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How To Create Your Own Awesome Belize Travel Itinerary

Last updated on May 28th, 2024 at 09:56 am

Are you planning a trip to Belize and looking to create your own Belize travel itinerary? Well you’ve come to the right place! Belize is a land of Mayan ruins and jungles, wildlife and water, Caribbean beach vibes and the UNESCO World Heritage designated Belize Barrier Reef. It’s therefore not surprising that Belize is one of Central America’s most popular destinations.

I spent 8 days in Belize on a group tour and managed to see and experience quite a bit of what this small country has to offer. In this post I’ll share what you too can do in a little over one week in Belize, offer up a general Belize travel guide and travel tips and give you some further options to help you plan a trip to Belize.

My intention is not to provide a day by day itinerary, but rather set out some of the best places to visit in Belize so you can create your own awesome Belize travel itinerary. Whether you’re spending 2 days in Belize or 10 days in Belize, it’s going to be an adventure….you better Belize it!

Image shows a 'welcome to Belize' sign displayed in a cafe in Belize

Where is Belize?

Belize is located in Central America. It is bordered by Mexico to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east and Guatemala to the west and south. Belize is located on the mainland of Central America so it’s not an island but it does have more than 450 islands.

English is the official language of Belize, although Spanish is widely spoken. Different Maya dialects, Creole and Garifuna are also all spoken in the country.

Best Time to Visit Belize

There are broadly two seasons in Belize:

Dry Season: approximately late November to the end of May

During the dry season, daytime high temperatures average around 24-31° Celsius (75-88° Fahrenheit). They drop to around 21-26° Celsius (70-79° Fahrenheit) at night. Humidity averages are around 85%. This is the high season with most tourists arriving at this time. The busiest times are around Christmas and Easter.

Wet Season: June to late November

During the wet season, average daytime high temperatures are 24-30° C (75-86° F). In the evening they drop to 23-27° C (73-81° F). Rainfall is greater during these months with hurricane season running from June to October.

Obviously, weather conditions can vary across the country and depend on elevation and proximity to the coast. With all this in mind however, the best time to visit Belize is the dry season. I visited in mid-March 2024.

Getting to Belize

Travelling to Belize will, of course, depend on where you are coming from. The two main options are arriving by air or by land. The third option is to arrive by water.

Air

Most people arriving in Belize by air arrive into the Phillip Goldson International Airport (BZE) in Belize City. There are no direct flights from the UK to Belize with most flights going via the United States. I flew to Belize from Cancun, Mexico following a short stay there. If you’re planning a Cancun trip be sure you read my Cancun itinerary post.

Visitors from elsewhere in Europe, Africa, Australia and New Zealand will also need to catch a connecting flight. If you are travelling from North America, then their are direct flights available. There are also direct and connecting options for travellers from Central America.

Check all flight options and availability from your departure point here:

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Land

Belize is of course accessible by land with buses coming from both Mexico and Guatemala. Check available bus options here:

Travel everywhere for less

If you prefer to drive yourself, then check available car rental options here:

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Water

It is possible to arrive in the Belizean towns of San Pedro or Caye Caulker by water taxi from Chetumal, Mexico using the San Pedro Belize Express.

Getting from Belize International Airport

For many people, your Belize travel itinerary will start with arrival into Phillip Goldson International Airport in Belize City. That being the case, there are various options for getting from the airport to your final destination:

Belize City

If you are heading to Belize City from the airport, then in my experience, the easiest option is to pre-book a transfer. You can check available transfers and prices here:

Caye Caulker

If you are travelling on to Caye Caulker then you can either fly from Phillip Goldson International Airport with Tropic Air or Maya Island Air or you will need to get a taxi to the ferry terminal and take the water taxi over to the island. For flight options and prices, check here:

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I flew with Tropic Air from Cancun to Belize City and it was a great experience! The plane was a 12 seater and there were wonderful views of the Caribbean Sea out the windows. I understand that similar size aircraft (or smaller!) fly to Caye Caulker.

Image shows a small propeller plane operated by Tropic Air in Belize

Flights to Placencia also depart from Phillip Goldson International Airport.

If you prefer the cheaper but slower option of taking the water taxi, then San Pedro Belize Express is the company to use. I travelled to and from Caye Caulker with this company as part of my tour. Be sure to check online for the up to date schedule.

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

If you are heading to San Pedro, you can take the San Pedro Belize Express water taxi.

Currency

The currency in Belize is the Belize dollar (BZD), although the US dollar (USD) is also used. The exchange rate is 2 to 1 meaning $1 USD is worth $2 BZD. You can pay for things in USD but you will likely get back change in both USD and BZD.

