Private Island Resort Belize
Adventure Island Belize – A Private Island Resort, photo by Clayton Anderson

If you are planning to visit Belize, likely you have around 8 or 9 days to spend on your vacation. Most people like to do a combination of island and inland. Then they get the best of both: incredible Caribbean island with white coral sand and tall, shady palm trees coupled with deep jungle full of tropical birds, exotic flowering plants, and Mayan ruins.

Our island packages to Long Caye are some of the best no-hassle all-inclusive adventures you can find. I find that people often like a combination of a set package with some Belize- on-your-own so that they can spend part of their week just winging it, and part of the week on our island on a no-brainer tour where everything is within paddling or swimming distance of our shore. No packing and unpacking, no figuring out where to eat or where to stay, and since it’s all inclusive, no surprises on the final bill.

Our Adventure Island at Glover’s Reef First Half package is a 6 night package, 4 on the island, and the first and last in Belize City. This will dovetail perfectly with a trip to the Community Baboon Sanctuary (Howler Monkey preserve) for 2 nights. This 8 night itinerary is mid-week to mid-week, designed especially that way so that you get the best rates on air tickets. Everyone wants weekend to weekend, so if you can do the opposite, you might save as much as $1-200!

The inland part of the itinerary takes in a wildlife preserve, a birding preserve, a Mayan ruin, the Belize Zoo, and our favorite restaurant! With this short trip itinerary, you will get to see a huge selection of the best of Belize.

map of belize one week itinerary

Here’s the itinerary with links and pricing (all rates in US$). We start out the trip by renting a car and transferring to the Howler Monkey Resort. Although simple, it’s budget friendly and in a fabulous location.

Howler Monkey Lodge
Howler Monkey Lodge

Day 1 – Fly to Belize and transfer to Howler Monkey Resort

Wednesday – fly to BZE. You will probably land sometime in the early afternoon. Go through customs and immigration and meet your rental car pickup from CarOne Rental Belize. They will drive you 15 minutes to their office which is almost directly across the highway from the Biltmore where you will be meeting us on Friday, so it will be a cinch to return the car at the end of the trip (and their airport pick-up will save you $30 on the cab ride into town). The cost for a Dodge Avenger is $60/day, and you will need it for 2 days.

Once you have your car, drive back toward the airport and beyond to Howler Monkey Resort. Located in the heart of the Community Baboon Sanctuary at the village of Bermudian Landing, you are guaranteed to see more Howlers than you have ever seen in your life! This simple jungle lodge is the perfect place to spend the next 2 nights, and it’s a great deal at $100 – $140/night, depending on room chosen, and this price includes breakfast and dinner!

Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
Northern Jacana, Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, photo by Patti Bleifuss

Day 2 – Driving tour on your own, birding at Crooked Tree and exploring Altun Ha Mayan ruin

Thursday – Before your trip, make a reservation for an early morning birding tour with the Birds Eye View Lodge at Crooked Tree. This inland lagoon is located about 45 minutes from your lodge. Drive out past the Community Baboon Sanctuary and back to the Northern Highway and turn left (north). At the village of Sand Hill, continue on the Northern Highway (left fork). Drive another 10 miles to the turnoff to Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary and follow the signs to Bird’s Eye View Lodge. You’ll have to get there early, tours start at 6 or 7 am. They take you on a boat into the secret, marshy parts of the lagoon. During this 3 hour tour you will likely see 30 different exotic bird species or more. The birding tour for 1-3 persons is $125, each additional person is $35. After the tour, return to the lodge for lunch, which is $15 per person. Their food is delicious! Make sure they know that you plan to have lunch there after the tour. Visit this blog post to learn more about the best birding tour in Belize!

After lunch, drive to Altun Ha Mayan ruin. Retrace your route back to Sand Hill, then take the other fork, which when coming from Crooked Tree will be a left. Go about another 10 miles to the turnoff for Altun Ha. The entrance fee is $5 US per person. It’s possible to tour the ruins without a guide, but we do recommend you hire one right there at the gate. We don’t know the exact rate, but it will be very affordable and will increase your enjoyment of the ruins. Return to Howler Monkey Resort after the ruins.

