What to Do in Belize: Adventure Activities

Un-Belize-able – this is the nation’s tag line and as well as being an incredibly good pun, it is actually something you will find yourself continuously muttering throughout the trip. The crystal clear waters of the islands, the delicious BBQ cuisine, the vast array of nature and wildlife and “Go Slow!” attitude of the locals. The place truly is, Un-Belize-able! We had to say it! But in all honesty, Belize adventure activities span from snorkeling and scuba diving to exploring ancient ruins.

With a country offering just so much it can make it difficult to decide what to do in Belize. But fear not, I’ve put together the best tours, the must-see sights and a few hidden gems we happened upon.


photo credit: www.global-shenanigans.com


Snorkeling in Belize

Belize boasts the second largest barrier reef in the world, only being topped by The Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The Belize Barrier Reef is a 190 mile stretch that is just 300 meters off-shore in the north. This means you only need to sit on a boat for a matter of minutes until you are in a prime snorkeling spot. Here are the best places to snorkel in the Barrier Reef in Belize:


Hol Chan

The best place to experience this world class snorkeling is Hol Chan Marine Reserve, which can be reached from either San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, or Caye Caulker. The reserve consists of coral reef, sea grass and mangroves. The words ‘Hol Chan’ mean ‘Little Channel’ in Mayan, due to the small opening in the reef for boats to fit through.

In this area, there are chances of seeing sea turtles, eagle and sting rays, nurse sharks, barracuda and many more animals.

Due to this being a marine reserve, your boat captain will go via the floating ranger station to collect permits. You will also be guided during this snorkel. It means someone leads your group and will be on hand to point out any wildlife you will see. Snorkeling in Hol Chan was a really cool experience and allowed us to find out extra information that we otherwise would not have discovered ourselves.

I would highly recommended forking out the extra cost of hiring a private boat. This allows you to leave earlier than the group tours. We were the first boat to arrive on site, and by the time we were getting out of the water for the next site, there was at least 15 other boats.


The Split at Caye Caulker

Another great place for taking a snorkeling tour in Belize is just off the beach on any of the islands! You really don’t have to go far to see wildlife. In fact, we spotted rays multiple times just from walking along the docks. However, my favorite free Belize snorkel spot would have to be the famous Split at Caye Caulker. The island was split down the middle during the infamous 1961 hurricane Hattie. The area of the split is now home to bars and restaurants, with a few different swim spots around each side. The deep channel attracts numerous fish and there is even a tall diving platform for some other water related antics, like perfecting your backflip.


Whale Sharks

Belize has a fairly short whale shark season in comparison to some other places, but if you happen to be in town then it’s always worth a shot! The best chances are in April and May, with some encounters a month earlier or later. The whale sharks turn up during the full moon in order to feed on the fish eggs being released. The reef to see them is called Gladden Spit and is 30 miles east of Placencia, and even if the whale sharks don’t arrive, this is still an incredible spot for diving in Belize.



Belize has more manatees than any other country in Central America! They can be seen around the shallow waters of Belize City, Placencia and other marine reserves. One of the best locations for it is at Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary, which can be reached from Caye Caulker. A local guide told me that swimming with manatees is no longer allowed, due to them being a protected species. But there are still many options for manatee watching, and there is always a chance of a manatee wandering over to you during one of your snorkel tours. They are wild, after all!


photo credit: www.global-shenanigans.com


Belize Adventure Activities

Actun Tunichil Mukanl (ATM) Cave Adventure in Belize

Proclaimed as the number one sacred cave in the world by The National Geographic Society. The feature of numerous documentaries and visited by archeologists and geologists alike. If you were only ever going to do one cave tour in your life, then let this be it. This is hands down one of the best adventure activities in Belize.

This cave is home to the most spectacular formations of flow stone, with whole caverns glistening from floor to ceiling from mineral deposits. The cave is also home to artifacts of the ancient Maya people. The cave was first entered in 300-600 AD, it was not until 700-900 AD that they went deeper and started using the cave for ceremonies.

Caves were thought to be a connection to the underworld. A place closer to the Gods and therefore very sacred. It is thought that after a terrible drought the Mayan people were desperate for help. They decided to adopt some practices of other native groups further north, and use human sacrifice as an offering to the Gods to help their crops. The remains of which can still be found inside.


