How to get to Secret Beach, San Pedro

How to get to Secret Beach, San Pedro

belize

Last Updated November 12th, 2019

Detailed directions to Secret Beach San Pedro, Belize with pictures on how to get there

This post contains affiliate links to products that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

If you’re looking for a hidden paradise then look no further than Belize’s Secret Beach on San Pedro island.  An oasis tucked inland of the island, accessible by small boat or driving through barren unmarked paths via rented golf cart.

Secret Beach is one of the San Pedro locals favorite beaches and still somewhat a local secret. So, while I’m tempted to keep this haven true to its name- as a secret! -I want to help you skip over the confusion and waste less time getting lost.

This way you can enjoy even more time lapping up the stunning clear waters, fresh coconuts and sea breeze at the beautiful Secret Beach.

If you’re staying in San Pedro, find out how to travel to the island stress free

What is Secret Beach?

(and what makes it so special?)

San Pedro island Belize is known for its eatern shoreline of coral reefs, fishing, marine life and nightlife. Only 10 years ago did a developer lay down a road that stretched to the western side of the island. This made the western side accessible for the first time and it exposed a breath-taking set of beaches and waters.

How long does it take to get to from San Pedro to Secret Beach?

The drive from Secret Beach to San Pedro can take up to two hours driving one way. It depends on if you spend any time getting lost while driving there, and how fast your golf cart can go… as well as your ability to withstand the bumping up and down a golf cart on an unpaved, dirt road for over an hour.

Why should you visit Secret Beach in San Pedro?

        Many of the coastline areas of San Pedro are covered in quite a bit of seaweed. So while the sunrises are spectacular from town, the beaches are not the best for wadding into for a good swim. However, further into the Caribbean Sea are some wonderful snorkeling waters off the coast of Belize. Making Secret Beach a haven place on the island.

  • Once you arrive you’ll notice the pristine waters that are effortlessly calm, and beach goers can wade almost 200 feet out!
  • While you may need some bug spray [here is a sustainable and healthy bug spray that I would recommend], there is no seagrass or seaweed, as compared to the coastal side of San Pedro, that I mentioned above
  • During the busy season, there are multiple bars and restaurants open along the beach, plus there will be options to rent stand up paddleboards and kayaks – perfect for those novice water sport athletes since the water is so calm
  • It still feels undeveloped and like a hidden gem of a destination. Since it takes quite a drive to get to this Belizean beach, not many want to make the trek out here, so there won’t be an overcrowded site.

How to get to Secret Beach from San Pedro, Belize

  • The most convenient way to get to Secret Beach is by golf cart.

  • You will need to first rent a golf cart in San Pedro town. There are quite a few options to choose from, but fear not because if you’re staying at a hotel they will easily be able to connect you to their preferred golf cart vendor. Within 20 minutes of asking, you should have someone ready to have you set up with a golf cart

Looking for a hotel in San Pedro? Compare prices HERE

  • Now, that you have your golf cart and it’s tank is full (important! As it can take up to two hours to get there) you are ready to head out to one of the best beaches in Belize

*Note- you can physically ride a bike to Secret Beach, but I would NOT recommend doing so. The dirt path is very bumpy. Trust me, your bum will thank me later.

Secret Beach Belize Directions

  • There is only one road that can lead you to Secret Beach, with quite a few outlets leading in other directions

  • From town, if you’re facing the Caribbean Sea/ocean side of the island then turn LEFT and head towards the NORTH side of San Pedro island

  • As you begin to leave the main town area of San Pedro you will come to a small bridge. There is a $5 fee you must pay in order to cross. Once paid, you’ll be given a pink slip for your return crossing. Do NOT lose this pink slip, otherwise you will have to pay again to cross back.

  • Cross the bridge and stay on this road for as long as it goes

  • Eventually you will come to the end of the paved road and a dirt path will curve to the left. Go down that path
  • Once you’re at this curve you’ll notice that the land quickly transforms from lush, tropical greens to flat, almost desolate beige mangrove swamp like surroundings. This part of the dirt road will be fairly easy to navigate through based on the visibility of the path and the few half built homes that are spread out in this area.

