Belize adventure destination-glovers reef

For adventure lovers, Belize still remains somewhat of an underrated destination. In 2009, only a surprising 231,249 travelers visited this tropical paradise. Competing with the other great adventure destinations, it’s easy to see why Belize can often be over looked.

However, once you’ve experienced a taste of what this unique, vibrant and diverse culture, it’s guaranteed that you’ll never want to leave. With a whole plethora of exciting activities on offer, a beautiful and historic landscape and a near-perfect climate, there are endless reasons why you should book a trip to Belize right now and consider never returning!

Belize Adventure Diving and Snorkeling

Probably one of the most famous diving landmarks in the world is located just off the coast of Belize. The Blue Hole is a unique geographical feature, where a sinkhole has formed in the center of the Lighthouse reef. The result is one of the top scuba spots in the entire world; with endless tropical sea life and crystal blue waters, it truly is not to be missed.

Beginner divers can also find a paradise in Belize. There are numerous scuba and snorkeling lessons and courses available, and organized tours can take you out to help you find the best spots for marine life. Once you’ve taken your first dip, you’ll be hooked automatically.

The Watersports

It’s not just under the water that makes Belize a hotspot for adventure lovers. The weather and location make it the ideal place for watersports of all time. Whether you’re looking for a serious adrenaline rush or just a bit of fun in the sun, Belize is the answer. All over the beautiful coastlines there are watersport schools that offer lessons and equipment hire for a reasonable price.

Learn to kitesurf at Slickrock's kitesurf school in Belize

Whether you’re a beginner or expert, you can go windsurfing, kite boarding, surfing, kayaking and paddle boarding—to name just a few! The views are beautiful, the water is warm, and there’s endless fun to be had. It’s no wonder why so many people struggle to leave.

The Hiking

There is also plenty of fun to be had while staying dry on this beautifully varied set of islands. With its lush jungle canopies and thick rainforest, there are plenty of hikes available that will fulfill any traveler’s thirst for adventure. With numerous national parks and nature revelations all over, there’s no shortage of choice.

Head to the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve to see the only true pine forest in all of Central America and one of the best waterfalls worldwide, or visit the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary for epic tropical trails and the largest concentration of wild cats on the planet. Whatever you decide will make a fulfilling day out, and you’ll always know there’s more to pick from!

The Caving

Somewhat surprisingly, there’s a massive caving culture in Belize. The cayes, islands and intricate waterways have left a labyrinth of picturesque rock formations that are incredible to explore. Hokeb Ha Cave and Tiger Cave are only accessible by swimming through a cool pool of water, but once inside, the stalagmites and stalactites makes you feel like you’re on another planet.

Kayak caving is also extremely common in Belize. You can take the boats up smaller streams and water passages to gain access to the many caves on the island. Doing this is a novel spin on your generic caving excursion and allows you to explore the island in a truly unique way.

The Mayan Ruins

You can’t talk about the highlights of Belize without covering the Mayan Ruins. Many of the best-preserved ancient Maya sites can be found in this country, nestled away in the thick jungle and luscious countryside. These awe-inspiring centers of culture and history are dotted all over, and many require long treks to reach. However, for adventure lovers, nothing is comparable to arriving at your destination and uncovering these stunning ancient buildings through the canopy of leafs.

Xunantunich Mayan ruin in Belize

Top spots include Tikal (in nearby Guatemala), the ultimate Mayan city; Xunantunich, a hilltop castle and the most easily accessible; and Lamanai, which is usually accompanied by a river safari. They are truly beautiful sights, both historically and aesthetically, and the thought of having them right on your doorstep can make it very hard to consider leaving Belize!

With endless amounts of fun, excitement and stunning attractions, Belize may not be the most popular adventure destination, but it’s definitely that sort that makes you want to stick around for longer. After experiencing all it has to offer, the only thing left is to gain access to Skype to ring your loved ones and let them know you’re not coming back! However, you’ll need to have a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to do so because all VOIP services are blocked in Belize, and a VPN will help you get around these regional restrictions.

If this list isn’t enough to convince you contact Slickrock Adventures with any questions about making Belize your next vacation destination!

Jess Signet is an avid traveler and enjoys writing about her adventures. Knowing there’s more to the world than the bubble she lives in makes her want to travel even further.