What to Bring on The ATM Tour

As mentioned, this is a wet cave. That means only bring with you clothing to swim in, some decent sneakers and a change of clothes after. Unfortunately, a few years ago a tourist let their camera slip and damage the remains of a skull within the cave. Due to this, absolutely no cameras, including GoPros, are allowed in the cave. Take this as an opportunity to immerse yourself in the experience of the cave without distraction.

There is a limit to the number of people allowed in the cave per day. This doesn’t stop it from filling up, so do whatever it takes to get your tour to leave as early as possible. We were one of the first groups in the cave, and after seeing how many people were coming in during our way out, it would have been a very different experience. Here is our full review of the Belize ATM Caves.

Because of the fragility of the site, you cannot visit the ATM caves on your own. Click here to book your ATM cave tour. 


photo credit: www.unbelizabletravel.com


Mayan Ruins of Belize

There are a number of Mayan ruins around Belize, with the most impressive being in the ATM cave mentioned above, and Xunantunich ruins. Xunantunich is located in western Belize, just a stone’s throw from Guatemala. It is located on top of a ridge above Mopan River. It is still unsure why the Mayan people abandoned this city, but it is one of the largest ever built. Visiting this ancient site is one of the most unique things to do in Belize.

The main feature is known as ‘El Castillo’ – the Castle – which is still the second largest manmade structure in Belize. It is possible to connect a tour of Xunantunich with Tikal, which is just across the border into Guatemala. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is believed to have once been the capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. Although these are the most visually impressive, there are a number of smaller Mayan sites around most Belize communities.

Click to book your Xunantunich and tubing tour.


photo credit: www.cavesbranch.com


The Great Blue Hole Tour

The Great Blue Hole is a marine sink hole spanning 318 meters across and 124 meters deep. It’s situated near the center of Lighthouse Reef and is absolutely out of this world. The Great Blue Hole is part of the Belize Barrier Reef and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s ranked as number one on the Discovery Channels list of the “Ten Most Amazing Places on Earth”, and is a popular spot amongst divers. Of all the things to do in Belize, the Great Blue Hole is a must!

That’s a whole lot of reasons to get yourself to this spectacle! It truly is a sight to be seen, and I have never seen anything like it before. The best access is from Caye Caulker or San Pedro, as they are closest. Scuba tours are all for the entire day, due to the fairly lengthy boat ride to get there. But you will be rewarded with a deep ocean sinkhole with cave features such as stalagmites. This is a novelty dive, due to the unique experience. The waters can be crystal clear and there is marine wildlife such as sharks. However, to really see the Blue Hole in it’s entirety you need to see it from above.


How To See The Great Blue Hole from Above

To see the Great Blue Hole from the sky we took a scenic flight with Tropic Air. They depart from Belize City, Caye Caulker, San Pedro and Placencia, meaning it is accessible from pretty much anywhere you stay. The planes are small puddle jumpers, which allows everybody to get a window seat. The flight over was breathtaking. The water is so clear that you have the possibility of seeing manatees, dolphins and other marine life en route. Once we reached the Blue Hole, the pilot circled around to give both sides of the plane plenty of opportunity to take it all in. The photos truly speak for themselves and this experience was a highlight of the trip for me.

The scale of the hole is only apparent when you see how tiny boats are in the surrounding waters, which is why seeing it from the sky really is the best way.


photo credit: www.global-shenanigans.com


Wildlife in Belize and Best Places to See It

I have already mentioned the marine life: manatees, sharks, rays and sea turtles… Well nature is equally abundant on land!


The keel-billed toucan is the national bird of Belize. Its image can be seen all over the country. They predominantly feed on fruits and can be found within the Belizean forests.

Scarlet Macaw

One of the most impressive and magnificent birds within the parrot family. The best place to see the Scarlet Macaw in Belize is Red Bank, en route to Placencia, as the frequent this area.

Harpy Eagle

One of the most powerful eagles in the Americas, a harpy eagle is known to feed on large prey such as monkeys and sloths. The eagle has almost been made extinct from Belize due to forest fragmentation, nest destruction and others things. However the Belize Harpy Eagle Restoration Project and the Belize Zoo are doing their best to help restore populations.


