability, and reviews of Ka’ana here.

Chaa Creek

Welcome to the top option for luxury in Belize: it doesn’t get any finer than Chaa Creek. If you are after a once-in-a-lifetime stay in an eco lodge in Belize… look no further (but then open your wallet to match — accommodations here do not come cheap!)

Chaa Creek is a next-tier incredible resort that’s known for its beautiful natural surroundings. The rooms are incredibly airy and spacious, with high-ceilinged thatch roofings for an authentic Belize eco lodge experience. The rooms are tastefully decorated with thoughtful details like beautiful textiles and local flowers. Outside your bungalow, you’ll find countless trees and plant life surrounding you and wake up to the sounds of birds and monkeys in the jungle.

The Macal River in Belize

Chaa Creek is perfectly situated on the banks of the Macal River, offering activities like canoeing and kayaking down the river without even leaving the property. There are many things to see and do at this resort, that you would never even need to leave: you can go for a swim in their infinity pool, try some “jungle cuisine” in their dining room made from local organic produce, admire the butterflies at their butterfly exhibit, or learn more about the history of the Cayo District in their natural history center.

That said, if you’re itching to leave and explore Cayo, Chaa Creek also offers numerous tours of the beautiful Belizean countryside. You can visit the nearby Mayan ruins, go snorkeling in the Belize Barrier Reef, or explore the Actun Tunichil Muknal caves.

They’re also well-known for their commitment to sustainable tourism. When you stay at this resort, 10% of your revenue goes toward projects dedicated to protecting the environment. They also follow Green Globe practices, including reducing harmful emissions, reducing electricity usage, employing Belizean nationals rather than foreigners whenever possible, purchasing products and produce locally, and countless other practices too numerous to list here. 

Check prices, reviews, and availability of Chaa Creek here.

The Ultimate Belize Itinerary: 1 Fun-Filled Week in Belize

Belize is one of my favorite countries in Central America. It’s small enough that you can easily see the best of Belize in one week, whereas other countries like Guatemala you’ll need at least two at a bare minimum and still just barely scratch the surface.

Belize is also a bit of a microcosm of all the different things you can get from Central America. You can get Caribbean sunsets and beachside coconuts and dive one of the world’s biggest reefs one day and then be in the middle of the jungle just a few hours later.

This Belize itinerary has you visiting two different islands: Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, though certainly you could pick one or the other if you prefer to move around less (here’s my guide to choosing between the two, if you have to).

Afterward, it brings you to Belize’s interior, where you can see Mayan ruins, go caving, and stay in an eco-lodge in the jungle. You’ll get a good sampling of a bit of everything, while still having an appetite to revisit this beautiful country.

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Day 1: Arriving in Belize and heading to San Pedro / Ambergris Caye

You’ll likely start your trip at Belize City International Airport, and it’s pretty easy to get to San Pedro from there. There are two choices, by air or by land and sea. If you are traveling alone, the difference between the plane and the ferry option is not that great, due to the fact that you’ll need to take a taxi from the airport to the ferry terminal. If you are traveling in a group, the ferry option is cheaper per person for sure.

However, flying to San Pedro is pretty freaking amazing, so I recommend flying one way if you can make room for it in your budget — and at around $65 USD for a “Maya Bargain Hopper” fare, it’s not that insane of a splurge, especially considering that a taxi costs $25 USD and a one-way ticket to San Pedro is another $18 USD. Consider it sightseeing as well as transport.

The flight is in a tiny, super informal-feeling plane, going over water in the most beautiful shades of green and blue that you can imagine. It came quite close to my amazing Maldives seaplane ride — but the price of a flight in Belize is a small fraction of what a seaplane will cost you there.

Alternately, if you’re coming from Mexico overland, there are water taxis from Chetumal or you can go to Belize City by bus first and then take the ferry (much cheaper).

Depending on when you arrive in San Pedro, you might not have a lot of time to get oriented and take advantage of all there is to do there on your first day in Belize. Check into your hotel (see the bottom of my post for recommendations on where to stay in each part of your Belize itinerary)

For your first day, I recommend getting acquainted with the town of San Pedro, which has a lot to offer. Stop off for local chocolate turned into delicious milkshakes at the Belize Chocolate Company, or if you’re hungrier, I highly recommend the local papuseria for delicious Salvadorean treats.

You could rent a bike from Joe’s and bike around the island, stopping to take photos of the colorful houses and gorgeous water as you go.

Or, if you just want to float in an inner tube while drinking a bunch of beer…. check out Palapa Bar, just a short walk from the pier.

Day 2: Spend the day enjoying the Caribbean – on land or sea

Now that you’ve settled into San Pedro, take the next day to explore the beautiful Caribbean sea laying just a stone’s throw from your accommodations. If you are PADI-certified, you will likely want to spend the day diving in the amazing Hol Chan Marine Reserve, or if you are an advanced diver you may want to check out the Blue Hole. There are several dive shops, and Belize Pro Dive Center has the best reputation of them all. When I visited Ambergris Caye the first time, I didn’t have my PADI certification; on my second trip, I was traveling with a non-diver, so unfortunately, I haven’t tried it for myself just yet.

I did, however, enjoy an amazing full day out snorkeling in the Belize Barrier Reef, and this would be my top recommendation for what to do on day 2 of your Belize itinerary if you aren’t already dive-certified. The most popular choice is snorkeling in Shark Ray Alley, where you can swim with friendly nurse sharks and sting rays.

Don’t let flashes of Steve Irwin or Jaws scare you away from this – both creatures are incredibly docile and only attack when provoked, and the sharks and rays in this area are quite used to seeing tourists in their calm waters.

Finally, if you’re not interested in snorkeling, then I recommend spending the day at Secret Beach. You’ll need to rent a golf cart for the day or take an expensive cab there. Not really a secret in much but name only, Secret Beach has a taco truck, a restaurant, bars, kayak and paddleboard rentals, people offering massages, lounge chairs, etc.

Day 3: Take the boat over to Caye Caulker

Just a short distance away from San Pedro is its smaller sister island, Caye Caulker. Caye Caulker is more budget-friendly than Ambergris Caye and has a quieter, more low-key vibe. Whereas San Pedro is a proper city (albeit a small one), Caye Caulker is a true sandy, no-shoes-no-news island.

On your first day in Caye Caulker, I recommend walking around and getting your bearings with the island, perhaps renting a kayak to paddle your way around the island if you’re up to it. Or, if you’re up for a more relaxing day, head on over to The Split, where you can alternate between lounging in perfectly blue water and drinking mojitos and margaritas at the nearby Lazy Lizard.

I’m also partial to Sip N’ Dip Beach Bar, where I admittedly spent about 70% of my waking hours on Caye Caulker, hanging out on the swings, inner tubes, and water hammocks while alternating between buckets of Belikin and layers of sunscreen.

Animal lovers will want to stop by the Caye Caulker Animal Sanctuary, where a local man takes care of the island’s stray population and works tirelessly to find them homes, keep them fed, and get them medical treatment when needed. It’s entirely self-run and funded, so donate some time or some money if you can.

Be sure to catch the sunset on the west side of the island – Caye Caulker is way better than San Pedro for sunsets due to the geography of the islands.

Day 4: Swim with manatees off Caye Caulker

One of the best things to do in Caye Caulker is meet the resident manatees who live just off the island!

Anda di Wata offers full-day tours where you can go snorkeling with these giant, gentle sea creatures by morning then explore some of the other reefs by Caye Caulker in the afternoon  (check prices and availability here).

Just look at those guys!

If you don’t want to snorkel, you can take a walk around the island, kayak or paddleboard through the crystal clear waters, laze around at one of the many beach bars, sample delicious jerk chicken and coconut curries at one of the local eateries… there’s plenty to do on Caye Caulker (but doing nothing is also acceptable).

Day 5: Head over to San Ignacio for a taste of the Belizean jungle

After you’ve had a solid four days to enjoy the beach and work on your tan, I highly recommend heading to Belize’s beautiful interior. This will be a bit of a long travel day, but ending up at an eco lodge in the middle of the Belizean jungle is a pretty good reward at the end of the day.

To get to San Ignacio, take the water taxi back to Belize City, where you’ll disembark at the ferry terminal. I recommend taking a taxi from the ferry terminal to the bus terminal as Belize City is a bit rough around the edges. However, if you are alert and keep ahold of your belongings, it is also possible to walk between the ferry and the bus. Once at the bus station, you’ll want to board a chicken bus bound towards Benque, which should cost around 8 BZD ($4 USD). It’ll take about 3 hours to get there as the bus will stop every few minutes to let people off. It is possible to arrange private transport but it is insanely expensive so I definitely recommend taking the chicken bus instead – it’s fun, it’s safe, it’s local– and it’s one hell of an experience!

When you arrive in San Ignacio, if you’re hungry I highly recommend eating at Ko-Ox Han Nah, which is the best restaurant in town! It has delicious Belizean food (as well as some really good Western food if you’re craving a burger like I was… I’m a horrible traveler, I know!)

Following that, check into your accommodations for the next 3 nights in Belize. I’ve written a complete guide to the best eco lodges in San Ignacio for every budget to help you pick the best eco resort in this part of Belize.

Day 6: Wake up in the Belizean jungle and go adventuring

There’s something so incredible about waking up to the sound of tropical birds and howler monkeys stirring before the sun has finished rising. Enjoy an early breakfast and then get ready for one of the most exciting parts of your week-long Belize itinerary: a trip to ATM Cave.

Photo credit belongs to Maya Walk, as after an idiot tourist dropped his camera on an ancient skull, cameras are no longer allowed in the cave!

The ATM Cave (which is short for Actun Tunichil Muknal… do you see why it’s abbreviated, now?) has been named the #1 most sacred cave in the world by National Geographic – a publication that knows a thing or two about travel superlatives.

So, what is the ATM Cave and why is it so special? The ATM Cave is a combination between natural wonder and archaeological site: a cave that stretches at least a kilometer into the earth, winding through a series of narrow slips in the rock until you reach a massive, glittering atrium of crystallized stalagmites and stalactites. But that’s not the most interesting part: ATM Cave is the resting place of the remains of several human sacrifices — 14 to be precise, including the “Crystal Maiden” – a crystal-covered skeleton in near perfect condition in the heart of the cave. In addition to the human remains, there is also countless pieces of pottery which was ceremonially broken into pieces as part of the sacrificing ritual.

Photo Credit: Maya Walk

The ATM Cave is highly protected due to its historical significance and fragility. Entering without a tour is strictly prohibited, and tour spots are limited to 125 places per day, meaning that it’s strongly recommended to reserve your spot in advance – once those 125 slots are filled, there’s nothing you can do. Book in advance here!

If you don’t want to or can’t do the ATM Cave due to claustrophobia or mobility issues, then I recommend finding another outdoor activity that takes advantage of your prime position in Belize’s jungle. Go birding, horseback riding, etc.

Day 7: Enjoy your last day in San Ignacio

Save something epic for the last day of your Belize itinerary by reserving today to visit some of the least crowded Mayan ruins in the Americas.

I highly recommend visiting Caracol, the largest ancient Mayan city in Belize, complete with pyramids that you can climb and have sweeping views of the jungle canopies around you. On a clear day, you can ever see well into neighboring Guatemala.

 

Unfortunately, Caracol is not well-served by public transportation, so if you don’t have your own car rented the only way to see it is by going with a guided tour. The good news is that these guided tours will also include a stop at the lovely Rio-On Pools, a series of mini-waterfalls and natural pools that you can enjoy while baking in the Belizean sun.

If you want to visit Caracol, you can book a guided tour here.

If Caracol is a bit far afield for you, you could also visit the ruins of Xunantunich which are just a short cab ride from town, or the even closer Cahal Pech ruins which are walking distance from San Ignacio town. This is definitely the cheaper option if you are on a budget, too!

Where to Stay in Belize

Belize is one of the more expensive countries in Central America – closer to Costa Rica and Panama in terms of prices than neighboring Mexico and Guatemala. However, that said, you can still find quite good deals on accommodations (tours, on the other hand, are typically the most expensive part of visiting Belize).

I recognize that everyone’s budget is different, so I have broken my recommendations into three tiers for each destination on this Belize itinerary. As a rough guide, budget accommodations are typically hostels and a dorm should cost you less than $15 per night. Mid-range hotels are typically around $50-100 per night. Luxury here is defined as $150+. However, these prices are just a rough estimate, and it will depend on a variety of factors — time of year being a big one — so use these as estimates and check prices for your actual dates.

San Pedro

Budget: The excellent and affordable Sandbar Hostel is my personal favorite and where I stayed the first time I was in Belize. It’s walking distance from the pier and has an excellent in-house restaurant that you can enjoy whether or not you’re a guest. The hostel is literally steps from the beach and my favorite bar on San Pedro, Palapa Bar, as well as a nearby snorkeling and dive center. The dorm is ultra-clean, as the staff comes in seemingly every hour to sweep up sand, and it has nice amenities like privacy curtains and outlets next to each bed. Check prices, ratings, and availability here. Private rooms are also available but book up early.