The Belizean dollar is divided into 100 cents. Bank notes come in $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations. Coins are 1c, 5c, 25c, 50c and there is a $1 coin.

Staying Online in Belize

If you like to stay online when travelling, either to keep in touch with family and friends, update social media, make bookings or use google maps, but you don’t want to incur roaming charges from your home provider, then consider an eSim from Airalo.

Easy to install, an eSim avoids the need to buy a local Sim card (and risk losing your home Sim when taking it out!) and allows you to continue using your own phone number for calls and texts.

I have used data packages purchased from Airalo on several occasions now, including in Belize, and can highly recommend them. When time is of the essence as it can be when travelling, accessing online resources can be a real time saver. For solo travellers, it can also be a comfort to know you have online access all the time.

How to Get Around Belize

If, like me, you choose to explore Belize by means of a group tour, then decisions regarding transportation between towns won’t arise.

Independent travellers however will need to opt for taxis, buses, renting a car or flying between destinations. Information regarding car rental, transfers and flying is set out in the section above regarding getting from Belize International Airport. When it comes to buses, I would suggest speaking with local residents or your accommodation provider as regards timetables. I did not use the buses anywhere in Belize and do not want to risk providing inaccurate information.

In my experience, getting around within the individual towns in Belize is relatively easy – walking and cycling are the order of the day!

Image shows a bike and a golf cart parked near buildings at the beach on Caye Caulker. Getting around within towns in Belize is fairly easy.

Staying Healthy in Belize

I know what it’s like – you’re excited about your trip and don’t want to think about being unwell! That said, there are a few things to keep in mind when planning your Belize travel itinerary:

  • Don’t drink the tap water – instead, use bottled water or refill your own bottle using filtered water from your hotel (check if the restaurants/kitchens will provide this if refilling stations are not available in public areas)
  • Wear sunscreen – the temperatures will be high and the sun hot and nothing can ruin a trip more than a case of sunstroke!
  • Take rash guard clothing – it may not always be easy to reapply sunscreen, especially when you’re on the water, but UV protection is a must so add one to your packing list
  • Wear a hat – the added sun protection and shade are welcome
  • Apply bug spray – the little critters love the fresh blood of tourists!
  • Wear sunglasses – that pristine white sand and Caribbean Sea throw off quite a glare!
  • Wear comfortable, supportive shoes when exploring on uneven surfaces and/or in the jungle

Best of Belize – What to Include in Your Belize Travel Itinerary

When you join an organised group tour of a country you know that you will likely get to visit the key places and sights that country has to offer. That was certainly the case with my (just over) one week Belize experience and although I did not visit everywhere in Belize of course, I did see most of the main attractions you will want to include in your own itinerary.

Here then is a list of the places I visited, what I experienced in each and what more you could add to create your own awesome Belize travel itinerary:

1. Belize City

Most visitors to Belize will arrive into Belize City. That said, many will not stay for long, myself included. I chose to only spend one night in Belize City so did not have time to explore it.

Where to Stay in Belize City

In terms of accommodation, I stayed at the Best Western Plus Belize Biltmore Hotel, however you can research all available options and book here:

Things to Do In Belize City

If you are interested in seeing Belize City, you may want to consider this city tour, this rum distillery visit and city tour or, for the foodies out there, this food tasting city tour.

2. Orange Walk

The Orange Walk District is located in the north west of Belize. Orange Walk Town is the district capital and is located about 85 kilometres (53 miles) from Belize City.

Where to Stay in Orange Walk

In terms of accommodation, I stayed at the El Gran Mestizo Resort, however you can research all available options and book here:

Things to Do In Orange Walk

During my 8 days in Belize I had limited time in Orange Walk, however the big drawcard for staying here are the Mayan ruins at Lamanai Archeological site. They are definitely worth including in your Belize itinerary!

Visit Lamanai Archaeological Site

Lamanai was once a major Mayan city and had the longest known period of occupation – the Mayan people are believed to have settled there by or before 1500 BC. It was still occupied more than 3,000 years later when the Spanish arrived in 1544 AD.

Lamanai is in a somewhat isolated location in the jungle on the banks of the New River Lagoon and the best way to get there is by speed boat! It was both a great and unique way to see some of the flora and fauna of Belize and to learn about the history of the area. The boat trip takes just over an hour, our guide slowing and stopping the boat if there was interesting wildlife to see.

The word Lamanai means ‘submerged crocodile’ and excavations of the site have revealed various representations of crocodiles on buildings and pottery.

Image shows the Welcome to Lamanai sign which greets visitors to Lamanai archeological site

The central core of Lamanai is made up of eight major plazas with one of its most well known buildings being the Mask Temple, famous for the pair of masks that flank the central stairs. Climbing the Mask Temple is permitted.