[photos: Kenny Stein, Keith Fialcowitz, Henry Georgi]

If you’re thinking of booking a trip to our island but also wondering what else there is to do before or after your time with us, here’s a very watchable video on YouTube posted by Brit DJ Dave Raven who visited the country back in 2009. He edited his five-day tour down to 20 minutes. It covers Caye Caulker, San Ignacio and Bullet Tree Falls, Mayan Temples, Belize City, Punta Gorda and Hopkins. Enjoy.

Crystal maiden Belize

Much of Belize’s topography is composed of a ‘karst’ landscape, which consists of deeply eroded limestone hills. Karst lands are typically honeycombed with caves, and Belize is no exception. The country is famous among international cave explorers, who have discovered and mapped innumerable Belize caves. Belize contains the second largest underground chamber in the world, over 1/4 mile long!

Mayan society and culture was based on their religious beliefs, and many of their most important deities resided in the underworld, for which caves were the portal. As such, the Mayans held all caves sacred, and performed religious ceremonies in nearly every cave they found. Belize’s caves contain incredible treasures from these ancient ceremonies, and the country’s caves are famous among archaeologists all over the world. The thick rainforest cloaking the karst hills of Belize makes it difficult to find caves, and new discoveries are being made every year.

Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave has become internationally famous as the showcase of Belize’s caves, having been featured in numerous magazine articles and on TV shows. Limited tours are permitted through the cave, which is located deep in the jungle and accessed by swimming into the creek that flows from the cave’s entrance. Inside the cave an amazing collection of ceramic offerings, ceremonial sites, and skeletons of sacrificial victims can be viewed. The main feature, however, is a complete skeleton of a young woman which has been encrusted with calcite crystals, know as the Crystal maiden.

Tours to the cave can be booked from any lodge in the Cayo area. To see our list of recommended Cayo lodges, visit our Things to Do in Belize page.

La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge  is a grueling multi-day canoe race traveling a perilous river route across the country of Belize. The route runs West to East along the Macal and Belize Rivers, once the only link between beautiful San Ignacio, in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, and the bustling port of Belize City. This is a race for everyone (not just professional racers)!

There are 8 divisions for the race:

  • Male
  • Female
  • Mixed
  • Masters
  • Dory
  • Intramural
  • Pleasure craft
  • Family Adventure Race

The race occurs each year in March, coinciding with Baron Bliss Day. This year (2011), the canoes will leave San Ignacio on March 4 and arrive in Belize City on March 7. The teams, which race for station prizes along the way, battle for the major cash prizes awarded at the end of the race.

Why not come to Belize early, and either watch the canoe race or join the team, and then go out to our island right after? Our private Belize island will be waiting for you!

One of the greatest things about travel abroad is being introduced to new foods and beverages. On the island, that includes a fridge full of Belikin beer, the leading domestically produced beer brand in Belize. The most common Belikin is a light lager beer. A premium lager and a stout beer are also brewed and sold under the Belikin name.

Belikin regular
Regular-green cap
Belikin stout
  Stout-blue cap
Belikin premium
Belikin premium
Belikin lighthouse
Belikin lighthouse

Belikin is brewed by the Belize Brewing Company, Ltd. which is owned by the Bowen family. The Belikin beer brand name was first marketed (according to differing sources) in the late 1960s or in 1971. Its tagline is “The Only Beer worth drinking”.

Guests enjoying a cool one out on the boat dock.

The name “Belikin” comes from the Maya language and means “Road to the East”. This is a term which some have suggested is the origin of the name of “Belize” (although the most accepted derivation says the name comes from the Belize River, meaning “muddy”). The Belikin label features a drawing of a Pre-Columbian Maya temple-pyramid at Altun Ha.

The brewery is based in Ladyville, Belize District.

Belikin currently exports its Beer and Premium to a distributor in Los Angeles, California. The distributor ships to select high end alcohol stores across the United States.

These newlyweds enjoy a post wedding Belikin on the island.

