When I’m planning to travel to a new place, I appreciate browsing recommended itineraries detailing where to go and for how long.
To this end, here is the full 12-day itinerary for our amazing Honeymoon in Belize. As always, click highlighted words to go to the more in-depth articles. Colin and I loved the combination of places and the timing we settled upon, and we think you will, too!
Fly to Belize City early in the day, then without even leaving the airport, fly directly (we used the exciting little planes of Tropic Air) to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. Have the rest of the day to chill out around the hotel and its beach, wander San Pedro, swim, and eat.
Take a snorkeling day tour! Wear LOTS of sunscreen and re-apply so you don’t get burned like we did, or even wear a shirt and leggings. Our snorkeling voyage took us on a boat to one section of the reef where we saw tons of fish and a sinister-looking eel, then to “Shark Alley” where we swum with (and hugged!) nurse sharks and stingrays. Colin held a giant ray in the air like a pizza!
Take a Scuba lesson (or, if you’re a scaredy-cat like me, explore the town while your husband learns to dive 30 feet underwater). That evening, wander Ambergris Caye and branch out to some further-flung, highly recommended restaurants. Check out the San Pedro nightlife, or just have a quiet night in with the complimentary DVDs many hotels offer.
Take the boat (45 minutes and just a few dollars) from San Pedro to super chilled-out Caye Caulker. We only stayed on that island one night, but it would be fun to stay two. On Caye Caulker, your brain will become so relaxed, you will probably just happily wander, swim, eat, and swing in hammocks. We did see some people kite-surfing, though, so there are also good adventure opportunities.
Take the water taxi from Caye Caulker to Belize City (one hour) and then arrange transport to San Ignacio (2 hours). We were curious about Belize City but were repeatedly recommended not to spend time there as “it’s dangerous” and “there’s not much to do there as a tourist.”
Ways to get to San Ignacio from Belize City include bus (U.S. school buses turned into Belize’s very affordable public transport system), taxi (more expensive), and private shuttle (more expensive but we splurged on it because it was air conditioned, roomy, and enjoyable). You cannot fly into San Ignacio, but you could fly to Belmopan (Belize’s teeny tiny capital city) and take a 40-minute taxi from there. Once you arrive, settle into your San Ignacio hotel and relax!
Do a full day swimming-hiking tour of the ATM Mayan Caves. I have traveled all around the world and I can say this ATM tour was one of the best things I’ve done in my life!!! It’s intense, scary, and arduous, and you need to wear closed-toe sneakers (which you will swim with so they get soaked completely) but the tour is SO WORTH IT. We splurged for a private guide instead of a large group, and it was unbelievable: Just us three alone in the depths of the earth with glittering rock formations all around, and ancient bones of Mayan sacrifices. WOW.
Hike Mayan ruins! From San Ignacio, you have several options, including Xunantunich (10 minutes by car or 1.5 hours on horseback), famous and sprawling Tikal in Guatemala (2 hours), or Caracol (2 hours). We opted to hike Xunantunich because it was closer and more manageable than Tikal, and we loved it!
Note: Most people would suggest you switch Day 6 and 7 (to do the ruins before the caves) so that your sneakers are dry for the ruins, but I was nervous about the caves and thus wanted to do them first. Xunantunich was small and easy enough to hike with my beloved hiking sandals.
Our plan for the rest of the day was to tour San Igancio’s iguana sanctuary (where you can stick iguanas all over your body) and then take a sunset horse ride, but we were so sun-stroked and exhausted from accidentally walking 2 miles along the highway in the hot sun (read the article to find out why) that we only had energy to eat a nice dinner in San Ignacio, wander the town, then sleep!
In the morning, depart San Ignacio for Placencia (3-4 hours, driving). You can take a cheap local bus (which are not air conditioned and are cramped for 6-footers like us), take a taxi to Belmopan then fly, take a taxi, or splurge (as we did, again, forgive us softie Honeymooners) on a private shuttle.
What we adored about the shuttle (besides the affable conversation with the driver about Belize’s hidden stories) was that we could request stops along the way at no extra charge. We LOVED swimming in the inland Blue Hole (different from Belize’s OTHER Blue Hole way out in the ocean, this one is an azure-colored cenote kettle hole in the jungle), eating ice-cream made by the Amish-like Mennonites (!), and watching the car be pulled up the “Magnetic Hill.” We also delighted in the countryside (lush, green, and uncrowded), and in getting our many Belize questions answered by the driver. Once you arrive, settle in, swim, and enjoy your Placencia hotel.
Explore the super-long, beautiful peninsula that Placencia is on. Walk along the beach to Placencia, proper, where you can trot along “the narrowest main street in the world” and browse the shops. Go out on an ocean kayak as the sun is setting. Consider renting a fishing pole and spending the evening trying to catch dinner!
Do a snorkeling day-tour out to an island (we went to Laughing Bird Caye with Splash Belize, which was PARADISE). After the sun sets, check out Placencia’s nightlife, or spend the evening relaxing and watching the sea.
Take a day tour of Monkey River, gliding down the water and gaping at the wildlife on the shores, then trekking into the jungle to see howler monkeys (insane!) and countless other flora and fauna. Make sure to pack long pants and closed-toed shoes for this, along with insect repellant and a swimsuit for swimming in the river after the tour and before the local Belizean lunch. Have a romantic dinner that night by the ocean.
Fly directly from Placencia to Belize City on one of the local tiny planes. Flights are safe and frequent, and you can purchase tickets online very close to the departure date. (The drive takes hours and is far less comfortable and fun.) Connect to your international flight without leaving the airport and head home, full of relaxation, good feelings, and happy memories of your Belize vacation!
There you have our recommended Belize travel itinerary. Got questions or comments? Folks who are Belize experts, what part of this travel plan would you alter or add to?
For all 8 articles from our Honeymoon in Belize, click here!