The coati is a member of the raccoon family and behaves similarly, in the sense that they will feed on whatever they get their hands on. Their long snout makes them visually distinct from raccoons.

Howler Monkeys

Howler monkeys are like the dinosaur of the Belize jungle. Fun fact: the sound used for the T-Rex in Jurassic Park is from howler monkeys. That gives you a sense of just how scary their howl is. And it is terrifying. The howling is used to warn other groups of monkeys to stay out of their territory. Every evening, just as dusk comes in, the jungle is electrified with their blood curdling roars. We stayed for a few nights along Belize River and were able to find them each day, not far from our hotel near Belmopan. Howler monkeys are one of the coolest things to see in Belize.


Green Iguana Conservation Project

The San Ignacio Resort Hotel is leading the charge in green iguana conservation. At the base of the hotel’s property is an enclosure used as a space for iguanas to grow in strength and size, before being released into the wild. This is a highly interactive activity and our guide was extremely knowledgable and was great at passing that information on to us.


The Best Place to See Wildlife in Belize

The ultimate location for experiencing wildlife would be from one of the many jungle retreats and eco hotels that are found in western Belize. Around the areas of Belmopan and San Ignacio, resorts are spread along the rivers. Water obviously attracts wildlife, and from most of these locations you will see an array of animals and birds. From these accommodations, you can also book guided jungle hikes and canoe tours to get even deeper into nature. See below for recommended resorts.


photo credit: www.global-shenanigans.com


Where to Stay in Belize

Caye Caulker Accommodation

Budget: Chapito’s Apartments – Just $35 for a one bedroom apartment, this is a great budget accommodation option in Caye Caulker. These apartments are simple and rustic, but have all the amenities you’ll need including kitchen and bathroom.

Splurge: Seaside VillasThese two bedroom villas will actually make you feel like you’re living in Caye Caulker. With balconies that open up to stunning views of the sea, you’ll want to bask in the ocean breeze all day. Each villa has a living room area with TV and a full kitchen. They also share an outdoor pool if you can tear yourself away from the ocean long enough to take a dip!

More hotels and villas in Caye Caulker


San Pedro Accommodation

Budget: La Casa de Paz – Short of staying in a 10 person dorm, this is one of the more budget friendly accommodations in San Pedro. The rooms are elegant and clean, the hotel has a restaurant, bar and terrace on site.

Splurge: Mahogany Bay Resort and Beach Club – At $160+ for a room it may seem expensive by Central America standards, but it’s a steal compared to the US or Australia. This luxury resort has beautiful rooms, a gorgeous pool and overwater hammocks. What more could you want?

More hotels and resorts in San Pedro


Belmopan Accommodation

Budget: Rock Farm Guest House – This rustic guesthouse sits on the Roaring River and is a traveler favorite in Belmopan. The staff is incredibly friendly and the owners run a bird rescue program that they’re happy to share with you.

Splurge: Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge – Located in the Blue Hole National Park, this lovely lodge has panoramic views of Belize’s stunning forest. The rooms are designed in the style of natural luxury, with gorgeous outdoor hot tubs and balconies perfect for animal spotting.

More hotels and lodges in Belmopan


San Ignacio Accommodation

Budget: Rainforest Haven Inn – This simple inn is located in the heart of San Ignacio. It may not have all the frills of other luxury lodges, but has clean rooms and private bathrooms. The staff also offers cooking classes for those who want to learn more about Belize through their stomachs!

Splurge: Hidden Valley Inn & Reserve – I think the only downside to staying here would be constantly thinking about Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing… Yum! All jokes aside, this is a beautiful place to stay while visiting San Ignacio. Hidden Valley is an eco-lodge located in the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve. Amenities include a swimming pool, hot tub, yoga school, restaurant, lounge and bar.

More hotels and inns in San Ignacio


How To Travel In Belize

Entering Belize Overland

Belize shares a border with Mexico and Guatemala. There is one main road from both, leading to Belize City. The one bus journey our trip relied on did not go well. Taking a bus in Belize can be difficult to find bus timetables and there were long waits for the Mexican border crossing. It’s possible that others have had more success; this is only my experience. This may be down to needing to link up different operators from Mexico and Belize. As with all countries, you get what you pay for.