There are lots of ways of getting to Belize and we’ve been providing regular updates on many of them on our blog (eg. Cancun to Belize by bus,  Belize car rentalsBelize airlines, and Belize cabs) our Facebook page and especially on our website’s, US to Belize airfares page. But here’s one we hadn’t thought of yet: as recently reported by prolific Belize blogger “tacogirl” on her Facebook page, San Pedro Water Taxi now includes a daily route between San Pedro and Caye Caulker in Belize to Chetumal in Mexico.

So, one adventurous and inexpensive way of getting to Belize would be to fly to Cancun, Mexico on one of the many low cost flights regularly offered to that major airline destination, then to take one of the awesome express buses down to Chetumal on the northern boarder of Belize. (I took that express bus trip once back in 2003 and it was the most luxurious bus trip I’ve ever taken, comparable in some ways to first class seats on an airline!)

The final leg of your trip would be via the new water taxi from Chetumal out to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.

One of the most outstanding features of a week on Adventure Island is how multi-sport the experience truly is. Snorkeling is by far my personal favorite, but I love the scuba diving, kayaking, and surfing, too. I never really got the hang of windsurfing on my last trip to the island but I’ll definitely give it another go the next time I visit.

One of the most surprising “sports” I discovered while visiting the island, and something I’ve never heard of being played anywhere else, is something called “the ‘biner game.” Inside the dining hall, under the huge palapa roof, the staff have a simple string hanging down from one of the overhead beams. A carabiner is tied to the bottom of the string around chest high. On the wall opposite is a simple metal hook, at just the right height so that if a person swings the carabiner on the string toward the hook with exactly the right speed and angle, it’s possible to catch the ‘biner on the hook, but anything even slightly off the mark ends with a clean miss or you hit the bottom of the hook and bounce off. With a little patience, finesse and luck, the average beginner gets a successful ‘biner hook after 20 or 30 tries. And then they’re hooked, as in addicted.

After a bit of practice some folks are hooking on every few attempts. And that’s when it gets interesting because there’s a tradition on the island of trying for consecutive hooks — not an easy thing to do. And the elite of the sport compete for the highest number of consecutive hooks. A friend of ours, Bob Walker, is the current reigning champ with eight consecutive hooks — a nearly impossible feat.

Despite the fact that we’ve been playing ‘biner game on the island for over 19 years, I surprised to find that we have no photos of anyone swinging a ‘biner. Lucy searched through thousands of pics hoping to find one to accompany this blog post and … zip!

If you have a photo of the ‘biner game, please post it on our Facebook page or send it to us at slickrock@slickrock.com and we’ll post it here.

Island carabiner game
Thank you Rob Greatrix for sending this photo!
David Paltiel wrote: “That’s crazy… my kids spent so much time playing that carabiner game and this is the only photo I have. It’s not exactly what you’re looking for but the best I can offer…” Dave, we love this picture, even though it doesn’t show the game.
Caribiner game
Scott Eddowes wrote us: “This was the closest thing I have to a picture of the carbine game.” Bingo, Scott!
Island carabiner game win
Larry Arnstein sent a picture too: “Hey, we have a nice picture of the ‘biner! Here it is.” Thanks Larry!

One month ago tomorrow I turned 55. Somehow, the double number made a bigger impression on my psyche than even the big five-o did. That, combined with the fact that in the past year I’ve developed a few chronic aches and pains, got me thinking that maybe this was it – life was beginning to leave me behind, whatever new and exciting experiences I’d had in my life were now becoming things of the past.

Then I stumbled across this article in the Poughkeepsie Journal about this guy, James Curran, who discovered the sport of scuba diving as he turned 60 and in the three years since has made 167 dives. The article featured a picture of him diving off the coast of Belize.

James Curran dives off the coast of Belize, Central America on a recent trip. / Courtesy photo

That brought back memories of my last dive. It was eight years ago off Long Caye in Belize during a week’s stay at Adventure Island. We took a five minute boat ride from the rustic, island resort, out to a site they call “The Wall,” one of the top-rated Belize dive sites. We flipped over the side of the boat and suddenly, 40 feet below loomed one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen — an underwater cliff dropping 2600 feet into the depths. We cruised along the rim of the cliff exploring the extravagant corral formations and gazing out into the abyss as huge sea turtles swam into view. It was the dive of a lifetime.

Recalling that adventure reminds me that despite my age, new experiences still await if only I remain open to them. It’s never too late.