One of the reasons why I love Belize so much is because of its vast variety of topography and culture – if you spent two weeks in just one place I fear you would miss out on so much that Belize has to offer! It really is one of those places where it’s worth hopping around a bit; luckily it’s super easy to travel around due to the accessible network of domestic flights, buses and transfer shuttles. Below I have outlined the perfect 14 day itinerary to make sure you make the most out of this awe-inspiring country.
Days 1-3: Rainforest
On arrival into Belize International Airport, travel to the depths of the rainforest to enjoy a stay like no other! Watch tropical birds from the comfort of your own room and fall asleep to the sounds of the howler monkeys.
- Where to stay
- $ Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge – picturesque location in the jungle hosting suites with some of the best views around, some with private pools.
- $$ Sweet Songs Jungle Lodge – this all inclusive Muy’Ono resort is nestled in the jungles of San Ignacio and comprises ornate treehouses and casitas.
- $$$ The Lodge at Chaa Creek – this premier eco-resort boasts an exceptional location on the river; some of the most luxurious suites have private infinity pools and Jacuzzis.
- What to do
- ATM caves and cave tubing – this is the number one excursion talked about in Belize, and for a good reason – this ancient archaeological site houses Mayan remains that date back to 700-900AD. This tour includes a hike up there, wading through waters and climbing ladders to discover the mysteries inside.
- Horse riding and hiking – what better place to explore the jungle than on horseback? Most of the hotels and resorts can organise this for you directly from the property, some may even have grounds that you can explore on foot.
- Day trip to Tikal, Guatemala : I have heard great things about doing this and supposedly includes seeing the best Mayan Ruins; we unfortunately couldn’t do this due to COVID-19 border restrictions. I do recommend that should you choose to do this, that you book through a reputable company or even better, directly through the hotel as they will help assist you with immigration across the border into Guatemala.
Transfers : I’ve mentioned a few resorts in this blog article that are under the umbrella of Muy’Ono Resorts. If you choose to book more than one location through them, they will happily arrange transfers between hotels, making the transition effortless.
Sleeping Giant Lodge is also the sister property of The Lodge at Jaguar Reef (in Hopkins, below); there are deals and transfers to be offered if you book both hotels. Both are part of the ‘Belize Collection’.
Alternatively, if living in the jungle isn’t your cup of tea, you could spend the first 6 days by the beach at the next location on the list (Hopkins), there is plenty to do and it’s very centrally located for various excursions.
Days 3-6: Beach Village: Hopkins
If I’m honest, Hopkins stole my heart from the moment I arrived at the village. It has such a vibrant culture, the locals are so incredibly friendly and welcoming and the beaches are gorgeous. It has so much to offer, all the while still having that small time feel and a large expat community.
As mentioned earlier, Hopkins is perfectly located for various excursions, be it on land or by sea.
- Where to stay
- $ Cosmopolitan Guest House – this small but friendly hotel is located just outside the village, in the hotel zone and just a short stroll to the beach or various eateries.
- $$ Hopkins Bay Resort – Another Muy’ono resort ideally located right on the beach, featuring two bar/restaurants and a number of one, two, or three bedroom villas.
- $$$ The Lodge at Jaguar Reef : there are various rooms on offer at this boutique lodge, most of which have private pools. Choose an ocean front villa for the ultimate splurge – a private pool that overlooks the sea. The hotel boasts one of the best restaurants in Hopkins , The Paddle House and an Instagram-worthy over the water ceviche bar, “Big Dock Bar”, which serves third quenching cocktails, freshly made ceviche and chips with a view that can’t be beaten. Look out for the live music announcements, they often have traditional Garifuna music performances . There is also a swim up bar and a fantastic beach set up with swings and lounge chairs. Bicycles are free to guests, don’t miss this opportunity to borrow them for a quick cycle into the main town for a bite to eat or explore – I would recommend choosing to do this early morning or late afternoon, the sun gets very intense on the ride over into town and the road there is exposed!
Where to eat
- Ella’s cool spot : This place is not to be missed! It’s right in the center of town but with a prime location right on the beach! There is no set menu to speak of, the food choices are dictated by what is fresh and available. The space is full of bohemian hammocks and a barefoot bar in the sand that gets quite lively in the evenings.
