Family-friendly Adventures in Belize

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Advisor - Laura Cox
Curated By

Laura Cox

  • Belize

  • Adventure Travel

  • Beaches

  • Family Travel

  • International Travel

  • Tropical Vacations

  • Island

  • Jungle

Xunantunich Mayan Ruins in Belize
Curator’s statement

Belize has that perfect mixture of exotic jungle adventures and idyllic beach escapes. The country has such a wide array of activities to enjoy, from visiting historic Mayan sites to experiencing wildlife up close. Combine a little bit of jungle and beach, and you will have one incredible vacation. As they say, Belize is quite Unbelizeable!

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Where to stay in Belize

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Things to do in Belize

Shark swimming underwater in the Hol Chan marine reserve in Caye Caulker, Belize

ATM Caves (Actun Tunichil Muknal)

If visiting the San Ignacio region of Belize, a must-see is doing a cave tour of the ATM Caves (Actun Tunichil Muknal). You will wander into cathedral-sized chambers filled with ancient artifacts and skeletal remains of the Mayan Civilization. You will feel as if you are on your own Indiana Jones adventure as you wade through waist-high water, slither between tight rock formations and enter areas of complete darkness. Beware, as this could easily end up being a favorite experience of yours (it has been for us!).

Tips: You must be 48 inches tall to enter the cave, and you must hire one of the professional tour guides. This tour might not be for you if you tend to get claustrophobic. Plan to spend about 2.5 hours in the cave, wearing a headlamp, walking through water and climbing over rocks. Phones and video cameras are not allowed. 

Explore Ancient Mayan Ruins

Mayan ruins lie scattered throughout Belize, but three of the more popular ones are located near the San Ignacio region. If you are looking to experience what life used to be like during the Mayan times, then carve out some time in your day to explore one of these areas. One of the more popular sites, called Tikal, is located about a two-hour drive away in the neighboring country of Guatemala. Tikal is considered one of the world’s largest Mayan sites and can be experienced on a full-day tour. 

Otherwise, if you prefer to stay in Belize, you can visit Xunantunich or Caracol. Xunantunich is located in the center of San Ignacio. After a short five-minute hand-cranked ferry ride across the river, you will reach the beautiful grounds. However, if you prefer to explore a more remote location set amongst the lush Chiquibul National Park, then drive to Caracol to witness the largest Mayan site in Belize.  

Float on the Macal River

If you stay in the jungle, there are numerous activities such as bird watching, iguana and howler monkey spotting, fishing and night hikes. You will also want to make sure you experience the Macal River, and the best way to do this is via a canoe or tube. The river runs through the main town. Depending on where you are staying, you can float to the town if you desire. Otherwise, you can enjoy a leisurely float near your accommodation. Enjoy the beautiful views and peacefulness as you float down the river, and don’t forget to keep a lookout for any animals you may spot along the way. 

Snorkel Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley

After a few days in the jungle, you will be ready for a beach escape. One of the most popular things to do whether you stay on Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker is to take a half-day excursion to snorkel Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley. We have snorkeled some incredible places, and I have to say the marine reserve at Hol Chan was some of the best we have ever seen. You will snorkel amongst colorful fish, eels, turtles and even stingrays as well as swim past beautiful coral it’s as if you are in your own aquarium. The water is that clear! 

Your boat will then take you to Shark Ray Alley, where you have the option to jump into the water and swim beside nurse sharks. It’s quite nerve-wracking to get in the water, but once you are in, and these incredible creatures are swimming by you, you will be glad you experienced this.

Hire a Golf Cart to Explore Ambergris Cay

There are hardly any cars on Ambergris Cay but lots of golf carts. As they say, do as the locals do, so hire a golf cart for at least one of the days you are staying on the island. It’s a fun way to explore the town and lesser-known beaches and glimpse what life is like on the island. 

Spend the Day at Secret Beach

It might not be such a secret if everyone tells you to visit Secret Beach, but there is a good reason why you should go. Imagine spending the day relaxing on a chaise lounge chair with incredible views surrounding you. Enjoy a meal at a picnic table located in the shallow water. Or, wade out some distance and enjoy the incredibly calm turquoise-blue water. Located about a 45-minute drive from San Pedro, you will want to plan to spend the entire day here — you might not want to leave!

Places to eat & drink in Belize

Caribbean spiny lobsters in Caye Caulker, Belize

Elvi’s Kitchen: A fantastic place to eat dinner right in the center of San Pedro. Authentic, flavorful food. The curry was incredible.  Loved the vibe of this restaurant too.

Caroline’s Cookin: We ate here twice it was that good.  A smaller restaurant but such an incredible selection of international fare made from scratch.  Besides the wonderful food, the service was top-notch and we felt like we walked away with new friends. 

El Fogon: Authentic Belizean food cooked the old-fashioned way over a fire hearth

Blue Water Grill: Looking for a place right on the beach that serves delicious seafood, then this is the place to try.

Advisor - Laura Cox

Travel Advisor

Laura Cox

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Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, The Best Time to Go to Cabo. This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Belize.