Are you planning a trip to Belize and are overwhelmed with the recommendations of popular things to do in Belize? Here’s the top things do in Belize.
10 best things to do in Belize
3. Scuba Diving
4. Maya Temples
5. Belizean Cayes
6. Wildlife Spotting
7. Nature Parks
8. Cave Tubing
9. Belizean Food and Culture
10. Bird Watching
1. Go Snorkeling
Belize has many wonderful snorkeling hot spots. One location worth mention is Hol Chan Marine Reserve since it is perhaps the best snorkeling adventure in Belize. By taking a trip there you will see pristine coral gardens and swim with countless marine wildlife.
Sea turtles, nurse sharks, stingrays, and all sorts of colorful fishes can be spotted at Hol Chan on a regular basis. The tour can be easily done from Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye.
2. Explore Belize’s Caves
ATM CaveOf the many caves worth exploring in Belize, Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) provides the most amazing experience. This guided tour involves trekking through the jungle and rivers before arriving at the mouth of the ATM cave.
You have to swim to enter the cave and then you make your way through narrow crevices before arriving at the “dry chamber/ cathedral” where you witness amazing cave formations, ancient Maya pots and relics, and even sacrificial remains. If you prefer a more leisure option, try cave canoeing at Barton Creek Cave.
3. Go Scuba Diving
Belize has no shortage of amazing scuba diving sites. However, the most popular diving site is the Great Blue Hole, which is part of the larger Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site. I mention diving Belize’s Blue Hole since it is on every diver’s bucket list, BUT be wary that it’s not recommended unless you’re into deep sea cave diving.
For divers that prefer seeing colorful corals and marine wildlife, other sites such as Half Moon Caye Wall and Long Caye Aquarium are much better. Also the Blue Hole is not great for snorkeling since you won’t be able to see much. And by the way, often a better experience than diving the Blue Hole, is seeing it from the air. This can be done by booking a Blue Hole flyover tour with Tropic Air or Maya Island Air.
4. Visit Maya Temples
Belize was once the epicenter of the Maya civilization. In fact, the country has the highest concentration of Mayan temples in all of Central America. If you’re wondering which of the many sites you should visit, I’ve written before on this topic and have included a link below for you to check it out.
A quick summary of the post is that the most visited site in Belize is Altun Ha, due to cruise tourism; Lamanai has the coolest adventure, since it involves riding a boat there; my favorite is Xunantunich, especially if you go horseback riding; and Caracol is the largest and possibly the most important site in Belize.
5. Explore Belize’s Cayes
Most people that travel to Belize are interested in visiting popular beach destinations such as Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. Although I enjoy those places, if you really want a unique island adventure, I recommend visiting lesser-known Cayes such as Glover’s Reef or Tobacco Caye.
A couple of years ago I spent a week beach camping at Glover’s Reef and I had an unforgettable experience. Imagine falling asleep under the stars to the sound of waves crashing against the Barrier Reef, and waking up to spend the entire day fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding. It was truly amazing.
6. Go Wildlife Spotting
Belize has an abundance of wildlife and visiting wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves is a good way to spot them. However, the easiest way to see Belizean wildlife is by visiting the Belize Zoo. Known as the ‘best little zoo in the world’, the Belize Zoo is the perfect activity for animal lovers and families with kids.
Far from an ordinary zoo, the Belize Zoo only has rescued animals that are native to Belize and they are in large enclosures that replicate their natural environment. The zoo focuses on conservation education and wildlife protection and rehabilitation.
7. Visit Nature Parks
Of all the national parks in Belize, my favorite is the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. This reserve is locally known as “Pine Ridge” and is a beautiful landscape of rolling pine forest spread over smooth, granite hillsides in Cayo, Belize. This off-the-beaten-path national park is home to many wildlife and natural attractions thus making it the ideal destination for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.
Along with birding, hiking and swimming, visitors can explore caves, waterfalls, and the Mayan site of Caracol. Other popular national parks in Belize include Mayflower Bocawaina, St. Herman’s Blue Hole, Rio Blanco, Hol Chan, and the Blue Hole.
8. Go Cave Tubing
In Belize, no matter where in the country you are, you’re never too far away from water. This means that there’s always plenty of opportunities to either be near or on the water. Believe it or not, an extraordinary way to explore Belize is through cave tubing.
A cave tubing adventure involves floating down the Cave Branch river into caves that the ancient Maya once used for rituals. Angela Wu, blogger at Belizing recently wrote a post about this incredible tour and it’s definitely worth a read. P.s. The same location allows for Ziplining adventures.