The view from Sandbar

Mid-range: San Pedro has plenty of good mid-range options for travelers on a budget who want a little more privacy and comfort than a hostel will give. Ocean Tide Beach Resort is one of the highest-rated middle-of-the-road hotel options on the island. Ocean Tide is located right on the beachfront with gorgeous Caribbean views – but is only a 5-minute walk from central San Pedro with its shops, bars, and restaurants. Rooms are comfortable and clean and include air conditioning, and some come with balconies for an incredible sea view. Check prices, ratings, and availability here.

Luxury: I had the opportunity to stay at the magnificent Victoria House when I was in San Pedro and it’s hard to think of a more luxurious place worthy of a special occasion, if that’s what you’re celebrating while planning your Belize itinerary. We enjoyed a two-story villa with four outdoor areas, an outdoor shower, a massive kitchen, a luxe master bedroom with Caribbean Sea views, and we overlooked what felt like our very own infinity pool. Victoria House also gives free bike rentals which is perfect for exploring Ambergris Caye at your own pace. Check prices, ratings, and availability here.

The view from our gorgeous pool villa at Victoria House

Caye Caulker

Budget: Caye Caulker is one of the most budget-friendly places in Belize! People on a tight budget will want to pick one of the island’s hostels. I recommend the excellently-rated Go Slow Guesthouse, which is a colorful, friendly hostel located in the heart of Caye Caulker not far from the main road. There are fan rooms for a cheap price or AC rooms for a slightly higher cost. Solo travelers enjoy the friendly vibe. Check prices, ratings, and availability here. 

Another choice for people who want a little more privacy is Sea N Sun Guest House, where I stayed in Caye Caulker and can’t rave about it enough. The WiFi was excellent, the shared bathroom was clean, and the rooms were well-ventilated and spacious. We appreciated the free bike and kayak rental (even if we were usually too sloshed from our time at Sip N Dip to actually take the kayak out for a spin… whoops). I’d definitely stay here again. Check prices, ratings, and availability here.

Paradise views are everywhere in Caye Caulker

Mid-range: If you want the privacy of your own cabana without paying an insane price, Colinda Cabanas is an excellent mid-range choice. Stay in a joyful yellow and turquoise cabana just a minute walk from the sea. Free bike and kayak rental, free coffee in the mornings, and other perks will help you feel welcomed and at ease here in Caye Caulker. Check prices, ratings, and availability here!

Luxury: While San Pedro definitely has more luxury options than Caye Caulker, you can still enjoy a bit of luxury on this more budget-conscious island. The nicest hotel in town is Weezie’s Oceanfront Hotel. With spacious studios and one-bedroom cottages, a lovely pool, friendly staff, and balconies with amazing sweeping Caribbean views, you’ll never want to check out of paradise. And with relatively affordable prices, it’d be easy to overstay! Check prices, ratings, and availability here.

San Ignacio

I’ve written a comprehensive guide to the best eco-lodges in Belize here, so I refer you to read that if you are interested in staying in a jungle lodge during your time in Belize (which I highly recommend).  For budget travelers, I stayed at Bellas Backpackers and while it wasn’t anything special, it offered good value for money.

Nearby Caracol

7 Things You Must Pack for Belize

I’ve written an entire Belize packing list but if you just want the essentials, here’s what I think you shouldn’t miss.

  • Mosquito repellent & after-care: Belize has a tropical climate with mosquitos year-round, particularly in the rainy season. Zika, dengue fever, malaria, and chikungunya have all been reported there. While there’s no reason to cancel your trip on account of it, protect yourself with mosquito repellent (as a back-up, I carry around a few mosquito repellent wipes with me in my purse in case I forget to apply spray before leaving or that I can apply after swimming). It’s also inevitable that you won’t leave without a few bites, so bring some after-bite relief too (this is hard to find in Belize).
  • Full-size travel towel: This travel towel is full-size so it’s big enough to use as a beach towel, thin enough to pack up super small for your luggage, and it dries super quickly in Belize’s humid climate. If you’re not convinced, check out my friend Stephanie’s love letter to her travel towel.
  • A guidebook: I use travel blogs a lot when I’m on the road but I also love having a guidebook to give me more specific, thoroughly researched information. Lonely Planet is my go-to guidebook and Lonely Planet Belize is no exception. I usually buy the Kindle version, but paper versions are also great fun to peruse.
  • Reef-safe sunscreen: If you are planning to do any water activities, such as diving or snorkeling or even swimming, please use a reef-safe sunscreen like this one. The active ingredients in sunscreen are killing off coral in huge numbers. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world and is under threat. So please don’t use normal, chemical-laden sunscreen in Belize’s fragile ocean ecosystem!
  • Filter water bottle or Steripen: Belize’s tap water is not drinkable anywhere in the country. I recommend traveling with a water bottle with a built-in filter that filters out nasty bacteria and viruses like this awesome LifeStraw bottle so you can reduce your plastic waste. Alternately, you can use a Steripen which sterilizes water using UV light. A great investment if you travel frequently and want to reduce your plastic bottle consumption!
  • GoPro: If you go snorkeling or cave tubing or ziplining, you’re going to want a way to capture all of that action! A GoPro Hero 6 is currently the highest-quality option, but if you’re on a budget, the GoPro Session is also an excellent choice. Be aware that you need to buy protective casing if you want to take either of these cameras diving. They are only waterproof to 10 meters, and you’ll exceed that if you dive (most dives are at least 15 meters or so).
  • Finally, don’t forget travel insurance! Whether you’re scuba diving, caving, ziplining through the jungle or just relaxing on the beach, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance!  It’ll protect you in case of accident, injury, lost luggage, theft, or any other disaster that could befall your trip. I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for two years and recommend them highly. I’ve included a way to get a free quote below.

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Planning a trip to Belize? This Belize itinerary helps you plan the perfect week in Belize, from the Caribbean islands of San Pedro & Caye Caulker to the Belizean jungle, where you can stay in eco-lodges, see Mayan ruins, and go caving! Your 7 day Belize adventure road map awaits.

Did you enjoy this Belize itinerary? Do you have any recommendations for someone visiting Belize for the first time?

San Pedro or Caye Caulker: Which Belize Island is Right for You?

Given the mega-popularity of my post on all the amazing things there are to do in Belize, I get countless requests from people to help them plan their Belize vacation. Probably the most frequent question I am asked is which island is better for a first-time traveler to Belize: San Pedro or Caye Caulker?

I’ve been to San Pedro twice and Caye Caulker once and after I’ve written so many emails about the pros and cons of each island I figured I’d save myself the trouble and list them all out here. So, in case you’re weighing your options between San Pedro vs. Caye Caulker, I’ve got your back.

San Pedro

San Pedro is actually the name of the town on the island of Ambergris Caye. San Pedro is a big town by Belizean standards… in fact, it’s the second-largest town in Belize district (the first being Belize City).

It’s a favorite amongst divers and people in search of a relaxed beach holiday, and it’s my top pick for families and couples who visit Belize – though I can definitely also say it works great as a solo trip or a girls getaway.

Living my best life in San Pedro (Victoria House)

Pros of Staying on San Pedro

It’s more local. Being a somewhat large town, San Pedro has a bigger mix of locals, expats, and tourists. If you’re looking to settle down for a bit and have the feeling like you “live” somewhere, San Pedro can definitely deliver that in a way that Caye Caulker cannot; there’s simply more to do there. As a result, you can have some interesting experiences like the “world famous” Chicken Drop gambling game in every Thursday night.

There’s more diversity of food. Being a bigger island, there are more choices of what to eat, with a wider variety of food. I had delicious Salvadorean pupusas in town (if you haven’t tried them, you’ve simply got to!) and some of the best jerk chicken of my life at Randy’s near Victoria House. The wood-fired pizzas at Sandbar are also fantastic, and there’s a taco truck at the ‘secret beach’. Meanwhile, the food on Caye Caulker was just fine, but I found the choices to be much more limited than on San Pedro.

The best goddamn jerk chicken I’ve eaten (and I used to live in Flatbush, aka Little Jamaica)

There are more upscale accommodation options. If you are looking for a luxury experience, San Pedro is definitely the choice for you. It doesn’t even come close — there are virtually no luxury digs on Caye Caulker and even the nicer guesthouses won’t have a luxury feel. It was fine for me as a pretty low-key traveler, but if you are going to Belize for a special occasion I’d recommend San Pedro hands down. I stayed at the amazing Victoria House hotel and it was easily one of the top 5 hotels I’ve ever stayed in in my life.

There’s an airport. If your time is limited or you just hate boats, it can be really convenient to fly into San Pedro with Maya Island Air. The prices are relatively reasonable and honestly, I think it’s worth it because you get amazing views as you fly. I recommend doing it at least one way if your budget allows. When I visited San Pedro the first time, I flew into Belize City, took a taxi to the ferry and took the ferry to San Pedro, then when I went back I took the plane to Belize City airport. It caused me less anxiety that I’d be late and meant I didn’t have to deal with Belize City again. Also, these views:

Being a human drone is totally worth the extra bucks.

Cons of Staying on San Pedro

It’s more crowded. San Pedro is busier, which means that you’ll actually encounter real cars on the island (but mostly you’ll find golf carts). While I found this to dilute the island atmosphere just a bit, many people won’t mind this, and with the crowds come benefits like more restaurants and bars.

It’s pricier. Ambergris Caye is generally a tad more expensive than Caye Caulker, which caters to a more backpacker crowd. While this is fine if your trip to Belize is a splurge or for a special occasion, if you’re looking to save money this is not the island for you. However, if you do want luxury — definitely pick Ambergris Caye!

It’s harder to see the sunset. Most of the accommodations in San Pedro are located along the east side of the island, making it fantastic for sunrise…. but you tell me if you want to see the sunrise after an afternoon spent in an inner tube guzzling rum punch?  Meanwhile, because of how big San Pedro is, it’s kind of a pain (though not impossible) to get yourself to a good sunset spot, so despite spending more than a week of my life on San Pedro, I’ve still never seen a sunset there. Meanwhile, I forced myself up for two sunrises #forthegram.

Read Next: Your Complete Belize Packing List

Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is one of the smallest islands I’ve ever been on. It’s so narrow that you can walk from one edge to the other in about five minutes, and you can walk end to end in less than an hour. While both islands are touristic, Caye Caulker’s smaller size means that the entire island runs off of tourism, whereas there’s more of a mix in San Pedro.

I love Caye Caulker’s relaxed vibe (its motto is “Go Slow” and the locals take it as more of a law than a suggestion, quick to tell off anyone who they deem to be walking too quickly) and its gorgeous sunsets. It’s a place where time can just melt away a little too easily.

Pros of Staying on Caye Caulker

There are better tours (with better prices). Caye Caulker is set up to be the more touristic of the two islands and as a result I found more tour and activity options there, though you can certainly find plenty of activites to do in San Pedro as well. I did an amazing snorkeling and sailing tour in Caye Caulker (check availability and prices here). While unfortunately, I didn’t have the budget at the time to swim and snorkel with the manatees, I wish I would have splurged and done it on my last trip, as it looks like a truly amazing experience to get to swim with these gentle giants. There are precious few places in the world you can swim with wild manatees that is ethical and done with an eye on conservation and preservation, so I’d jump at the chance to do it when I return. Check tours and availability here.

Taking all-you-can-drink rum punch a little TOO literally on a day trip….

It’s a younger crowd. Caye Caulker is generally a more backpacker-friendly vibe than San Pedro, which is also great for couples and families. I enjoyed the laidback vibe, though I get how other people could find it obnoxious. It isn’t a crazy party destination, but it definitely is more set up for backpackers than any other kind of traveler.

It’s cheaper.
While Belize on the whole is not a great budget destination, I found Caye Caulker to be way more affordable than San Pedro. Accommodations in Caye Caulker offer an especially good deal – you can find a decent guesthouse for $30-40 a night pretty easily, which is hard to find on Ambergris Caye. My default choice when I travel now is low-key but private, and Caye Caulker was perfect for my needs.

Sunsets couldn’t be easier to get to. Given that the island is probably 500 meters wide at its widest point, you can easily get yourself over to the west side of the island to take full advantage of the gorgeous sunsets. Grab a Belikin, sit in the sand, and enjoy that view.

Better bars. Sip n’ Dip Bar has got to be one of my favorite bars in the world. While I enjoyed Palapa Bar in San Pedro quite a bit, I loved that I could swing in the water (and drink), sit in an inner tube in the water (and drink), and sit in a hammock over the water (and drink). Plus buckets of beer were cheaper here. The Split is also a great place to drink and while away the time.

