BELIZE Bucket List
Monkeys, Mayan ruins, and little thatched huts on white sandy beaches. We have our plane tickets to Belize booked and we leave a week from today. Maybe we are cutting it a little short on planning this time but that’s okay, between the Central American jungles and the Caribbean Sea, there are plenty of options of things to explore in Belize. Our trouble right now is deciding which direction we want to take this trip. How luxury, how budget? How planned, how spontaneous? Ten days in Belize is going to be a nice introductory chunk of time in this amazing place. Just enough time to explore but not enough time to do everything.
Help us figure out what is worth doing and what is not in the comments below… we would love to hear from you!
Here are some of the things we are considering…
Places to Stay
This was our #1 choice – Bird Island, Placencia, Belize. Oh. my. goodness. Yes, we would have dropped $350 a night (with a three-night minimum) to have this place all to ourselves. Are you kidding me?! Okay, so maybe a little on the higher-end side of things, but seriously… follow the link and read the description. You will see why this Caribbean private island is booked well into next year.
On a last minute booking, private islands were pretty slim picking, but we did find one. A bit of a hidden gem. Check out this place…
And then there’s…
Maya Mountain Research Farm – Only reachable by canoe, this permaculture research farm looks like a really interesting experience. When not traveling, we run a five-acre permaculture homestead in the Pacific Northwest so I always wish we could spend time and learn at places like this but never feel like we have enough time to make it happen. According to their website, “MMRF can accommodate researchers and visitors on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Visitors pay $50 per night, $200 a week or $600 for the month, which covers room and board. A day visit is $25, with site walk and meal. We much prefer week long visits to less than a full week visits.”
Airbnb Log Cabin Monkey Reserve – Get this one booked before someone else gets to it! Not only do pictures of the area and wildlife look amazing, Bruce (the host) sounds like just the kind of guy you would want to meet putting your feet on the ground in a new country for the first time. Just read what everybody has to say in the reviews! And there are monkeys.
Hanna Stables Airbnb Farm Stay – Watch the sun set behind Xunantunic on this 400-acre working family farm. Close to San Ignacio and everything else there is to do in the Cayo District. Enjoy farm cooked organic meals (breakfast $5/dinner $10), hiking trails, horseback riding tours with the owner, Santiago, and lots more! We made sure to get a couple of nights here. This part of our time in Belize is close to our hearts. We love visiting farms and gardens around the world, wherever we go. $60/night.
A stay at the Jaguar reserve – Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the first jaguar sanctuary in the world. Are you up for a private cabin, or a tent site? They offer a variety of accommodations ranging from US $10 to $82 per night. If you can deal with the cold showers and composting toilets this might be the way to get up there early in the morning, the best time for viewing wildlife, and maybe have a little better than a one in seventeen thousand chance of actually seeing a jaguar.
Maruba Jungle Spa – This is a ‘best of Groupon’ and is going to be the luxury portion of our trip. We like to rough it, but there is nothing wrong with a little pampering, too. Waterfall-fed swimming pools, nouveau cuisine, guided medicinal walks thru the jungle, this place looks amazing. Each room is a bright jungle mosaic of color. This place is surely going to be a treat. We never pay full price for stays like this. We booked this one through Groupon, 3 nights with a one-way airport transfer, $445.
Mayan culture has amazed me since I was a kid and so visiting the Mayan ruins… this is a given.
Xunantunich – A well-developed site, Xunantunich is #1 on the Belize.com Top Ten Maya Sites of Belize. This ancient place has one of the most impressive stone carvings (frieze) and is the second highest Mayan ruin in Belize at 133′ tall. With more than 25 temples on site, this should keep you busy exploring for a while. The cost is only US $5 to enter.
Altun Ha. It’s not just the archeology that makes this a major attraction, it’s also the wildlife. Over 25 square miles of forest filled with hundreds of species of birds, deer, foxes, raccoons, tapir and other jungle inhabitants. Look forward to experiencing the plants and animals as much as the ruins on this excursion.
Cross the border into Guatemala and visit Tikal, the largest excavated site in the Americas. Not technically in Belize, but it still makes the bucket list. If you are that close and have not been to Guatemala, then why not? The more passport stamps the better, as far as we are concerned. A quick search shows plenty of inexpensive Airbnbs in the area or we may just wander into town and find a place to stay.
Known as the epicenter of Mayan culture, the Belize landscape is scattered ruins to explore. It is just a matter of deciding which ones to visit.
Other things to do…
Rent a Dirt Bike in Hopkins and explore Belize like these guys did. It not only looks like a blast but also one of the smarter modes of travel. I have a feeling that one could see a lot of sites rarely seen by most on one of these. Next time, though. This time around it’s the chicken bus for us.
Medicinal Walk – I’ve seen a few places mention opportunities to learn from the locals about the region’s medicinal plants. If we don’t get a chance for this sort of thing before the end of our stay, we will take advantage of the guided walk that is offered at Maruba at $25/person (advanced reservation required)
Even without the overnight stay, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary might be worth the visit. A jaguar sighting is unlikely, but there are all sorts of other wildlife to be enjoyed. “Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is a reservoir for biodiversity. Hundreds of species of plants with exotic leaves and flowers, colorful insects, singing birds, furry mammals, scaly reptiles, and wide-eyed amphibians live in this complex tropical forest community.” Entrance fee is BZ $10.
Those ag-minded among us might like to visit Belize City’s new (and first) urban garden. I’m curious to stop by and see what’s going on especially once I learned that the staff trained up at Maya Mountain Research Farm’s PDC. Belize city, once a pirate settlement, still not exactly reputed as the safest place to stay.
Maya Mountain Day Trip. Although the generous hosts at Maya Mountain prefer stays of a week or longer (so would we!), if unable to stay that long just go for the day! $25 for a site walk and a meal.
Chocolate making with locals. I mean, this is where chocolate was born after all. And we have heard that there are opportunities to be taught by locals the chocolate making process and techniques that have been handed down for generations. It has always been our tradition, wherever we are traveling, to make a point of trying the food a place is famous for… lobster in Maine, Boston Creme Pie in Boston, meat pies in Australia. Really, we just like food.
Help us plan our time in Belize!
There are all kinds of other things to do in Belize that are not on this list… yet – cave tubing and zip lining, snorkeling the largest reef in the Northern Hemisphere, and diving the Great Blue Hole, just to name a few.
Ten days is not much time. The days are going to fill up and fly by before we know it. We are not the top-ten-touristy kind of travelers and have no desire to rush from one place to the next. We like to dig down into a place – meet the locals, eat the food, learn about the language, culture, and day-to-day life.
Have you been to Belize? If you’ve been there, done that, and know what is worth doing and what is not, then help us with our Belize bucket list!
Or maybe you haven’t been there yet but are planning to go… What is on your Belize bucket list that we left off?
Share the knowledge! In the comments section below, share your ‘things to do’ and Belize travel tips. We would love to hear from you guys… help us make this the best trip ever!
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POST TRIP UPDATE:
We didn’t end up doing all of these things this time around,A but we had an amazing ten days. Here is our post on the Cost of Ten Days in Belize.