Black Howler Monkey at the Community Baboon Sanctuary
Black Howler Monkey at the Community Baboon Sanctuary, photo by Patti Bleifuss

Day 3 – Driving tour on your own, Community Baboon Sanctuary, Belize Zoo, and Cheers for lunch!

Friday – This morning you will first move out of your rooms because you won’t be returning to the Howler Monkey Lodge. After breakfast drive just a mile or less to the museum of the Community Baboon Sanctuary. This cute little homegrown museum has a lot of great info, and it costs just $3/person to get in. Be sure to hire a local guide who is probably hanging out right there to take you to see the monkeys. They will walk you the equivalent of half a block to where the monkeys are right by the path. They are always knowledgeable about the monkeys, having grown up there with them nearby all their lives.

When you are done at the museum, drive back towards the highway, but take a right turn toward Hattieville at the village of Burrell Boom. This will take you through a part of Belize you have not seen before. You’ll pass the prison. Don’t stop there! At Hattieville you will hit the Western Highway, turn right toward the Belize Zoo, which is about 15 miles from this turn off. The Belize Zoo is internationally famous. All animals are rescues and all are native to Belize. It’s a fantastic zoo and you’ll get to see jaguar, jaguarundi, tapir, and other animals you may never have even heard of. The entrance fee is $15 per person. Before turning into the zoo, decide if you want to have lunch now, or several hours later. Cheers is our favorite restaurant in the whole country, and it’s just a few miles more on the left (the zoo is on the right). Drive past the turnoff to Dangriga (the Coastal Road) and look for Cheers, you can’t miss it. Lunch will cost you about $10-12 per person.

Spend several hours at the zoo, it’s incredible. Just make sure you have enough time (to be safe, leave by 3:30 pm) to drive back to Belize City, drop everyone and luggage at the Biltmore, while the driver turns in the vehicle at CarOne Rental just a few blocks away, walking back to the Biltmore. Check in and be ready to meet your Slickrock guide at 5:30 pm for your trip meeting, shopping trip to nearby Brodies for last minute items, and dinner at the hotel. We go to bed early because we are getting up early to catch the boat to the island! Once you meet us, everything but your bar bill is covered: lodging, dinner and breakfast the next morning at the hotel. The cost for the Adventure Island at Glover’s Reef 6 night package is $1675 per person although if you have a group of 4 or more, you will get 10% off for each person!

Belize cabanas
Belize cabanas – Long Caye at Glover’s Reef, photo by John Holder

Day 4 – Transport to the island, move into cabanas, go snorkeling!

Saturday – After group breakfast walk to our private dock two blocks away. Your luggage is driven. From here we travel three hours by boat to Long Caye (65 miles). After lunch, move into your cabana, explore the island, and snorkel right off our shore after the snorkel orientation. Every night we have happy hour, appetizers, and volleyball before dinner and socializing after.

Kayak snorkeling at Glover's Reef
Kayak snorkeling at Glover’s Reef, Belize, photo by Victor Myers

Day 5 – Sea kayak orientation, snorkeling out of the kayaks, learn to windsurf

Sunday – Our sea kayak orientation is this morning: we cover paddle strokes, entering and exiting the kayak, and rescue techniques. Both this and the snorkel orientation the afternoon before are required, as we don’t offer these again. Starting in the afternoon, the itinerary is open. Several things are offered at once and you can choose what you wish to do. After lunch one guide takes a group paddling to a nearby patch reef to snorkel from the kayaks, while another guide offers windsurfing instruction. Certified divers may also begin diving.

Surf kayak our wave at Glover's Reef, Belize
Surf kayak our wave at Glover’s Reef, Belize, photo by Bryony Swan

Day 6 – Learn to dive, kayak surfing orientation, paddle around the island

Monday – The first Discover Scuba/Resort course is often offered this morning for beginning divers. Others enjoy a morning paddle around the island or go diving. Both windsurfing and kayak surfing orientations are offered in the afternoon. You may join one or both, then continue to practice these sports with or without a guide for the rest of the week.