    *Please note- we were told that there are alligators living in the swamps, so do not wander aimlessly through them

  • After a bit of driving down the desolate path you may start to feel concerned that you’ve gone too far, but don’t worry! You will soon see a small sign that steers to the LEFT

  • From there, there will be small signs close to the ground directing you towards the bars & restaurants at Secret Beach. You have to look down in order to see these signs (see the images on this post), otherwise you may miss them and drive the wrong direction. If you follow these signs they will lead you to Secret Beach

*What helped us was continuing to remind ourselves that Secret Beach was essentially the opposite side of the island from town. If someone you are going there with has a good sense of direction let them utilize their natural compass.

Don't Forget to Pack:

Arriving at Secret Beach, Belize

        You’ll know when you’ve arrived (or at least are very close) to the best beach in Belize as there will be other golf carts parked to the left and right of the beach entrance, and you will see the dock straight ahead.

        Once you park your golf cart, walk over to enjoy the calm and gorgeously clear and teal water. You can rent chairs on the beach if you spend money at one of the bars. We were told that we needed to spend $100  for access to the chairs. Sounds fairly pricey, yet could be managed if you go in a group.

        It was just two of us visiting, and we were comfortable placing our stuff at the end of the dock as we floated nearby there as we could see it from the water.

        Typically there is at least one person slinging the sale of fresh coconuts for coconut water, and they offer adding rum to them as well (hello dolly, this is a perfect tropical beverage combination!).

        HOWEVER, they will put a plastic straw in it. Be sure to tell them ahead of time NO to the plastic straw. I almost always bring my own reusable straw with me nowadays (I didn’t have one for this trip, womp womp) You can purchase a reusable straw here.

        It is highly suggested that you leave Secret Beach around one to two hours before the sun sets. This is so that you can safely drive back to San Pedro while the sun is still out.

        The dirt paths are not lit up at night, and driving them in the dark would be dangerous, even with the headlights on the golf carts – let’s be honest, golf cart headlights are not the brightest, plus you’ll have been driving in dirt paths so they’ll be covered in dust.

What to do at Secret Beach

In years past, visitors to Secret Beach had to bring their own water and food, but now there are multiple bars on the beach you can visit and enjoy a chilled cocktail or beer.

Blue Bayou Bar : a tropical looking bar with beautiful views

Maruba Beach Klub : more upscale bar with lots of cushioned chairs and music

Paco’s Secret Beach : one of the newer bars at Secret Beach

Pirates Not-So-Secret Beach Bar & Grill : they have ables in the water so you can enjoy the calm waters with your food & drinks

Secret Paradise Beach Bar : this bar has the largest beach area with a large bar and volleyball nets

There are are also plenty of people renting paddle boards and electric surfboards. But in my opinion, your time will be best spent drinking from a coconut while you float in the calm, clear waters.

Staying at Secret Beach:

There is only one place to stay the night at Secret Beach called Secret Beach Cabanas. They have quaint apartments cabins that allow visitors to stay to witness the stunning Belizean sunsets.

Planning a trip to San Pedro?

Check out the TOP Things to do on the island

What to pack when going to Secret Beach, Belize

  • Any of your beach essentials
    • sunscreen, hat/s, sunglasses, towels, etc

Here are three reef-safe sunscreens I would recommend using:

All Good Sport Sunscreen

Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen

Amavara Mineral Sunscreen

  • Extra phone batteries and charging ports

  • Cash for the bar

  • Your own snacks if you’re vegetarian or vegan. There didn’t seem to be many vegetarian or vegan options

Fun Fact about Secret Beach in Belize

From the water of Secret Beach you can see an island owned by Leonardo DiCaprio called Blackadore Caye. He is intending to build a complete eco-friendly resort on the island. You can read more about it here and here.

If you’re planning on visiting Secret Beach in Belize you will not be disappointed. The long and bumpy drive will be well worth it once you dip your toes into the warm and clear waters of San Pedro’s best beach (at least it’s the best in my opinion).

If you do go, pretty please let me know! I would love to hear about how much you love it… and see if these directions helped ease the confusing process of getting there.