One of the noticeable things about Lamanai was how quiet it was…there were no crowds! There were plenty of howler monkeys though!

I visited Lamanai as part of my group tour – you can learn more about that visit in my post Amazing Lamanai Ruins of Belize. To create your own Belize travel itinerary consider these full day options for visiting Lamanai:

Alternatively, you could consider these tour options.

Extra Time in Orange Walk?

If you plan to stay in Orange Walk for longer than the 1 night I did, then you may want to consider including some of the following in your plans:

  • visiting Altun Ha Mayan ruins
  • exploring the Rio Bravo Conservation Area (and La Milpa Archeological site)
  • visiting the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary

3. San Ignacio

The town of San Ignacio is located in the Cayo District of western Belize. It’s the second largest settlement in Belize after Belize City. The area around San Ignacio is one of the most popular areas in Belize for tourism so you will definitely want to include time here in your Belize travel itinerary.

Where to Stay in San Ignacio

I stayed at the Midas Belize, however you can research all available options and book here:

Things to Do in San Ignacio

There are a ton of things to do in and from San Ignacio, but here are a few to consider including in your itinerary for Belize:

1. Explore the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave

Actun Tunichil Muknal (the Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre), or ATM cave as it is known, is one of highlights of a visit to Belize.

It is thought the cave complex was used by Mayan priests for ceremonial purposes, with the broken remains of ceramic pots evidence of attempts to release evil spirits. It’s also thought that the human remains found (and still located) within the cave to have been human sacrifices.

Access to the ATM Caves is regulated and visitors are only allowed in with a licensed tour guide. Fortunately, there are various companies offering tours. Start your research here with these ATM cave tour options:

You should be aware that cameras of any kind, including smart phones, are NOT permitted inside the caves. In 2012, a tourist accidentally dropped some camera equipment onto a human skull and broke it. All my photos and those of other visitors are provided by the tour operator.

Hiking, swimming and climbing are involved when visiting the ATM cave. Therefore a good level of fitness is required. There are large boulders you need to pull yourself up over and some tight squeezes between rocks. It’s not completely dark inside but if you’re claustrophobic then this may not be a trip for you. I would suggest you review the photos included with the tour options above so you can assess whether this is an activity for you.

Read my blog post to learn more about my experience of visiting the astonishing ATM Cave.

2. Visit the Ancient Mayan City of Tikal, Guatemala

Isn’t it great when you travel to one country and intentionally end up in another?! Well that is what happened on my Belize road trip when our tour group made a scheduled hop across the border into beautiful Guatemala to visit the incredible Mayan ruins in Tikal.

Image shows some of the Mayan ruins at Tikal National Park in Guatemala. A visit here is possible from Belize and should definitely be part of a Belize travel itinerary.

Tikal is one of the largest Mayan archeological sites and its structures are truly enormous. It is believed that the Mayan people inhabited Tikal from about 900 BC. Tikal grew into a hugely significant commercial, cultural and ceremonial city and by the time it reached the height of its success, had a population of around 100,000. The city declined in the 9th century AD and was virtually abandoned. It was reclaimed by the jungle and the ruins not discovered until 1848.

The site has been partially restored by the University of Pennsylvania and the Guatemalan Institute of Anthropology but much still remains beneath the jungle. Tikal was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

It is possible to climb some of the structures and I would recommend you do, the views are incredible.

Getting to Tikal from San Ignacio

To access Tikal National Park from San Ignacio you will drive to the border (taking a taxi if travelling independently) and, on leaving Belize, pay $20 USD exit fee. If you are visiting Tikal as part of an organsied tour, it’s likely that this payment will not be included in your tour price but do check and make sure you have funds to cover it.

No fee is payable on entering Guatemala but an additional stamp is added to your passport! You will need to take a taxi from the border to Tikal unless on a group or oganised tour. Start your itinerary research here with this tour option from San Ignacio:

Before crossing from Belize, consider exchanging a few US dollars at the border for Guatemalan Quetzals (GTQ) so you can purchase a drink in Tikal.

Tickets into Tikal cost 150 GTQ (about $20 USD). Kids under 12 are free. If you visit as part of an organised group tour, check that this entrance fee is included. It should be.

3. Join a Tortilla Making Class

My Belize travel itinerary included a tortilla making lesson run by the San Antonio Women’s Co-Operative. Established in 2001 by local San Antonio women, the Cooperative supports women and girls through the promotion of Mayan culture and traditions. You can learn more about them here. It is not clear if these classes are available to tour groups only, but to find out more and make enquiries, check their Facebook page here.