Snorkel Glover's Reef Belize
Snorkel Glover’s Reef, photo by Keith Fialcowitz

Day 7 – Paddle 5 miles round trip to Middle Caye, snorkel, island time

Tuesday – Paddle your kayak or your paddleboard five miles round-trip to Middle Caye to tour the Marine Research Center, home base for marine biologists. We go for a fabulous snorkel while we are there. You may also choose “island time” and stay on the island. You can sea kayak, snorkel, dive, surf kayak, windsurf, or just relax.

Day 8 – Snorkel The Wall, return to Belize City, overnight at the Biltmore

Wednesday – One final dive or snorkel to “The Wall”, where the ocean floor drops from 40 to 2,600 feet in under a mile. After lunch we return to Belize City. Our arrival time cannot be predicted since it depends on factors we cannot control. Therefore, guests should not make other plans for Saturday night. After checking into the Biltmore, guests are on their own for dinner.

Day 9 – Fly home

Thursday – Earliest day to fly home, or continue to other spots in Belize for the rest of your trip.

Summary of all costs

RT Flight to Belize $300 – 700 per person
Rental Car – 2 days $120 for 1-4
Gasoline $60 for all (estimate)
Howler Monkey Lodge, 2 nights includes dinner and breakfast $200 – 280 for 2
Birding Tour $125 for 1 – 3
Lunch Birds Eye View Lodge $15 per person
Altun Ha Entrance $5 per person
Altun Ha Guide $25 for all (estimate)
Community Baboon Sanctuary Museum $3 per person
Community Baboon Sanctuary guide $10 for all (estimate)
Lunch Cheers $12 per person
Zoo Entrance Fee $15 per person
Adventure Island at Glover’s Reef adventure tour, 6 nights, includes 6 night lodging, transport to and from the island, 3 meals/day, unlimited beer and soda, national park fees and fishing license fees, and complete use of our sports equipment, instruction in all sports, and daily guided activities all day long: sea kayaking, snorkeling, windsurfing, kayak surfing, sport fishing, kayak fishing, stand-up paddling, and board surfing. Scuba diving and kiteboarding are at an additional cost. $1675 per person
Total 8 nights, for 2 persons Approximately $2250 per person or about $285 per day all inclusive, including air.
reef fish identification
Yellow Headed Jawfish by David Gottlieb

On our island, Long Caye at Glover’s Reef in Belize, we go snorkeling every day. Belize is located on the Western edge of the Caribbean Sea, and we have all of the Caribbean fish that dwell in other parts of the Caribbean. All of our guides know their fish, and when we take you snorkeling we are pointing out all of the various species and sub-species during the snorkel.

Every night on the island someone from our staff does a short talk on something interesting like the history of Slickrock, or the underwater geology of Glover’s Reef, or, the #1 favorite, Reef Fish Identification. During this talk we introduce many of the fish we see on a daily basis. One of our motivations for giving this talk is if we can get you to recognize the common stuff you always see, like Sergeant Major, French Angelfish, Queen Angelfish, Black Durgeon, Yellow Head Wrasse, Dusky Damselfish, and many others, then you will know it when you see something rare. Also, during the talk we introduce different fish behaviors so that you not only learn to notice exactly what the fish looks like, but also, just what are they doing anyway?

One of the most interesting fish in the Caribbean Sea is the Yellow Headed Jawfish. This is a long, thin fish that has a bright yellow face which fades to white on the rest of their body. They are hard to spot because they are so lightly colored that they blend into the white coral sand bottom. Also they spend their time hovering above a small tunnel that leads to their underground home, and as soon as they are disturbed, they back down into the hole, which makes them even harder to see.

When you do see one you might wonder how did they find a hole so perfectly round? The answer is they didn’t find it, they built it! The next obvious question is, how does one “build” a home when you don’t have any arms? Good question! The answer is – with your mouth!

The illustration below is from one of the all time best fish books, Reef Fish Behavior by Paul Humann and Ned Deloach (now out of print, available on Amazon used).

In this illustration you can see how the fish makes his house, by moving rocks with his mouth!

How to build a house when you don't have arms
How to build a house when you don’t have arms

When you live out on an island for weeks and even months, you get obsessed by some pretty interesting stuff. This last March we met a Pygmy Octopus living just a few feet from our shore. I got to see him several times, but by far his best friend was Elora Kooistra, the island dive instructor. She became totally infatuated with him, she named him Egbert, and took hours and hours of high-quality videos of her interactions with him.