9. Discover Belizean Food and Culture
Belize is a melting pot of cultures and depending on where you are in the country, there are different cultures and languages. The most popular people of Belize are the Mestizo, Creole, Maya, Garifuna, and Mennonite.
A recommended way to experience Belizean culture is through the cuisine. Go to local restaurants and ask for favorites dishes such as rice and beans, caldo, fry jacks, and hudut. Or how about taking cooking lessons? For example, if you’re in the Garifuna village of Hopkins, learn how to make Hudut, or even better, combine your cooking lesson with Garifuna dancing and drumming.
10. Go bird watching
Belize is home to more than 500 species of birds and most of them can be seen without having to venture deep into the jungle. For example, the Keel-billed Toucan, Belize’s national bird, is often seen on roadsides throughout the Cayo and Toledo Districts.
And, the elegant Jabiru Stork, which is the largest flying bird in Central America, can be easily seen in Crooked Tree Village. In fact, the Wildlife Sanctuary in Crooked Tree is possibly Belize’s premier birdwatching hotspot. See the link below for many other birding options.
There you have it, these are some of the most incredible attractions and activities to do on your Belize vacation. It shows that whether you’re interested in having an active adventure or a relaxing trip, Belize has something for you.
Country of Belize
What to Do in Belize
For anyone looking to have the ultimate Belize vacation experience, I suggest that you split your trip between the jungle and beach. Choose your destinations in Belize wisely and hire a good tour guide whenever possible.
1. Belize Barrier Reef
Belize’s Reef is perhaps the number one reason people visit Belize. It’s the second largest barrier reef in the world and a UNESCO world heritage site. Popular reef activities include fishing, diving, snorkeling, and sailing.
2. Actun Tunichil Muknal
Actun Tunichil Muknal is an impressive, artefact-rich Maya ceremonial cave that contains rare bloodletting altars, sacrificial human remains, and over 1400 catalogued artefacts. It’s Belize’s top cave tour.
3. Great Blue Hole
The Great Blue Hole is Belize’s most famous attraction. It’s a giant marine sinkhole near Lighthouse Reef Atoll that draws divers from around the world and it’s Belize’s top tourist site for a scenic flyover tour.
4. Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Hol Chan Marine Reserve offers one of the best snorkeling experiences in Belize. During a trip here you will see pristine coral gardens and swim with marine wildlife such as sea turtles, nurse sharks and stingrays.
5. The Split
The Split is a narrow waterway that divides Caye Caulker into two. It has a fun beach bar for drinks and areas to relax while you get a suntan. You can also do water sports such as snorkeling, parasailing, and fishing.
6. Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
Mountain Pine Ridge is a nature reserve created to protect Belize’s native pine forest. Visitors are treated to many top tourist attractions and can experience fun activities such as hiking, swimming and birding.
7. Belize Zoo
The Belize Zoo isn’t your ordinary zoo, here you will only find rescued animals that are native to Belize and they roam “free” in large enclosures that replicate their natural environment.
Xunantunich is my favorite Maya temple. After crossing a hand-cranked ferry, lush jungle surrounds the site. The main temple, El Castillo offers spectacular views of nearby villages and Guatemalan mountains.
9. San Ignacio Farmers’ Market
The San Ignacio Market is a great place in downtown San Ignacio to buy food, meet locals, and witness firsthand why Belize is a melting pot of cultures. The best time to visit is on Saturdays between 7am-5pm.
10. Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
The Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the quaint Creole village of Crooked Tree and provides refuge for thousands of migratory and resident birds. It’s a marshland so expect to mostly see wetland birds.
11. Rio on Pools
The Rio on Pools is perhaps Mountain Pine Ridge’s top attraction. Here the Belize river spills over large granite ledges and rocks, making small waterfalls and cool round pools that swimmers can enjoy.
12. Big Rock Falls
Also in Mountain Pine Ridge, Big Rock Falls is one of the most underrated swimming spots in Cayo. This 150-foot waterfall is located at Privassion Creek and it’s perfect for those who want to enjoy an amazing waterfall.
Lamanai is the most popular Maya site in Orange Walk. To get there, visitors take a scenic 26-mile boat ride where they can spot exotic birds, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, river otters, and crocodiles.
14. Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the largest protected areas in Belize and it’s the first Jaguar preserve in the world. It’s perfect for visitors interested in jungle hiking trails, birdwatching and waterfalls.
Belize is a year-round destination for birdwatching. Of the over 590 exotic birds that can be easily spotted in Belize, approx. 80% are local and the rest are migrant species from North America. Birding hotspots and lodges exist throughout the country.
