I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to go on an active vacation in Belize in early December. This trip to Belize was filled with sunshine as well as adventure! It was wonderfully refreshing, and I enjoyed plenty of amazing food, drinks, and excursions to check out all that Belize has to offer. This girls trip to Belize was just what I needed to take a break from winter – you better Belize it!
There are plenty of things to do in Belize and whether you’re more into relaxing and soaking up the sunshine or exploring and having adventures, there seems to be something for everyone. I think Belize is often overlooked, but it’s truly a hidden paradise which I can’t wait to tell you about.
Getting to Belize
Belize is a Central American country located on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s bordered by Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east.
The main international airport in Belize is the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE), which is located just outside of Belize City. We flew into Belize from Canada on WestJet, which offers direct flights from major cities. From there, we transferred to a small Tropic Air flight to Placencia. (Tropic Air is the local Belize domestic airline) It was a long travel day, but worth it!
What is Belize Like?
Belize is a small, tropical country located on the eastern coast of Central America. It’s known for its rich and diverse culture, and stunning natural beauty where you can experience both beach and jungle – it truly is the best of both worlds! Don’t forget your sunscreen and bug spray because you will need both.
The climate in Belize is tropical, with hot and humid weather year-round. We were there in early December which is the beginning of the busy tourist season. December is Belize’s busiest month, with people from all over the world travelling to enjoy the warm temperatures to escape the cold. Many hotels book up far in advance, so you definitely want to plan ahead if this is when you plan to visit.
The Best Time to Visit Belize
The best time to visit is from the end of November to mid April. This is the country’s dry season, and although it’s peak season, Belize never really gets too crowded. Even in the country’s dry season, you can expect showers but they don’t last long. You can’t go wrong with a Belize vacation in the dry season.
Expect showers from June to mid-November and strong winds. If you want to beat the rush of tourists and don’t mind using umbrella or jacket, visit during the rainy season in September and October. Keep in mind some establishments may shut down during the off season. If you visit in the rainy season, you can save money and avoid the peak season rush in this tourist destination. There are many things to know before travelling to Belize, and it is a good idea to do a bit of research before your trip.
Beaches in Belize
Belize is known for lots of white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters with their abundance of marine life. If you enjoy snorkeling and diving adventures this is a place for you! One of the main attractions in Belize is the Belize Barrier Reef which is near the town of San Pedro.
Islands in Belize
This is truly a tropical Caribbean paradise, and it is made up of more than 200 to 300 small islands. The small islands, known as cayes, are home to small hotels, and resorts which makes it easy to find a place to stay for all budgets. You will find world class snorkeling and water adventures throughout Belize.
History of Belize
As you can imagine, Belize has a rich history with a blend of Maya, Spanish, and British influences. Belize is a former British colony, previously known as British Honduras. The primary language is English, although Spanish and several indigenous languages are also spoken. Belize is the only country in Central America that speaks English making it a great first country for those less experienced with international travel.
Natural Wonders in Belize
Belize is a small country but it is home to several natural wonders such as the Belize Barrier Reef (which is the second largest coral reef system in the world) and the Great Blue Hole (which is a large marine sinkhole). It is also home to several Maya ruin sites which are a must see for any visit.
Our first stop in Belize was in Placencia, which is located on a peninsula and in the popular Stann Creek District of Belize. Placencia is known for its expansive white sand beaches, which makes it a perfect destination for beach lovers. I will definitely be back to spend more time here – a few days was not enough!
The beach in Placencia extends for 16 miles (which is hard to imagine before you see it) and it is lined with picturesque palm trees, beachside restaurants and bars. It truly is paradise! The water is warm and just so clear, making it absolutely perfect for swimming and snorkeling. I know I just said this, but I will be back to spend more time in the water here one day soon.
Placencia also has several nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries for those of us looking for adventure. The Placencia Lagoon and the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary are a great place to see all that Belize has to offer.
Placencia is also known for its tasty cuisine and is home to some marvelous seafood restaurants, which serve up the freshest fish, lobster, and conch which is caught every day. There is nothing better than fresh caught fish! I heard great things about the street vendors which serve traditional Belizean dishes, such as tacos, empanadas, and tamales. YUM!
The Belize Girls Trip!
Where to Stay in Belize
Naïa Resort and Spa
We stayed at the Naïa Resort and Spa for the first half of our trip. The resort is located on the Placencia Peninsula, and it is well-known for their private beachfront accommodations, and spa.
The Naïa resort has a large (and stunning) outdoor pool, an impressive fitness center, and a variety of dining options. We really enjoyed breakfast served on our patio each morning, and I wish every day could start that way!!
I am told that one of the main highlights of the Naïa Resort is the spa. I wish we had time to have visited the spa on this trip, but our schedule was packed. This will be added to the list of things to do on my next vacation in Belize.
We enjoyed staying there knowing that the resort is committed to sustainability. It was built using eco-friendly materials, and they did a great job of preserving the natural beauty of the area.