Happy sustainable travels!

xo Laura

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Things to know before traveling to Belize

Things to know before traveling to Belize

belize

Belize felt like an ‘off the beaten path’ place, where we could truly escape the hustle of our lives and embrace the pleasantly slow lifestyle of the Caribbean.  The country has a unique blend of crystal clear waters, top snorkel and scuba locations, Mayan ruins, tropical jungles and incredible wildlife. If you’re considering a visit to Belize, here is a list of 12 facts and tips you should know before you go.  

[already in the planning stages of your trip?  Feel free to jump to Top things to do in San Pedro”]

Included in this post:

  • TOP things you need to know before traveling to Belize
  • The best areas to visit when traveling in Belize
  • Our favorite hotels (recommended by multiple Belizean locals)
  • Items you will definitely want to pack on your trip to Belize

With so much to explore, here are

13 things you need to know before traveling to Belize

1. English is the main language spoken.  Even though the country is hugged by Mexico and Guatamala, english is the official language of Belize. Many people in Belize are tri-lingual, also speaking Spanish & Creole.  Belize is the only English speaking country in Central America.

2. Belize used to be known as the British Honduras.  They only gained their independence in 1981.

3. You can use US Dollars almost anywhere.  However, your change may be a mix of Belizean and US dollars. In my experience, Belizeans preferred us to use US dollars, so be sure to bring cash with you. *There are ATMs throughout most major areas, so don’t worry about bringing a lot of cash.

4. For a small country (only 70 miles across), it’s incredibly diverse.  We were told by locals that there are at least four different cultures within the country: Creole, Mestizos, Mayan & Garifuna.

5. Regardless of background, Belizeans are known for their welcoming smiles.

6. The Belizean government has done an outstanding job preserving its natural habitat.  From marine preserves to animal welfare, this country truly cares about its long term impact on the environment.

7. Rice and beans simmered in coconut milk are a staple item, so vegetarians can be happy visitors here.

8. Most areas of Belize are safe for visitors, and getting around is fairly easy as their highways are all well-paved. Belize City is where the majority of their crime occurs, and is due to drug trafficking and gang violence. Keep in mind, that the tropical areas you’ll be visiting are not in Belize City, so you won’t have to worry about this.

9. Coffee and chocolate in Belize are immaculate.  Be sure to buy lots of both to bring home with you.

10. Or better yet, move down to Belize as an expat.  There are plenty of tax breaks (so I’m told) and happy expats currently down there.

11. Belize is home to many rare animal species; tapirs, jaguars, manatees and hundreds of unique birds.

12. Archaeologists discover new findings every year of Mayan sites! In fact, the country is full of beautiful Mayan ruins.

13. Belize has some of THE most incredible snorkel and scuba diving sites in the world! It’s home to the second largest barrier reef, after Australia’s, and the country prides itself on it’s determination to keep their oceans clean and safe.

What are the BEST places to visit in Belize?

Here are the most beautiful places in Belize that any traveler should be sure to visit while vacationing in this central american country:

BELIZE

Tropical Places to see

San Pedro Island

Caye Caulker

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

the Great Blue Hole

Ambergris Caye

Placencia

Silk Cayes National Park

Hopkins

Belize Barrier Reef

Punta Gorda

BELIZE

Jungle & Mayan Ruins to see

Altun Ha Ruins

Xunantunich Ruins

Caracol Ruins

Sleeping Giant Resort

Mayan Caves

the Belize Zoo

Where should you stay in Belize?

Don't Forget to Pack:

Belize is quickly becoming a top central american destination for tourists, and with a multitude of activities and sights to explore it’s easy to understand why.

If you have any questions about planning a trip to Belize comment below and I’d be happy to help!

If you’re planning a trip to Belize, check out my other blog posts on the most beautiful places to visit & the best things to do in Belize

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Top 9 things to do in Placencia, Belize

Top 9 things to do in Placencia, Belize

belize

How to explore this beautiful, laid-back town, plus everything you need to plan your trip here.

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

What was once a quaint, sleepy fishing village Placencia, Belize is now home to the country’s most beloved resorts and hotels. Yet it still effortlessly maintains it’s small-town & colorful charm.

Read on the learn about all there is to do in Placencia, Belize!