A taxi can remove all of the hassle. Drivers are willing to take you between the major towns, usually working out cheaper than booking transfers through a hotel.


Belize by Boat & Ferry

Entering Belize from Chetumal, Mexico is best done by ferry direct to either San Pedro or Caye Caulker. Taking a ferry in Belize is actually fun because the views are stunning and the ride is fairly smooth on the flat Caribbean Sea. Going to Caye Caulker does still require you to depart at San Pedro and go through customs, so factor that in to your schedule.

The Belize ferry system links up all of the islands as well as getting to the mainland at Belize City. Once you are in country, this is fairly inexpensive with multiple departures every day.


Flying to Belize (And Around Belize)

The fasted, most spectacular and hassle free form of transport. Tropic Air Belize offer a number of flights between all of the major destinations. This allows you to turn your transfer day into an adventure of itself. With the aircraft being small bush planes, it means they can get in to the smallest airports in remote locations. The flights themselves are truly breath taking. You’ll fly over jungle and sea, with the opportunity to spot wildlife during that.

Tropic Air also have international flights to Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.


Hitchhiking in Belize

Hitchhiking is a super common form of transportation in Belize. Many locals use hitchhiking to get around. You’ll probably see small groups forming of people waiting for a ride. You can offer to help pay for gas, but it’s usually not required. Here is our experience hitchhiking around Belize: Tips for Hitchhiking in Belize


photo credit: www.global-shenanigans.com

San Ignacio Belize: Free and Cheap Things to Do

So you’ve found yourself in the quaint Belizian border town of San Ignacio. Maybe you’re contemplating shelling out the money for the ATM caves (which we fully recommend). Or maybe you’ve just gone on your cave tour and have decided to hang around the area for a bit longer while the water dries out of your shoes. Either way, you’re probably on a strict budget considering the cave tour runs at about $85+. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. There’s a lot more to discover in the area that won’t break the bank. Check out our list of cheap & free things to in San Ignacio Belize.

Cahal Pech Ruins – $5 / Free if the guard on duty is snoozing

Compared to the nearby Mayan giants at Tikal, these small ruins may feel a bit underwhelming. But for a relaxing afternoon adventure they do the trick. We wandered in on a late Saturday afternoon and literally had the whole place to ourselves. These ruins are located just on the outskirts of town, taking you quickly from an urban street to an ancient historical site.  Contrary to some recommendations, you don’t need to take a taxi here and the site itself is flat and easy to navigate. The ruins cost a reasonable $5, which we do recommend paying, but you may have to wake the sleeping guard to do so.


Local Farmer’s Market – Free

The market is a buzz of activity everyday but the big turnout is saved for Saturdays. You’ll find everything from fresh fruit & veggies to handmade crafts to pretty much whatever people can rummage up and sell. Compared to the rest of Latin America, produce in Belize is pricey. So if you’re coming from Guatemala, brace yourself for a price jump. The market houses a couple of clothing stalls with super cheap and fun second hand clothing. Everything from cargo pants to “Jefferson High Senior Waterpolo Champs ’99” shirts. We managed to haggle two shirts for $3. Score.

Butterfly Farm & Natural History Museum – $5

On the grounds of the super fancy Chaa Creek eco lodge is a small natural history museum that details the local flora and fauna dating back to the ancient Mayans. Outside the museum is the butterfly farm. The farm breeds the gorgeous Blue Morpho butterfly to sell around the word. Check out the different stages of the metamorphosis cycle while these blue beauties flutter around you.

Rainforest Medicine Trail – $5 unguided tour

After you get your butterfly fix, check out the Rainforest Medicine Trail. Also on the Chaa Creek grounds, the trail is a hike just above the bank of the Macal River. Check out all the medicinal plants used throughout Mayan history. Pay an extra $5 for a guide to get the low down on all the medical uses, or skip it and just enjoy the colorful biodiversity for its beauty.

San Ignacio doesn’t have to drain your savings just because of the pricey ATM caves. We recommend spending a few days in the area to explore. Come for the cave tour, stay for these cheap and free activities.

