A Northern Island Itinerary: How to Make the Most of a Week in Belize

by Khaila Gentle

Looking for the best ways to experience Belize? Then look no further. If you’ve got about a week to spend, this article is the first in a series of itineraries that can help you make the most out of your trip. From avid island hoppers to faithful beach bums, here’s an incredible island itinerary for anyone visiting Belize, especially first-timers.

Visiting San Pedro and Caye Caulker

Duration: 7 to 10 days
Fit for: Beach and marine adventure lovers
Places to visit: Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye, the Belize Barrier Reef

Day 1 – Arrive at the PGIA

Maya Island Air

Image Via Maya Island Air

After landing at Belize’s Philip Goldson International Airport, a quick puddle jumper flight will have you at your island destination in no time (just about 15 minutes). Or, if you’d rather take the scenic route, you can make your way down Belize’s Philip Goldson Highway, bordered by the winding Belize River, and into Belize City. From there, a water ferry to your first destination, Caye Caulker, will take just about 45 minutes.

Day 2 to 3 – Caye Caulker

La Isla Cariñosa, as it’s affectionately known, is a small but lively island known for its good eats (especially during lobster season) and its unmistakable Caribbean vibe. Many first-timers in Belize arrive ready to hop on over to San Pedro. But missing the experiences that Caye Caulker has to offer would be a disservice. That’s especially considering it was voted one of Travel Lemmings 50 Best Places to Travel in 2023.

During your first full day on an island paradise, book a trip to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley. At this popular snorkeling spot, you can swim alongside docile but curious nurse sharks, and you may even spot a ray or two. Located just 30 minutes north of Caye Caulker, it makes for a perfect half-day trip that’s fit for all ages.

When you’re done, grab dinner back on the island. And feel free to spend the rest of the day lounging on the beach or sipping on an ice cold Belikin at the Sip N’ Dip Beach Bar.

The following day, grab breakfast at one of the many restaurants lining the beach. (We recommend getting some hot, fluffy fry jacks for the ultimate Belize food experience) Then, take a trip to The Split for some socializing, or grab some bicycles and explore the island.

In the evening, try your hand at feeding giant tarpons and then visit the seahorse sanctuary nearby. Top it all off with a gorgeous sunset cruise before returning to your hotel to rest for the next day’s travels.

Day 4 to 6 – San Pedro

An aerial of Ambergris Caye by Tom Hines. In the forefront, you can see Grand Caribe Belize.

A trip from Caye Caulker to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye takes only about 30 – 40 minutes by water ferry, which means you’ll spend little time traveling and you’ll have lots of time for exploring.

At about 25 miles in length, Ambergris Caye offers an eclectic and energetic island vibe. And there’s a reason it’s the country’s number one destination. Countless tours, marine adventures, and dining options await.

After arriving, enjoy a slow and relaxing morning, complete with panoramic sea views. Then, have lunch at one of the popular local eateries like Maxie’s Restaurant and Lounge or Caramba’s.

Later, in the afternoon, take a trip to the Mahogany Bay Resort and Beach Club for some nostalgia filled fun at Level Up Barcade. This popular video arcade is the perfect place for groups large and small. Enjoy games, drinks, and lots of snacks.

Snorkeling the Belize Barrier Reef. Image by Sunbreeze Hotel/Duarte Dellarole

Spend your second day in San Pedro on an offshore excursion to Belize’s Barrier Reef. After all, an itinerary for Belize’s Northern Islands wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the world’s second longest barrier reef. Especially when it’s just a stone’s throw away.

The reef offers spectacular diving and snorkeling activities. And, not to mention, countless memorable moments. Not a fan of snorkeling? The reef is also a great place for fishing and sailing. Later, unwind at the end of your day back on the island with some good eats and refreshing drinks from a restaurant like Elvi’s.

Spend your final day on Ambergris Caye exploring the island. Since it’s much larger than Caye Caulker, though, it’s better traversed by golf cart rather than by foot or bicycle. Check out the Belize Chocolate Company for some decadent sweet treats. Then, purchase souvenirs from one of the many artisans and sculptors found around town. Or, spend the day at the (not so secret) Secret Beach. 

On Day 7 make your (reluctant) journey back to the Philip Goldson International Airport. And if you choose to start planning your next trip to Belize on the way there, we won’t judge!

A Helpful tip: One huge mistake to avoid as a traveler is thinking that your itinerary isn’t flexible. There’s nothing wrong with switching out a local attraction here and there for some lounging on the beach or whatever else you’re feeling up to. You’re on vacation, after all.

Featured Photo courtesy of ROEming Belize 

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