Belize will forever hold a special place in our heart, alongside Guatemala because these were the destinations we chose to celebrate our honeymoon. Belize is a rather small country that you can get from one side of the country to the other in a few hours by public bus. But don't let the size of the country fool you, it is packed full of adventure. We landed on picking Belize for this special trip solely because of the diving (second largest Great Barrier Reef) but once we started doing our research we were surprised to see everything you can do there. As usual this resulted in me researching for hours on how to plan the perfect trip. The options included exploring ruins, to cave exploring in the jungle or if the beach is more your place than tanning and scuba diving are options too! The people of this nation are extremely friendly, welcome and quite used to tourist roaming around.
To help save your hours of researching or at least jump start it we have outlined our perfectly balanced 11 day trip.
Day 1 Fly into Belize City, not too much to offer so we recommend you catching the public bus to San Ignacio. This will cost only a few dollars a person, much cheaper than a private transfer, but make sure to let the driver know where you are going! We were the only people to get off at San Ignacio on our bus even though it is a popular tourist spot. We stayed at Cahal Pech Resort in a beautiful bungalow that overlooked the city. It is up a mountain side so we recommend paying a few dollars to get a taxi ride from the bus station. By the time we arrived it was night time so a quick dinner and off to bed because the next day we were headed to the boarder for Guatemala.
Day 2 If you are into ruins at all then Tikal needs to be on your list. We would put these ruins up there next to Machu Picchu. One of the coolest experiences between the mist, the jungle waking up and climbing these large towers. Read how to best get to Tikal the affordable way! This day was simply catching a taxi to the border then a taxi to the ruins, where we would stay the night at 1 of the 3 resorts there. The resorts only have power a few hours a day, what an experience!
Day 3 The entire day was full of exploring the Tikal ruins from 3am to 3pm when we caught a taxi back to Belize. Staying the night at the ruins truly makes it the best experience and allows you hours of quiet exploring before buses of people start showing up. Check out the minute video below on why! We stayed back at Cahal Pech Resort so we could do the San Ignacio part of exploring!
Day 4 If you are okay exploring a dark cave with water running through it then do not pass up the Action Tunichi Muknai Tour (ATM). This tour alone makes the journey to San Ignacio worth the effort. It is deemed the #1 Sacred cave destination in the world by National Geographic. You must hire a tour group and it will require a hike to the entrance that forces you to swim across 3 rivers with the assistance of a rope. The cave will be dark, musty and at certain points a little tight (nothing too crazy though). It is an all day adventure but at the end of the cave you will see the famous "Crystal Maiden" and along the way the remains of 13 other sacrificed men, women and children by the Mayans. We used MayaWalk Tours for our trip, it was best priced at the time, and based on our experience we would use them again!
Day 5 This was an easy day for us, allowed us to sleep in and enjoy the resort before packing up for the second half of the trip at the beach. We caught a bus back to Belize City and took a taxi to the Water Taxi station. From here you buy your ticket to either one of the two popular islands, San Pedro or Caye Caulker. We elected for San Pedro due to the larger resorts and the diving access and cost.
Day 6 Now given this was our honeymoon we splurged on our hotel by staying at Coco Beach Resort. Doesn't mean we didn't snag a deal though! Be sure to play with your dates, we booked with a checkout date of Friday and we were offered a free upgrade. When we attempted to book through Saturday that was no longer an option. This resort was a beautiful 4 star resort that offered us a 2 bedroom, full kitchen and living room suite. And they even provided a bottle of wine in the room to help us celebrate the honeymoon! It is on the outskirts of town and will require a golf cart rental to get into town. You can rent these by hours, days or weeks but be prepared they are pricey or you can catch the water taxi heading into town for 5 dollars a person.
Belize isn't necessarily known for the best beaches to swim at and it does have a lot of flying bugs at night. We recommend bringing the sunscreen, bug spray and grab a kayak to paddle slightly off the shore and dive on in. You'll be amazed by the crystal clear water, the coral and sea life!
Day 7-10 These days were all about relaxing at the resort after catching 2 dives in the morning. We did all of our diving with Chuck and Robbie's and the vast majority were two tank dives for $80 USD a person. These dives were a mile or two off the coast, where you could drop into 100+ feet dives with perfect visibility. One day we even elected to do the Hot Chan dive combo, which we think is worth it. It is a shallow dive but this place is full of fish, sting rays and eels. You also stop off at Shark Ray Alley where you'll see dozens of nurse sharks and you'll snorkel with them. Nurse sharks are non aggressive and have never killed anyone but there is something about jumping into the water with dozens of them surrounding you.
Another popular spot people trek out to is the Blue Hole, we had planned for it but only a few dive shops do trips out there. The shop we booked through didn't have enough people so added us to the list of another shop. The Blue Hole is a 3+ hour ride out there, a deep dive that many consider dangerous, and doesn't offer a lot of sea life. Of course, sea life isn't the purpose of that dive but the 2 other dives coming back are suppose to offer some stunning views. After some additional considerations, the $400 dollars each, and diver safety we elected to skip that trip this go around. Instead we did more local dives and those didn't let us down. We saw a seat turtle, multiple reef sharks and schools of fish.
Day 10 We moved to the south side of the town for Banyan Bay Resorts for our last night on the island. After staying here, we'd recommend in town or the north side of town. We enjoyed one last dinner on the ocean and packed up for our journey back home the next day.
Day 11 We caught a water taxi back to Belize City and then a taxi to the airport before heading back to the States
Belize dollars are 2 to 1USD
Add Tikal to your trip
Bring sunscreen, bug spray and be ready for island prices when visiting San Pedro
Do the cave tour ATM
Don't rent a car and be sure to use the cheap public transportation
Budget Breakdown (remember honeymoon so we splurged)
Cahal Pech Resort: Approx 100 a night x 3
ATM Cave Tour total: 100 per person
Tikal Inn: $100 a night x 1
Tikal Trip: Approx. 400-500
Water Taxi 32 dollars per person
Coco Beach Resort: 1200
Banyan Bay $100 a night
Diving $80 per person 2 tank dive x3: 480
Hol Chan Dive Combo 80 per person 160
Everyday budget: Approx. 60 x11
Airfare: Free Those chase points paid for us! In general, flights can start as cheap as low $300s per person
Belize stands as one of the few countries we would visit again before we were content with exploring the rest of the world. The diving was breath taking, the people were friendly and the weather was perfect.
Check out our trip to Costa Rica here