Hidden Valley Inn & Reserve
For the second half of our adventure trip to Belize, we stayed at the Hidden Valley Inn & Reserve. It is about a 3-hour drive from Placencia. It is a luxury eco-lodge and 600-acre private nature. I loved being surrounded by the dense jungle and seeing hundreds of species of birds. I was very excited to see a toucan, which is the national bird of Belize.
The inn offers a range of accommodation, such as villas, cabins, and treehouses. The accommodations are all beautiful and are designed to blend in with the natural surroundings. This is a great resort to consider for your vacation in Belize.
At the Hidden Valley Inn & Reserve you can participate in several activities such as nature walks, birdwatching, and horseback riding. The inn also has yoga, massage, plus a beautiful swimming pool and a spa. The on-site restaurant serves a range of local and international dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The food was absolutely outstanding here – I loved every single meal.
The Hidden Valley Inn & Reserve is sustainability focused and tries to minimize its impact on the environment – this is another thing that I really loved about staying here. It uses solar power for energy, practices organic farming, and has a waste management program. I learned that they involved in several conservation efforts such as reforestation and wildlife rehabilitation.
Belize Adventure Trip Itinerary
Belize offers a wide range of options for adventure-seeking travelers. From snorkeling and diving in the blue-green waters of the Caribbean Sea, to exploring the dense rainforests and ancient Mayan ruins, there’s no shortage of exciting things to do. We tried to pack in as many activities as we could during our week in Belize.
The Maya Center is a small village located in the Belizean. It was our first stop on this trip to ease ourselves into activities on our vacation in Belize. It’s one of the more popular tourist destinations for those of us looking to learn more about the history and traditions of the Maya people. In fact, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a stop here on their vacation in Belize this year, too.
Che’il Mayan Chocolate Making
At the Maya Center we had a lesson in making Che’il Mayan chocolate which is a delicious and nutritious treat. I am not one to turn down chocolate! During the lesson, we learned about the history and cultural significance of chocolate in Maya society, as well as the various steps involved in the traditional chocolate-making process.
It started off by harvesting cocoa pods from the trees and extracting the cocoa beans, which are then roasted and ground into a paste. Next, we were taught how to mix the cocoa paste with traditional ingredients, to create a flavourful chocolate. It was the best of the best organic chocolate and all you need is a tiny bit – believe me!
Mayan Cooking Class
You know me, I love to take cooking classes when I travel. Cooking is a tasty and educational way to learn about the food and culture of the Maya people.
In the traditional Maya cooking class, we learned about the ingredients and techniques used in Maya cuisine. For lunch we made chicken soup made with local vegetables and we also learned how to make corn tortillas by hand. Maya cuisine is known for its use of fresh grown ingredients and this lunch was delicious!
Jungle Adventure Ride with Outback Trails
We joined Outback Trails for an afternoon horse ride through the jungle along the Sittee River. This trail ride gave us an opportunity to explore the natural beauty of Belize on horseback during our vacation in Belize.
During the ride, we traversed the lush rainforest and journey along the winding Sittee River, taking in the stunning views and diverse wildlife along the way. It was a great way to get an unique and up-close look at the natural beauty of the region.
The horse ride is led by experienced guides who are knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna – where I learned a thing or two. Of course, there are a lot of great photo opportunities along the way.
Island hopping and Fishing with Go Sea Tours
One of the activities that I looked forward to the most was our all-day island snorkeling tour with Go Sea Tours in Placencia. It was an exciting and immersive (literally!) adventure gave us an opportunity to explore the water of the Caribbean Sea (which is so clear) and discover the abundant marine life that calls these waters home.
During the tour, we visited a few pristine and secluded islands located about an hour boat ride from Placencia. We snorkeled through the stunning coral reefs, saw a variety of fish, a sea turtle and even dolphins. The area is known for its rich and varied marine ecosystem, and so you are pretty much guaranteed to see a lot while exploring the waters around Placencia. Pro tip: Include this tour on your active vacation in Belize itinerary!
The tour is led by knowledgeable guides who are passionate about the local marine environment and share their knowledge with you. You don’t have to worry about packing any gear because they provide all the necessary equipment, including snorkels, fins, and masks. For those that love scuba diving, this is an adventure for you.
Maya King Waterfall
The Maya King waterfall is a great stop for your vacation in Belize to make in the Cayo District. You will love that this waterfall is in the heart of the jungle and completely surrounded by the lushest green vegetation. The area is full of birds and even howler monkeys which you can hear as you enjoy the waterfall. Such an amazing experience!
The large, clear pool below the waterfall is a popular swimming spot and it was just what we needed to cool down. Who can resist a refreshing dip in the cool, clear water!?! Add the Maya King Waterfall as a must-see destination that is perfect for nature lovers. There is no hiking needed for this waterfall, too!
