The country is roughly divided into inland which had historic Mayan sites and Cayes (pronounced “keys”) which have water sports.
Day 1 – San Ignacio
After landing at the Belize airport, I took a $25 USD taxi to Belize city since there is no public transport to Belize city. From there I took a 2.5-hour bus costing $4.5 USD heading west to San Ignacio. There I check out the Cahal Pech ruins. Established in 1200 BC, this is the oldest Mayan site in Belize. Entry fee is $5 USD. Do me a favor and get a guide for another $10 -15 USD. Guide’s explanation adds a real value in terms of understanding how the site was actually used. I spent rest of the day checking San Ignacio city. Nothing much interesting in it.
Day 2 – ATM caves
I started the day with the world-famous ATM (actun tunichil muknal) caves. Belize used to be submerged in water millions of years ago. That’s why 65% of rocks are still limestone rocks. Many caves were created by following water dissolving these rocks. Mayans believed that the caves are an entry to the underworld. And that the rain god came from there. The tour takes you into the ATM cave, partially submerged in the flowing water, where Mayans used to make sacrifices of animals and later humans, to please the Rain God during droughts. Skeletons of the sacrificed men and a few young kids are still present in the cave. The tour is mildly strenuous, requires occasional swimming, and no photography is allowed inside. I took the tour with MayaWalk and it was an amazing experience worth recommendation. They start early in the morning to avoid the crowd and have one guide per 6-7 visitors. If you have dietary restrictions, let them know in advance for the lunch. At 85$ USD, the tour is expensive but given the equipment (headlamps, water shoes), the two-hour transportation from San Ignacio to the caves, and the lunch, I think it is justified for this unique experience.
After the tour, I headed for Green Iguana conservation project. It’s a 45 minute $9 USD tour focused on Green Iguanas. The guide, though extremely knowledgeable, is an introvert. So, keep asking him and he will tell you everything about Iguanas. This is highly recommended if you have any interest in wildlife, biology, and like holding Iguanas.
Since my next day was in Caye (remember it is pronounced “key”) caulker. I took a bus back to the Belize city. The last water taxi to Caye caulker was at 5:30 and I knew I won’t reach in time for that. I stayed in Belize city for the night.
Day 3 – Caye caulker
I took a 45-minute water taxi ($25 USD round trip price) to Caye caulker.
My main activity for this day was a snorkeling cruise. We went to three different places – Shark and ray Alley, Hol Chan Marine reserve and Coral Gardens. In shark and ray Alley, the guide throws sardines to attract sharks and manta rays. These sharks are habituated to humans and don’t attack. The water is calm here which is really helpful for an amateur snorkeler. I did this tour with Ragamuffin Tours. Their guide was extremely proactive in terms of snorkeling along with us, showing various fishes, turtles, corals, manta rays, lobsters, and sharks. The tour ended up with a small party on the north side across the split. All in all, it was about 10-hour long tour. At $70 USD, this is an amazing value for money. If you are booking this tour, do check that the guide will go along with you on all three occasions (the law mandates it only for the Marine reserve) and is enthusiastic enough to spot the sea life.
I spent the late evening checking the Caye. There isn’t something special at it. I stayed here overnight since the last water taxi to the mainland is at 5 PM.
Day 4 – Blue Hole national park
I took the water taxi back to Belize city and then took a bus to Dangriga. All the buses going south from Belize city will first go west to Belmopan. The bus dropped me at the entrance of the Blue Hole National Park.
I was too late for the cave tubing tour I booked. But the tour company (Belize Inland) rebooked me for the afternoon tour. I did a 30-minute one-way hike to the inland blue hole and swam there.
Then I returned for the cave tubing tour. It is a nice relaxing tour focused on the geography and life inside the cave. Going through the pitch black darkness is eye-opening (pun intended) experience. The guide provided a lot of information about the geography and the flora and the fauna inside the cave.
After the tour, I decided to stop in Belmopan. Checked out the local market. There is nothing special here. So, you won’t miss anything if you decide not to stop.
- 1 USD = 2 BZE. USD is readily accepted everywhere.
- Cities are a waste of time. Caye caulker was OK. Others are a complete waste of time. The cities are filled with local people passing comments on the tourists. Catcalling is the norm.
- Public transport is reliable but limited. First water taxi from Belize city to Caye caulker is at 8 AM. The last one to return is at 5 PM. If you are doing any good tour, you can’t do it in a single day.
- Cut mango sold for $1 USD is delicious.
- All food except fruits felt really expensive and over-priced.
- Cars are expensive to rent and mopeds are hard to come by.
- Belize has a thriving Indian population (Gujarati and Sindhi) as well as Chinese population. One of the richest person in Belize is an Indian.
- There are many contrary reports on whether Indian citizens need a visa for Belize or not. I confirmed with Belize embassy that holders of a multi-entry US visa, do not need a visa for Belize. My experience was the same, US visa was sufficient.