A couple of our guests first found Egbert when they were snorkeling right in front of our kayak beach. He was living in a conch shell about 20 feet out. They showed the rest of our guests and guides, and one whole afternoon about 15 people were out there watching him in about 6 feet of water. Our kitesurf instructor Lauren Bibby and our island manager trainee Kyle Lowis, who were best friends with Elora, went out the next day with Elora to see if he was still there. When I came along the three of them were taking turns holding their breath while snorkeling with a GoPro filming Egbert while one of them stood on the other person’s back so the camera-person could stay down while snorkeling to get long, uninterrupted shots.

Then Elora decided it made way more sense to do this with scuba gear, so she would weigh herself down with a bunch of dive weights and take a scuba tank and in this way she could hang out with Egbert as long as she wanted. This went on for weeks. Eventually Kyle and Lauren reached the end of their shift so they left the island, but Elora and I stayed on and Elora continued to visit Egbert every day. For a while she lost him when he moved to another shell, but she hunted until she found him again.

She would take raw fish to him. He would fight nearby Damselfish over the treat. He would also grab Elora’s hand, and he learned to open a jar with the fish in it, and other entertaining past times. Elora got it all on camera. Every night she would bring her phone down to our dining hall and show me the latest clips of Egbert. It was super fun.

Recently an animal-lovers website made a video using Elora’s clips and it has gone some-what viral! (3 million views!) Check it out.

This Woman And Octopus Are Best Friends

This woman is best friends with a wild octopus, and he gets so excited whenever she swims up to him 🐙💙

Posted by The Dodo on Saturday, September 1, 2018

Glenn Boer joined us this December and he just sent a great video of his trip to our island, combined with his trip extension to nearby Guatemala. The first 3 minutes is about our island an includes the boat ride to the atoll, his cabana, paddling near the island, a kitesurfing lesson, and snorkeling with underwater footage! A fantastic montage! Thanks Glenn.

picture of us having kayaked out to patch coral for snorkeling

We have a lot of sports on the island, but the one we do every day and sometimes twice a day is kayak snorkeling. This is something you can’t do everywhere in the world, so often even kayak instructors have never experienced it. There are over 900 patch reefs at Glover’s Atoll where our island is located. They offer fantastic snorkeling, but there is no land near the patches. So we paddle up to them, the guide jumps out and secures his or her boat, and then ties everyone up to each other, making a long line of kayaks like you see in this photo.

Often, the water is over your head, and so you must be able to get in and out of your boat without tipping over. This is the trick we teach you on your first full day on the island. Everyone has to demonstrate they can do this before going on a kayak snorkel expedition. You wouldn’t want to paddle a half mile from the island and jump out and then not be able to get back into your kayak! It’s also quite a gear shuffle, getting your lifejacket, hat, sunglasses, and paddle off and stowed, and getting your fins, mask, and snorkel on. We teach you the whole process. First you test it out near the island, and then we go kayak-snorkeling that afternoon to practice what you learned. It’s my favorite sport. The number of creatures we see is amazing!

[Photo by Victor Myers]

inky-the-octopus

Our on our island in Belize my absolute favorite underwater creature is the octopus. We see them at low tide in our tide pool, and also when night snorkeling. Occasionally you will see the Common Octopus during the day, but that is rare. Mostly we see the Caribbean Reef Octopus, which is typically nocturnal.

Octopus can take many shapes, including the ability to squeeze through almost any size hole. The only hard thing on their body is their beak, which is quite small. The rest of them are all skin tissue, so they can fit almost anywhere by readjusting their shape to fit the space. It is wonderful to see an octopus ooze across the sea floor. I have also seen octopus turn into a Frisbee and spin away from us, into a hole in the coral.

