Sure you can relax in a hammock with a cocktail in Belize, but why would you want to, with so many adventures to be found? Here are the top must-dos, from diving the Great Blue Hole to hiking through the jungle to discover Mayan ruins.
If your idea of the perfect [summer] getaway revolves around a cocktail, a good book and a hammock with a view, I won’t judge. But if you’re going to Belize, you might want to rethink the focus of your trip. Yes, Belize has beaches and cabanas and the obligatory decent local bottled beer (side note: try the stout), but the country’s speciality is doing things: scouting for wildlife, exploring Mayan ruins and getting out there in nature rather than just watching it from the sidelines.
There’s something so perfect about floating in a kayak on the clear-blue waters of the Caribbean, and Belize offers plenty of opportunities to do so. Many accommodations, such as Hopkins Bay Resort, make kayaks available to guests for free for short paddling sessions, but if you really want to experience the coast, book a multi-day trip with a tour company. For my next visit, I’ve got my eye on this seven-day kayak trip around the ultra-clear waters of Glover’s Reef with Island Expeditions.
There was one day when we drove past a woman cycling into town with an empty propane tank on her bike, but you don’t have to get that skillful when cycling here. In Hopkins and on Ambergris Caye, there are plenty of opportunities for a leisurely bike ride into town or around the island. And if your tastes are more hardcore than that, you won’t be disappointed. Road cycling, I discovered, is a big sport in Belize, and drivers, from what I saw, are courteous and accustomed to seeing bikes on the road. If you don’t want to go it alone, you’ll find tour operators with both single and multi-day bike trips available.
Read also: The Beauty of Belize
Pack long pants and plenty of bug repellant when you head to Belize; you’ll be thankful when you sign up for a tour in the jungle to check out Mayan ruins or a more adventurous experience such as ziplining, rappelling or cave tubing. We stuck to the hiking on our last day in the country and spent an afternoon on the muddy trails at Mayflower Bocawina National Park. Believe your guide when he tells you the uphill trek to the top of Antelope Falls is strenuous—you’ll be thankful for the ropes helpfully tied to trees along the trail—but the view at the summit is worth it, and you may want to pack a swimsuit to take a dip in the natural pool at the top before heading back down.
Read also: The Best Instagram Photos on Belize
You don’t have to be at an official yoga retreat to get in a class or two while travelling in Belize. In San Pedro, for instance, after a couple of inquiries I found drop-in classes on the south side of town, at the beachside Exotic Caye Resort. So I made a morning of it, walking barefoot down the beach to class, then heading back up afterward for a tasty and well-deserved smoothie at Wild Mango’s.
5. Snorkelling or diving
Access to Belize’s offshore reef is one of the top reasons tourism has flourished here, and for good reason. Even on the “everyone does it” afternoon snorkel tour out of San Pedro to Hol Chan Marine Reserve, we spotted countless fish, a moray eel, stingrays, multiple species of coral and a group of turtles foraging in the sea grass—and that’s not counting the side trip to Shark Ray Alley to swim with nurse sharks and stingrays. And whether you’re already a diver or want to become one, you’ll find endless options here, including the famous Great Blue Hole, a submarine sinkhole about 70 kilometres from the mainland that was made famous by none other than Jacques Cousteau, who named it among the top 10 dive sites on the planet.
So when you head to Belize, make sure to take in at least one of the activities that have made the country so well-known. After all, you’ll appreciate that hammock even more with tired muscles.