More beach dogs. I guess this could be a con for some people, but I loved all the beach dogs running around owning the hell out of Caye Caulker. Most of the dogs have homes, actually, but their owners just let them hang out and be dogs during the day. There’s also a great animal shelter that does excellent work at keeping the dogs well-fed and in good shape and helps adopt out dogs and cats to forever homes.

Cons of Staying on Caye Caulker

It’s a younger crowd. While the median age at Caye Caulker ended up being fine for me and what I was in the mood for, if you’re not into partying and lounging at bars, I can easily see how you’d run out of things to do in Caye Caulker after some time. Meanwhile, San Pedro is bigger and has a more diverse age range it serves, so it’s easier to find a vibe that’s more suited to what you’re after. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for families, and while it’s fine for laidback couples I wouldn’t think of it as a romantic destination the same way I would think of a resort on Ambergris Caye.

The catcalling is slightly worse. Both San Pedro and Caye Caulker are annoying to travel on if you’re a solo female traveler, as you will inevitably get harassed every few minutes by the local men. While I didn’t feel like my safety was threatened, I was annoyed constantly at how much the men talk to you and get annoyed when you don’t respond.

It’s more sales-y. In addition to the catcalling, people are more likely to call out to you to try to sell you a coconut, get you to look at their tours, etc. than on San Pedro. While it’s easy enough to ignore, sometimes you just want to walk unimpeded – it’s easier to do this on San Pedro (although sales-y pitches still happen, it’s less frequent and easier to avoid).

I definitely got guilt-tripped into buying this disgustingly strong rum coconut

The food is fine but nothing special. You’ll have better choices in San Pedro (and San Pedro also has its very own local chocolate shop!)

Read Next: The Belize Bucket List: 21 Epic Things to Do in Belize

Overall Verdict: San Pedro vs. Caye Caulker

While I don’t think there’s one better island, I would say that San Pedro is better for families, couples, and people who prefer a bit more of a town vibe than a beach vibe. Meanwhile, Caye Caulker is perfect for solo travelers, backpackers, and young couples on a budget.

San Pedro is also better if you have limited time due to the fact that they have an airport which can speed up transfers; Caye Caulker is better for people counting their coins.

Where to Stay in San Pedro

If you’ve decided on San Pedro, I have two excellent recommendations that I’ve stayed in firsthand, which span pretty much the entire gamut of prices you can expect in Ambergris Caye.

For travelers on a budget, Sandbar Hostel is an excellent choice. The hostel is impeccably clean (they sweep the sand out of the dorm rooms seriously every few hours, which is a really nice touch for people like me who really dislike sand) and it has a nice downstairs bar to socialize at. The restaurant is good, though slightly overpriced, and it has a sandy beach in front with some nice sun loungers, although the water is really shallow and not good for swimming.

The view from Sandbar

For travelers who want something truly special, I can’t rave enough about Victoria House. The villas are insanely luxurious, the staff is wonderful, and the views of the Caribbean couldn’t be more spectacular.

I also loved the two pools and found it an amazing place for sunrise. If you’re looking for a special, romantic place, this is the best place to pick in Belize. Check prices, reviews, and availability here, and be sure to book early as rooms here often sell out. It is pricy, but there are often good deals on the cabaña rooms.

The master bedroom at Victoria House, which takes up pretty much the whole second floor
The view from our gorgeous pool villa

Where to Stay in Caye Caulker

If you’ve settled on Caye Caulker, I have some thoughts.

I stayed in Sea & Sun Guest House and loved it. The wifi was excellent (for an island), the rooms were spacious and clean, although my room didn’t have its own bathroom but rather a shared one. There is no AC but it wasn’t too hot with the fans. I loved that the guesthouse included free bike and kayak rentals, which is a really nice touch. However, they don’t have dorms so if you are a solo traveler it’s not a great choice.

If you’re looking for a hostel there are a few, although I can’t say I’d recommend all of them. Go Slow is what I recommend people, having heard stories of the aptly-named Dirty McNasty’s, which I didn’t stay at but in full disclosure, I did gate-crash their free rum punch night after being invited by some guests…. though if you’re truly in search of a party hostel with questionable hygiene standards, Dirty’s your place. Bella’s also gets mixed reviews, though I did stay at their San Ignacio location and thought it was just fine, so I’m not sure how their Caye Caulker branch would be.

Read Next: The Best Snorkeling in Belize

7 Things You Must Pack for Belize

I’ve written an entire Belize packing list but if you just want the essentials, here’s what I think are the absolute essentials.

  • Mosquito repellent & after-care: Belize has a tropical climate with mosquitos year-round, particularly in the rainy season. Zika, dengue fever, malaria, and chikungunya have all been reported there. While there’s no reason to cancel your trip on account of it, protect yourself with mosquito repellent (as a back-up, I carry around a few mosquito repellent wipes with me in my purse in case I forget to apply spray before leaving or that I can apply after swimming). It’s also inevitable that you won’t leave without a few bites, so bring some after-bite relief too (this is hard to find in Belize).
  • Full-size travel towel: This travel towel is full-size so it’s big enough to use as a beach towel, thin enough to pack up super small for your luggage, and it dries super quickly in Belize’s humid climate.
  • A guidebook: I use travel blogs a lot when I’m on the road but I also love having a guidebook to give me more specific, thoroughly researched information. Lonely Planet is my go-to guidebook and Lonely Planet Belize is no exception. I usually buy the Kindle version, but paper versions are also great fun to peruse.
  • Reef-safe sunscreen: If you are planning to do any water activities, such as diving or snorkeling or even swimming, please use a reef-safe sunscreen like this one. The active ingredients in sunscreen are killing off coral in huge numbers. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world and is under threat. So please don’t use normal, chemical-laden sunscreen in Belize’s fragile ocean ecosystem!
  • Filter water bottle or Steripen: Belize’s tap water is not drinkable anywhere in the country. I recommend traveling with a water bottle with a built-in filter that filters out nasty bacteria and viruses like this awesome LifeStraw bottle so you can reduce your plastic waste. Alternately, you can use a Steripen which sterilizes water using UV light. A great investment if you travel frequently and want to reduce your plastic bottle consumption!
  • GoPro: If you go snorkeling or cave tubing or ziplining, you’re going to want a way to capture all of that action! A GoPro Hero 6 is currently the highest-quality option, but if you’re on a budget, the GoPro Session is also an excellent choice. Be aware that you need to buy protective casing if you want to take either of these cameras diving. They are only waterproof to 10 meters, and you’ll exceed that if you dive (most dives are at least 15 meters or so).
  • Finally, don’t forget travel insurance! Whether you’re scuba diving, caving, ziplining through the jungle or just relaxing on the beach, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance!  It’ll protect you in case of accident, injury, lost luggage, theft, or any other disaster that could befall your trip. I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for two years and recommend them highly. I’ve included a way to get a free quote below.

Note: I received a complimentary media stay at Victoria House, but all opinions are entirely my own.

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Belize Packing List: What You Definitely Need to Pack for Belize

Belize is a gorgeous country with a lovely subtropical climate, making it a joy to visit year round. As a result, figuring out what to pack for Belize isn’t rocket science. The average high temperature year-round is 84° F (29°C), though it is possible to get slightly cooler in winter, with temperatures as low as 60°F (16°C) possible at night.

Both times I visited Belize I visited in the “winter” – once in December and once in late February. Both times, the weather was extremely pleasant, about 80° F or 27° C all day and a bit cooler at night.

Like most subtropical and tropical countries, Belize has two main seasons, not four: wet and dry season. The dry season is from January to May, with far less rain than the rest of the year. June through December is the wet season, with frequent rain and a potential for hurricanes.

For most travelers, Belize is ideal from January to May, but this also the most crowded. If you travel in June or December in the shoulder season, you’ll have the benefits of fewer travelers, but the rainy season shouldn’t be in full swing yet.

There is some regional variation in temperatures. The cayes of Belize will be hot and sunny, with a bit of an ocean breeze and incredibly high humidity. Meanwhile, the interior will be far cooler but also a bit more humid due to all the lush vegetation. The interior is more likely to rain than the islands. Depending on where you go in the country, you may want to adjust your Belize packing list accordingly (more cool weather clothes and sneakers if you go inland, more sandals, dresses, and coverups if you stay on the islands of beaches).

Belize Packing List: What You Need for Your Trip to Belize

What to Pack Everything In

Trust me, I’ve been traveling nearly nonstop for the better part of the last 700 days, and you’re going to want a well-organized system for packing or you’re going to lose your mind. You will likely need to unpack and pack again several times, unless you are just staying in one place for your vacation.Having things that help your oganize your belongings makes the packing process a lot smoother.

You don’t need any crazy gear, but I do have a few tips for making your packing for Belize more streamlined and organized.

  • Travel Backpack (carry on size or check-in size): While I do occasionally use a rolling suitcase when I travel in places with good sidewalks like Western Europe, a rolling suitcase just won’t work with Belize, especially if you visit the islands. The island roads aren’t paved – they are literally just made of packed sand. The jungle interior in Cayo, around San Ignacio, is no better. I tend to pack light and prefer to travel carry-on only, so my Tortuga Backpack is what I swear by. I spent 4 months traversing Central America (including Belize) with it and still didn’t use all the things I brought in my pack. I used their original version for 2.5 years before Tortuga recently gifted me their newest version to trial, and I love it even more than the original (which my boyfriend now happily uses – in fact, he was even more excited than I was when I upgraded my Tortuga and he got my old one).
    • Why do I recommend Tortuga so much? Here’s why: this bag is 45L and has got three main compartments: one for a laptop and other flat objects, one giant rectangular compartment perfect for packing cubes stuffed with clothing, and one smaller compartment with pockets for passports, pens, odds and ends, etc. that I stash all my extras in – plus one small outer zipper pocket for anything you want quick access to. It also has a water bottle holder on the outside as well as buckles so that you can strap something like a yoga mat to the outside. Plus, it’s quite comfortable to wear, with a padded hip belt and comfort-molding shoulder straps complete with a chest strap so that you can distribute weight perfectly across your body in the event that you need to wear your backpack for longer than usual. Check out more specs and details here.
  • If you are going on a backpacking trip and want a bigger backpack, I’ve heard excellent things about the Osprey system and I think that’s the only brand I’d trust if I wanted to upgrade my packing capacity., I’ve been fine with just 45 liters, personally, but I do pack light!
  • Packing Cubes: If you’re going to invest in one thing for packing for Belize, make it packing cubes if you don’t have them already. These tidy cubes help you organize your clothing and makes opening your luggage a little less chaotic. Any packing cubes with a rectangular shape and a zipper will do. I personally use these packing cubes and love them. If you don’t want to buy packing cubes, some gallon size plastic Ziploc bags work similarly. But since they eventually break down and gap and need to be thrown out, I prefer reusable packing cubes, as I’m always watching my plastic consumption.
  • Laundry bag: You will sweat more than you ever thought humanly possible in Belize, so bring a separate laundry bag for all your dirty clothes. Like packing cubes, you don’t need anything fancy at all. I do like having a cute travel-themed one like this one from Kikkerland though, because I’m impractical.
  • Hanging Toiletry Bag: I always bring way too many toiletries with me on my travels because I’m a bit of a girly girl. Using a simple hanging toiletry bag (which fits perfectly in the outer pocket of my Tortuga backpack, by the way) is life-changing. It has the perfect number of separators, organizers, and pockets without taking up any excess space. It’s kind of like those tents at the Quidditch World Cup in Harry Potter — you’d be amazed how much fits in one little pack.
  • Day pack with locking zippers : While Belize is relatively safe, petty crime is an issue (less so on the islands than on the mainland). While wearing a shoulder bag is probably the most secure option, as it’s hard for thieves to get in, it’s just not comfortable if you carry a lot of stuff with you during the day. I swear by PacSafe products and love their PacSafe Citysafe backpack. It’s actually pretty cute, and as a huge bonus it has locking zippers so you can relax a little when walking around with valuables like your camera.

Essential Things to Pack for Belize

While much of what you need you can buy in Belize, there are a few things I absolutely insist you bring from home because the options in Belize are not great or they’re very expensive to buy.

