5 Wild Belize Experiences Everyone Should Try At Least Once

by Gisselle Hernandez
Belize Zoo

Belize has always been synonymous with award-winning beaches, palm-speckled islands, and an overall tropical vibe. The rest and relaxation that accompanies Belize vacations have always been front and center, lending Belize’s more wild side to take the passenger seat. However, those looking for adventure will always find something to surprise them when visiting. From the adventurous secrets shrouded within the Mountain Pine Ridge region to the kaleidoscopic world beneath the Caribbean Sea, there’s no shortage of wildness when in Belize.

Face-to-face with a jaguar

jaguar encounter

A jaguar encounter at The Belize Zoo. Image courtesy Carolee Chanona

Belize’s only zoo, dearly referred to as the world’s “best littlest zoo,” houses rehabilitated and rescued exotic animals. Here, the animals come first, a fact evidenced by the special way animal encounters are conducted. If you’re looking to get up close and personal with the majestic jaguar, book a jaguar experience at The Belize Zoo. Instead of gawking at the big cat through their cage, visitors are the ones put in an enclosure of sorts instead. The resident jaguar playfully pounces on top of the cage, offering a lick or two. A practiced and safe experience, visitors get some one-on-one time with the feline without it feeling like a typical zoo experience.

Fly over the Great Blue Hole

Photo by Duarte Dellarole

One of Belize’s biggest draws, the Great Blue Hole is absolutely worth all the hype. Experienced divers make the long journey via boat to dive its inky depths among hammerhead sharks. Adrenaline junkies opt for sky diving directly into it, committing the stomach-rushing feeling to memory. But one of the best ways to appreciate its beauty? A fly-over tour.

belize blue hole

The Great Blue Hole in Belize. Photo courtesy Belize Tourism Board

The tour, usually from a six-seater Cessna, lasts about an hour and a half, with Belize City being the point of origin. The rush you’ll feel cruising the sky in a tiny plane is nowhere the magnitude you’ll feel when spotting the blue marvel. The experienced pilot will make sure you appreciate the Blue Hole from all angles, with perfect selfie opportunities to boot.

Rappel down a waterfall

For those wanting a little more action, clambering down a raging waterfall while strapped to a harness and some rope might deem satisfactory. Mayflower Bocawina National Park is an ideal place to be introduced to the experience. With waterfalls reaching upwards of 250 feet in height, the extraordinary feat is not for the faint of heart. The gushing water will be reward enough for the thigh-burning exercise. If you’re thinking of doing this with a group of friends – recommended for multiplied fun – all you need is a great tour guide, faith in yourself, and a water-proof camera to capture the experience from top to bottom.

River tubing through caves

cave tubing

Cave Tubing

There’s nothing like good ol’ cave tubing as a rite of passage for Belize first-timers. The first pick for cruise-goers, cave tubing is also on the list for visitors pressed for time but not wanting to sacrifice adventure. A relatively relaxing undertaking, river tubing through ancient caves is more than just bobbing gently up a stream as the dark engulfs you. It’s the history laced within the walls that took centuries to form, the stalactites and stalagmites saying hello when your headlamp lands on them. The quiet, the sacred, and the complete lack of outside world distractions make the tour a must for many. One of the most popular is Nohoch Che’en Caves near the City of Belmopan.

Swim with sharks

Shark Ray Alley is hardly a secret when it comes to popular activities to do near Ambergris Caye. But the thrill never wanes when diving headfirst near a school of nurse sharks. Located in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Shark Ray Alley is home to docile sharks, large stingrays and giant sea turtles. Those who are a little shy in sharing their swimming space with literal sharks can appreciate the critters from aboard the boat. Those who would rather say hi a bit closer can swim alongside them, keeping a comfortable distance as the sharks’ munch on some chum. Whether you’re staying in San Pedro Town or the island of Caye Caulker, this tour is definitely worth checking out when planning your first Belize itinerary.

Header image courtesy Duarte Dellarole

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