The majority of visitors to Belize go straight to San Pedro (on the island of Ambergris Caye) and strictly enjoy the reef and restaurants the island has to offer. Don’t get me wrong- it’s a great time! An abundance of resorts, plenty of lively beach bars, and the easiest access to our top aquatic attractions; a week or two in San Pedro is wonderful but don’t miss the mainland! The small but diverse country of Belize has so much more to offer than just it’s Cayes. Here is a 10-day sample itinerary for the mainland:
Arrive midday at Philip Goldson International Airport just outside Belize City and grab a rental car. Stop next door for lunch at Di Bruwry before starting the hour’s drive on the Northern Highway to Orange Walk. Overnight at El Gran Mestizo Resort located on the New River and enjoy happy hour at their onsite restaurant, Maracas.
Tour the Lamanai Archeological Site. Arrange through your hotel and enjoy the beautiful boat ride to the ancient Maya city, walk through temples and ball courts and learn about the history of the region. Overnight in Orange Walk again.
Have a quick breakfast of Orange Walk’s renowned tacos before driving about an hour and a half south to the Belize Zoo. Meander the paths through this small compound to view some of Belize’s most beautiful creatures such as toucans, monkeys, and jaguar. Continue driving another 40 minutes and check in to Banana Bank Lodge and Horseback Adventures. Take a night ride on horseback through the jungle.
Visit Actun Tunichil Muknal, or better known as ATM cave. A wet and wild experience, the cave crawl consists of twisting and turning underground channels, sporadically opening in to vast subterranean chambers that hide artifacts and even human remains. Overnight at Banana Bank Lodge again and be sure to wander the property thoroughly, appreciating their open air aviary as well as the art studio on the third floor of the main building- it houses all of Caroline Carr’s original paintings and a copious cache of artifacts unearthed on the property over the years. A curious and fascinating place for sure.
Tackle the 2 1/2 hour drive to Placencia. A beautifully scenic journey, take your time along the Hummingbird Highway and be sure to stop at St Herman’s Cave and Blue Hole Park. Overnight in Placencia for the remainder of your trip.
Go diving (or snorkeling) to any of the nearby marine reserves. Popular trips include Laughing Bird, Silk Caye, and South Water. Not a diver? Consider island hopping or lounging in a hammock on a private caye instead.
Ahh village life! Take it easy and wander about the one-square-mile village of Placencia. Shop souvenirs in the roadside stands and keep an ear out for live music along the sidewalk.
Take a hike. Drive back up the peninsula and plan a hike to one of the nearby waterfalls. Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Reserve and Mayflower Bocawina National Park are both about an hour’s drive from Placencia. Combine a stop at the butterfly farm or a lazy river tube ride with your Cockscomb hike. Bocawina has a zip lining course for high flying fun through the jungle’s canopy. https://realliferecess.com/best-hike-in-southern-belize-antelope-falls-in-bocawina-national-park/
Pick a special tour. Belize is not only blessed with incredible natural beauty, but also rich cultures and traditions. Take a cultural tour with one of Placencia’s local guides for an enriching experience. My top choices would be a Maya chocolate making tour with Taste Belize‘s Dr. Lyra Spang, a Garifuna cooking and Bioluminescence excursion with Ian from Barefoot Services, or a Creole Coconut cooking class with Doyle of DTourz.
Make sure you have all the souvenirs you want to take home with you. My favorites are consumables like Marie Sharps hot sauces and tropical jams. Though our airport is small, some days it serves quite a crowd so be sure to arrive no less than 2 hours before your scheduled international flight. Travel safely home and start planning your next trip to Belize.