- Paddle House – this gourmet restaurant is located on site of Jaguar Reef hotel and it’s one of the best in the village. All dishes are made fresh and to an exceptional standard. Beautiful location overlooking the beach.
- Chef Robs – this is located at Blue Parrot hotel and is well known for their steak and seafood, in addition to their “love on the rocks” menu which offers guests the ability to cook their own dishes on their own hot stone, a truly unique experience right on the beach. This place is usually busy so reservations are highly recommended.
- Bahay Fiesta – a Filipino restaurant with a vast menu guaranteed to suit all tastes. They have an extensive cocktail menu and weekly BBQ nights. Well worth a visit.
What to do
- Bioluminescence tour – a unique experience that is only available during certain times of the year, and is best during the summer months with some overlap into spring and summer. These tours occur via kayak and boat and usually involve seeing some opportunistic nocturnal wildlife!
- Ziplining and ATVing in the jungle – there’s various tour groups that offer this, but I highly recommend Untame Belize – they can offer personalized day trips with your activity of choice, including cave tubing, waterfall rappelling and snorkeling tours
- Fishing – whether you are looking for reef fishing, lagoon fishing, fly fishing or catch and cook, the coast off Hopkins will not disappoint for the avid fisherman. I recommend South Water Adventures or Untame Belize.
Days 6-10: Remote Island
There’s no better place to be stranded on a remote island than Belize. There’s many resorts just off the coast of the mainland that offer all the comforts of home, with the addition of a beautiful crystal clear ocean on your doorstep.
Some resorts offer free transfers from the mainland, however if you are going to organize your own way there, I highly recommend Happy Go Luckie Tours who offer private water taxis to the island resorts. They even picked us up from our dock at the hotel in Hopkins!
Where to stay
- $ Tobacco Caye Paradise – This lodge really is unique and a total bargain at only $80 a night, the rustic cabanas are directly over the water and offer unrestricted views of the Belizean Barrier Reef. A meal plan is mandatory but some of the best food you will try in Belize. I have a whole blog post on why this particular place needs to be on your bucket list – find it here
- $$ Thatch Caye – various accommodations at this exceptional Muy’ono resort – ranging from ocean front suites to the highly coveted overwater bungalows. There is an all inclusive option which includes round trip transfers to the mainland. Meals are served family style in the main restaurant. Rooms have air conditioning but no television or Wi-Fi.
- $$$ Coco Plum Resort – situated just a stone’s throw from Thatch Caye, Coco Plum is an all inclusive private island resort, boasting a plethora of included water activities and a spectacular bar and restaurant. For a truly unforgettable trip be sure to book the overwater villa.
What to do
- Most of the hotels and resorts offer a variety of activities, specifically focused on water sports due to the impeccable location with the ocean on your doorstep! Snorkelling and scuba diving is a must, with the second largest barrier reef conveniently located just a short boat ride away.
- Fishing here is also fantastic, and it’s easy to find someone to take you out into deeper water if the thrill of sports fishing is what you’re looking for.
Depending on the time of your onward flight or transfer, you may need to spend one night in Dangriga. There aren’t too many accommodation choices here, but of them all, I recommend Pelican Beach Resort. It has just been newly renovated and offers a clean and restful overnight stay. They offer free transfers to and from Dangriga airport and have an onsite restaurant.
Days 10-14: Lively Cayes : Ambergris Caye & Caye Caulker
For the last part of the trip, take one of the puddle jumper planes from Dangriga airport over to the Cayes, either Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker. Flying is the most time efficient way to travel over to the Cayes and involves just a short flight that’s less than an hour.
Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are connected by a regular ferry service that has journeys multiple times a day so if you are having trouble choosing between the two islands, it would be no trouble at all to either take a day trip to the neighbouring island or split your time between the two.
Where to stay Ambergris Caye
- $ Ocean Tide Beach Resort – budget friendly boutique hotel in San Pedro with most rooms offering an impressive view of the ocean reef. Onsite bar and only steps to the beach make this an affordable base camp for all your activities on the island.
- $$ Sun Breeze Suites – right in on the action, on the beach with a hotel pool and jerk hut. Book an ocean front suite for the best view! Can’t beat the location here, easy to walk along the beach to restaurants or hire a golf cart to get around town.