  • Mosquito repellent: Due to its tropical climate, Belize has tons of mosquitos, especially in the rainy season and just after it. Malaria is present in the country, but it is very low risk. Just avoid mosquito bites as much as possible and you will be fine. However, mosquito repellent is very expensive in Belize and you can’t always get the brands you like there. I recommend bringing two bottles of mosquito repellent but I also like to bring some mosquito repellent wipes with me if I need to reapply on the go.
  • Water bottle with built-in filter: You can’t drink tap water anywhere in Belize, so try to bring something to eliminate your plastic bottle usage. I use the Water to Go bottle because the bottle is a convenient size, and it filters out 99.9% of contaminants so that you can drink tap water safely with zero waste. I have a discount code for readers who are interested – type in EA15 at checkout to receive a 15% off discount!
  • Reusable tote bags: Like many countries in Latin America, there is plastic everywhere in Belize and the facilities for recycling it are not great. Bring your own reusable tote so that you can refuse plastic bags when you shop. I keep one or two small ones in my larger bag and bring them with me daily, plus I use them as beach bags, separating shoes in my bag from my clothes, etc.
  • Basic medicine: You will be able to find everything you need in Belize, but it’s best to be prepared. I carry Pepto-Bismol for standard stomach troubles, Imodium as a nuclear option, some sort of painkiller like ibuprofen for headaches and minor aches, and some sort of motion sickness tablets. That usually covers the bases for me — anything else I need I grab in the country.
  • Some cash in USD: Just in case your debit card doesn’t work or gets lost, it’s helpful to have dollars on hand. Because the exchange rate is 2 Belize dollars to 1 US dollar, it’s common for establishments to accept USD as payment as well.

What to Wear in Belize

Admittedly, this is a list for female travelers — sorry dudes, but I trust you know how to dress yourselves in summer, so do that.

Women have a bit more to consider when it comes to traveling Belize — especially if you are traveling solo (which I did most of my time in Belize, and for the record, I felt safe in all the places I visited). However, cat calling is incredibly common in Belize, probably with the most frequency of anywhere in Latin America. At the same time, I didn’t feel particularly uncomfortable or unsafe, as compared to prior experiences in places like New York City and Marrakech where men were a lot more aggressive or physically touchy. The worst cat-calling I experienced was in Caye Caulker, whereas in inland Belize (San Ignacio), cat-calling was less frequent.

Belize is predominately Catholic, though on the islands the Catholic presence is less noticeable. Culturally, Belize is a bit of a conservative country, but the hot and humid weather means that you should wear what you need to be comfortable without showing excessive skin. On backpacker-heavy islands like Caye Caulker and San Pedro, though, you’ll see lots of people walking around in bikinis and shorts, so don’t swear it too much.

  • 3-5 lightweight summer dresses, preferably past mid-thigh: Dresses are ideal for keeping yourself cool and comfortable. I recommend packing 1 or 2 maxi dresses as well as they’re really comfortable in the heat.
  • 5+ tees & tanks: The more neutral the colors, the better. You will sweat a lot in Belize, so minimize your white – it’ll be yellow by the time you’re home. I suggest black, gray, and a few bright colors.
  • 1-2 sarongs: These are great for beach coverups or even for using as a lightweight beach towel. Buy them before you go or get one in Belize as a souvenir.
  • 1 pair jeans: While it’s too hot many days to wear jeans, if you’re in the interior, you’ll be glad you brought them. They’re also perfect for chilly nights or for when you want to blend in (a lot of Belizean women wear jeans all the time, even when it’s over hot as hell outside)
  • 2 pairs shorts: I bring one pair of loose-fitting linen shorts for super hot days, and one pair of denim shorts for when I want to look a little cuter or more casual.
  • 1-2 skirts: I suggest bringing one black skirt and one printed skirt for flexibility. I loved having a midi-length skirt. The extra fabric around your legs traps some cool air, making you feel less hot, and I liked the additional coverage it gave me.
  • 1 sunhat: Not just for the ‘gram, you’ll want a sunhat as it’ll give your face extra SPF and keep the rays off your face.
  • 1 pair sneakers (if you go to the jungle): If you go in the interior of Belize (Cayo District) you’ll likely want a pair of sneakers with you. I usually wear a pair of black Nikes as I find they look cute even with my dresses and I like having options. If you’re just on the beaches you can skip a pair of sneakers and maybe opt for a cute pair of flats instead.
  • 1 pair sandals: I used to buy cheap-o flip flops all the time, but now I’m obsessed with my Birkenstocks and will never go back. My feet thank me for it daily.
  • 1 rain jacket: Even if you don’t plan on traveling in the rainy season, sometimes the weather has other plans. I also used this as a lightweight jacket during the nights in the interior where the weather was a bit colder. I love my Marmot PreCip rain jacket and bring it everywhere with me.
  • 1 cardigan: For when you want a little warmth, but not as much as a rain jacket will give. Most buses won’t have AC, but if you take a private shuttle, sometimes they blast the AC and it’s good to have an extra layer.
  • 1-2 bras: I trust you’re all big girls and you know what you need when it comes to bras. I personally brought 1 regular bra and 1 sports bra and switched between the two because the humidity was crazy.
  • 7+ pairs of underwear: The more underwear you bring, the longer you can go between washes if you’re on a big trip. I don’t recommend bringing stuff to do your laundry on the road – it’s a waste of time and money. There are plenty of laundromats catering to travelers in Belize, plus it’s a way to support the local economy.
  • 2 bathing suits: You’ll definitely want it, whether you’re taking dips in your hotel’s pool, sunning yourself on the beach, or snorkeling or diving in the gorgeous Hol Chan Marine Reserve. I’d recommend bringing two as nothing sucks more than putting on a wet bathing suit.

What to Pack for Belize Hostels

If you’re staying in hotels only, you can skip this part, but there are a few specialized things you might want to bring in case you are staying in a hostel.

  • 1 pair flip flops: Guys. Athlete’s foot is no joke. I’ve dealt with ringworm before (which is basically athlete’s foot on any part of your body that’s not your foot) and it is miserable to get rid of. Save yourself the trouble. Buy a pair of cheap rubber flipflops. /end PSA
  • 1 travel towelMany of the hostels I stayed at did not provide free towels. Bring your own to avoid rental fees.
  • 1 eye mask: I swear by this contoured eye mask as it doesn’t put uncomfortable pressure on your eyes but completely blacks out any light. Great for inconsiderate roommates and early nights in when you’re beat but your bunkmates have other ideas.
  • Some earplugs or good noise-canceling headphones: I love Hearos — they’re the gold standard for ear plugs. I’ve also been eyeing these noise-canceling headphones but can’t justify the purchase at the moment. One day!

What Toiletries to Pack for Belize

Belize’s stores will have most of the things you want and need… but just in case.

  • Hand sanitizer: Many public restrooms don’t have adequate soap and towels/driers, so having some hand sanitizer is always good.
  • Kleenex packets: Like above — public restrooms may be lacking in the toilet paper department, so having some Kleenex in a portable sleeve is always good to have
  • LUSH solid shampoo: Life-changing. Just trust me. Buy online or in store from LUSH and you’ll save serious money over Amazon.
  • Sunscreen: Belize is sunny almost all year round, and even if you have a rare cloudy day, the UV will still be really high. My skin is really sensitive on my face, so I use this fancy Japanese sunscreen to prevent acne, and I use a more standard sunscreen for my body. I recommend bringing a big bottle of sunscreen from home when packing for Belize, unless you are traveling with only a carry-on, as sunscreen is overpriced in Belize.
  • Travel medications: I listed them above, but just to reiterate — stomach medicine, motion sickness pills, and some sort of painkiller are my standards, plus obviously any medication of your own from home.

What to Pack for Safety in Belize

Belize is fairly safe with the exception of Belize City, which is prone to crime and even violence, which is why I advise all travelers to Belize to avoid the port city as much as they can (there’s not much to see there). While I’ve traveled through Belize City several times and been fine, I’ve never really felt at ease there and wouldn’t choose to spend any more time there than I have to.

Besides avoiding Belize City, I’d also note that you should keep your valuables with you and in your sight if you take a public chicken bus, as they’ll often tie your backpacks to the roof of the bus or put them far away from you on the bus. This isn’t to be sketchy; it’s because the buses are usually quite crowded. That said, I do recommend adding these to your Belize packing list for increased safety.

  • Combination locks: In Belize, you’re probably at the greatest risk of theft from your fellow travelers if you stay in a dorm or hostel. Prevent crimes of opportunity with simple measures like having a combination lock and keeping your valuables locked away. If I’m staying in hostels, I always check the reviews on Hostelworld to ensure they have lockers available because I travel with so many valuable electronics.
  • Daypack with locking zippers: Backpacks are easy targets — I wrote above about how much I love my PacSafe Citysafe backpack. After nearly being pickpocketing while wearing a different backpack in Vietnam, I now carry no other kind of daypack.

Don’t bother with a money belt. Thieves know about them, plus you’ll likely be wearing so little clothes in Belize that a money belt would be pointless anyway. You’re better off carrying your wallet deep in a slash-proof backpack (like the one mentioned above) or in a shoulder bag that’s tightly zipped.

One other thing I recommend is to have a second checking account and two debit cards if possible. Keep them in different spots in case you get pickpocketed or in case one of your debit cards gets compromised (it is not uncommon for ATMs in Belize to ‘skim’ your details). This way you won’t be screwed while you wait for your bank to send you another card!

Electronics to Pack for Belize

There are really no special considerations when it comes to packing electronics for Belize except for the one: do not bring a drone. They require permission from the government to fly, and you can only get permission if you have been commissioned from an approved local business or organization in Belize. Your drone may be confiscated if you do not have permisson.

Other than that, bring whatever you’re comfortable bringing. As a travel blogger, I bring my entire life with me on the road, which includes a laptop, camera, multiple lenses, smartphone, GoPro, and more. Though these days I prefer to stay at hotels, when I stay at hostels, I always make sure that I stay at hostels with lockers so that I can lock up my valuables. People who are more paranoid/responsible than I am may want to bring a portable safe for peace of mind, but I don’t personally.

  • Laptop, if necessary: I bring my Macbook Air everywhere but other people may prefer a tablet or an inexpensive netbook. I work on the road so a user-friendly, lightweight laptop is a must.
  • Kindle Paperwhite: I love the Kindle Paperwhite because the screen is glare-free, making it easy to read at the beach or in direct sunlight, and I can never find books I enjoy at airport shops or in tourist destinations.
  • Travel camera: I use a Sony A6000 because it’s lightweight for a professional caliber camera, inexpensive, and a HUGE step up from a smartphone. You may want to replace this or add a GoPro too, especially good for adventure activities like cave tubing and diving (just check to see if you also need an underwater house for your GoPro if you dive, as many of the newer models are only good to 10m — not nearly enough for divers)
  • Portable charger: As someone who’s constantly on her phone, I’m always running out of battery, which can be a pain. Bring a portable charger to save yourself the headache! Anker is a reliable brand and what I personally use.
  • Adaptor, if necessary: Belize uses the same plugs as America and Canada, so if you’re coming from Europe or the UK, you will need an adaptor.

***

Well, that’s a wrap – I’ve finally exhausted what you need to pack for Belize. While I know this all sounds like a lot, I swear that I was able to fit it all into a 44L backpack (carry-on size) and daypack, because I chose lightweight fabrics and packed carefully (rolling my clothes and then putting them in packing cubes)

Is there anything I’ve forgotten on this Belize packing list? Is there anything else you’re wondering if you should bring? Let me know in the comments!

Pin this Belize Packing List for Later!

Wondering what to pack for Belize? This guide to what to wear in Belize will be your ultimate Belize packing list! Tips on what to wear on Belize's beaches and islands, what not to forget to bring to Belize, and other Belize packing tips.

21 Unique Things to Do in Belize: The Ultimate Guide

For a tiny country, Belize punches well above its weight. The Caribbean coastline is home to the second-largest coral reef in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef, naturally), while its lush inland is filled with dense jungle. If you’re adventurous and nature-loving, there are countless exciting things to do in Belize.

Belize is a true melting pot, which reflects in the language, culture, and food. Though English is its official language, many speak Kriol, Spanish, Maya, or Garifuna. Recent immigrant groups – primarily the Chinese and, oddly, the Mennonites – as well as American and Canadian retirees add to the diversity of Belize that make this beautiful country such a special place.

With its diverse culture and cuisine, dedication to preserving its history and biodiversity, and insane natural wonders, Belize is a bucket list must for every traveler. Keep reading to see the variety of diverse options for what to see and do in Belize, Central America’s most unique country!

Read Next: What to Pack for a Trip to Belize

21 of the Best Things to Do in Belize

Go caving in the world’s #1 most sacred cave

National Geographic knows a thing or two about travel, wouldn’t you say? Since it’s consistently voted for Actun Tunichil Muknal as its #1 sacred cave in the world… I’d say it’s worth checking out.

Tours aren’t cheap, thanks to permit requirements and the fact that everyone needs to be accompanied by a licensed guide in groups no larger than 8.

But trust me, even this cheapo says it’s well worth every dollar you spend: it’s one of the best excursions in Belize for a reason.

Photo credit belongs to Maya Walk, as after an idiot tourist dropped his camera on an ancient skull, cameras are no longer allowed in the cave!
Photo credit Maya Walk

Expect to spend about $100-120 USD per person for an 8-hour cave tour, depending on the company you go with. Yes, it’s expensive, but for a reason: only 125 people are allowed to visit daily, tour groups are capped at 8 people per guide, and all tour companies must pay a large fee to pay for the preservation of the cave.

