Belize travel plans & the 5 things I’m most excited for

Getting Ready To Explore Belize

2015 is starting out with a BANG! Bearfoot Theory is going international for the first time since I started this blog. On January 8th (this Thursday!), I’m headed down to Central America on a travel writing assignment where I will be spending a month road tripping around Belize.

When this opportunity first came about, I really didn’t know too much about Belize. I had been to Belize once prior on a cruise. However, I didn’t get to venture too far out of Belize City, and I have to admit I wasn’t all too impressed with the city itself. So I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the rest of the country.

Once my Belize travel dates were set, the first thing I did was pick up a copy of the Belize Moon Handbook. I began to map out my route and made a list of the must-see spots. Now that I’ve read the entire guidebook cover to cover, I couldn’t be more excited. For being such a small country, Belize really does pack a punch.

Here’s a glimpse at my Belize travel plans & the 5 things that I’m most looking forward to.

1) Chilling out on Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is a tiny limestone island off of the Caribbean coast where the only way to get around is by foot, bike, or golf cart. It boasts a chilled out, backpacker vibe where the beaches are lined with hammocks, reggae bars, and fresh BBQ stands. But sipping on sunset cocktails isn’t the only thing to do. On Caye Caulker you can partake in almost any water sport you can think of from kayaking to stand up paddling boarding to diving. And those willing to pedal up the coast will find untouched mangroves home to a crazy variety of bird species, crocodiles, and manatees.

9657065832_a3e483a92a_oPhoto: Matt Champlin

2) Caving

Who knew Belize had so many caves. In fact, Belize has the most extensive network of caves in all of Central America. While cave tubing is one of Belize’s most popular activities, many of these caves are also sacred Mayan archeological sites containing ancient pottery, skeletons, and sacrificial artifacts. I can’t wait to don my headlamp and go down in the depths inside these fascinating geologic wonders.

Footprint Cave - Belize travelPhoto: Thomas Shahan

3) Touring Belize’s Mayan ruins

You often hear about the Mayan ruins in Mexico and Guatemala, but Belize alone has hundreds of Mayan sites, including 11 large ruins with protected status. The site at Caracol is home to the largest pyramid which towers over the jungle floor at 136 feet. Another site, Lamanai, can only be reached by boating through a lagoon and features several temples with large masks carved into the sides. By exploring these diverse ruins throughout Belize, I think I’m in for a pretty interesting history lesson.

Lamanai Ruins - Belize travelPhoto: Daniel Mennerich

4) Getting up close with marine life

Almost 200 miles long, the Belize Barrier Reef spans the length of the entire country and consists of several small reef atolls. Many people know Belize from the spectacular aerial images of the Blue Hole, a super deep dive site where the reef walls consist of massive limestone stalactites. Even though this is the most famous dive site in Belize, you won’t actually see much marine life here. Opportunities to get up close with beautiful Caribbean reef fish, rays, turtles, and possibly even sharks are much better around one of Belize’s many protected marine reserves.

Turtle-swimming-on-Belize-Barrier-ReefPhoto: Ryan Greenberg

5) Exploring the jungle

Jaguars, monkeys, pumas, hundreds of bird species, and butterflies are just a few of the species you can encounter in the Belize rainforest. Top that off with hiking to waterfalls, soaking in natural warm pools, and swimming in lazy rivers, and you have tons of options for exciting times in the jungle.

Belize waterfallsPhoto: Leland Jackson

Do you have any tips for me? Things to see? Things to avoid?

For more information on Belize travel planning, follow my Pinterest board:

Follow Bearfoot Theory I Kristen Bor’s board BELIZE TRIP PLANNING on Pinterest.

Written by Kristen Bor

Hey there! My name is Kristen, and this is my outdoor blog. I discovered the power of the outdoors in my 20s, at the time I needed it most. Now 15 years later, prioritizing that critical connection with nature continues to improve my life. My goal at Bearfoot Theory is to empower you with the tools and advice you need to responsibly get outside.

