Many visitors to Belize are discombobulated on arrival by the sheer amount of things to do while in the Jewel. Across various ecologies, including savannahs, rainforests, reefs, and cave systems, and a multitude of cultural activities, the options can be overwhelming.
For those that want some help getting their bearings on what to do when visiting Belize this December, we at The Belize Collection created this list of 12 hit adventures with our tour partners that’ll keep the holiday spirit roaring into the new year.
For The Archaeologically Curious
Ceremonial Cave at Sleeping Giant
The Ceremonial Cave, located right on the grounds of Sleeping Giant, provides an opportunity for visitors to see a site significant to the Maya of the past and present. After a jungle hike, you’ll be thrust into a cave featuring pottery, tools as well as skeletal remains. With impressive cave formations formed over thousands of years, you’ll be enlivened by the space that was once a site of significant spiritual practices. A great primer for those interested in learning about ancient Maya practices, the Ceremonial cave is a perfect half-day excursion for those staying at the Rainforest Lodge.
For the Chill Adventurer
St. Herman’s Cave Tubing Adventure
On some vacation days, you wanna just chill and not move as much as possible, but you feel like you oughta explore and do something adventurous. Not many tours meet those criteria. Fortunately, the cave tubing adventure at St. Herman’s Cave fits the bill. Located in the Blue Hole National Park nearby the Rainforest Lodge the tour involves a short, moderate hike before you’re handed a tube and enter the soothing cave waters. From there, you’ll course through the cave at a gentle pace, taking in its many sights. You’ll be able to cross off one more thing off the bucket list while relaxing.
For the Bushmen and Merfolk
Jaguar Preserve Waterfall Hike
First things first. Despite the name, you’re unlikely to see a jaguar on this tour, but take solace in the fact that they might see you. No worries though. Jaguars keep to themselves when they encounter a greater predator. On this leisurely hike covering the world’s only jaguar (Panthera onca) preserve, you’ll come across markers of the big cats’ presence as well as a wide assortment of other animals indigenous to Belize including howler monkeys, tapirs and peccaries. Once at the waterfall, take a dip, and cool down knowing you’re in one of the best places for Belize’s wildlife.
For the Fish Lovers
South Water Reef Snorkeling
Launching from Jaguar Reef’s dock, the South Water Reef Snorkeling tour starts with a 30-minute boat ride to the South Water Caye marine reserve. Once there, you’ll start your first of two 45-minute snorkel stops. You’ll swim through the world’s longest unbroken barrier reef system and get to observe all the life teeming within. Don’t forget to breathe as the sights will take your breath away.
For those Into Vintage Cities
Xunantunich Maya Site
Xunantunich is one of the major Maya sites in Belize featuring El Castillo, the second-highest structure in Belize (yes, including all contemporary buildings). With 6 major plazas and 25 temples to see, you’ll be able to roam around for hours imagining what it was like when the area was a thriving place of Maya commercial and ceremonial activity. Climb the accessible temples and appreciate a view of one of the world’s greatest civilizations.
For Those Heart-Pounding Action
Angel Falls Extreme Zipline
Get a birds-eye view of the Maya Mountain forest canopies with this zipline tour. Over three hours, you’ll zoom through the Maya Mountains like a hawk on the hunt. Look ahead, look down, look wherever you like as you’re guided through a sphere that few humans get to experience.
For the Chocoholics
Maya Chocolate Tour
You. Yes, you. You claim to be a lover of chocolate yet you’ve never seen the cacao pods fresh from the tree, or ground the dried pods to a rich paste. This is your chance to correct that lapse in your commitment to chocolate. You’ll learn all about the process required to get the fruit of the gods from the farm to a bar and also learn the significance of cacao to the Maya. By the end of the tour, you’ll get to appreciate the work that goes into making your very own chocolate bar and delight in samples made by this family-run chocolate tour company.
For Those Seeking the Sacred
Actun Tunichil Muknal, often called the ATM Cave, is a site that requires perhaps the greatest amount of physical and spiritual endurance of all those in this list. Start with a hike through the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve before arriving at the mouth of the cave. From there, you’ll swim, yes, swim, into the cave. Once in, you, the guide, and the rest of your group will venture through the cave observing a wide swath of Maya artifacts before concluding with a viewing of the Crystal Maiden whose skeleton has been well-preserved for over 1000 years. Beyond the artifacts, those that visit sometimes speak of the profound impact the journey to the cave has on them. Be ready to have your soul probed and reemerge into the sunlight with new insights.
For the Drum-Curious
Ultimate Garifuna Cultural Immersion
The Ultimate Garifuna Cultural Immersion sends you right into the heart of Garifuna culture. You’ll get an opportunity to experience Garifuna music as has been practiced in Belize since they arrived from St. Vincent. After an introduction, you’ll be led through a tutorial of the primero and segunda drums, leaving the rhythms of the Garifuna embedded in your palms to take home. No souvenir beats that.
For the Acro and Nyctophiliacs
Black Hole Drop Tour
With the Black Hole Drop Tour, you are putting your fate into one of the planet’s voids. Taking place at Actun Loch Tunich, ‘the Mother of All Caves,’ the tour involves a gentle hike up the foothills of the Maya Mountains. Once at the drop site, you’ll be tethered by your guide and repel down. As you descend into the blackness beneath you, you’ll experience an incredible rush of sensations while your mind makes sense of what you’re perceiving. Once through the rainforest canopy and in the cavern, you’ll be treated to a picnic lunch before climbing back out.
A tour for those ready for great highs and lows, this will be one you won’t forget.
For Those That Can Never Get Enough Waterfalls
Some tours will take you to one waterfall, maybe two if you’re lucky. This one allows you to experience the joy of 7 waterfalls within the Caves Branch area. Over half a day, you’ll hike through the jungle and a cave then scramble up the waterfalls to a series of refreshing pools. Catch your breath while enjoying a candlelit meal then start the return home via either a plunge into the waterfalls below or belaying to the ground. This is the ultimate photo opp that’ll give you the chance to capture images unavailable anywhere else in Belize.
For Those That Prefer Kayaks to Rivertubes
Cave Kayaking Adventure at Five Blues National Park
Venture through a three-cave system on this kayaking tour that’ll put you up close to a range of geological formations and lush jungle scenes. With a mild current, the tour provides you an opportunity to slowly take in the sights as you press on through the caves. You’ll get a great workout along with an unmatched lesson in Belize’s cave ecosystems all in one go.
While these are only our top twelve tours, we’ve got plenty to do from horseback riding to Maya cooking classes. The adventures never cease. Start choosing your tours for your next trip here.