Many visitors come to the small nation of Belize strictly to enjoy its beautiful islands (locally called cayes) and marine activities such as sailing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. With over 300 km of Caribbean coastline and the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, it’s no wonder that Belize appeals to beach babies and diving devotees. But spending your entire vacation exploring only our reef and beach bars would be a mistake; Belize is a treasure trove of culture, history, natural wonders, and unique adventures. One must-try activity on your Belize trip is cave tubing. A thrilling and unique excursion, it has the perfect medley of components that make Belize’s experiences so special and different from other vacation destinations.
Cave Tubing in Belize
With elements of jungle trekking and wildlife safari, components of ancient Maya history, a dash of daring, and a substantial share of spelunking, cave tubing will appeal to almost everyone. Plus, it is surprisingly accessible for nearly anyone.
Explorers of all ages and abilities can enjoy this expedition. An extreme sport that even couch potatoes can handle, it is a lazy river ride through the wild jungle and naturally carved caverns that adorn the country’s interior. Though recommended, it isn’t even necessary to know how to swim as you’ll be safely outfitted with life jackets, helmets, and heavy-duty inflatables.
Most cave tubing tours meander through gentle currents and mostly shallow water. Though it can be daunting for first-timers to enter this underground labyrinth, you need not fear the dark as you’ll be supplied with headlamps and your guides will usher you through huge hollows and vast grottos. The capacious caverns elicit curiosity and wonderment rather than consternation or claustrophobia.
Float Your Way Into the Ancient Maya Underworld
Caves were sacred places to Belize’s indigenous people. The Maya believed them to be the entrance to the Underworld, what they call Xibalba. This territory was a thriving and important stronghold of the ancient civilization, as is evident by the many well-preserved pyramids, palaces, and temples as well as the numerous unexcavated archeological locations.
Cave tubing tours allow visitors to view some of the subterranean sites that were utilized by the ancient Maya for religious ceremonies and holy sacrifices. In addition to the stunning geological features you’ll find in all of the country’s caves (stalagmites, stalactites, flowstone, and helictites), you will discover many of our caves contain a cache of artifacts such as 1000-year-old pottery and even human remains.
Boasting an estimated 300 caves across its relatively small domain, Belize presents a veritable bonanza of underground expeditions for the intrepid traveler to choose from. Where should adventurers begin their spelunking journeys? You can start small with a quick and easy trek and float through St Herman’s Cave, close to the capital city of Belmopan on the Hummingbird Highway.
The cave tubing at this national park takes very little in the way of time commitment or physical exertion, making it a top choice for beginners and young children. St Herman’s Cave tubing can be completed in under 90 minutes and can be followed up with a visit to the nearby cenote within the park’s parameters, the so-called “inland blue hole.”
The most popular destination for cave tubing is the Caves Branch Outpost, located within the Nohoch Che’en Archaeological Reserve, near the village of Frank’s Eddy. All-day tours through the extensive network of subterranean passages can be supplemented with zip line and rappelling adventures.
Barton Creek Cave in the Mountain Pine Ridge area is another wet cave system that contains interesting artifacts. It can be explored by canoe rather than inflatable tubes but is more challenging to reach as it requires a somewhat difficult drive on rough, unpaved roads.
On your next Belize vacation, you must plan to try this unusual yet enchanting activity that is the perfect blend of relaxation and amusement, archeology and adventure. Don’t miss out on a cave tubing excursion.