16. Cave Tubing Adventure
Cave Tubing is probably the most popular activity for cruise ship tourists visiting Belize. It’s loads of fun and an interesting way to mix river tubing and cave exploration. This tour is often paired with zip-lining.
17. Gladden Spit & Silk Cayes Marine Reserve
Gladden Spit is a protected marine reserve off the coast of Placencia. Every year, Whale Sharks visit the area during the months of March to June. The reserve, the silk cayes in particular, are also a pristine snorkeling destination.
Caracol is the largest Maya site in Belize and one of the most popular Maya sites in Mesoamerica. It’s rich and exciting history rivals Guatemala’s Tikal, which is considered one of the great ancient wonders of the world.
19. Bocawina National Park
Bocawina National Park is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a hardcore jungle adventures. The park has the longest zip-line course in Central America and three waterfalls to rappel down from.
20. Secret Beach
Secret Beach is a fun destination in Ambergris Caye where beach-goers can go for a good time. Aside from being a great spot to swim and enjoy the sun, the area has several popular restaurants and bars.
21. Belize Botanic Gardens
Located near San Ignacio, the Belize Botanic Gardens is a great way to experience some of Belize’s best trees, flowers, and plants. Various Orchids, including Black Orchids, the national flower of Belize can be found here.
22. South Water Caye Marine Reserve
South Water Caye Marine Reserve is the largest marine reserve in Belize. Easily accessible from Hopkins, it’s perfect for snorkeling or diving. The area also includes the Man of War Caye, a nesting site for the brown booby and magnificent frigatebird.
23. Monkey River
The Monkey River tour is a popular boat trip that can be done from Placencia or Hopkins. It allows visitors to get up close to nature and see birds and other wildlife critters such as howler monkeys and crocodiles.
24. Green Iguana Conservation Project
The Green Iguana Project focuses on the conservation of endangered iguanas. It’s a top attraction in San Ignacio where visitors can learn about the iguana’s surrounding jungle habitat and witness their life cycle.
25. Barton Creek
Barton Creek is a cave located near San Ignacio that was once used by the ancient Maya for ceremonial activities, which include human sacrifices. It’s one of Belize’s top caves and can only be explore by canoe.
26. Community Baboon SanctuaryThe Community Baboon Sanctuary is a howler monkey nature reserve located in Bermudian Landing, a small Kriol village. Along with Howler Monkeys, you get to see other wildlife and also witness everyday village life.
27. The Living Maya Experience
The Living Maya Experience tour allows guests to visit the traditional Maya village of Big Falls in Toledo where they can actively participate in daily village life.
28. Macal River
The Macal River starts in the Maya Mountains of western Belize and meanders its way down through many communities in Cayo. Its calm nature and easy access from San Ignacio makes it great to explore via canoe or kayak.
29. Zipline Adventure
A zip line adventure generally involves enjoying a bird’s eye view of Belize’s jungle canopy. This activity is perfect adrenaline junkies and it’s often paired as a combo tour with cave tubing.
30. Rio Frio Cave
The Rio Frio Cave is an impressive natural attraction in Mountain Pine Ridge that has a 65-foot arch at its opening. This allows visitors to have a striking view of the entire cave and a stream that runs through it.
31. St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park
Located along the Hummingbird Highway, just outside of Belmopan, St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park is known for it’s popular sapphire-colored cenote, St. Herman’s Cave, and great introductory birding trails.
32. Altun HaAltun Ha is one of Belize’s most visited archaeological sites. This Maya temple is featured prominently in Belize’s national beer and it’s where the famous Jade Head of the Maya Sun God Kinich Ahau was found.
33. Cahal Pech
Cahal Pech is a small Maya site located in San Ignacio, Cayo. Although this site is really small, I really like that it’s in walkable distance from downtown San Ignacio and thick jungle foliage surrounds the temples.
34. Museum of Belize
The Museum of Belize is great for visitors interested in learning about Belize’s history. Small exhibits of ancient Maya relics, old stamp collections and vintage photos are available year-round.
35. Chaa Creek’s Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum at Chaa Creek Eco-Resort is a great place to learn about Belize’s culture and heritage. The museum is within the resort’s nature reserve and it takes visitors along a fascinating journey of Belize.
36. Old Belize
Old Belize is a popular Marina where sailors from around the world dock their yachts. Onsite you can find a man-made beach, zip-line, waterfall, restaurant and a private museum showcasing Belizean history.