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Belize is a small but beautiful country bordering Mexico and Guatemala in Central America. The country is situated on the Caribbean coast and is known for its great snorkeling but inland Belize and its jungles are equally incredible. The rainforest has opportunities for wildlife viewing, hiking, and cave exploring. Belize allows you the option to relax in paradise or partake in adventures reminiscent of Indiana Jones.
Belize is the perfect destination for a week-long getaway. The small country is easy to navigate and 7 days will allow you to see the country’s highlights. This perfect Belize itinerary splits time between the jungle and the coast with one of the country’s top resort groups, The Belize Collection.
The Belize Collection is an award-winning boutique resort group with properties in some of the country’s most desired locations, all of which are absolutely stunning. They offer luxurious amenities, privacy, and a warm and welcoming staff. The Belize Collection prides itself on providing its guests with an excellent vacation experience and can arrange a variety of activities for you.
- 7 Day Belize Itinerary:
- Day 1-3: Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge, Belmopan
- Day 4-7: The Lodge at Jaguar Reef, Hopkins
7 Day Belize Itinerary:
Day 1-3: Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge, Belmopan
Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge is an incredible property surrounded by a 10,000-acre (15 sq mi) nature reserve. It is located near the base of the Maya Mountains and next to the Sibun River. The beautiful lodge feels remote and secluded but is just a 30-minute drive from the capital city of Belmopan. The lodge is surrounded by a large farm where its two restaurants source their delicious food.
The rooms at Sleeping Giant have amazing views and some even offer private plunge pools (which I highly recommend). The lodge is just minutes from St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park and provides easy access to many of the area’s most popular activities.
Day 1: Arrive in Belize / Night Jungle Hike
Morning: Arrive in Belize and transfer to Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge. I recommend renting a car from Crystal Auto Rental or the Belize Collection can arrange transportation for you. Sleeping Giant Lodge is about 1 hr 30 min from Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (BZE). The roads are easy to navigate except for the occasional pothole.
Upon arrival at Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge, enjoy some farm-to-table pizza at on-site restaurant Don Tonito’s and after getting situated, spend the afternoon relaxing in your private plunge pool (make sure to book the River View Suite). If you’re up for a bit more of an adventure, head to nearby St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park where you can take a dip in the cool, turquoise-colored swimming hole.
Evening: Join a night hike with the Belize Collection and go hiking through the jungle adjacent to the lodge. This adventure is equal parts creepy and fun. Wildlife can usually be spotted; however, we didn’t have a lot of luck. We heard a Kinkajou in the trees but our guide was unable to locate it. We did see some smaller creatures such as spiders, frogs, and a small snake. Even though we didn’t see anything larger, the experience was still worth it. I have never been in a place that dark and quiet before. It was incredible.
Day 2: Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave (ATM)
Actun Tunichil Muknal or ATM Cave is one of my favorite activities in Belize and a must-do on this 7 day Belize itinerary. ATM Cave is located in the jungle in-between Belmopan and San Ignacio. It’s easy to reach from Sleeping Giant and the drive is just 45 minutes. The cave is a Maya Archaeological site that is known for its well-preserved artifacts.
Everything about the cave is fascinating, from its history to its geological formations. You’ll find crystalline stalactites and stalagmites as well as ancient pottery and the skeletal remains of those who were sacrificed.
The tour lasts the majority of the day. It includes a short hike to/from the cave. Plan on being in the actual cave for a little over 3 hours. You’ll then have time for a quick shower and lunch before returning to Sleeping Giant.
Tip: Clothing for this activity can be confusing since you will be hiking and swimming. Everything you are wearing will get wet. I suggest a swimsuit covered with shorts or leggings (I prefer leggings, they keep you warm in the cold water and protect your legs from sharp rocks and bugs) and a t-shirt/tank.
You’ll want to bring water shoes (this particular pair can also be used for the hike portion as well), a pair of socks (you’ll take off your shoes while walking in the cave and the rocks are sharp), a towel, and a change of clothes for afterward.
No loose items are allowed in the cave (no phones, cameras, sunglass, etc.) Unfortunately, someone dropped a camera and cracked a skull, ruining it for everyone. You will be able to leave a backpack with your items on the shuttle. Don’t forget sunscreen and bug repellent.
This activity is a little more physically demanding than most, although I wouldn’t say it’s difficult. A less strenuous cave option is the cave tubing adventure at St. Hermans Blue Hole National Park.
Day 3: Explore the Grounds at Sleeping Giant
Morning: Jungle Bike Ride
Sleeping Giant is a huge and beautiful property surrounded by jungle. I could spend days exploring it but make sure to set aside at least one on your Belize itinerary. The lodge offers complimentary bicycle use. Early morning is the best time for a bike ride; it won’t be as hot and there is something so special about the jungle in the early hours.
There are a handful of incredible spots to stop at. My favorite is The Nest. The Nest is a treehouse-like structure with two platforms overlooking the river. Bring a book or simply take a rest on its overwater nets.