Exploring the ATM Caves in Belize: A Most Excellent Adventure

The ancient Mayan sacrificial caves of Actun Tunichil Muknal, Belize invoke a rare sense of discovery on the often worn out tourist trail. The genuine feeling of exploration makes the ATM caves tours in Belize one of the most exciting and worthwhile adventures we’ve experienced during our travels, and we couldn’t recommend it enough.

And while the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave tours aren’t the cheapest excursion, especially if you’re a budget backpacker like we were when we went on the tour, they really are an activity that can’t be missed if you’re traveling through Belize. And we sure are glad we went with our gut on this one.

ATM Cave Tours in Belize

Our journey starts in the quiet border town of San Ignacio, Belize after crossing over from the Tikal ruins of Guatemala. From here there are a huge selection of agencies offering the tour, but almost all of them use the same guides. In fact there are only a small amount of guides that are qualified to run the tours, which means most guides are experienced and know their stuff. It’s a full day tour that picks you up, provides lunch and water and then takes you home.

We arrive at the park entrance early, grab our gear and take off on the hike to the cave. Along the way our guide Luis tells us stories of jungle jaguars, saving lost hikers and Mayan history. After crossing through three rivers and walking for an hour we get to the cave entrance. From here it’s goodbye to the bags, and our cameras. They have enforced a strong ‘no gear’ policy in an attempt to preserve the caves.


Exploring the Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves

We gather at the cave entrance and jump off the rocks into the cold crisp water. Climbing up onto a ledge, the group sets off into the darkness, at times walking along the smooth rock, other times knee deep in water. Along the way Luis tells us about the cave formation, the history of its exploration and the earliest occupation by the Mayans.

If you’re claustrophobic you don’t need to worry too much. The cave itself is spacious, and only rarely are you stuck in tight spots. The cave twists, turns and has a number of different levels. For the more adventurous type there are a few challenges if you’re up to it, but ask your guide before wandering off. After 45mins we hit the end of the wet chamber and arrive at the dry chamber, where we climb up a rock and into an upper shelf of the cave.

It’s here the real tour starts. Once we enter the dry chamber we’re automatically thrown back into a world two thousand years old. Antique pottery covers the floor, half buried into the cave rock and leaning against the walls. Each artefact has been left exactly how it was originally discovered, lending clue as to which sacrifices and rituals they were used for.

As we move further through the chamber we start to see more obvious signs of ancient life. Scattered human remains are encrusted into the rocky floor, preserved perfectly from centuries of calcification. Luis explains the likely events of what occurred, detailing why a skull is detached from it’s body and shows us the hidden location of a missing tooth.

We continue along the designated path until we get to a ladder and the final climb into the last dry chamber. It’s up here that we’ll meet the iconic ‘crystal maiden’ of the caves; a perfectly intact full skeleton encrusted into the rock. We ascend the ladder and hop around some rocks before we finally get into the chamber.

Luis gets us to turn off all our lights as he shines his single light into the darkness and upon the skeleton. The light glistens and flickers around the lime calcification encasing the skeleton and we are literally within arms reach of it. It’s a fascinating sight and we’re all left in awe. So many questions pass around the group about the origins of the skeleton, and the story behind it. Luis, who has led teams of geologists, historians and archaeologist down the cave for decades, has many answers. But listening to his stories are half the fun, so we can’t reveal everything for you.

Time to get yourself there, and make it quick. The caves have already been slowing down tourism over the years because of ongoing damage. It won’t be long before these are out of reach for the passer by traveller.  In the past it was a free for all, but now tours limit the amount of people they send in, and always without backpacks and cameras. So unfortunately you won’t get any pictures, but not to worry, you won’t be forgetting this experience for a long time.

ATM Caves Belize – Travel Tips

– Depending on the season you can haggle the tour companies for a discount. Don’t go with your first price and always spend a little extra time shopping around for a discount.

– The bigger your group, the more of a discount you can swing. But be aware that the smaller the group, the more you’ll feel like Indian Jones. The bigger the group, it’ll be more like the Indian Jones ride at Disneyland. Finding the balance is the perfect way to experience the Belize ATM caves in a way that suits your style.

