Navigating From the Rainforest to the Beach in Belize

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Advisor - Claudia Riegelhaupt
Curated By

Claudia Riegelhaupt

  • Belize

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Beaches

  • International Travel

  • Tropical Vacations

  • Wellness Travel

  • Coastal

  • Island

  • Rainforest

Advisor - Navigating From the Rainforest to the Beach in Belize
Curator’s statement

Belize is a small country with diverse experiences and proud, friendly people. Split your time between the inland rainforest and the beach. Many of the resorts in the country are super eco-friendly, avoiding plastic, growing their own organic produce and respecting the earth that makes Belize such a special destination. Resorts are stylish and comfortable but can be rustic, without A/C or TVs.

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Where to stay in Belize

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Mountain Pine Ridge Forest in Belize

Navigating From the Rainforest to the Beach in Belize - Mountain Pine Ridge Forest

The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest is technically a pine forest at the top of the mountain, surrounded by rainforest. It’s not too far from the border with Guatemala. The road to the resort area was recently fully paved which has significantly reduced drive time from the airport in Belize City (taking about 2 hours). 


Hike to a waterfall and swim in the river. Depending on where you are staying, there are hiking paths to Big Rock Falls or Five Sisters waterfalls. The hiking in the area is somewhat challenging, but totally doable if you take your time and bring plenty of water along.

Visit San Ignacio

The nearby town to get a true sense of Belizean culture. The market on Saturdays is filled with beautiful produce and souvenirs.  

Chocolate tour

Ajaw Chocolate: Also in San Ignacio, learn about the significance of chocolate in Mayan culture then make your own chocolate drink. Warning…this is not a Hershey bar! 

Channel your inner spelunker

See if you can remember the difference between a stalactite and a stalagmite and wade or paddle through underground rivers at Actun Tunichil Makal (ATM) Cave or Barton Creek Cave.  

Maya ruins

Discover Mayan history and breathtaking views at Caracol or Xunantunich 

River Tubing

Arrange for a guide from the hotel to take you river tubing on the Privasson Creek - no highly-chlorinated water park lazy rivers here!

Advisor - Claudia Riegelhaupt

A note from Claudia

The hotels in the area know all the best tips and tour providers. So use your concierge to plan all of your excursions and you’re sure to have the best experience, plus it’s much easier than planning it all on your own. They’ll also pack you a lunch or snack if you’ll be gone for a few hours! 

Placencia in Belize

Navigating From the Rainforest to the Beach in Belize - Placencia

The Placencia peninsula is about a three-hour drive from the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest, across the Hummingbird Highway which is a stunning drive across the country and through the rainforest. Placencia Village is on the southernmost tip of the peninsula. If you are arriving straight from Belize City, it’s a three-hour drive or a 30-minute puddle jumper flight and a five-minute drive to your resort. Your hotel can arrange either type of transportation. 

Monkey River tour

Monkey River Village is a nearby town where you’ll hop on a boat through a lagoon and mangrove estuaries to search for howler monkeys, birds, iguanas and crocodiles. 

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary & Jaguar Preserve

A jaguar preserve with hikes ranging in difficulty. You can go at dusk for a chance to experience the rainforest at night. 

Visit Placencia village

A quick cab ride down the main road to stroll through the tiny Placencia village. Grab some gelato from Tutti Frutti, and find your way to the Placencia Sidewalk for Belizean souvenirs, many made by hand by the shopkeepers themselves.


An absolute must-do in Belize, known for their barrier reef. Go all in and scuba the Great Blue Hole or find a smaller, more accessible reef for some amazing snorkeling. 

Laughing Bird Caye

Take a boat out to this teeny tiny island about 14 miles off the coast. It is a National Park with bathrooms and picnic tables – an awesome spot for snorkeling. 


Battle mackerel, tuna and barracuda then have them grilled for lunch on Laughing Bird Caye or ask the chef at your hotel to make you some fish tacos. 

Or combo all the water activities into one incredible day. Ask for Eric at Sandy Cove BZ Tours who knows the water and cayes like the back of his hand.

Advisor - Claudia Riegelhaupt

A note from Claudia

Don’t forget to pack lightweight long pants and long-sleeve shirts, water shoes, hiking shoes and plenty of bug spray. 

Need to Know

Several hotels in the country have sister properties in the rainforest and at the beach – and offer packages that include stays at both. Booking one of these makes the full experience between two locations and transportation between them super seamless and convenient. 

A special combo is Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn. They are both owned by Francis Ford Coppola who first fell in love with Belize in the 1980s and opened Blancaneaux in the early 1990s. The service is top notch, super friendly. The onsite restaurants are authentic and delicious. And the accommodations, amenities and adventures can’t be beat. Plus, the Coppola brand gives them serious style cred. They also have Coral Caye, a private island resort off the coast of Placencia for the ultimate Gilligan and Mary Ann experience. 

Other perfect pairings are Gaia Riverlodge / Matachica and Ka’ana / Itz’ana.  

Advisor - Claudia Riegelhaupt

Travel Advisor

Claudia Riegelhaupt

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