Belize was my first solo international trip. It may seem like a strange choice but this was before the days where I was in facebook travel groups and reading blogs about countries deemed “dangerous.” I’m glad I’d heard little to nothing about the country because Belize snorkeling is unmatched and the best snorkeling I’ve ever done. I also got the chance to see stunning islands and eat some of the freshest, tastiest food, so I wanted to share the fun things to do in Belize with my audience.
Logistics of Traveling to Belize
I flew to Belize on a $257 roundtrip flight from New York and on JetBlue. I bought the ticket a few months in advance and it definitely gave me something to look forward to.
I chose Caye Caulker because it had the cheaper lodging options. I spent $168 for 5 nights, 6 days on Caye Caulker in an airbnb that I had to myself for a couple days before my host and a couple arrived. I still barely saw them. Did I mention I was less than a minute’s walk from all the action? It took one minute to walk from the ferry and because the island is so small, I walked all around it at all times of day.
The taxi from the airport to the port is $25 one way. Water ferries are about $24 roundtrip between Belize City and Caye Caulker and about $12.50 roundtrip between Caye Caulker and San Pedro. You can pay with a credit card which is always my preferred payment method.
I spent roughly $10-12 per meal, drinks included. Beer is cheaper than a cocktail, and be sure to take advantages of Happy Hour’s where you get two cocktails (usually made with local rum) for the price of one. Also, waking up later in the morning meant I ate breakfast later, so that meant that I was usually still too full to have lunch, or that my late lunch ended up being dinner.
I always recommend, when you have access to a kitchen, that you eat in for at least one meal a day. You can opt for a carton of eggs, a loaf of bread, and a pack of bacon as opposed to eating out. In Italy my lunch for a couple days consisted of slices of salty meats, a baguette, and fruits (usually grapes). There’s nothing wrong with creating your own cheese board and washing it down with local wine. It was a fraction of the price compared purchasing it at a restaurant during peak hours.
Things to Do in Belize
I’m sure everyone you meet is willing to take you snorkeling in Belize. I remember a guy I met in a restaurant trying to convince me to go out snorkeling with his friends one day. I had already booked Carlos Tours because I was staying on Caye Caulker and they came highly recommended, according to google.
I was able to walk over to Carlos’ office from my airbnb, get fitted for my snorkeling gear with everyone else, and the head out to see some ocean life. I saw more fish, coral, and sharks than I’ve ever seen in life. And I can now say I’ve jumped off a boat into shark infested waters and PETTED shark. Badass level 3000, activated.
Hopping on the ferry and going from one Caye to another is the easiest way to turn a relaxing island getaway into action packed days. I stayed on Caye Caulker, but during the days where I didn’t have any activities planned, I walked over to the pier, bought my ticket, and waited for my ferry to arrive.
I visited both Ambergris Caye and San Pedro on different days. Other Caye’s seem to be a lot busier than Caye Caulker, with the latter being the quiet place I’m happy I randomly chose. I originally was looking for the cheapest lodging not realizing how vastly different these islands would be, but I made the right choice.
Ambergris Caye, in my opinion, is the more popular one that people tend to ask about when they found out I visited Belize. There are restaurants, hotels and other lodging spread out all over the island and plenty of tour companies offering activities. I just had lunch and laid out to sunbathe during my time on both Caye’s and I don’t regret it one bit. However, it was nice to finally see what each location offered.
Visit Mayan Ruins
I’ll go ahead and admit that Xunantunich was my first choice of mayan ruins to visit during my time in Belize. It would’ve been a lovely day trip that was nothing short of memorable. However, I was staying on a Caye, and not in Belize City, so that meant that the first ferry would come to pick me up well after I needed to be on the road to Xunantunich.
I booked with S&L Tours and went to the nearby Altun Ha ruins instead. It still required me to get up bright and early, but I’d call this more of a half day trip than a full day trip. It was just me and Sal, my driver and guide.
Once we arrived at Altun Ha I was surprised to see how empty it was. It was my first time visiting any type of ruins and there may have been two other people in the entire area. I’m used to seeing photos of these types of places with at least dozens of tourists in the background.
Take a Trip to Ranguana (Private Island)
Placencia is an area of Belize that I didn’t find out about until well after my trip. It’s pretty popular so if you’re reading this before planning your trip, consider giving it a visit. I’ve heard nothing but good things.
Off the coast of Placencia is a private island named Ranguana Caye. Yes, yet another Caye. Unless you’re staying at Ranguana Caye Cabanas, a day trip is your only option for visiting the island. Experiences to this location are marketed as a private island experience, which it is. You get a calm and serene place to go kayaking or paddle boarding, have a beach barbecue lunch, snorkel, play volleyball and other beach games, and even hammocks. I mean, what’s a full day island excursion without a hammock?
Eat Belizean Food
Belize is one of the few places I’ve ever visited where you won’t see a fast food restaurant. That’s one of the many reasons I fell in love with it. I was pretty hungry when I first arrived on the island and because I couldn’t get access to my airbnb, through no fault go my own. I settled down at a nearby restaurant for their wifi and ended up ordering lunch.
If you ask me, this is a typical meal in Belize: fish, rice and beans, and coleslaw. I opted for fried red snapper and it was the best choice I’d made that day. The fish was beyond fresh and I’m sure recently caught, while the side dishes that seem plain were flavorful and delicious. I washed it down with a local beer which became my daily staple, Belkin beer.
Throughout my stay I’d roam the island to find other places to eat and had things like jerk chick and cuban pancakes for breakfast. Sometimes restaurants were seemingly in peoples back yard and other times they were right on the beach or water. If you’re sticking around for a few days, I’d try a couple new places every day.
Caving and cave tubing is an actual thing that you can do in many places. Cave tubing in Belize tends to be something offered from most tour operators in the area. There tends to be a short hike to the cave before you need to put on your headlamp and life vest to explore the caves.
One of the more popular places to go caving in Belize, not to be confused with cave tubing, is a half our south of Belmopan at St. Herman’s cave. Here you get to explore caves on foot and get a glimpse of the Maya classic period. If you’re indecisive and can’t choose a cave, just pick St. Hermans and you won’t regret it.
Scuba Diving in Belize
You don’t have to be a scuba diver to have heard of the Blue Hole. The Great Blue Whole is actually a sinkhole off the coast of Belize. This hole is over 1,000 ft wide and over 400 ft deep. So that’s pretty damn big if you ask me.
It’s one of the most popular places to scuba dive and almost every tour operator on every Caye is offering tours there. Unfortunately I’m still not PADI certified so I wasn’t able to go. However, you can get certified in Belize and complete the adventure in one trip.