Important note: I strongly recommend booking in advance due to the strict limit of people allowed in daily: this company offers the best price and best rating. Click to check prices, availability, and traveler reviews!

For a full review of my day caving in ATM, read it here.

I strongly recommend booking activities in Belize online in advance rather than waiting to arriving in Belize to book, as hotels will often overprice them so they can make a commission — not to mention, with sites with limited daily availability like the ATM cave, there may not be space for you if you book when you arrive.

Meanwhile, GetYourGuide, the online tour aggregator I always use, has a best price guarantee, so you can rest assured you’re not paying more for the same tour just by booking online. Click to learn more and book your spot in advance.

Pro Tip: Never travel without travel insurance – especially if you’re doing crazy activities like caving! I use World Nomads Explorer Plan to cover me from anything from caving to scuba diving at very affordable prices. I buy travel insurance every time I travel – it’s the one thing I never leave home without.

Where to Stay:  Bella’s Backpackers is great for solo travelers on a budget, with a great location and a good social atmosphere.

I’ve written a full guide to Belize eco resorts here, but here are two of my favorites.

A great mid-range option is Maya Mountain Lodge, which has a beautiful garden and pools and hammocks with jungle views. It’s located a bit outside the center of San Ignacio, so it’s a great area for hiking, bird watching, and other outdoorsy adventures.

For ultra-luxury, there are also super upscale options like Ka’ana Resort & Spa, which offer 5-star treatment with a decidedly eco twist in a pristine jungle setting.

Drink in an inner tube at a bar

One of my favorite things to do in Belize is to chill in an inner tube outside of a bar, baking in the Belizean heat.

Sip ‘N’ Dip is a cute little beach bar right by the Split on the north end of Caye Caulker, and it’s the perfect place to meet new friends, have some drinks, and hang out in a tube (or swing, or hammock!).

There’s also Palapa Bar on Ambergris Caye, but I’m partial to Sip ‘N’ Dip!

Where to Stay: Caye Caulker is one of the most relaxing places I can think of. We stayed at Sea N Sun Guest House and thought it offered excellent value (and great wifi, which can be hit or miss on the island!). We especially enjoyed that it included free kayak and bicycle rental.

For a hostel, I’d recommend Go Slow — the backpacker favorite on the island, Dirty McNasty’s, pretty much lives up to its name and doesn’t come recommended.

Stay in a luxurious beachfront hotel 

Victoria House is the nicest boutique hotel on the beach in Belize, and you can see the stunning turquoise water from pretty much every room in the hotel.

As a bonus, you’re just steps away from unreal sunrises. These cabañas will cost you a fraction of the cost of bungalows in the South Pacific — but with gorgeous Caribbean blues and access to one of the world’s largest reef systems.

Accommodations in Belize offer a great bargain in comparison to other countries, so take advantage of Belize’s best hotels if you have the budget for it! Check out my full review here.

Drink way too many coconuts on Caye Caulker

Walking too fast on Caye Caulker may very well be a misdemeanor for the way that random passersby will shout at you to “go slow.”

In fact, the sole occupation of some of Caye Caulker’s residents seems to be to admonish travelers for walking too fast.

But who am I to go against the locals? When in Rome, right? Just order up a coconut from one of the men on the main drag (hold the rum, trust me) and listen.

Sometimes, the best answer to the question what to do in Belize is: nothing.

Where to Stay: It’d be apropos here to recommend Go Slow again, or the Sea N Sun Guest House where I stayed for several nights.

Visit the least crowded Mayan Ruins you’ll ever see

Caracol is a hidden gem right on the border of Belize — and with none of the crowds of Tikal, the ruins made famous by Star Wars in neighboring Guatemala.

While it’s not quite as objectively impressive as Tikal, I think Caracol is more charming as you can climb the highest pyramid and see epic views over the whole landscape, including into Guatemala. Definitely one of the best points of interest in Belize for history lovers.

Plus, there are far fewer people visiting Caracol as it’s quite difficult to get to without a tour or renting a 4×4. I recommend going on a tour — unless you have a group to defray the costs of a rental car.

As a bonus, there are amazing natural pools right outside of Caracol, the Rio On Pools, which most tours will add on at the end of your day — the perfect way to cool off in the heat that often exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity! It’s definitely one of the places you should visit if you’re planning a trip to Belize.

Looking to follow my itinerary? This is pretty much the same exact itinerary as I did when visiting Caracol. Check out this Caracol & Rio On Pools tour!

There are also other ruins which are even more off the beaten path, such as the ruins of Lamanai, which are also worth seeing!

Where to Stay: Again, I recommend Bella’s for backpackers, Maya Mountain Lodge for people who want an affordable luxury experience, and Ka’ana Resort & Spa for those who want an over-the-top luxury getaway.

Order a bucket of Belikins and enjoy the sea

If you’re looking to just log off and enjoy some sunny holidays in Belize, get yourself to Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye. I’ve never seen water bluer or calmer than off the coast of Belize’s cayes.

There’s no better drinking buddy (except for an actual drinking buddy, I guess) than a bucket of Belikins – Belize’s national beer. Be warned that Belikins are basically 50% glass and very little beer, so even a bucket of six Belikins won’t get you that tipsy!

Where to Stay: One of my favorite hostels ever, Sandbar in Ambergris Caye, is conveniently located super close to Palapa Bar in San Pedro, and has both private rooms and dormitories.

Snorkel and sail with sharks and rays

There are plenty of speedboats that will take you out to Shark Ray Alley and Hol Chan Marine Reserve, but nothing beats doing it on a proper sailboat.

With refreshments like rum punch and delicious fresh lunches, taking a full-day snorkeling trip on one of the Cayes is definitely one of the best things to do in Belize. I went with Raggamuffin Tours during my time in Belize and recommend them.

A snorkel tour usually lasts the majority of the day and is inclusive of snorkel equipment, fees to access the Marine Reserve, snacks, and sometimes even rum punch, because #Belize.

Check prices, availability, and reviews of snorkeling tours in Caye Caulker here

Check snorkeling tours in Ambergris Caye / San Pedro here

Where to Stay: Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye both have great snorkeling tours available. Our room at Sea N Sun Guest House was centrally located in Caye Caulker and is my personal recommendation for snorkeling and diving lovers.

Catch a Belizean sunset

Believe it or not, a beach sunset in Belize can be a bit elusive, as most of the country’s coastline faces the east. But not so on Caye Caulker!

This island is so narrow that no matter where you are, you can walk to a prime sunset spot in under five minutes (this is not true for Ambergris Caye, by the way – sunrises are way better there, as good sunset spots can take a bit of work to get to).

Bring some rum punch (or Belikins, or wine, or rum, or anything else, really…) and enjoy with some friends and your camera!

Where to Stay: Anywhere on Caye Caulker, you’re never more than a 5-minute walk from an epic sunset.

Spend a day at the Split on Caye Caulker

The Split is the best place to chill in all of Caye Caulker – which is saying something for an island whose motto is literally “go slow.”

Since the cayes of Belize don’t have sandy beaches, The Split is a makeshift beach where the water is deeper and bluer than usual – perfect for diving into and swimming.

Luckily there are plenty of bars and restaurants around in case you need refreshments. Check out The Lazy Lizard for drinks or the pizza place for food, a great option if you’re visiting Belize on a budget.

Explore the ruins of Altun Ha

Check out the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha – one of the most important in the country – just 30 miles from Belize City. Explore stone Mayan structures and climb up to the top of the central temple, which is not too much of a hike at only 54 feet tall.

Since Altun Ha is so close to Belize City, most tours will combine visiting the ruins with a guided tour of Belize City.

I’ll be honest: Belize City is a bit of a dump. I’ve been twice and it felt even sketchier the second time. It’s not really a place you want to walk around by yourself, especially as a female traveler. There are some cool historic landmarks and points of interest, but nothing crazy.

So, if you really want to visit Belize City,  it’s best to book a guided tour to keep yourself safe and stress-free.

To travel safely and hassle-free, I recommend this tour which also includes a trip to the Belize Zoo!

Where to Stay: You could stay in Belize City, but for safety reasons, I’d recommend staying in either Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye and making this a day trip, instead. It’s safer, and you’ll have a better time.

If you choose to stay in Belize City for convenience or personal preference, I’d say that Sea Breeze felt safe and secure and was comfortable; my one-night there was incident-free and the host was very friendly!

Visit the Belize Zoo

Before I get my head put on a stake for suggesting you visit a zoo — The Belize Zoo is different.

For one, they only house animal species native to Belize — you won’t see any polar bears suffering in humid climates here! They have 45 species of animals, all of whom have been orphaned or hurt and are unable to survive in the wild.

The Belize Zoo also works to rehabilitate animals like jaguars and wild birds and release them back into the wild. While zoos worldwide understandably hold a bad rap, I really can’t find anything to fault the Belize Zoo for.

You can take the tour I mentioned above, which hits both the Belize Zoo + Altun Ha, or you can save money by taking a local bus from Belize City towards Benque and asking to be let off at the zoo, if you feel savvy enough to navigate the chicken bus scene independently.

Where to Stay: As I wrote above, I don’t really recommend staying overnight in Belize City as it’s not the safest of cities. I stayed there one night and it was fine, but I will admit that I had some uncomfortable moments, and I’m a pretty seasoned traveler. I was followed by a scary seeming man when getting money from an ATM. Tthen, a few minutes later, a taxi driver tried to rip us off. If you must stay in Belize City for logistical reasons, I stayed at Sea Breeze and found it to be quite safe and pleasant. Better, in my opinion, is to come from Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye as a day trip.

Snorkel with manatees 

Caye Caulker is located right nearby an amazing wildlife reserve, Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can actually swim with manatees in their natural habitat. Of course, you aren’t allowed to touch or chase these gentle but enormous sea mammals. Belize is doing excellent things to preserve to conserve and protect their manatees, to ensure that they live happy and healthy lives with their environment protected.

I highly recommend doing a manatee and snorkeling tour with a reputable company. Please note that you should never swim with manatees in captivity or do any tours that promise you can touch the animals – and this goes for dolphins, whales, and any other sea animal in captivity as well. Tours are not cheap, but it is truly one of the best things to do in Belize, so if you can afford it I’d highly recommend doing it.

Note that manatees are only around at certain times of year – I tried to do a manatee tour this February and we didn’t see them. Our guide told us we would have had better luck in the summer – they like the warm water!

Where to Stay: Manatee watching and snorkeling tours leave from Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye

Enjoy your own private tropical island for a day

A short boat ride away from the beaches of Placencia is a small island called Ranguana, which is a private island only for day trippers and those who stay at the one hotel on the island.

You’ll need to take a tour to get here, but once you do, you can spend all day snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding, or just lazing out in sun with a Belikin in hand on one of the most pristine beaches in Belize.

Where to Stay: Placencia has a really wide range of accommodation options, from budget to midrange to the astronomically expensive. My top pick for budget travelers is Andi Di Hows hostel; for mid-range, Southern Shores Cabanas; for luxury, Ellysian Boutique Hotel or Naia Resort & Spa.

swim with turtles in Belize

Eat some jerk chicken

Belize’s national dish may technically be rice and beans, but jerk chicken is a strong contender. Originally from nearby Jamaica, Belize has taken on jerk chicken as one of its own and makes a mean – though slightly less spicy – version of it.

If you’re on San Pedro, be sure to check out Robin’s Kitchen for some of the best jerk I’ve ever eaten… and I used to live in a predominantly Jamaican neighborhood of Brooklyn, so I know my shit. If you’re not a fan of BBQ jerk chicken (what’s wrong with you?) you’ve got to at least try a Belizean curry!

Where to Stay: Jerk chicken is available everywhere, but I had some of the best at Robin’s Kitchen in San Pedro just a few blocks from Victoria House. That said, you can find it virtually everywhere, but Robin’s is the real deal, grilled in a steel drum over pimento wood!

Helicopter over the Blue Hole

The top Belize attraction for a reason – but it’ll cost you!

If you want to see a good view of Belize’s iconic Blue Hole, you’re way better off flying over it than diving it. People I spoke to who dove the Blue Hole said that they really couldn’t see much of the Blue Hole from the boat, and that once they started diving, there actually wasn’t much to see.

Honestly, I’ve heard some not-so-great things about diving the Blue Hole. Apparently, some of the divemasters encouraged people to go beyond their PADI-certified limits — a big no-go in my book — and one girl got nitrogen narcosis and was feeling really ill and almost passed out underwater — a huge risk.

Photo credit U.S. Geological Survey

So if you do dive the Blue Hole, make sure you stay within your limits and go with a reputable company. Luckily, you have none of those risks – and a much better view – when you helicopter over the Blue Hole! It is expensive as hell, but if it’s on your bucket list or you’re visiting Belize to celebrate a special occasion, it may be worth the splurge.

