Plan Your Perfect Belize Island Hopping Adventure

by Larry Waight
caye caulker sunrise

Nobody wants to set off on a Belize vacation and discover that it is not the type of island hopping experience they wanted. Keep reading to find the best spots in Belize to suit your particular interests. While each of Belize’s islands, or “cayes,” are amazing, some are more remote than others or best suited to particular types of travelers.

For Family Trips

Belize-Caye-Caulker-globe guide CA split

Image of Caye Caulker Split by Globe Guide CA

Family trips can be daunting to plan but avoiding long transits can be a major plus with small children. Remember to check if the accommodations are okay for kids and that there will be enough variety of food to satisfy any picky eaters.

Caye Caulker is a small, placid place ideal for families; it lacks cars and the roads are all sand. You can rent bikes or golf carts to get around. One notable attraction would be “The Split,” a channel dividing the island. You can freely wade around the shadows or under the shade of an umbrella and watch the fabulous landscape. Your older kids can jump from the dock and snorkel, giving you more time to just relax in a beachside hammock.

Jan’s Hotel is a budget-friendly option on Caye Caulker.

If you are feeling especially lazy, a golf cart is the preferred means of traveling by land. You can also rent kayaks to check out the Belize Barrier Reef. Accommodations vary from budget-minded to upscale. Reaching the island involves a 45-minute ferry from Belize City or a 15-minute flight from the Belize Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) or the Belize Municipal Airstrip (TZA). Caye Caulker’s airport and dock have golf carts on the premises so you can quickly transfer to your hotel. The Turneffe islands are also a good place for families to go.

For Couples Retreats

Ambergris Caye-San Pedro streets

Ambergris Caye, Belize. Photo by Alamy

Ambergris Caye may be the most famous destination in the country yet it somehow retains enchantingly romantic for lovers. Just imagine aquamarine lagoons, salty-tinged kisses, and toes in the sand as you slink through San Pedro Town to dine by candlelight. One of Ambergris Caye’s best features is the Belize Barrier Reef, located just a mile off the coast-the perfect distance for snorkeling in the warm tropic waters.


Dining on the beach of Ambergris Caye. Photo by Duarte Dellarole

Belize is an ancient land and much of the color and ceremony of its Maya roots continue to be a presence. You also have plenty of little guesthouses and small hotels to call your own. While most have docks so you can soak in some rays in the afternoon, you can just as easily use them as a launching point for kayaking, kiteboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, or even windsurfing.

Imagine drinking Travellers Kuknat Rum in the daytime and lobster dinners at night. There are several marine parks that provide a good sample of the robust biodiversity within Belize’s waters and travel to and from the island is a breeze; you can either take a ferry from Belize City to San Pedro or take a flight with a local puddle jumper, like Maya Island Air. Seeing the tranquil blue sea and its many islands breaking up that blue from the skies is an experience everyone should have; it also makes for a really great moment to pop the “Big Question.” Now if you are already acquainted with Ambergris Caye, South Water Caye also makes for a very good spot for couples interested in romance and bonding.

For Solo Travelers

tobacco caye duarte dellarole belize

Hammocks await in Belize. Photo by Duarte Dellarole

The tropical vibe of Tobacco Caye is likely to be a great place for anyone visiting Belize alone. This small island is close to the south Water Caye Marine Reserve and can only be reached by a boat taxi launching from either Hopkins or Dangriga. If you like adventuring, this is the place for you as the only accommodations are seaside cabanas.

Tobacco Caye, Belize. Photo by Duarte Dellarole

This island is completely off the grid, freeing you from any digital bondage. Your showers come from rainwater and electricity comes from solar paneling. Understandably, this is not a luxury venue in Belize but it still offers some amazing features like proximity to other cayes for island hopping. Hammocks dot the beast and scuba diving is amazing, giving you plenty of time to see the Belize Barrier Reef from a close distance.

snorkeling caribbean belize underwater

Snorkeling the Belize Barrier Reef. Photo courtesy Duarte Dellarole Photography

There is not much on the island in the way of proper amenities beyond a meager snack shop for the tourist crowd but there are venues that can provide you with full meals to keep you fed while relaxing in your solitude. If you have never learned the techniques involved in diving or paddle boarding, there are plenty of friendly people willing to teach you. If you want to see more, consider taking a boat tour to Man-O-War Caye, a mangrove island that is the nesting grounds for hundreds of frigates and brown boobies. If Tobacco Caye sounds too remote for you, South Water Caye is just as recommended for solo travelers as for couples.

To review: Families should explore Caye Caulker and the Turneffe Islands, couples should explore Ambergris Caye and solo travelers should explore Tobacco Caye, while South Water Caye is great for both solos and couples. Nonetheless, Belize abounds with over 400 cayes for the perfect island-hopping adventure.  

Header photo features Caye Caulker, a popular day-tripper’s destination, by Kevin Quischan Photography.

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