I loved this story which apparently made international news of Inky the Octopus who escaped from the New Zealand Aquarium! Read on: www.nytimes.com/2016/04/14/world/asia/inky-octopus-new-zealand-aquarium.html

Most of our snorkel trips from the island require a paddle or swim out to nearby reefs, where we see an incredible array of coral and fish on a regular basis. However, sometimes there are incredible discoveries right under our noses if only one takes the time to explore. Witness these shots taken of some of the marine life found right under our dock on the island! We have seen lots of other creatures here, including sea horses, eels, sharks, and rays. But if you get really close to what is growing on the dock posts, you will see stuff like this every time. So you don’t need to travel far to see the amazing sea life at the atoll, it is right there in plain sight a few feet from shore!

Click on each image to see it full size. All photos were taken by our kitesurf instructor, Jasmine Ardeshiri.

snorkel Belize

I have been teaching snorkeling for years now. And when I first started going to Belize in 1986, I wasn’t even a strong swimmer. Belize is the perfect place to learn because the water is warm and clear and there are small tides and few currents. However, some people still experience fear and have many problems feeling comfortable under the water breathing through a tube.

We teach beginners to snorkel, and will work one on one with you if necessary. But there is a new product out there I just found out about that might be the answer to your problem. This is a full face snorkel mask where you don’t have to breathe through a tube. It’s called an Easy Breathe Snorkel Mask. I have not tried it myself so I cannot give it a personal recommendation, but it’s a very ingenious design and I imagine it will be the answer for many people.

full face snorkel mask

If you do buy one and try it out, would you send me an email and let me know how it goes? slickrock@slickrock.com

buy snorkel gear

I talk about Belize on the phone much of each day, and one of the things many people ask questions about is snorkel gear. This is a subject I know, so I love to talk about it. We don’t provide snorkel gear on our Belize adventure packages, you have to bring your own. Sometimes people get quite bent out of shape about this, but all I can think is that they don’t realize that rental gear is always lousy, and you can’t get it in Belize, you have to import it. In our case that means drive it 3000 miles. A good set will set you back around $200, but that same set is worth double that in Belize because of transport and duty fees. We provide all the big stuff: kayaks, paddles, boards, sails, kites, and lifejackets. But snorkel gear is small and easily lost. We have found people to be very cavalier with stuff they don’t own. You WANT to bring your own, anywhere you go. Good gear means you will enjoy your snorkel, cheap gear means you won’t enjoy it, because you will spend your entire snorkel choking on salt water or being blinded with salt water in your eyes.

So, there are lots of good options, and you can read another of my blog posts about choosing snorkeling gear which explains the qualities you are looking for. But the links below are to the best deals on specific gear I really like, mostly because it is either the same as or very close to the gear I use when I am on our island. You won’t be disappointed if you just buy this gear.

Dive skin – You absolutely want a dive skin. It will keep you warmer, un-sunburned, and un-stung by jellyfish. And this one is only $27! I bought one myself, it’s of very good quality.

Booties – Booties are essential. Foot injuries are our most common injury (next to volleyball mishaps). These are great, they are flexible but very sturdy. And they are on sale!

Fins – You want fins with a built-in weak spot, otherwise they are too stiff. These fins are THE BEST. I am on my 3rd pair. I gave my first pair away after a few years to a Belizean who needed them desperately, and my 2nd pair finally wore out after about 7 or 8 years. Love my fins. Your guide will be impressed if you show up with these fins.

Snorkel – The Impulse 2 is the best, hands down. No water in your throat. You will thank me.

Mask – I make no mask recommendation because this is the one item you should buy at a dive shop to be sure you get a good fit. OK, on second thought, what if you live far from a scuba shop? Alright, here’s a great mask, my Belizean guides always get this one, but be sure to test it in a pool before you go to make sure it fits the shape of your face. You don’t want to find out it leaks once you are there! Recommended snorkel mask.

sea turtle video

Encounters with sea turtles while snorkeling or scuba diving are always at the top of everybody’s list for their visit to Adventure Island on Long Caye. So, when we saw this sea turtle video we had to share it.

The youtube poster, glencon1, labeled it “Elbow” which is most likely a dive site at the southern tip of the Turneffe Islands called the Elbow. The only other explanation on glencon1’s youtube channel is “The videos from Belize Aggressor III are by Scott and Glen. They were taken with GoPro cameras and a Liquid Image Video mask.” In any case, thanks, glencon1 for the nice sea turtle video.

Sea Turtle Video

http://youtu.be/Xa5PD62eggg