Check prices of a helicopter ride over the Blue Hole here (just be sure you’re sitting down first!)

Explore the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich

While not quite as large or impressive as the ruins of Caracol, Xunantunich is still one of the best attractions in Belize. Plus, it’s a whole hell of a lot easier to get to from San Ignacio, which one of the best places to stay in Belize if you’re looking for exciting day trips.

You can take a bus and then walk a mile or hire a taxi for cheap. The ruins of Cahal Pech are even closer, but not quite as exciting as Xunantunich.

I recommend visiting while you stay in San Ignacio, but if you’re staying in Belize City and won’t make your way into the interior of Belize, it’s possible to visit on a day trip.

To do so, opt for this tour that combines Xunantunich, the Belize Zoo, and cave tubing through ancient Mayan caves – not bad for a day trip!

Where to Stay: Again, I’d suggest Bella’s for backpackers and solo travelers, Maya Mountain Lodge for mid-range budgets, and Ka’ana Resort & Spa for blow-out luxury.

Photo Credit C. Juneau, Wikimedia Commons

Visit a howler monkey sanctuary

Howler monkeys kind of sound like demons, but they sure are cute! If you want to connect with your primate kin while in Belize, check out the Community Baboon Sanctuary close to Belize City.

Note for my fellow pendants: there are no baboons here – that’s apparently just the old local name for howler monkeys. Go figure. Eight villages have worked together to preserve the ecosystem around the river and protect the howler monkeys in their natural habitats. You can take a tour or rent a car to go to the sanctuary.

Where to Stay: Tours leave from Belize City, but as I’ve said above, I’d recommend doing it as a day trip from one of the islands and taking the ferry into Belize City for the day. If you must stay in Belize City, Sea Breeze is affordable and felt secure.

visit with howler monkeys, one of the greatest things to do in Belize

Scuba dive in one of the many reefs

If you’re scuba certified, you need to plan a diving vacation to Belize! Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are home to several scuba shops which can take you to some of the best destinations in the area: Mexico Rocks, Hol Chan, and Turneffe Atoll are all fantastic dive locations.

Bonus: if you’re in Hopkins or Placencia during the right time of year, you may even be lucky and spot some whale sharks!

Pro Tip: Not every travel insurance covers diving-related accidents, which can be incredibly expensive if not covered. One of the few plans I’ve found that covers diving accidents is the World Nomads Explorer Plan (the standard plan doesn’t cover it). I don’t ever dive without insurance.

Where to Stay: Anywhere on the coast has plenty of options, but I think Ambergris Caye has the best range of SCUBA operators. I organized snorkeling trips through Sandbar Hostel and received a discount for staying with them.

Stay in an eco-friendly jungle lodge

San Ignacio Belize is somewhat of a hub for eco-lodges. I stayed at Table Rock Jungle Lodge, which is almost entirely solar powered and 100% off the electrical grid (don’t fear though — there is wifi, just not in your room!), and I absolutely adored it.

I mean, how many hotels can say they come with their own donkeys and that you’re free to pick any fruit on their farm at any time (the staff will even give you free coconuts from their trees!) You can also borrow canoes or tubes to coast down the beautiful Macal River nearby.

If you want a little more luxury in the jungle, there are a few higher-end options, with a higher price tag to boot. Chaa Creek and Ka’ana are widely recognized as some of the most luxurious Belize jungle resorts. If you crave a little more glamor with your eco digs, check out one of those two options: Ka’ana or Chaa Creek.

Read More: 6 Most Incredible Eco Lodges in Belize (For All Budgets)

Play with ALL THE DOGS at Caye Caulker’s only animal shelter

Okay, I’m probably the only person who thinks that laying around in the sand with a bunch of homeless dogs is an essential thing to do in Belize, but stay with me, here. A sweet local guy named Kenny runs this humble little animal shelter that takes in and helps rehome dogs and cats in need of some TLC.

Caye Caulker Animal Shelter is entirely run by donations – so if you can, donate either your time to love on these dogs (or take them for a walk around the island) or a few extra dollars to help support Kenny’s mission.

Pray to spot a jaguar in Cockscomb Basin

Did you know Belize is home to the world’s only jaguar preserve? These endangered beauties can be found if you’re incredibly lucky in Cockscomb Basin (check prices for tours here), though I wouldn’t count on a spotting — there are only 200 of them in this wildlife preserve spanning 150 square miles. Still, countless other species call this protected area home, including other wild cats like the ocelot and the adorable jaguarundi.

For the less patient and less deep-pocketed: if you simply must see a jaguar, the Belize Zoo has a jaguar rehabilitation program that does excellent work. I normally don’t support zoos – I find them unethical and cruel – but the Belize Zoo is a notable exception as it houses only A) species native to Belize and B) animals who are not yet able to be released into the wild for health or socialization reasons. No polar bears sweating in the humidity here – it’s one of few truly ethical zoos in the world.

Looking for jaguars in Belize

7 Things You Must Pack for Belize

I’ve written an entire Belize packing list but if you just want the essentials, here’s what I think are the absolute essentials.

  • Mosquito repellent & after-care: Belize has a tropical climate with mosquitos year-round, particularly in the rainy season. Zika, dengue fever, malaria, and chikungunya have all been reported there. While there’s no reason to cancel your trip on account of it, protect yourself with mosquito repellent (as a back-up, I carry around a few mosquito repellent wipes with me in my purse in case I forget to apply spray before leaving or that I can apply after swimming). It’s also inevitable that you won’t leave without a few bites, so bring some after-bite relief too (this is hard to find in Belize).
  • Full-size travel towel: This travel towel is full-size so it’s big enough to use as a beach towel, thin enough to pack up super small for your luggage, and it dries super quickly in Belize’s humid climate.
  • A guidebook: I use travel blogs a lot when I’m on the road but I also love having a guidebook to give me more specific, thoroughly researched information. Lonely Planet is my go-to guidebook and Lonely Planet Belize is no exception. I usually buy the Kindle version, but paper versions are also great fun to peruse.
  • Reef-safe sunscreen: If you are planning to do any water activities, such as diving or snorkeling or even swimming, please use a reef-safe sunscreen like this one. The active ingredients in sunscreen are killing off coral in huge numbers. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world and is under threat. So please don’t use normal, chemical-laden sunscreen in Belize’s fragile ocean ecosystem!
  • Filter water bottle or Steripen: Belize’s tap water is not drinkable anywhere in the country. I recommend traveling with a water bottle with a built-in filter that filters out nasty bacteria and viruses like this awesome LifeStraw bottle so you can reduce your plastic waste. Alternately, you can use a Steripen which sterilizes water using UV light. A great investment if you travel frequently and want to reduce your plastic bottle consumption!
  • GoPro: If you go snorkeling or cave tubing or ziplining, you’re going to want a way to capture all of that action! A GoPro Hero 6 is currently the highest-quality option, but if you’re on a budget, the GoPro Session is also an excellent choice. Be aware that you need to buy protective casing if you want to take either of these cameras diving. They are only waterproof to 10 meters, and you’ll exceed that if you dive (most dives are at least 15 meters or so).
  • Finally, don’t forget travel insurance! Whether you’re scuba diving, caving, ziplining through the jungle or just relaxing on the beach, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance!  It’ll protect you in case of accident, injury, lost luggage, theft, or any other disaster that could befall your trip. I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for two years and recommend them highly. I’ve included a way to get a free quote below.

 
The ultimate list of things to do in Belize. From scuba and snorkeling adventures to honeymoon resorts or eco lodges, suggestions for what to do and where to stay in San Pedro (Ambergris Caye), Caye Caulker, San Ignacio, and beyond!

Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you purchase something using one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no added cost to you. No BS – I only recommend accommodations, services, and products I believe in.

The Underrated Mayan Ruins of Caracol, Belize

Tikal and Chichen Itza get all the glory when it comes to ruins. Guatemala and Mexico are just fame hogs like that. But deep in Belize’s jungle, about two hours out from the nearest large town, you’ll find pyramids just as impressive — and far less crowded.

Because of the off the beaten path location of the ruins, you can’t get to Caracol by public transport. You’ll have to take a tour or rent a car — and since at least an hour is basically off-roading, unless you have a rugged car or balls of steel, you’ll probably want to opt for the tour.

After loving my ATM cave tour with MayaWalk, I decided to go with their company again to see the ruins of Caracol. And good thing too, as it ended up being yet another amazing day in Belize, a country that’s quickly becoming one of my favorites.

We started the day with yet another cave — although I must admit that after ATM, no cave will ever come close. It was pretty cool though – just look at how massive it is!

The coolest thing about this cave, though, is that there is an actual beach inside the cave – yes, with sand and everything!

How many countries can say that even their caves have beaches? Belize, you freaking stunner.

 

After frolicking on this cave-beach, I allowed myself to be corralled back into the van to see the ruins. After all – they were what I came to see.

Another hour of bumpy roads later, we arrived at the site of the Caracol ruins, one of the coolest things to see in Belize. Caracol is the highest and largest Mayan structure in all of Belize, and its position on the border of modern-day Guatemala means that from the top you can see two countries at once, something that this geography nerd always loves (my record is 7 countries at once from a mountaintop in Montenegro!).

Another amazing thing? Just look at how empty this place is. This completely unedited photo literally has one other human being in it. One. Just try getting that lucky at Tikal or Chichen Itza… you’ll have to do some early morning trespassing, a lot of waiting, or some Photoshop wizardry to get a picture this clear of people.

The ruins of Caracol span about 15 square miles, though they’ve definitely faded from its glory days – both literally and figuratively, as the stone structures were once painted vibrant colors. In fact, the main pyramid used to be painted red. Just imagine a red pyramid matched up against a lush green backdrop — now that would have been a sight to take in.

This wasn’t too bad, either.

The site of Caracol was first settled perhaps even 3,000 years ago, though the structures are mostly from the period between 600 and 900 AD. At its peak, over 120,000 Mayans lived in this city.

Despite its smaller size than nearby Tikal (in modern day Guatemala), the Mayans who occupied Caracol bested them in war and marked the occasion with a celebratory obelisk which, thanks to colonialism, is now housed at the British Museum. Don’t worry, though, they were kind enough to leave behind a plaster replica!

The sun was just starting to beat down with its typical pre-noon intensity, the kind that wouldn’t let up until well after 4 that afternoon. We walked through a bit of shade, our guide pointing out a trio howler monkeys napping in the trees along the way.

Luckily, they were too tuckered out by the heat to make their typical demonic howls.

Our guide was super knowledgeable about all of Caracol’s wildlife – in fact, it turned into a bit of a birding expedition of sorts. My personal favorite? The Montezuma oropendola, aka the most badass bird nature ever created.

Basically, the female birds make the male birds build these elaborate hanging basket-type nests for her and her future eggs. If they’re not up to par, she’ll destroy them and refuse to mate with them. Slay, lady, slay. We should all be so fierce.

After touring the ruins and getting some serious life lessons from some birds, we ate our packed lunches, broke into the rum punch because duh, it’s Belize, and then made our way to the Rio On Pools – a set of natural pools located just outside of Caracol.

And because our guide was a class act, he offered to give us some rum punch to go.

Never one to be rude, I accepted.

My clumsiness kept me from taking the best photos, as the slipperiness of the rocks all but ensured I’d send my beloved Sony A6000 plummeting to the bottom of a pool.

But in addition to a beautiful swimming hole with a view of forest and jungle, there was a natural whirlpool and waterslide of sorts, plus two waterfalls where you could make nature give you the world’s best shoulder massage.

Don’t just take my word for it, though. Go and see it for yourself — you’ll be one of the only ones, I swear.

Convinced? Check out tours and availability here.

7 Things You Must Pack for Belize

I’ve written an entire Belize packing list but if you just want the essentials, here’s what I think you shouldn’t forget!