– Book it! The Belize tours to the ATM caves are always changing, with more and more restrictions being applied to help preserve them. Don’t hesitate to book this trip today!

Our Failed Attempt to Interview the Mennonites in Belize

It’s not often we’d write a post about our failure, but we thought we’d share this funny story with you. As travel bloggers we’re always on the look out to report about the unreported, but on this occasion it just didn’t work out. At the time we were frustrated, but now we look back on it and laugh. Humid days chasing down a ghostlike community, sleeping in a dirty sex motel and surviving off only bread and mustard. This story has it all.


We were leaving the Caribbean coast of Belize and heading inland, making our way slowly up to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. Ever since first entering Belize a few weeks before we kept bumping into this oddly placed sub-culture that was arousing our curiosity; the Mennonites.

The Mennonites are an agricultural Christian community originating from Northern Europe in the 16th Century. They moved around throughout the centuries to avoid persecution and eventually a bunch of them settled in Belize in the 1950s. To this day they still live with a lot of their 16th Century traditions, choosing to reject modern technologies.

The Mennonite communities of Belize live under varying degrees of radicalism, but across the board many possess similar features. They speak an old Germanic language that dates back to their roots; they’re mostly fair skinned, they shun modern technology and they kind of dress like pilgrims.

What makes them even more peculiar is that they stick out among the Belizean population like a sore thumb. We’d be walking down a busy street filled with everyday black and Hispanic looking families dressed in modern clothing. Then suddenly we hear the clip clop of a horse and turn around to see this white dude in farmer’s overalls, with a massive beard, riding a horse and cart through the streets.



Now we can’t generalise too much because we didn’t get to find out as much as we’d wanted, but we can’t say we didn’t try. We travelled up north to the town of Orange Walk, a great jumping off point for tucked away Mennonite communities. When we arrived in town we realised very quickly that it wasn’t set up for us budget backpackers. There was only one budget option in town and it really made you work for your savings.

I mean really work for it. Apart from the fact that it was guarded by feral street dogs out the front, it was also obviously used for scandalous love affairs when not occupied by cheap backpackers. While we were waiting to drop off our bags we saw a cleaner busily sweeping away condoms from the room we were headed into. Not a good sign.

After a restless nights sleep, and some bread and mustard for dinner (we didn’t want to brave the street dog back at night so stayed in and ate our rations) we survived until the morning. We’d mapped out a couple of communities to explore, however recent flood damage to the roads was making it difficult to get there. We decided to walk over to the market and find the buses that take the Mennonites from town into their communities.

I wasn’t sure how we were going to approach them, so I decided to just throw myself in there. I climbed onto one of their buses, as a row of heads turned in my direction, and asked a Mennonite couple in English where the bus was going. Nothing but blank looks. Ok, so I tried in Spanish, and the looks were even blanker. Umm what to do now. I jumped off the bus and looked at Christine puzzled. We tracked down another Mennonite kid in the street selling peanuts, who just stared at us behind his glasses, blinking. We then tried a woman selling apples, but she just grunted and frowned.



We knew they spoke their own language, but surely they knew some Spanish or English as well. They had integrated with the Belizean community to sell their agricultural products, so they must have some multilingual skills.

At this stage we were at a bit of a loss. We were nearing the end of our Belize trip and we were desperate to get back to some delicious Mexican food and cheap beer. We wanted to get this story, but the border was in sight only a few hours away and we really didn’t want to go back to the dirty sex motel. In the end we simply said, “screw it”, grabbed our bags and hopped on a bus. It wasn’t meant to be!

Thumbing Through Belize: Tips For Hitchhiking Safely


We stood on the side of the long dusty road, a puddle of sweat soaking into the back of our t-shirts. We had successfully hitched 141 kilometers that day, but it seemed our luck had run out.  The final stretch to the coastal town of Hopkins was the six mile dirt road that connected to the highway and we hadn’t even made it a mile in. Few cars passed and the ones that did sped right past our outstretched thumbs and kicked up a cloud of dust that enveloped us in dirt before settling.


{ The long, dusty road }


Hitchhiking as a backpacker has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of catching a ride.  We’ve found that while some locals jump at the chance to give a ride to a foreigner, others are more likely to pick up other locals, especially in smaller towns.


