A visit to Belize is an unforgettable vacation. There are so many adventures in Belize to experience that active travelers may struggle to narrow down what they want to do.
Whether you want to fly over the forest canopy on a zipline, gallop a horse along the surf, or tube through underground river systems, here are some of the most unforgettable adventures to be discovered in this lush jewel of a country.
Dive the Barrier Reef
Along the coast, you’ll find limpid lagoons, dozens of sandy cays to explore, and miles of mangrove forests. Under the water, though, is one of the reasons Belize draws adventurers from all over the world: the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere.
There are literally hundreds of places to dive, and the reef is considered so important ecologically that UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site in 1996. The dazzling corals are teeming with aquatic life, including turtles and manatees, groupers, eels and rays.
Divers can expect to see over 400 species of fish and more than 60 types of coral. Depending on the season, you can even swim with whale sharks, gentle giants that feed on krill.
Discover the Rainforest by ATV
What could be more fun than racing through the jungle on an ATV? You’ll start at the Jungle Paw Outpost camp with a briefing and practice ride, during which you’ll try different skills, such as turning, backing up, and going up and down hills.
Then, it’s off into the rainforest along marked trails, complete with bumps, slopes, and zigzags, all the time immersed in the cool green and the sounds of the forest. Thrill-seekers can open the throttle, although you can drive at a much slower pace if you simply want to spot wildlife and enjoy the scenery.
Fly Over the Canopy on a Zip Line
For a true bird’s-eye view of the Belize rainforest, harness up, clip on, and whizz over the treetops on one of the best zip lines in the world. The forest canopy is your playground as you fly through the lush greenery while watching out for wildlife; keep an eye out for the dapper toucan, the national bird of Belize.
You’ll get a whole new perspective of this country from the air. There are opportunities to create an entire day of adventures in Belize by combining ziplining with a hike or cave tubing in a single day.
Tube Through Jungle Cave Systems
Cave tubing, an activity in which you drift along an underground river through a natural cave system in the comfort of a big inner tube, is one of the activities for which Belize is best known. The Cave Branch River is the spot for some of the best tubing and its seven-mile stretch is gentle enough for anybody to try, making this a great Belize family adventure.
You’ll wear a headlamp, which you can turn on and off within the caves; some enjoy the sensation of drifting along in darkness in silence, while others like to admire underwater waterfalls and look out for ancient Mayan sketches and carvings on the walls. But these tours don’t only involve caves; the river flows through some really beautiful jungle scenery, too.
Climb the Mayan Ruins of Lamanai
The Mayan city of Lamanai, situated on the west bank of the New River Lagoon and today, largely overrun by rainforest, is believed to have been occupied as early as 1500 BC.
You’ll start your adventure with a boat journey, watching out for basking crocodiles on the banks and iguanas and tropical birds in the trees above. Once at the sprawling archaeological site, you can climb 125 feet to the top of the High Temple, a vast pyramid that’s been remarkably well preserved. From the top, you’ll gaze out over a sea of green.
Don’t miss the intricately carved Mask Temple, on which the masked faces wear crocodile headdresses in honor of the ancient city’s name; Lamanai means “submerged crocodile” in Maya language.
Skim Across the Water on an Airboat Adventure
Thrill-seekers will love this high-octane adventure which features a high-speed ride on the Almond Hill Lagoon. The airboat sits on top of the water, as opposed to in the water like most craft. This allows it to skim across the surface at high speed.
There’s still plenty of opportunity to view wildlife, though, as the driver cuts the engine so you can drift silently in the marshland while your eagle-eyed guide looks out for manatees, crocodiles, sea turtles, and wading birds.
Explore the Ancient Mayan City of Altun Ha
The ancient city of Altun Ha is close to Belize City, but nonetheless immersed in the rainforest. You’ll travel along the Rio Wallace by boat to reach the site, with a chance to spot crocodiles, monkeys, manatees, and iguanas.
Altun Ha was an important trading center more than 2,000 years ago. What you’ll see today is two central plazas, once used for ceremonies, the site surrounded by stepped pyramids. When the tombs were excavated, several jade treasures were found, including a six-inch carving of the Head of the Sun God Kinich Ahau. You can see a replica of this in the site’s small museum.
Ride Horseback Through Lush Landscapes
Whether you’re cantering along the beach in the gentle surf or following a shaded path through the jungle, splashing through shallow rivers, viewing the countryside on horseback is a serene experience and a wonderful chance to commune with nature. There are horses and rides for all levels of expertise, making this a great Belize family adventure.
Hike With a Naturalist
The rainforests of Belize are made for jungle hikes, with trails for all abilities. Several paths lead to waterfalls, concealed deep in the forest and cascading into inviting pools where you can cool off.
Book a tour led by a naturalist who will teach you about the flora and fauna of Belize and help you spot wildlife. Look out for brilliantly colored birds in the trees, as well as tiny tree frogs, troops of monkeys, and even the elusive jaguar.
Kayak the Caribbean Shoreline
Thanks to the protection of the Barrier Reef, Belize is one of the best places in the world for sea kayaking. You’ll paddle through crystal-clear, limpid waters, keeping an eye out for sea turtles popping up to breathe, or the shadows of rays flitting across the seabed beneath.
You can paddle into the cathedral-like chambers of vast sea caves, or beach your boat on a sandy cay for a cooling swim.
Read: Best Beaches in Belize
Visit the Xunantunich Ruins
What makes Xunantunich archaeological site such a popular choice for active travelers is that you’re allowed to climb on some of the ruins. Getting here is an adventure in itself, crossing the Mopan River on a hand-cranked ferry.
There’s an uphill trek to the site, which was occupied as early as 1000 BC, that will get your blood pumping. You can clamber to the top of El Castillo, a colossal pyramid looming 130 feet above the ground, passing elaborate friezes depicting Mayan deities.
From the top, you’ll have amazing views of the Mopan River and miles of green countryside. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Guatemala.
Once at the ruins, allow plenty of time for exploring. There are more than 20 Mayan temples, palaces, and excavations to explore, as well as a visitor center containing artifacts, pottery, and jewelry discovered on the site.
No matter what activity you choose, you’ll have plenty of fun seeking out adventures in Belize. Browse our luxury cruises to Belize and book your next thrilling vacation today.