The Best Hikes in Belize For the Outdoor and Hiking Lover

by Larry Waight
Black Hole Drop Caves Branch by Little Wanderbook

Have you had your fill of local hiking trails and venues? Do you long to hike on the wild side, see new places and meet new people? You’ve got to come to Belize. You’ll not only find terrain, forests and jungles that deliver unique hiking experiences but once you read more about the nation’s unspoiled destinations that include nature parks and reserves, settling for an ordinary hike back home will never be the same!

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Located in Southern Belize, this reserve tends to be the first place suggested by experts when writing about Belize’s best hiking resources. This large forest reserve has an excellent network of well-maintained trails and it’s the world’s first jaguar preserve, but if it’s trails you crave, opportunities abound and include:

  • The Tiger Fern Trail is where 4.3-kilometers of trail attract hikers who prefer a strenuous uphill ascent delivered when hikers are challenged by the 279-meter elevation gain. There’s a lush waterfall waiting for hikers who consider it a reward for having set personal distance bests.
  • Ben’s Bluff Trail. We’re not sure who Ben is but his trail offers an ideal intermediate hike of just 4 kilometers. It’s open year-round but if you want to see Mother Nature at her best, come when this region’s wildflowers are in full bloom.
  • Victoria Peak. Crave adventure? Want to brag about climbing one of Belize’s tallest mountains? Put Victoria Peak at the top of your must-trek list. Conspicuously located within Cockscomb, Victoria Peak soars to 3,675 feet. Reaching the summit requires a 3- or 4-day expedition. Yes, even the most intrepid hiker would find it too hard to make this journey on a single day.

Hiking Plus Holes

St. Herman's blue hole national park

St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park, photo courtesy

  • St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park in Western Belize’s Cayo District offers a short but sweet 1.5-mile hike through verdant forest before weary hikers arrive at the blue hole for which this park is named. Jump into the 25-foot-deep swimming hole formed by a collapsed river channel within the dense forest. A guide can lead you further into the Crystalline Cave.
  • Maya Mountains Black Hole Drop. What’s the difference between a blue hole and a black one? Ask souls who have hiked into Actun Loch Tunich in the Cayo District where brave trekkers repel down 300 feet to reach the cave below. Rock formations and light reflections mesmerize and elevate your hike to a sensory experience.
  • Five Blues Lake National Park. This 10-acre park is surrounded by 4,000 acres of limestone hills within which navigable trails crisscross the land. You could spot 217 bird species during your hike, but what could impress you most are the caves and sinkholes scattered throughout the landscape.

Unique Destinations for Hikers of all Levels

guanacaste national park

Strolling GNP in Belmopan. Image courtesy Belize Audubon Society

  • Guanacaste National Park, situated in Belize’s Cayo District, is a small park north of Belmopan. Two miles of well-groomed trails within lush jungle include chances to spot animals visiting Roaring Creek and the Belize River.
  • Catena Transcet is a challenging day hike but well worth your effort. Located near Quam Bank in Stann Creek, this 15-kilometer round trip trek will give you a good cardio workout as you ascend 642 meters. Rewards await that include breathtaking bird-watching and an abundance of wildflowers.
  • Panti Medicinal Trail, located within the Don Elijo National Park, was named for a Maya shaman, thus this trail is home to acres of medicinal plants and herbs used to make homeopathic remedies. Not your traditional hiking experience, this is an ideal destination for folks who aren’t ready to scale Victoria Peak.
  • Monkey River Loop. If you hate crowds and are tired of bumping into people when you hike, the 1.1 kilometer Monkey River Loop is for you. It’s peaceful, quiet but you could spot manatees frolicking in the Monkey River, so if you think about it, crowds may be absent but you may not be alone if you encounter a gentle giant.
  • The Rio Bravo Conservation Area offers hikers a wonderland of flora and fauna within a tropical rainforest that is estimated to host 200 tree species, 400 bird species and a vast gathering of exotic critters like howler monkeys, deer and jaguars.

Expansive hiking experiences for intrepid hikers

mayflower bocawina waterfall

Mayflower Bocawina National Park in Southern Belize. Photo courtesy Quilz Tamay Photography

  • Mayflower Bocawina National Park, just off the Southern Highway and near Dangriga, invites you to explore 7,000 acres of jungle, streams and cascading waterfalls amid Maintznun and T’au Witz, two archaeological sites not yet excavated. Declared a National Park in 2001, this beautiful park is a treat for the spirit.
  • The Shipstern Wildlife Nature Reserve sprawls across 32+ square miles of savanna, pine forest and wetlands, so if you decide to make this reserve the epicenter of your hiking experience, bring a camera. Several marked trails will guide your progress as you explore a botanical trail, butterfly aviary and a natural history museum.
  • Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve covers 300 square miles amid Central America’s only authentic pine forest. Diverse landscapes include a 1000-foot waterfall (Hidden Valley Falls), pristine rivers, wildlife, birds, the occasional horseback rider and the 1,500-foot elevation offering the best views in Belize.

Not Your Ordinary Trails

halfmoon caye
  • Hoke Ha Cave. The 20-minute hike taking you from the village of Blue Creek to a world that existed thousands of years ago requires you to wade through a pool of water and into a cave mouth where stalactite- and stalagmite-filled chambers await. Look for Mayan ceramics and an altar where priests practiced secret rituals when you come.
  • Half-Moon Caye Natural Monument. You’ll have to leave the mainland to experience this protected island where 90 species of birds hang out, interrupted only by the occasional hiker seeking a more solitary experience. The views of the Caribbean are lush, and next to trekking the Monkey River Loop, you’ll enjoy lots of solitude.
  • Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, also offshore, offers hikers 78-square miles of coastline along the southernmost tip of the Belize Barrier Reef to explore. Hike here if you have an interest in the geology of Belize and especially the reef itself. 
Header image of Black Hole Drop courtesy Little Wanderbook at Caves Branch Lodge.

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