So as we sat in the sun, praying for a ride, a truck with an older couple approached quickly. I stuck my thumb out, stretching it high into the air and Jules waved his arms, and we both attempted our most desperate, downtrodden faces.


We held our breathe as they rolled by and let out a sigh of relief to see that they were slowing down to stop just a few meters ahead. We shimmied on our backpacks and crawled into the hot plastic truck bed. Then we kicked back, let the wind cool us off and didn’t even mind the potholes that sent us bumping up and down. Our luck had returned.


 { No better way to travel than in the back of a pickup truck }


When we finally made it to the hostel, we practically collapsed on our springy wooden bunk bed. We had successfully hitched every part of our journey from the border of Guatemala to the south of Belize.


Wait.. You did what??


Okay, hear me out. Yes, that may sound crazy, hitchhiking across the border of two impoverished developing countries, but, like most travel in Latin America, it’s not as dangerous as you would think. Hitchhiking is a very common and popular method of transportation in Belize.


It’s hard to turn a corner in Belize without seeing someone’s thumb sticking out into the street. And what’s more, it’s difficult to spend more than 10 minutes waiting without catching a ride with someone. It’s as ingrained in their daily lives as driving a car is in the western world.


{ Our cozy ride }


We managed to travel around Belize only paying for transportation once. I’ll admit Belize is a small country but that’s pretty amazing and definitely helps keep the spending down.


Here are some tips for hitchhiking in any country:


Don’t just stick your thumb out for anyone: 

Jules and I are very picky about who we get a ride with. We prefer families, couples and other travelers. We skip cars with front tinted windows and groups of men. This will just depend on your comfort level. If you’re two women, maybe you will only catch a ride with other females or families.


Know where you’re going:

Do a bit of research. Try to print out a map or use the one in your guidebook to have a sense of where you’re going. We use the Google Maps app on the iPhone. If you load the maps back at the hostel before you leave, you can still use them on the road and the GPS lets you know where you are, even outside of WIFI zones.


Don’t travel in the dark:

Everything is more dangerous at night. Estimate how long it should take you to get to your destination and then tack on an hour so you can be sure not to arrive in the dark.



{ That time we hitchhiked with an El Salvadorian gospel church }


Chat with your driver:

Hitchhiking is a great way to save money, but its also the perfect way to connect with locals. Locals that pick up other travelers are usually excited to learn about you and you travels, and sometime even to practice their English. Take this opportunity to learn about local culture, the best spots to visit and practice the local language as well.


Trust your gut:

If someone pulls over and offers you a ride, have a quick conversation with them before you get in. Ask them where they’re headed and if they mind giving you a lift. Even with a short interaction you can get at least an idea of who this person is. If it doesn’t feel right, just thank them and wait for someone else. Don’t worry about offending them; better safe than sorry.


We want to hear about your experiences hitchhiking! Have you had any crazy encounters? Do you have any tips to add to the list? Let us know! 

The Key to Caye Caulker Backpacking: Come Prepared


I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t love Caye Caulker. Which left me with the great travel blogger dilemma. How to write on a place you’re not crazy about.  Do you gloss over the not so glamorous parts and fake enthusiasm? Or do you have an obligation to your reader to be as honest as possible even if that means admitting to some ugly truths? I’m going with the latter, but don’t worry, it’s not all bad!

I’m not going to say don’t go to Caye Caulker. We did enjoy the small town island vibe, and it is the perfect place to meet up with fellow backpackers. However, in the end the suffocating push for tourism had us packing our bags and looking elsewhere.



Starting from the moment we bought our tickets for the express boat trip from Belize City to Caye Caulker, I felt like I had a giant dollar sign tattooed on my forehead. As soon as we landed on the island we were bombarded by hostel workers and tour guides shoving brochures in our faces.

The Caye itself is small and, although filled with tourist shops, it does have a relaxing, laid back vibe. We kicked off our sandals the moment we arrived and went barefoot for our 4 days there. And while the island itself is made up entirely of reef and has zero beaches, that doesn’t stop people from soaking up the sun. Everyday backpackers and tourists congregate at “the Split” on the east end of the caye for afternoon beers and sunbathing.



