find your belize adventure
How do you feel about careening through the jungle at 40 miles per hour, hundreds of feet off the ground, suspended only by a steel cable and some nylon webbing?
Um, no thanks
Sign me up!
Yea or nay: vacation is all about kicking back, taking a deep breath, and just relaxing.
While snorkeling, seeing a shark is…
a worst-case scenario
a cause for celebration
Which would you choose?
eating fresh ceviche
on the beach
spearfishing and then
eating fresh ceviche
on the beach
for the bats
for spelunking adventures
When I see a huge waterfall, I reach for…
my rappelling gear
On vacation, a deep-tissue massage is…
the day’s main event
best enjoyed after
summiting a peak
Take me to
With gorgeous beaches and hundreds of archaeological sites, Belize is packed with opportunities to explore, relax, and take a deep dive into culture.
More thrill >
congrats! You are a
Explore the past
Amid its jungles and rainforests, Belize hides sensational Maya ruins as much as 3,000 years old. One of its most impressive is Caracol, a massive archaeological site with a 141-foot tall pyramid, Caana, which was the country’s tallest man-made structure until just a few years ago. Hire a tour guide to take you through the ruins and relate the significance of each structure and its ingenious design. At the peak of the Maya civilization, well over 100,000 people may have lived here.
Each region of Belize has its own must-try cuisine, but the classic national dish is rice and beans. Try it with stewed beef, pork, or chicken, spiced to perfection. To dive deeper into the culture, take a culinary tour or a cooking class, or even better both. Whatever you do, don’t leave without trying cochinita pibil tacos, made of pork smoked in underground pits until it melts in your mouth.
Spelunking doesn’t have to be extreme. In central Belize, you can kick back on an inner tube and float your leisurely way along the pristine, powder-blue waters running through Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve. Take a guided tour that starts with a short hike through the jungle and a history lesson, then relax as you float past stalagmites and stalactites that no photos can do justice—you really need to see them with your own eyes (and headlamp). Keep those eyes peeled as you try to imagine life here thousands of years ago—in these caves, you can spot ancient Maya drawings and artifacts.
Float through a cave
Belize is one of the few lucky places on earth with an abundance of cenotes, great limestone sinkholes that have filled with crystal-clear water and make fantastic photo ops, swimming holes, and dive spots. But even more astounding than these is the Great Blue Hole, a 425-foot-deep ocean sinkhole along Lighthouse Reef. It’s one of the world’s best dive spots thanks to its abundance of marine life, but it’s also an epic treat viewed from a scenic flight or a boat ride across its surface. The depth and sheer size of it make this hole visible from space, a dark navy spot amid shallower, sandy-bottomed waters.
view the Great Blue Hole from the air or sea
Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest island, is the best place to mix a morning of watersports with an afternoon of soothing spa treatments. Here’s where you’ll find many of the country’s best hotels and beaches, yoga retreats, and spas. There’s only one town on the island, San Pedro, which will be your base camp for adventures to the can’t-miss Hol Chan Marine Reserve. There you can take a scenic sail, or swim or snorkel among coral reefs, stingrays, and gentle nurse sharks.
Take a spa weekend on Ambergris Caye
Continue planning your trip
From the rainforests to the reefs, Belize’s varied regions offer adventure of all kinds and wildlife-spotting opportunities you won’t find elsewhere.
< More chill
Western Belize is where you’ll find scores of wild ziplines where you can fly through rainforests home to hundreds of species of birds. The longest run is just short of a half-mile, which is more than enough distance to get your blood pumping. But Belize has a few other unique jungle-soaring experiences, like a rappel down into the Black Hole Drop in the Maya Mountains. It’s a steep hike up to the top of the sinkhole this experience gets its name from, and then it’s an exciting rappel down through the canopy to the floor of the basin and a rigorous climb back up. You’ll definitely want to follow that with a relaxing afternoon by the pool and a frosty drink (or two).
zip through the jungle
The Belize Barrier Reef is the world’s second largest, offering ample opportunities for snorkeling. Grab your underwater camera, hire a guide, and take off from Ambergris Caye, where you can easily reach incredible sites like Shark Ray Alley, in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. There you can snorkel among the stingrays and nurse sharks that flock to shallow, rich waters. Afterward, fill up at a beachfront eatery serving just-caught ceviche or relax with fresh coconut water, right out of the husk. Nothing else compares.
snorkel with sharks
Seeing jaguars is a rare treat that’s well worth a trek through Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary in western Belize. Take a guided day hike through trees dripping with moss, a night hike to raise your chances of spotting a big cat—puma, ocelots, margays, and jaguarundi also live here—or camp overnight and make a weekend out of it. If your feline search fails, all is not lost: the Cockscomb Range is home to a diverse array of birds (including parrots and toucans), monkeys, foxes, coatimundis, and kinkajous.