  • Mosquito repellent & after-care: Belize has a tropical climate with mosquitos year-round, particularly in the rainy season. Zika, dengue fever, malaria, and chikungunya have all been reported there. While there’s no reason to cancel your trip on account of it, protect yourself with mosquito repellent (as a back-up, I carry around a few mosquito repellent wipes with me in my purse in case I forget to apply spray before leaving or that I can apply after swimming). It’s also inevitable that you won’t leave without a few bites, so bring some after-bite relief too (this is hard to find in Belize).
  • Full-size travel towel: This travel towel is full-size so it’s big enough to use as a beach towel, thin enough to pack up super small for your luggage, and it dries super quickly in Belize’s humid climate.
  • A guidebook: I use travel blogs a lot when I’m on the road but I also love having a guidebook to give me more specific, thoroughly researched information. Lonely Planet is my go-to guidebook and Lonely Planet Belize is no exception. I usually buy the Kindle version, but paper versions are also great fun to peruse.
  • Reef-safe sunscreen: If you are planning to do any water activities, such as diving or snorkeling or even swimming, please use a reef-safe sunscreen like this one. The active ingredients in sunscreen are killing off coral in huge numbers. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world and is under threat. So please don’t use normal, chemical-laden sunscreen in Belize’s fragile ocean ecosystem!
  • Filter water bottle or Steripen: Belize’s tap water is not drinkable anywhere in the country. I recommend traveling with a water bottle with a built-in filter that filters out nasty bacteria and viruses like this awesome LifeStraw bottle so you can reduce your plastic waste. Alternately, you can use a Steripen which sterilizes water using UV light. A great investment if you travel frequently and want to reduce your plastic bottle consumption!
  • GoPro: If you go snorkeling or cave tubing or ziplining, you’re going to want a way to capture all of that action! A GoPro Hero 6 is currently the highest-quality option, but if you’re on a budget, the GoPro Session is also an excellent choice. Be aware that you need to buy protective casing if you want to take either of these cameras diving. They are only waterproof to 10 meters, and you’ll exceed that if you dive (most dives are at least 15 meters or so).
  • Finally, don’t forget travel insurance! Whether you’re scuba diving, caving, ziplining through the jungle or just relaxing on the beach, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance!  It’ll protect you in case of accident, injury, lost luggage, theft, or any other disaster that could befall your trip. I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for two years and recommend them highly. I’ve included a way to get a free quote below.

Note: I was provided with a complimentary tour from Maya Walk. All opinions are entirely my own.

Table Rock Jungle Lodge: The Most Sustainable Eco Lodge in Belize

Off a dusty road a few miles out of the town of San Ignacio, Belize, you’ll find Table Rock Jungle Lodge.

This is this nature-loving girl’s kind of place: orchards packed with ripe oranges greet you as you approach the lodge, with a few donkeys strewn about nibbling the grass in the sun to add to the pastoral charm.

Cabañas are nestled unobtrusively between the trees, each with their own hammock and hanging lounge chairs. The only sounds are the birds — and the occasional unearthly sounds of the howler monkeys who call this jungle home, too. A short walk away is the river, where you can borrow a free canoe or tube and enjoy the persistent Belizean sunshine. Also, have I mentioned there are pet donkeys?

Honey, I’m home.

Rooms and Grounds

Table Rock Jungle Lodge is comfortable, but not fussy.

Their commitment to eco-friendliness and sustainability presides over all. You won’t find air conditioning, hair dryers, and robes here.

What you will find, however, is a thoughtfully designed room with high ceilings that keep the rooms breezy and cool, with high-efficiency ceiling fans helping to keep air flowing.

A comfortable four poster bed with soft sheets, a couch and table to lounge at, filtered water available in two giant glass jugs and a few Belizean welcome gifts — locally made cinnamon soap, hot sauce, and a mini bottle of rum.

The latter two which I, in peak genius, turned into a killer cocktail with some of the oranges on the property (a knife and cutting board is provided in each room to encourage you to pick fruit from the farm at your leisure).

Welcome to the simple life in Belize.

Sustainability

I met with Colleen, the lovely woman who owns Table Rock, and chatted with her about the sustainability practices of her eco lodge. After marveling at our similar career paths before opting for a life on the lam (we were both once special education teachers back in the U.S.), I learned about Table Rock’s 100-plus riverside acres powered by their impressive innovative electrical grid — a project many years in the making.

Nearly 100% of the energy used in the lodge is provided by renewable solar energy, which is gathered during the day and stored in battery cells for days with a little less sunlight. To keep the energy use down, the rooms don’t have air conditioning (nor do they need it, thanks to the high thatched-roof designs and ceiling fans which circulate the air).

They also don’t have regular power outlets in the room: only USBs. Power outlets and wifi are available in the hammocked palapa, where you can fiddle away on your devices if you really need to (like this blogger/admitted Internet addict does).

High-energy tasks, such as running the laundry, do require supplemental power in the form of diesel generators. The hot water showers use on-demand water pressure-activated butane power to heat, which is a far more efficient set-up than traditional water heaters. Other than that, Table Rock is virtually completely powered by the sun and completely self-sustaining.

In the spirit of self-sufficiency, Table Rock Jungle Lodge also supplies the majority of their tap water from collected rain water, uses fresh fruit and vegetables from their farm (you’re always welcome to collect any fruit anywhere on the property — I made myself fresh squeezed orange juice every day!), and fresh free-range eggs from their chickens.

Social Responsibility

In addition to being eco-friendly, Table Rock also is making a concerted effort to be “socially green,” as Colleen put it. The staff is entirely Belizean and often local from the nearest villages, like nearby Cristo Rey. The goods in the gift shop are 100% Belizean and local, and Table Rock purchases locally produced food, beverages, and supplies whenever possible.

As a result, the food is especially delicious, and fairly priced for the quality. If you don’t have a car, you’ll have to eat your meals at Table Rock unless you’re doing a tour. Luckily, I didn’t mind — at $10 for breakfast and coffee and $25 for a two-course gourmet dinner, I found it exceptionally reasonable, particularly for Belize.

I especially was grateful that they honored my bananaphobia and subbed out grilled pineapple for the grilled banana on my bacon-topped French toast!

Table Rock also contributes to Pack for a Purpose, an organization that encourages travelers to use a small amount of their suitcase to bring items specifically requested by the local community. Table Rock collects educational supplies for the village school, working in partnership with the school to understand their specific needs rather than deciding on behalf of the school what is needed.

Sometimes despite best intentions, “voluntourists” can do more harm than good, giving items of little use or things that seem benign (like gum or candy) but can actually be socially or environmentally harmful. Therefore these projects like Pack for a Purpose are extremely useful for local communities and a great way to travel more responsibly in developing countries.

5 Things You Must Pack for Belize

I’ve written an entire Belize packing list but if you just want the essentials, here’s what I think are the absolute essentials.

  • Mosquito repellent & after-care: Belize has a tropical climate with mosquitos year-round, particularly in the rainy season. Zika, dengue fever, malaria, and chikungunya have all been reported there. While there’s no reason to cancel your trip on account of it, protect yourself with mosquito repellent (as a back-up, I carry around a few mosquito repellent wipes with me in my purse in case I forget to apply spray before leaving or that I can apply after swimming). It’s also inevitable that you won’t leave without a few bites, so bring some after-bite relief too (this is hard to find in Belize).
  • Full-size travel towel: This travel towel is full-size so it’s big enough to use as a beach towel, thin enough to pack up super small for your luggage, and it dries super quickly in Belize’s humid climate.
  • A guidebook: I use travel blogs a lot when I’m on the road but I also love having a guidebook to give me more specific, thoroughly researched information. Lonely Planet is my go-to guidebook and Lonely Planet Belize is no exception. I usually buy the Kindle version, but paper versions are also great fun to peruse.
  • GoPro: If you go snorkeling or cave tubing or ziplining, you’re going to want a way to capture all of that action! A GoPro Hero 6 is currently the highest-quality option, but if you’re on a budget, the GoPro Session is also an excellent choice. Be aware that you need to buy protective casing if you want to take either of these cameras diving. They are only waterproof to 10 meters, and you’ll exceed that if you dive (most dives are at least 15 meters or so).
  • Finally, don’t forget travel insurance! Whether you’re scuba diving, caving, ziplining through the jungle or just relaxing on the beach, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance!  It’ll protect you in case of accident, injury, lost luggage, theft, or any other disaster that could befall your trip. I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for two years and recommend them highly. I’ve included a way to get a free quote below.

What do you think? Can you forgo your hair dryer and in-room wifi for a few days of off-the-grid sustainability? Or do you like your creature comforts when you travel?

Note: I was a guest of Table Rock Jungle Lodge, and they provided me with two nights’ complimentary accommodation in order to review the hotel. All opinions are strictly my own.

11 Ridiculously Fun Things to Do in Caye Caulker, Belize

I think I found my spirit island. An island where day drinking is the local sport, and aspirations of sitting in an inner tube while working your way through a bucket of beer are considered 100% valid. An island where locals chastize you for walking too fast, where the smoky smell of pimento wood being burned for jerk chicken permeates the air, where golf carts have right of way.

Yes, Caye Caulker, you can stop blushing — I’m talking about you.

Where to drink in Caye Caulker Belize, go slow!
What to do and see in Caye Caulker Belize

Top Things to Do in Caye Caulker

If you go to Caye Caulker with a checklist, you’re doing it wrong.

Caye Caulker is a place that’s easy to get sucked into. While there aren’t that many things to do in Caye Caulker per se, the days still manage to slink by a little too easily. You’ll rise as your room gets warm in the morning sun, eat breakfast with a beach view, amble along the colorful buildings, and sunbathe — all before the nightly ritual of watching the sun sink into the sea.

Yup, that’s a grind I can get behind.

Spend the day in the sun at Sip N Dip

But really: how to while away your days in lovely Caye Caulker? Make your way to my favorite beach bar, Sip N Dip. Where else can you sit on a swing in the Caribbean sea, relax in a hammock over the water, or just chill in an inner tube with a bucket of beer floating alongside you?

Located just before The Split on the north end of the island, day drinking at the Sip N Dip is my number one can’t-miss thing to do in Caye Caulker.

A bucket of beer will set you back $25 BZD ($12.50 US since the Belize dollar is pegged at a 2-to-1 exchange rate with the dollar) for 6 — one of the best deals on the island! Happy hour is from 3 to 5 and offers specials on rum punch, Cuba libres, and other house drinks — get two for $7 BZD ($3.50 US).

Visit the sweet animals at the Caye Caulker Animal Shelter

Another one of my favorite things to do in Caye Caulker is visit the lovely dogs at the Caye Caulker Animal Shelter! This non-profit animal shelter cares for dogs and cats in need of homes. They welcome visitors to come by and love on the animals. With these faces, how could you walk on by?

If you’re a dog lover, you’ll love Caye Caulker. Because it’s a small island with no cars, many people allow their dogs to hang out on the island during the day, running about and making friends. Most aren’t strays – they’re well-behaved, well-loved pets who get to call the streets of the island their playground.

Needless to say, I was in heaven. Janet and I loved the dogs so much we even spent a whole day filming them!

Swim with manatees

One of the best reasons to visit Caye Caulker and top things to do there is swim with the manatees north of Caye Caulker. To do so, you’ll have to book a tour (check out this one run by Anda di Wata) as the manatees don’t swim that close to Caye Caulker but in a deeper, more protected area.

It’s a bit expensive and I was on a backpacker’s budget in Caye Caulker so I didn’t indulge but it’s on my list of top things to do on Caye Caulker when I return to this magical island. I mean, manatees are truly the elephants of the sea. Freaking adorable.

Not my photo, but god I wish it was.

Please note: never touch animals in the wild, even if they seem docile and gentle. You can do serious damage. Give them a comfortable distance – at least 5 meters if not more – and observe quietly and respectfully so that others in the future can also enjoy the presence of these gentle sea giants.

Snorkel in the Belize Barrier Reef

Belize is home to the second-largest reef system after the Great Barrier Reef, so if you’re a lover of marine life take full advantage of Caye Caulker’s amazing location and make sure you don’t miss snorkeling (or diving, if you’re certified) while on Caye Caulker.

Check out snorkeling tours & prices here.

Do sunset yoga

I’ll readily admit that I was never stayed sober long enough on Caye Caulker to make it to sunset yoga, but RandOM Yoga offers donation-based sunset yoga classes on the roof of Namaste Café with a great sunset view and ocean breeze.

Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard

Caye Caulker is a small island and it’s easy to kayak around in just a few hours. There are several places on the island that rent stand-up paddleboards and kayaks, and it’s one of the best things to do in Caye Caulker because the water is super flat and glassy, making both sports easier than normal.

If you’re into something more adventurous – learn to kite surf, go scuba diving, or try deep sea fishing!

Eat delicious barbecue

On Caye Caulker, you’ll see — and smell — barbecues going all day and night long. You can’t go wrong with the island’s most popular dish – jerk chicken!

A plate of jerk chicken will set you back about $15-20 BZD ($7.50-10 US) in a restaurant and usually will come with your choice of sides and anywhere from one to three glasses of rum punch included! Quality across the board was about the same everywhere, so no place really sticks out – just order the jerk chicken and you can’t go wrong!

On the street, a takeaway portion of jerk chicken and coconut rice will cost you about $10 BZD, or $5 US. My favorite street stall was located on the north side just before Sip N Dip.

There is also delicious Chinese food on the island thanks to the influence of Chinese immigrants who run many of the local shops and grocery stores. My favorite was located across the street from La Cubana, and the chow mein was delicious, only about $7 BZD ($3.50 US), and big enough for two!

Try a Belizean breakfast

My favorite Belize breakfast is fry jacks – fried dough pockets stuffed with your choice of filling. My favorite was meat, cheese, and egg. Get them at Errolyns House of Fry Jacks for a mere $2.50 BZD each!

