Belize Illustrated: A Jungle Itinerary Fit For Supermodels 

by Gisselle Hernandez

In case you missed it, Belize was recently featured in the 2022 Swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated, which hit newsstands on May 19. The Belize cover star was none other than billionaire-momma Maye Musk, a supermodel and best-selling author. But the 74-year-old wasn’t the only one breaking barriers with her shoot.

Five other stunning ladies grace the pages featuring Belize’s very own Mountain Pine Ridge region, including mega YouTuber David Dorbik’s former assistant Natalie Mariduena. But where exactly in Mountain Pine Ridge did the award-winning photographer Yu Tsai capture these women? Below we outline all the  Belize jungle spots the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models visited and why they’re worth the hype. 

Rio Frio Cave 

Rio Frio Cave (9) belize-mountain-pine-ridge-BTB

Rio Frio Cave, Mountain Pine Ridge. Image courtesy Belize Tourism Board

This open wet cave deep in the jungles of Pine Ridge may not be on a traveler’s immediate radar. But if SI’s own swimsuit models made the trek to this stunning cavern, it must be worth admiring. The large cave lies about an hour away from the charming town of San Ignacio, making it an easy drive if you happen to be staying in town. If you’re looking for a base in town, we recommend San Ignacio Resort Hotel. The historic resort will take care of everything and make sure you arrive just before sunrise, so you can admire the sun rays streaming through the giant open, casting a beautiful glow. 

Rio on Pools 

Perhaps Mountain Pine Ridge’s most photogenic, pun intended, attraction is Rio on Pools. The cascading natural pools are a welcome relief from a warm summer day. The mini waterfalls serve as a relaxing nature massage and the surrounding pine and broadleaf trees paint a beautiful background fit for a magazine. You could make Rio on Pools your second stop after Rio Frio and spend the morning relaxing atop the jutting rocks. Linger as much as you’d like, and if you end up feeling peckish, not to worry. SIRH’s trusty guides are prepared with packed picnic lunches waiting for you. Enjoy rich rice & beans with stew chicken while admiring the cliff views before setting off on your next Mountain Pine Ridge adventure. 

Big Rock Falls

big rock falls San Ignacio Resort Hotel

Big Rock Falls. Image via San Ignacio Resort Hotel

Ending the Mountain Pine Ridge itinerary with a bang is the region’s massive 150-tall waterfall, Big Rock Falls. Take your time descending the steep, wooden staircase because believe us when we say the wait will be worth it. Before you even reach the bottom, you’ll hear the roar of the giant waterfall’s rapids. This will give you the last kick of motivation you need to reach the base and jump right into the icy waters. You could either choose to dive into the bigger pool at the bottom of the waterfall or receive a pounding back massage at the smaller pool. By the time you’re ready to leave, you’d have earned an entire three-course meal at the resort’s Running W Restaurant

A Wild Haven at SIRH 

If you find yourself missing the cocooning embrace of the Pine Ridge region, simply step outside your suite at SIRH and venture into its backyard. Out here, you’ll be immediately transported into the wild jungles of Belize, especially considering the property is a whopping 17 acres of jungle foliage. There’s a reason it’s been dubbed the “only jungle in town” after all. Spend some time getting acquainted with the resident green iguanas or return the Keel-Billed Toucan’s calls in the AM. Either way, the jungle experience will be far from over.  

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