A fragment embedded in both Central America and the Caribbean, Belize could be considered a tropical anomaly. Despite what many think, the country is not an island in the Caribbean but it very well could be mistaken for one. With Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker and about 400 other islands dotting the Caribbean Sea, it’s no wonder many associate Belize with idyllic beaches and crystalline waters. However, there’s a greener, more adventurous side to Belize that thrill-seekers often gravitate toward. With a slew of adventure tours at the ready, there are those that seem to always blow expectations out of the water.
A favorite of cruisers, cave tubing is high on the list for must-do activities when in Belize for the first time. Most visitors may have a fair idea of what to expect – sitting on tubes, drifting down a river into a dark, damp cave. The lovely surprises arise when your headlamp lands on a perfectly formed crystal, a stalactite that took 100 years to form. Or perhaps when everyone turns their lights off and everyone goes quiet in the pitch dark to hear the trickle of water, the soft fluttering wings of bats.
Soaring through the jungle canopies in Southeast Belize? Yes, please! While you may know what comes after strapping on that harness and super stylish helmet, there are certain perks that come along with careening hundreds of feet above the ground. In Belize, zip lining is more than just getting from point A to point B in an adventurous style. It entails admiring a meandering creek below you, the warm wind whipping your hair back while your friends video you flying through the rainforest. Now and then, you may come across a rather long zip line that allows you time to reflect on the nature surrounding you while also letting you feel like a superhero, even if for a moment.
Always gracing the top of Belize bucket lists, Xunantunich is a Maya site that deserves to be experienced in more ways than one. Sure, you could always drive to the ferry in San Jose Succotz, hop across and drive up to the site. But why would you do that when you can horseback ride your way into an ancient Maya city? The trail includes going through the jungle for about an hour or so, the horse following a gurgling stream before arriving at the ferry. You – and your horse – are ferried across where your four-legged transportation will carry you to the entrance of the site.
A forest reserve teeming with natural pools and waterfalls, Mountain Pine Ridge is home to the experience that is Big Rock Falls. A behemoth measuring over 100 feet in height, Big Rock Falls is at the end of a long, wooden staircase that is well worth it. Where other waterfalls may hold their attraction in the falls itself, at Big Rock it’s all about the journey in addition to the cascades. Waterfalls are nice for cooling off after a long hike, or as a picnic background with a plus one. However, at this waterfall you can opt to dive into the large pool at the bottom tier, or sit at the inner pool for a deep-tissue massage courtesy of the gushing falls.
There’s plenty options to choose from, but if you’re looking to go intimate then take full advantage of Hidden Valley Inn & Reserve’s privately accessed Butterfly Falls. Tumbling 80 feet from its crest into a crystal-clear pool, this spectacular hidden gem is accessible through the resort only.