If you prefer a more traditional breakfast, or you’re really missing bagels, Ice ‘N Beans is another one of my favorite places on Caye Caulker for breakfast.

Sip on a swing at Margarita Mike’s

I’ve already rhapsodized about Sip N Dip. Another place I loved for day drinking was Margarita Mike’s.

What can I say? I love a good bar swing! And also day drinking. Go figure.

Chill at the Split

I loved spending my days at the “The Split” – the northern tip of Caye Caulker. Apparently, Caye Caulker used to be one island until a hurricane hit in 1961, breaking the island in two. The channel that divides them now is called “The Split” and, absent any white sand beaches, is Caye Caulker’s unofficial watering hole.

The Lazy Lizard is often cited as a favorite, but when I went it was under construction — which killed its beachy vibe.

Still, a day at the Split is never spent poorly. I mean: look at those blue, blue waters!

Drink after hours at The Sports Bar or the Reggae Bar

If you’re somehow managed to make it to sunset without getting drunk… congrats! You now have two options: The Sports Bar and The Reggae Bar. Basically everyone on the island goes to The Sports Bar (Barrier Reef Sports Bar) first and then Reggae Bar (I & I) if they’re still standing.

Where to Stay in Caye Caulker

You won’t find luxury resorts here — Caye Caulker is stubbornly down to earth, especially compared with its more upscale cousin, Ambergris Caye, which has its share of luxury boutique hotels.

What Caye Caulker lacks in resorts it makes up for in cheap and cheerful guesthouses. If you’re traveling in a group of two, it often is about as cheap as staying in a hostel.

Janet and I stayed at Sea N Sun Guest House and loved it! The price was fair, the rooms were clean, and the Internet was rather good – a rare find on Caye Caulker. They also rent free canoes and bikes, which can save you a lot of money if those are things you plan on doing while on the island.

If you’re looking for a hostel, I’ve heard good things about Go Slow Caye Caulker. I also met the lovely owner of the new hostel Travellers Palm, which is in the cutest yellow and pink building, and is one of the cheapest options on the island with prices starting around $20 BZD ($10 USD) per night.

How to Get to Caye Caulker

It’s quite easy to get to Caye Caulker from Belize City. There are shuttles about every hour or two. Ocean Ferry Belize is the cheaper of two ferry options (check out the most recent schedule here) at $12 USD one way or $22 roundtrip. The other option,  Belize Water Taxi, is a touch more expensive but has more options (schedule here) at $15 USD one way or $25 roundtrip.

You can get to Belize City easily via chicken bus from San Ignacio, Belize ($8 BZD/$4 USD) or Chetumal, Mexico (180 pesos/$9 USD). If coming from the bus station, I recommend taking a taxi, not walking. The bus station is in a dodgy neighborhood, and I wouldn’t want to walk through it with all my belongings on me!

Water taxis from Chetumal, Mexico are available every other day, but they are expensive — over $50 USD one way.

You can also take private shuttles from within Belize or to neighboring Guatemala or Mexico if you prefer to travel in a little more comfort, but I love Belize’s chicken buses. The reggae music and people watching opportunities make the hundreds of stops you’ll make along the way less painful somehow.

7 Things You Must Pack for Caye Caulker

I’ve written an entire Belize packing list but if you just want the essentials, here’s what I think are the absolute essentials.

  • Mosquito repellent & after-care: Belize has a tropical climate with mosquitos year-round, particularly in the rainy season. Zika, dengue fever, malaria, and chikungunya have all been reported there. While there’s no reason to cancel your trip on account of it, protect yourself with mosquito repellent (as a back-up, I carry around a few mosquito repellent wipes with me in my purse in case I forget to apply spray before leaving or that I can apply after swimming). It’s also inevitable that you won’t leave without a few bites, so bring some after-bite relief too (this is hard to find in Belize).
  • Full-size travel towel: This travel towel is full-size so it’s big enough to use as a beach towel, thin enough to pack up super small for your luggage, and it dries super quickly in Belize’s humid climate.
  • A guidebook: I use travel blogs a lot when I’m on the road but I also love having a guidebook to give me more specific, thoroughly researched information. Lonely Planet is my go-to guidebook and Lonely Planet Belize is no exception. I usually buy the Kindle version, but paper versions are also great fun to peruse.
  • Reef-safe sunscreen: If you are planning to do any water activities, such as diving or snorkeling or even swimming, please use a reef-safe sunscreen like this one. The active ingredients in sunscreen are killing off coral in huge numbers. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world and is under threat. So please don’t use normal, chemical-laden sunscreen in Belize’s fragile ocean ecosystem!
  • Filter water bottle or Steripen: Belize’s tap water is not drinkable anywhere in the country. I recommend traveling with a water bottle with a built-in filter that filters out nasty bacteria and viruses like this awesome LifeStraw bottle so you can reduce your plastic waste. Alternately, you can use a Steripen which sterilizes water using UV light. A great investment if you travel frequently and want to reduce your plastic bottle consumption!
  • GoPro: If you go snorkeling or swimming with manatees or kayaking, you’re going to want a way to capture all of that action! A GoPro Hero 6 is currently the highest-quality option, but if you’re on a budget, the GoPro Session is also an excellent choice. Be aware that you need to buy protective casing if you want to take either of these cameras diving. They are only waterproof to 10 meters, and you’ll exceed that if you dive (most dives are at least 15 meters or so).
  • Finally, don’t forget travel insurance! Whether you’re scuba diving, caving, zip lining through the jungle or just relaxing on the beach, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance for Belize!  It’ll protect you in case of accident, injury, lost luggage, theft, or any other disaster that could befall your trip. I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for two years and recommend them highly. I’ve included a way to get a free quote below.

So, Why Visit Caye Caulker?

There’s no denying there’s something special about this little island off the coast of Belize.

The views are stunning, the vibe is perfect, and somehow the days just melt one into the other. I found myself spending 4 days here and easily could have spent two weeks or a month here, that’s how much I loved it!

You know a place is special when it actually kind of hurts you to leave it. I know I’ll come back to Belize for a third time,  and likely a fourth or fifth… and when I do, Caye Caulker, I hope you won’t have changed.

Stay slow.

Travel beautiful Caye Caulker Belize and experience slow travel at its best! Go on a snorkeling adventure with sharks or just chill in inner tubes at the best beach bar on the island.
Your guide to backpacking Caye Caulker, Belize on a budget. Cheap cute hotels & hostels plus restaurants with delicious food (hello jerk chicken!) and the best beach bars!

Victoria House: The Best Boutique Hotel in Belize

Belize is famous for its Mayan ruins, exciting adventures, underwater life, and epic Caribbean sea views. If you’re into snorkeling or diving, there is no doubt you will want to visit Ambergris Caye while you are in Belize. And if you want to punctuate your time underwater with some luxury on land – there’s absolutely no better place to do that than Victoria House in San Pedro — easily the best boutique hotel in Belize.

From the pool that looks out over the Caribbean Sea to the well manicured grounds shaded with palm trees, Victoria House is an oasis of peace and quiet in San Pedro. I loved relaxing on one of the loungers in the pool and sipping on a Belikin (Belize’s beer of choice) looking out at this view – I could do it all day!

The Victoria House offers a private beach of sorts, with hammocks and loungers spread between the palm trees overlooking the ocean. While the water and marine life are stunning, the islands of Belize are not known for their sandy beaches. That said, Victoria House has created something out of nothing, with a sandy ‘beach’ giving way to a seawall.

Ambergris Caye best luxury hotel - a truly boutique experience

Of course, I had to test out all the hammocks at Victoria House. For research.

I’d never let you down.

Our luxury boutique hotel experience in Belize Ambergris Caye

When I wasn’t scaling palm trees channeling my inner Mowgli from The Jungle Book (my favorite movie until I was like 9), lounging poolside, or methodically researching hammock comfort… I was enjoying the luxury of our Infinity Suite, a two-story apartment complete with pool views and a fully functioning kitchen.

Yeah, a full kitchen in our boutique suite! My inner New Yorker died a thousand deaths when I saw this kitchen and realized I wouldn’t be making use of it.

Kitchen of our villa in San Pedro Belize at Victoria House

In addition to the full kitchen and what I lovingly called our “mini fridge,” we had not one or two but four separate outdoor areas.

Including an outdoor shower, because apparently this is my life now.

View at Victoria House San Pedro Belize

Luxury hotel in Belize master suite

Because Victoria House faces east, you’ll want to rouse yourself from your insanely comfortable bed long enough to catch at least one of the epic sunrises over the Caribbean.

Nothing beats the peace of watching the sunrise from a private beach or infinity pool at your luxury boutique hotel!

Sunset view in Belize at Victoria House

The infinity pool at Victoria house boutique hotel

If you tire of lounging by the pool I don’t understand you don’t fret, there’s plenty to do in and near Ambergris Caye!

Why not snorkel with sharks, rays, and sea turtles in the beautiful Belize Barrier Reef, which is the second biggest reef in the world? Or visit some Mayan ruins or go on a caving adventure on the mainland?

You can also rent complimentary bicycles to ride into town or borrow a kayak to take for a paddle out on the beautiful Caribbean waters.

Victoria House offers a wide range of boutique hotel accommodations spread across 42 rooms. If you really want to ball out, there are luxury suites like the one Janet and I enjoyed, and for the truly epic amongst us there are also beachfront villas with private pools that can house up to 10 people. Talk about an epic destination for a wedding or bachelorette party!

From the more affordable staterooms which start at $205 to the cute little casitas starting at $299, there are also plenty of options that offer boutique Belize luxury on a realistic budget.

Victoria house is a lovely boutique hotel in Belize

I loved every minute of my stay at this stunning seaside boutique hotel. Victoria House’s grounds are so spacious that even when there are other people there you somehow feel as if you have the whole place to yourself. During the day, most of the guests are off diving or on tours, so even in the high season I was often the only one in the pool! The place comes alive at dinner when everyone comes home from the tours and dines in the acclaimed Palmilla Restaurant on site.

If you’re looking for a taste of luxury on your Belize island getaway, look no further than Victoria House!

Interested? Check out availability and pricing!

7 Things You Must Pack for Belize

I’ve written an entire Belize packing list but if you just want the essentials, here’s what I think are the absolute essentials.

  • Mosquito repellent & after-care: Belize has a tropical climate with mosquitos year-round, particularly in the rainy season. Zika, dengue fever, malaria, and chikungunya have all been reported there. While there’s no reason to cancel your trip on account of it, protect yourself with mosquito repellent (as a back-up, I carry around a few mosquito repellent wipes with me in my purse in case I forget to apply spray before leaving or that I can apply after swimming). It’s also inevitable that you won’t leave without a few bites, so bring some after-bite relief too (this is hard to find in Belize).
  • Full-size travel towel: This travel towel is full-size so it’s big enough to use as a beach towel, thin enough to pack up super small for your luggage, and it dries super quickly in Belize’s humid climate.
  • A guidebook: I use travel blogs a lot when I’m on the road but I also love having a guidebook to give me more specific, thoroughly researched information. Lonely Planet is my go-to guidebook and Lonely Planet Belize is no exception. I usually buy the Kindle version, but paper versions are also great fun to peruse.
  • Reef-safe sunscreen: If you are planning to do any water activities, such as diving or snorkeling or even swimming, please use a reef-safe sunscreen like this one. The active ingredients in sunscreen are killing off coral in huge numbers. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world and is under threat. So please don’t use normal, chemical-laden sunscreen in Belize’s fragile ocean ecosystem!
  • Filter water bottle or Steripen: Belize’s tap water is not drinkable anywhere in the country. I recommend traveling with a water bottle with a built-in filter that filters out nasty bacteria and viruses like this awesome LifeStraw bottle so you can reduce your plastic waste. Alternately, you can use a Steripen which sterilizes water using UV light. A great investment if you travel frequently and want to reduce your plastic bottle consumption!
  • GoPro: If you go snorkeling or cave tubing or ziplining, you’re going to want a way to capture all of that action! A GoPro Hero 6 is currently the highest-quality option, but if you’re on a budget, the GoPro Session is also an excellent choice. Be aware that you need to buy protective casing if you want to take either of these cameras diving. They are only waterproof to 10 meters, and you’ll exceed that if you dive (most dives are at least 15 meters or so).
  • Finally, don’t forget travel insurance! Whether you’re scuba diving, caving, ziplining through the jungle or just relaxing on the beach, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance!  It’ll protect you in case of accident, injury, lost luggage, theft, or any other disaster that could befall your trip. I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for two years and recommend them highly. I’ve included a way to get a free quote below.

Why not make Belize your next vacation destination? Victoria House is a boutique hotel meets luxury resort in San Pedro (Ambergris Caye). Beaches, excursions, and Caribbean views. Ideal for weddings and honeymoons!

Note: I was provided with two nights’ complimentary accommodations at Victoria House in order to review it. All opinions are my own, as always! This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you book a stay using my link.