Next head to the Rope Bridges. Ride your bike down the winding path to the first bridge. From here you’ll walk the rest of the way. Explore the series of bridges or head to the yoga deck. This area is so peaceful and feels so secluded even though it’s just 15 minutes from the lodge.
Afternoon: Kayak or Relax at the Pool
Sleeping Giant not only offers complimentary bike rentals, but also has kayaks. Depending on water levels, you can spend the afternoon kayaking down the river. The river is the perfect place to unwind, spot birdlife, and listen to the beautiful sounds of the jungle.
If you are seeking some R&R after your morning bike ride then grab a towel and head to the pool. The pool area at Sleeping Giant is so lovely and is the perfect place to relax with a cocktail. It’s located in the center of the property but is surrounded by foliage and feels tucked away.
In the evening, head to Sleeping Giant’s Grove House restaurant for an incredible farm-to-table dinner.
Day 4-7: The Lodge at Jaguar Reef, Hopkins
The Belize Collection has a handful of terrific beach properties. The Lodge at Jaguar Reef is the perfect place to stay when visiting Hopkins and makes for a great home base for many of Belize’s best activities. I really loved everything about this lodge from the location to the decor. It’s hands down one of my favorite resorts.
The small coastal town of Hopkins is located about 1 hr 10 min from Sleeping Giant and a little over 2 hours from Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport. Jaguar Reef is located on the beach and offers amazing sea views. The location is great and you can easily bike to town, the market, and restaurants.
Day 4: Relax & Explore Jaguar Reef
Morning: Arrive at Jaguar Reef and spend the day relaxing. Check-in is 3 pm, so if you arrive in the morning, your room may not be ready. In this case, grab your swimsuit and the front desk can store your bags. I loved the Jaguar Reef’s Big Dock Bar. The 2-level bar has overwater nets, swing seats, great ceviche, and the best Pina Coladas. It’s such a fun spot. You can even jump into the sea from the second level!
Spend the rest of the day on the beach or at the pool. There are beach chairs and hammocks readily available as well as complimentary kayaks. Almond Beach Resort, Jaguar Reef’s sister property, is located directly next door and has a pool with a swim-up bar available to guests. If you’re feeling a bit more active, grab a bike and go explore the town.
Evening: Arrange a private dinner with a bottle of wine and enjoy a warm evening on the beach in one of the lodge’s beach pods.
Day 5: Monkey River Tour
Monkey River is one of the most popular tours on this Belize itinerary. Monkey River is a small town that sits at the mouth of Monkey River. It’s located near Placencia and is about a one-hour drive from Hopkins. The tour lasts most of the day and the shuttle departs from Jaguar Reef early morning. Monkey River is a great tour. You’ll get to learn the history of the Monkey River village, learn about the river’s ecosystem, and hopefully see a lot of wildlife.
The tour begins with a boat ride down Monkey River. On this portion of the tour, we saw many beautiful species of birds, a crocodile, large iguanas, and bats. After boating down the river, you’ll dock for a short hike where you will hopefully see Howler monkeys, the third loudest animal in the world. You’ll return to the boat for the final part of the tour and visit an area that is popular with manatees. You’ll have the best chance of seeing a manatee on a nice day when the water is clear.
Day 6: South Water Reef Snorkeling
Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and South Water Caye Marine Reserve is the largest marine reserve in Belize. The snorkeling in Belize is incredible. Belize has pristine reefs with colorful corals and all kinds of marine life. You may see sea turtles, rays, sharks, manatees, and all sorts of beautiful tropical fish.
Many times I travel to snorkel. I’ve gone to some amazing snorkeling destinations and I can say Belize has been one of the best. Make sure to include this experience on your Belize itinerary.
Day 7: Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Morning: Go on an early morning hike through Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. Cockscomb was designated a nature reserve in 1986 in order to protect the jaguar population. Today, it has one of the densest jaguar populations in the world. However, it is rare to spot one and if you do, consider yourself very lucky.
Cockscomb has many great hiking trails of varying difficulty. There are two beautiful waterfall hikes that I recommend, Tiger Fern Trail and the Waterfall Trail. The Waterfall Trail is easy to moderate and is a short trail. It takes just 30 minutes to reach the waterfall. Tiger Fern Trail is more difficult and about 4 mi (6.7 km) round trip.
You don’t need a tour to visit Cockscomb; however, I highly recommend booking one with the Belize Collection. The drive to Cockscomb is a little over an hour from Hopkins. It looks fairly easy when looking at a map but you should absolutely go with someone that has experience driving the road leading to the park. It’s unpaved, very rough, and can be very muddy after rain. Most insurance doesn’t cover incidents on unpaved roads. If you still want to go self-guided then make sure to have a 4×4.
Afternoon: Depart Belize on an evening flight or spend the rest of the day on the beach and catch a morning flight.
Have you been to Belize? Is there something I missed on this Belize itinerary? I’d love to hear about your favorite activities. If you’ve enjoyed this post, please leave a comment or share using the social media buttons below. Are you interested in other Caribbean destinations? Continue to my post, “The Complete Cartagena Travel Guide“.