- $$$ Matchina Resort – rated one of the top 10 hotels in Central America, this adults only intimate resort offers private casitas in a quiet, secluded location five miles north of town, perfect for a romantic getaway, with a wide choice of all inclusive packages available.
Where to eat
- Pur Taco Bar – best tacos in town! Plus you have the added benefit of using the swim up pool to cool off. The tacos are all made to order and so you can add as many extras as you wish! Customer service here I’ve found is second to none, the bar staff are incredibly attentive.
- Palapa Bar – supreme location over the water and with an extensive weekly schedule of live events.
- Blue Water Grill- well renowned seafood restaurant, be sure to check out the weekly sushi nights!
- Jambel Jerk Pit – located at Sunbreeze Suites this Caribbean inspired jerk hut provides Jamaican dishes and hosts weekly all you can eat Reggae nights
- Truck Stop – a unique mini container park that features decadent food trucks, a pool and a plethora of weekly events.
What to do
- Hire a golf cart for the day and take a trip to Secret Beach (however not so secret any more!) – it’s about a 45 min ride up there but well worth the journey – there are a number of bars and restaurants on the picturesque beach that resemble a lot of the beach clubs in Europe! The water here is crystal clear and honestly feels like paradise. Settle down in one of the overwater benches with a coconut and listen to the gentle sound of the ocean waves, guaranteed to make an afternoon well spent!
- Chicken drop – hosted weekly at Wahoo Lounge, this event really is something you’ll be telling your friends about – viewers bet which spot on a grid that the chickens will poop – a truly unique experience!
- Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley Snorkeling – there are many tour groups offering this, usually twice a day and at an affordable price too! Just a 15 minute boat ride from San Pedro will lead you to snorkeling spots brimming with marine life- remember to bring your underwater camera!
- Catamaran trip to Caye Caulker – a fantastic option to combine a few activities and spend a couple of hours at the neighbouring island. Most tours include snorkelling spots, and independent time to explore Caye Caulker.
Where to stay Caye Caulker
- $ Barefoot Beach Belize – for the price and location, this can’t be beaten! Beachfront and with each cabin including two complimentary beach bikes, this is a great affordable property to stay at after a day of adventuring!
- $$ Dream Cabanas – these unique cabanas are situated in a quiet tropical garden and often peace and tranquility, but within walking distance of all the island has to offer. Clean and comfortable with a very reasonable rate. Staff will happily organise airport pickups and excursions.
- $$$ Weezies Caye Caulker – with a wide variety of spacious rooms (be sure to check out the penthouse suite on the top floor!), this small but boutique hotel offers supreme views, a private dock, swimming pool and onsite café.
Where to eat
- Ice n beans – perfect packed for breakfast, this café offers Belizean organic coffee in addition to the popular breakfast items, right on the beach and not to be missed!
- Namastay Cafe – great breakfast and lunch eatery which also offers additional yoga classes with a view!
- Chef Kareen’s Unbelizeable Lunch – popular among locals, this restaurant serves BBQ and jerk dishes from fresh locally grown ingredients, cooked to order on the beach.
What to do
- Visit the Blue Hole – a well renowned tourist attraction, and for good reason – this marine sinkhole is a freak of nature and truly awe-inspiring. You have the choice of flying over it, which offers the best views or snorkeling/scuba diving to get up close and personal with the marine creatures that live there!
- Snorkel trips to Hol Chan Marine reserve are also scheduled from this island too.
- Visit Northside Beach Club, a short boat trip to the northern part of Caye Caulker, the fee for which can be waived with the purchase of food or drinks at the bar. This lively waterfront restaurant and wet bar also hosts an illustrious full moon party once a month that has proven to be a blast amongst locals and tourists alike.
Returning to the mainland
- There are two choices of how to make your trip back to the international airport.
- 1. The first of which is to take a small domestic flight straight back to the international airport, it’s a little more expensive than the ferry (below) but it’s faster and involves less moving around with luggage.
- 2. Second choice is to take the ferry from either island back to the mainland and then a taxi from the ferry terminal to the airport (make sure to mention you are going to the international airport, as the domestic airport is situated somewhere else). The ferry takes about 90 minutes and then the taxi to the airport is about 20 minutes. a little cheaper than flying; and quite an enjoyable journey back to the mainland.