Jungles or Islands: Where should you go first in Belize?

by Gisselle Hernandez

Being both in Central America and the Caribbean, Belize is the epitome of the best of both worlds. Often confused for being an island, the nation has more than 400 cayes yet more than half of the country is blanketed in thick jungles. This allows for a spectacular itinerary catered to your every whim, whether you want to laze around silk-sand beaches or go ziplining in the rainforests. However, when pressed for a shorter itinerary, you might want to focus on one region first before returning to the other. But where should you visit first? 

Where to go for relaxation

Photo Courtesy Victoria House

Many may automatically think beaches equal relaxation, but Belize proves it doesn’t have to be that way. Sure, the Western region of Belize is considered the adventure capital, but there are tons of opportunities for relaxation as well. When it comes to having a laid-back itinerary, it really depends on which specific place you go and what activities you choose. For instance, the famed Ambergris Caye has the beaches everyone comes to see, but it’s also generally known as a party island. Here, the nightlife is rich and the hustle and bustle does not stop simply because everywhere wears flip-flops. Similarly, the Cayo District is teeming with high-adrenaline tours, but has no shortage of ecolodges and luxury resorts where you can spend the weekend at a spa and then wake up amidst the surrounding jungle. If you want the island vibe coupled with a relaxed atmosphere, try Caye Caulker. Still want to explore inland Belize within a breezy itinerary? Try Northern Belize such as the Orange Walk or Corozal districts where there are no crowds and ample chance for tranquility and peace. 

Where to go for adventure

On the other hand, if you’re looking for thrilling experiences and a high-activity itinerary, hit inland Belize for some cave tubing, waterfall rappelling and hiking. The islands still have their own marine-based adventures, of course, with fly-fishing, deep diving and snorkeling. But there truly is nothing like flying through the rainforest hundreds of feet above the ground or coming face-to-face with a Maya skeleton in the ATM cave. All of these and more are available in Western Belize. 

Where to go on a budget

Photo courtesy: BTB

While any number of these excursions sound enticing, it all may come down to what you can afford. Like any other destination, Belize can cater to those looking to spend a pretty penny on luxury and those making sure they get their bang for their buck. It’s no secret beach destinations, such as Ambergris Caye, cost more than other places. Which is why those hoping to visit Belize on a budget prefer to stay on the mainland, where costs are a bit lower. You can still venture to the islands, though, as they are accessible enough for a quick day trip. You can lounge at Caye Caulker all day then take a water taxi back to the mainland without having to spend a night at an island resort. You should also keep an eye out for any hotel discounts or travel deals that are currently available at many Belize resorts, both on the islands and in Western Belize. Many times these packages and shoulder season specials can definitely make that dream trip possible, no matter the region. 

So…which one should I visit?

The easy – and common – answer would be to visit both. Many travelers opt for a dual-itinerary that lets them indulge in all the diversity Belize offers. But if you’re truly trying to pin down a certain region, it would depend entirely on what you want out of your vacation. Are you looking for palm trees, the salty smell of the Caribbean Sea and sandy flip-flops as souvenirs? Then book a weekend at any one of Belize’s island resorts. Want something off-the-beaten path with a bounty of greenery and natural attractions like waterfalls and hiking trails? Make your way to the thick jungles of Western Belize. Each region possesses their own strengths, but there are certain things you’re bound to find no matter where you decide to spend your Belize vacation: great food, exceptional experiences and warm smiles. 

Feature image: Roeming Belize Travel Agency 

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