8 comments on “Belize travel plans & the 5 things I’m most excited for

  1. Hi Kristen,
    I’ve never been to Belize, but it seems like it’s going to be a great adventure.
    I would like to hear more about the cave system once you go there. Specially if it’s guide or self-guided.

    Good luck!

  2. Hi, I was reading your JMT gear list and saw this post and realized you’re re living my own trip to Belize. I backpacked most of Central America from cancun, Mexico to Costa Rica. Belize was my favorite! In caye caulker, there is a diving outfit who have a young child as a naturalist guide ( I asked the kid if they pay him, he said yes, that his father was their guide before his death and that they continue to pay his fathers wages). So I am a marine biologist and I was very impressed with this kids knowledge of and care for the reef. I ended up going on several dive and scuba trips with them, however i don’t remember what their outfit was called. As far as the caves go, if it’s still open, go to San Ignacio and find the renowned Carlos (the cave man) Panti. He’s been in national geographic magazine and he guides academic and archaeological professionals into the ATM cave. This day is near the top of my list of coolest, most interesting things I’ve done in my life, and I’m an adventurer! The ruins are awesome and there are lots but go to them all! Don’t let anyone convince you to not go to one because it’s more crowded, just get to them early in the morning. Also, somewhere during your travels, order a meal called cochinita pibil. And last thing…don’t walk around Belize city looking lost or like a tourist. It was the only time I felt legitimately vulnerable and A young kid rode up to me on s bike and told me to turn around right away and to get in a taxi and leave the area, because I was about to be mugged. I looked around and realized everyone on the street had suddenly disappeared, except one group of less than reputable looking fellows coming down the sidewalk towards me. In retrospect, I wish I had given the kid some money or anything, as he saved my trip from being a disaster and likely risked at least getting roughed up. Sorry such a long post, have a great time on your trip! By the way, I lived out of a small (school sized) backpack for a month down there.

    1. Patrick – Thank you so much for all of this valuable advice! So far I’ve covered the entire southern part of the country, but now I’m especially excited to get out to the cayes. You really reinforced all that I’ve heard about Caye Caulker…I’m so pumped. I’ve also been trying to hit up all of ruins, including those that are less traveled. Xuantunich was really cool, as was Lubaantun down near Punta Gorda. Tomorrow I’m going to Lamanai, which also looks really unique.

      I’ve heard similar things about Belize City, so I’ll definitely keep a watchful eye out. Thank you for sharing your story.

      Where do you work as a marine biologist? I have a background in marine resource management, so I’m always interested to talk to folks who work in the field.

      Thanks again for reading my blog! if you have questions about my JMT gear list, just let me know! -Kristen

    1. Hi Rebecca – I actually didn’t write about Belize on my blog. Instead I am writing up my trip for the travel agency that I work for… Once the belize section of the website is up and running, I’ll be sure to flag it for you. Thanks! – kristen

  3. Hello,

    hope this isn’t to late, since we’re already in February…

    We’ve recently returned from a trip to Belize. We haven’t stayed for as long as you’re planning, but we still managed to see a lot.
    We definitely recommend going caving, as you wrote. We went cave tubing as well – you slide down the lazy river in inflatable tubes and pass different caves with limestone structures – it was one of our favorite things on the whole trip!

    As for Mayan ruins we recommend visiting Xunantunich. It’s not overcrowded by tourists and the views from the top of a pyramid are breathtaking. We even saw howler monkey in the surrounding jungle.

    San Ignacio town is a good base for both (caving and Xunantunich). It’s a charming laid back town.

    Caye Caulker is also a great choice. The atmosphere there is great and the snorkeling/diving is one of the best in the whole world!

    You’re such a lucky girl to spend there a whole month! 🙂
    Have fun!

    Marusa & Gasper

    1. Thanks for the tips! I actually went there last year and went to all the spots you mention. I really dug Caye Caulker. Such a chill little place to spend a few days. Glad you enjoyed your time there.

  4. I’ve never been to Belize but I went to Guatemala 20 years ago. It wasn’t possible to go to Belize because of the war! The country seems incredible and i think that I’m going to visite it soon!

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