The touristy area is cheerful and, despite not having beaches, the Caye has a definite Caribbean beach vibe. But the whole thing felt a bit put on to me. Every morning when we left our hostel we were confronted by the same obnoxious Rasta dude trying to get us to buy his “Coco Loco.” Thanks dude, but we’re not interested in your homemade cocktail at 10:30 in the morning. If you wander off the main strip and head to the west side of the island, you start to get a true feel for the place. The cheerful hostels & tour guides start to give way to local residences, which ranges from the modest to the barely livable. It was sad to see the harsh contrast between the nicer hotels and the living situations of some of the locals.



If you’re not interested in the backpacker scene, rest assured, Caye Caulker does have plenty of aquatic activities for sea lovers. Scuba diving and snorkeling are huge, as is sport fishing. We decided to splurge on a snorkel trip and found that most shops will go down to the same price ($30 for a half day tour). The one shop that stood apart from the rest was Big Fish, down toward the western end. They promote themselves as the ethical and sustainable tourist shop and the only one that doesn’t harass the animals. Unfortunately, we waited till the last minute to book our tour and they didn’t have any snorkeling groups going out that day. Instead we settled for one of the other shops that was pretty unmemorable, so I won’t even bother naming it.

Shark & Ray Alley, the second stop on the tour, was the main attraction. True to its name this spot is filled with nurse sharks and stingrays that come straight for the boat as soon as they hear the motor. The alleged story is that this was previously the spot where fisherman would come to clean their fish. The sharks and rays soon learned that the sound of an approaching motor meant they would be fed. The tour boats carry on this tradition and throw bits of fish into the water to encourage the sharks to stay longer. I have to admit, even though the whole thing felt a little artificial to me, swimming among these incredible animals was breathtaking. It was one of those travel moments that makes you stop and think, am I really here doing this??



After the tour I grilled our tour leader on the environmental sustainability of such a practice. He assured me that they fed such a small amount that the bait was more of a light snack than a meal. The other part that bothered me was that the leader picked up a shark for us all to touch the leathery skin, as well as a stingray. I later learned that stingrays have a protective coating on their skin and petting them can be damaging. While the experience was amazing, if I did it again I would definitely go with a Big Fish snorkel guide. While you may not have the same experience, because they don’t feed the animals, you know for sure that you are not negatively impacting these incredible creatures.

After 5 days on Caye Caulker, we were ready to get out of there. While the laid back island lifestyle kept us there for a few more days than we planned, the “in your face” approach to tourism was not our style. We decided to throw our shoes back on our feet and head to the next destination – Orange Walk!




Our Week In Review: Hopkins & Caye Caulker Photos


This week has been jam packed. Now that we have less than 2 months left on our trip, we’ve started to feel the pressure to squeeze everything in. Long gone are the days of leisurely crashing somewhere for a couple weeks, exploring new places slowly and deeply. We’re still not traveling as fast as some backpackers though, sticking with a minimum of 2 or 3 nights in new places. We’ve enjoyed moving quicker; its never dull and there is really a rush that you get from running around, exhausted but wired, not sure what day it is, or even what country you’re in for that matter. But it is tiring.

I think this week we’re really starting to feel the strain of traveling for such an extended period of time. Most of our electronics have gone on permanent strike (ie. broke) Our feet are sore and all of our clothes have some sort of hole or stain in them. We’re on the home stretch and we’re balancing our excitement to go home with savoring every moment we have left on the road. This week we visited the small beach town of Hopkins, the reef island Caye Caulker and yesterday we crossed the border back into Mexico. After jumping around Central America for the past 5 months, heading back to Mexico feels like coming home. This is where we started our trip, the country we spent the most time in and a personal favorite of both of ours. Stepping across the border today, we were both invigorated with the anticipation of tacos, cheap beer and a few weeks on the Yucatan. Lets do it!


We met a man who has taken in dozens of cats and dogs abandoned on the island. It was beautiful to see someone who cares so much about the local animals. If you’re interested in adopting or donating follow their Facebook page; The Caye Caulker Animal Shelter




Have you check out any of these spots? How did they compare to our snaps? Drop us a comment below or find us on Facebook and Twitter!

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