Waterfall Rappelling at Bocawina National Park
Kim and Nicole from our group decided to go waterfall rappelling instead of to the Maya King Waterfall. They made their way to Bocawina National Park which is on the eastern end of the Maya Mountains next to the Sittee River Forest Reserve in southern Belize. This national park connects a region between the Maya Mountains and the coastal plains and is 7000 acres. It is one of the best choices for leisure and adventurous explorations such as waterfalls rappelling and zip-lining. This is such a great activity to include in an active vacation in Belize.
They climbed to the waterfall near the top at a 1000 foot elevation. Once at the top of the falls they rappelled 250 ft down the waterfall in two stages. It looks like it was an amazing adventure!
Barton Creek Cave Canoeing Expedition
Barton Creek caves are located in the Cayo District and a great excursion for adventure seekers. The caves are a network of underground waterways formed by the erosion of limestone over thousands of years. We spent a few hours paddling in canoes through the dark, underground passages and saw so many stalactites and stalagmites, and other geological formations.
The Maya peoples used the cave was used as a source of water, as well as a place to store food and other supplies. The cave, which was considered the entrance to the underworld, was used for spiritual and ritual purposes, and home to many Maya artifacts such as pottery and human remains. The Barton Creek Cave is an important cultural and historical site in Belize, and one to add to your Belize trip itinerary. When you visit Belize, add this to your itinerary!
Rio On River Pools
After canoeing, we made our way to the Rio On River Pools. They are a natural series of swimming pools which are formed by the river water flowing over several tiny waterfalls. Trust me, this is the perfect place to cool down in the refreshing water!!
The Rio On River Pools are only about a 10 minute walk through the jungle and I loved that it was a great way to experience the beauty of the Belizean rainforest.
Maya Ruins at Xunantunich
Xunantunich is an ancient Maya archaeological site located in western Belize close to the town of San Ignacio, near the Guatemalan border. The site is one not to miss for your vacation in Belize if you like to visit ruins and history. It is known for its remarkable main pyramid, which stands over 130 feet tall and has amazing views of the surrounding area. Xunantunich was a significant political and ceremonial center in Maya history.
The site includes several structures, including plazas, palaces, and temples. One of the most well-known structures is the Temple of the Sun, which is a large pyramid with a number of well-preserved carvings and stucco decorations. Be sure to add a stop to your trip itinerary for your next vacation in Belize!
Belize Jungle ATV Adventure
Taking a jungle ATV ride is a popular activity in Belize for those of us that love adventure. You can explore the country’s rugged landscape and vegetation from the back roads and trails that wind through the rain forest.
Most ATV tours include are led by an experienced guide who is familiar with the area and there will be an opportunity for many stops for photos and to stretch your legs. If you are lucky, you may get to see a some colourful birds, monkeys, and other animals.
Our last stop before we caught our flight home was a pit stop at Old Belize. Old Belize is located in Belize City and a cultural and heritage center worth visiting. It is a popular spot that has a restaurant, beach, marina and a variety of activities and exhibits related to the history of Belize. We enjoyed some Belizean beer, a delicious lunch and soaked up a few more rays of sunshine before heading home. This wasn’t on our itinerary initially, but we loved spending a few hours here instead of at the airport.
The Food in Belize
All of the meals we had in Belize were delicious and eating there as a celiac was not a problem.
Naïa resort had a few different venues, and I loved the patio breakfasts we could order in from Naia’s Beach Bar and Grill. 1981 Restaurant at the Naïa resort was very good and I recommend it.
Rumfish Y Vino
We went for dinner one night to Rumfish Y Vino which is a “gastro-bar” offering local draft beers, a full bar, and ‘small plates’ style dining as well as a menu of great classic comfort foods with a Belizean twist and international fusion fare.
Maya Beach Bistro
Dinner at the Maya Beach Bistro was tasty! It is a great Placencia restaurant that offers beachfront, outdoor dining in the Maya Beach area.
Hidden Valley Inn
Dining at Hidden Valley Inn was truly a memorable experience. The restaurant is located in the Lodge in a candlelit dining room.
Hidden Valley’s chef combines the bright authentic Mayan and Mestizo flavors with his Blue-Ribbon signature culinary style. The outstanding fusion of fresh local ingredients and culinary expertise is unmatched in Belize. 5 stars for the meals here…I can’t say enough about it.
Belize Travel Guide
I hope this Belize travel guide and activity guide for a girls adventure trip to Belize inspires you to plan your own vacation in Belize. The beauty of Belize can’t be beat and you need to add it to your bucket list. If you are a nature lover, Belize is a destination that is not overly touristy but has the comfort of amazing resorts.
On my next active vacation in Belize, I would love to explore Belize’s barrier reef (which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site), see more of the impressive Mayan ruins and archaeological sites, national parks off the beaten path, and most definitely have more time at the sandy beaches along the coast of Belize which make it the jewel of Central America. A stop at Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye will be on my list, as well as a stop at Punta Gorda in southern Belize, too. Caye Caulker snorkeling is on my bucket list!
Now get busy and plan your Belize trip!
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Bella Bucchiotti is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for food, dogs, fitness, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.