4. Take a Traditional Mayan Chocolate Tour

If you want to learn more about how the Mayan people used cacao beans to make drinking chocolate then you can join a tour offered by AJAW Chocolate.

Image shows the signage for AJAW Chocolate in San Ignacio Belize who offer chocolate tours teaching about traditional Mayan chocolate uses.

Located in San Ignacio, AJAW Chocolate is not a factory and this is not a chocolate making class. Instead, you will learn about the cacao bean, how it is processed and participate in the grinding of cacao beans to form a paste using a traditional Mayan grind stone. You’ll see the process of mixing paste with various spices and get to taste the finished product.

The tours cost $20 USD and last one hour. They are run every hour from 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday. There is opportunity to purchase chocolate products at the end of the tour.

Extra Time in San Ignacio?

If you plan to stay in San Ignacio for longer than the 3 nights I did, then there are plenty of other activities on offer here or in the surrounding area, including:

  • taking a day trip to the Mayan ruins at Cahal Pech, Xunantunich or Caracol
  • going cave tubing
  • visiting Mountain Pine Ridge to explore the Rio Frio Cave
  • going canoeing in Barton Creek Cave
  • visiting the green iguana conservation project
  • visiting the Belize Botanic gardens

You can review all available options and book here or here.

4. Caye Caulker

When you start thinking about where to go in Belize, there’s bound to be one place at the top of your list, Caye Caulker! And with good reason!

Caye (pronounced ‘key’) Caulker is a small Caribbean island off the coast of Belize. It measures about 8 kilometres (5 miles) north to south and less than 1.6 kilometres (1 miles) east to west. When you look closely on a map, you will see that it is divided by a narrow channel called the Split. In the north of the island you will find mangrove forest and in the south, the island’s main settlement, Caye Caulker Village.

Where to Stay on Caye Caulker

As with the rest of Belize, there’s a variety of accommodation available on Caye Caulker. I stayed at the Caye Caulker Plaza Hotel, however you can research all available options and book here:

Things to Do on Caye Caulker

I think the idea of visiting a Caribbean island sounds good regardless of what you want to do. Fortunately, Caye Caulker caters well to the active and to those who want to be inactive! Here’s a few suggestions to consider including in your Belize travel itinerary:

1. Go Slow!

Caye Caulker’s motto is “Go Slow” and so…you should! Golf carts, bicycles and walking are the modes of transport with both golf carts and bikes available to rent.

There are plenty of opportunities to:

  • stop for a coffee or something a little stronger
  • have an ice cream
  • watch the sunset
  • look for seahorses
  • watch stingrays being fed
  • shop
  • work on your tan

There is certainly enough to keep those who want to stay on land in a state of relaxation!

Image shoes chairs on the beach on Caye Caulker looking out to the Caribbean Sea. A visit to the island of Caye Caulker should definitely be on your Belize travel itinerary!

If you can get yourself off your sun lounger, out of the bar, away from the beach or off your bike however, there’s a wide range of water based activities you can enjoy too, including sunset sailing, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding and of course diving and snorkeling.

2. Go Diving or Snorkeling

For those who are wanting to go diving or snorkeling, then Caye Caulker is your paradise. Lying just off the coast from Caye Caulker is the famous Belize Barrier Reef. The reef is the second largest barrier reef in the world, behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the reef runs parallel to the coastline of Belize. The reef is made up of 7 protected areas:

  • Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve
  • Blue Hole Natural Monument
  • Half Moon Caye Natural Monument
  • South Water Caye Marine Reserve
  • Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve
  • Laughing Bird Caye National Park
  • Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve

Snorkeling and diving trips are available from Caye Caulker to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve (which includes Shark Ray Alley) and the Blue Hole. You can research available options and book here:

If diving the Blue Hole isn’t your thing, then you can opt for a scenic flight over the Blue Hole on certain days with Maya Island Air and Tropic Air.

Discover more about this Caribbean paradise in my Caye Caulker blog post.

Final Thoughts

I have loved each of my visits to Central American countries and my time in Belize was no different.

Belize is a small country rich in Mayan archeology, jungles, wildlife, marine environments and gorgeous beaches, all of which make it a must see destination. You don’t, however, need months to travel through it. Instead, you can use the information in this post to create a Belize travel itinerary that suits the time you have available.

Whatever the length of your visit, I’m sure you’ll have an unBELIZEable time!

If you need any further assistance in planning a trip to Belize, do check out my Resources page.

Disclaimer – Information correct at the time of writing but do check before visiting

Disclosure – This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you book something using them, I will earn a small commission but you will not pay anything extra. Thank you for supporting my blog.

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