Seven Days in Belize
If you have a week in Belize, I highly recommend splitting your time with half the time at the jungle and half the time at the beach. A lot of the jungle and beach resorts have “partnerships” with each other so be sure to check for this when booking your accommodations!
Day 1 – Settling In at the Sleeping Giant Resort
We took a red-eye flight from Los Angeles and landed in Belize City around 7 a.m. local time. Obviously, the advantage was to have a full-day in Belize to start off our trip, but we were pretty tired so we didn’t plan much on this day except to get settled in and enjoy the grounds of our resort. Most of the resorts here are full service and will book your transportation and tours for you. I highly recommend arranging for transportation in advance through your resort. A lot of the excursions discussed for the other days require a driver and so it doesn’t seem worth renting a car for this particular itinerary.
We split our trip into half jungle and half beach, starting in the jungle which allowed us to take advantage of a lot of what Belize has to offer efficiently. We started out trip in the jungle at the Sleeping Giant Resort. The resort, named after the sleeping giant, formed by the shape of the mountains, is visible from the resort. It is located in the capital of Belize, Belmopan, approximately an hour and a half from the international airport.
Once we arrived at the resort we were able to spend the day relaxing by the pool and taking advantage of the beautiful grounds.
Day 2 – Tikal
Our second day began before sunrise at 5:30 a.m. to hit the road and head into Guatemala and explore the ancient Mayan Ruins in Tikal. This is an all day adventure but well worth the trip. Our driver Armado was arranged through the Sleeping Giant Resort and was able to help us get through the boarder easily. He did inform us that sometimes people attempt to do this trip on their own without a local’s assistance and may be taken advantage of with respect to the fees required to enter and some of the local vendors. For me, it was well worth the money and ease to have Aramdo be there for our trip, not to mention he was able to tell us a lot about Belize on our 3-hour drive to Tikal. While in Tikal, we were met by our guide, Elmer. He was amazing and again really enhanced the experience. While you could explore the grounds on your own, the guides are so knowledgeable and really make the experience meaningful. I was traveling with some friends that were avid bird watchers and Elmer was able to point out so many local birds and cater to their interests. While there are other Mayan Ruins sites in Belize, the trip to Tikal is worth it due to the size of the grounds you are able to view. You could easily spend three days in Tikal in order to cover all the different sites but the one day trip from Belize was worth the drive out and back.
Day 3 – Actun Tunichil Muknal
On our three, we ventured on a tour of the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave, commonly referred to as the ATM Cave. This was by far one of the most unique Belize experiences. You definitely need to be comfortable with small spaces and water and in pretty good shape. You will be required to swim in certain parts for a couple minutes to cross river to access the tunnels. Within the tunnel, the guides will help you navigate deep in to the depths of the caves and at the end reveal where many ancient sacrifices were made, evidenced by ancient pottery and calcified skeletal remains. It is an amazing experience.
Day 4 – Cave Tubing and Flight to San Pedro
This was a much more relaxing day in the caves than our day at the ATM cave. You float at a relaxing pace down a small cave while spotting baby bats on the ceiling of the cave. At certain points it is pitch black if you turn off your head lamps. Overall, it was a nice relaxing way to end our jungle portion of our Belize adventure.
As we were staying near Belmopan which has a small local airport, it was easiest for us to hop on a plane for a short flight (approximately 15 minutes) to San Pedro. Now, this is a tiny plane so beware if you have some issues flying. My friend had a major breakdown on the plane, which after she was safely on the ground, she could laugh about but it can be a little terrifying if you are already afraid of flying. I loved it.
We stayed at the Xanadu Resort in San Pedro. It is walking distance from town (maybe a mile) and right on the water. It has a pool and bar that tropical vacation dreams are made of.
After settling in, we went exploring and came across the Road Kill Bar. When we first arrived, there were only a couple people there, with the man running the karaoke doing most of the karaoke. But as with anywhere in the world, karaoke draws a crowd and soon the bar was filled with people eager to sing the night away. It was a good find indeed.
Day 5 – Diving the Turneffe Atoll Reef
I booked my dive trip through Amigo del Mar dive shop. After debating, and going back and forth a number of times, I decided against diving the Blue Hole. After a number of reviews I heard that the dive was not as interesting as the reef dives and because you have to go so deep the dive does not last all that long and is a bit farther out than the reef dive. That being said, I am confident that I will be back to Belize as it is one of my favorite destinations so far and I will likely do the Blue Hole dive when I go back.