Try to spot a jaguar
Along the western border of Belize is one of its most awe-inspiring archaeological sites. It’s a bit tricky to get to, which means social distancing is easy and you’re not likely to share the views with too many other people. To get there, you have to take a hand-cranked ferry across a narrow river, then hike about a mile uphill. From the top of El Castillo, the site’s tallest pyramid, you get breathtaking views of Belize and Guatemala. Don’t skip the opportunity to go with a guide, as Belizean ruins are the best places to delve into ancient Maya history.
Hike into the Xunantunich ruins
The 200-mile Macal River, in west Belize, is a prime location for spotting wildlife. Bird-watching enthusiasts should float the calmer sections with binoculars, searching for toucans, blue-crowned motmot, parrots, and orange-breasted falcons, to name just a few of the hundreds of species that live and migrate through the area. On land, watch for Baird’s tapir, the national animal of Belize, also called the “mountain cow.” Not sure you’ll know one when you see it? Mountain cows look more like miniature elephant-pig hybrids than cows. Check into a rainforest lodge and head out on the river with a local guide who will point you in all the right directions.
Kayak the macal river
If your ideal vacation is spent chasing one adrenaline rush after another, look no further. It might be best known for its sandy beaches, but Belize is home to more thrills than you can tackle in a lifetime.
The Blue Hole is Jacques Cousteau–approved—he named it one of the world’s all-time best dive spots, and for good reason. Here, in a crystal-clear, 425-foot-deep sinkhole nearly a thousand feet across and rimmed by Lighthouse Reef, you’re basically diving into a vertical cave. You can see fantastic stalagmites, stalactites, and other limestone formations that were above sea level ages ago. Reef life thrives along the hole’s edges closer to the surface, so it’s like getting two totally different dive sites in one. Keep your eyes open for sharks—you might just spot a bull, hammerhead, or Caribbean reef shark or two.
Dive the Great Blue Hole
Rising to 3,670 feet above sea level, Victoria Peak is Belize’s second tallest mountain—and climbing to the top is no joke. The 40-mile round-trip hike is best tackled over at least three days, allowing plenty of time to enjoy camping in the forest. Without switchbacks to soften the grade, you’ll need to grab onto tree trunks and roots in some places to hoist yourself up. While you’re hiking through Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, stay alert for jaguars. They typically keep away from humans, so spotting one is a rare but well-earned reward.
Climb Victoria Peak
Forget about chasing waterfalls. In Belize’s Bocawina National Park, you can rappel down three of them. Antelope Falls is the crown jewel. You’ll need to hike through the jungle to the top of this 1,000-foot-tall cascade, where you’ll revel in views of both the rainforest and the sea. Then the real fun begins. Your guide will send you rappelling down a 250-foot section where the falls dump into an emerald pool. For a day jam-packed with thrills, make time to fly down a few of the park’s ziplines too. And if you have any energy left, tackle a zipline at night, when you can hear the sounds of the jungle much better than you can see its sights.
Rappel down a waterfall
The Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, also known as ATM, is an expedition for intrepid cavers. Inside, you can spot ancient artifacts from Maya civilization and even the skeletons of people believed to have been sacrificed. One, the Crystal Maiden, is so named because the mineral deposits on her thousand-year-old bones sparkle under headlamplight. To reach ATM, you have to hike through the jungle of the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve, which is laced with river crossings, then swim into and wade through the cave for about a kilometer. The area is protected, so you’ll need a guide, ideally one who will take you early in the morning before the noise of larger groups punctures the natural silence of the cave.
Descend into Maya antiquity
The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest barrier reef in the world, and it’s teeming with wildlife, adventure…and fresh seafood if you can catch it. The only thing tastier than a fresh-caught fish is one you hunted yourself. So hire a guide to take you spearfishing for lionfish, a beautiful but invasive (and delicious) species that lives among Belize’s cayes. Catch one and your guide will clean it and prepare an epic lunch or dinner for you. On your way to your snorkel site, especially during winter months, keep an eye out for the dolphins and whales.
Spear Your Own dinner