Included in this post:

  • Where to stay in Placencia
  • How to get to Placencia
  • Costs of Placencia
  • Top 9 things to do in Placencia

Tell me about Placencia, Belize

Placencia, Belize is a small town that is alive with color and personality. Residing on the southern peninsula of Belize, Placencia is a place that feels like an island. 

With plenty of places to eat, long stretches of beaches, snorkel adventures to go on and cocktails to enjoy on the beach, you can’t go to Belize and not visit Placencia.  If planning a trip here, prepare yourself for a no-shoes, laid back vacation.

And best part is, there is no ‘best time to visit Placencia. It’s beautiful all year round!

Where to stay in Placencia, Belize

As I mentioned before, Placencia is home to some of Belize’s most popular hotels and resorts. Yet don’t be alarmed, there are no major hotel chains with extensively large buildings blocking your beach views or cutting away at your bare-footed getaway. Most of the resorts only house a few 20+ guests at any one time.

We stayed at the Laru Beya Resort & absolutely loved our oceanfront unit. You can’t beat a place where your door opens up to the ocean for sunrise.

Booking.com

Costs for visiting Placencia, Belize

Lodging Costs: there are quite a few lodging type options for this small town ranging from hostels to resorts. Hostel prices range from  $13-50 USD, AirBnb’s come in at $25-55 USD, and resorts costing anywhere from $200-$800+ USD per night.

Meals/Food Costs: Belize is much cheaper in comparison to the United States when it comes to costs your meals. A sit-down restaurant in Placencia will cost around $20 USD, with cheaper places ranging from $5-7 USD. Of course, the bars and restaurants lining the beaches are a bit pricer ranging from $20-$40 USD. There are a few grocery stores in town, but in comparison to other parts of Belize, Placencia groceries are more expensive but still cheap in comparison to America, coming in around $40 for a week’s worth of meals.

Excurions: It’s hard to put a firm price on the cost of excursions as each tour company is different and their prices vary depending on the season and type of excursion you book. However, be prepared to dish $200/person daylong excursions. Which may sound like a lot, however you’ll be out all day with some of the most informed and fun-loving guides you could hope for on a vacation.

How to get Around Placencia, Belize

Placencia is a small enough place with an all flat terrain, that getting around is quite easy and affordable. You can walk almost anywhere within the main town, but if your hotel is a bit outside of town, as was our – Laru Beya Resort – you can do the following to get around Placencia:

Bike: many hotels offer their guests free bike rentals, but if not you can find them as cheap as $10 USD/day.

Rent a golf cart: As with bikes, most hotels & resorts in Placencia will have golf carts that you can rent at a daily rate. Each hotel ranges in price for their rentals. Keep in mind that their golf carts will go slow. They respect the speed limit and so have restricted their golf carts to not exceed a certain speed limit. If you’re able to bike you may likely get to where you’re going quicker on a bike than a golf cart.

Hire a taxi: the taxi’s in Placencia aren’t expensive, with the more expensive rides costing up to $15-20 USD.

Discover the tools I use to travel without overpaying: Read more here

With so much to explore, here are the

Top 9 things you need to see & do in Placencia, Belize

Getting to Placencia, Belize

We drove from our hotel located in the jungle and felt the winding road to here was an easier version of the Road to Hana and a great way to witness how Belizeans live.  You’ll drive past colorful square houses, see kids riding their bikes back from school and lots of fruit stands on the side of the road.

You can also fly directly into Placencia.  There are two airlines that fly in/out of here, and only use jumper planes.  Both airlines had great reviews and seemed very similar by comparison. *We flew from Placencia back to the Belize City airport at the end of our trip and loved the ocean views we had.  It was a wonderfully fun experience being on a small plane too.

Placencia, Belize is not meant to be a destination overflowing with ‘things to do’.  The lifestyle is soothing and meant for relaxing. Here are things that I feel any visitor should add to their itinerary:

Enjoy coffee & breakfast at the Above Ground Coffeehouse

       What I wouldn’t do to enjoy another iced coffee and freshly made jam on toast in this treehouse bungalow. The Above Ground Coffeehouse that may just be the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had.  They also offer light breakfast fare. We purchased homemade jams with toast each morning and loved each flavor we tried. Above Ground Coffeehouse is located just outside of the main part of Placencia town.

Be adventurous on the calm waters

        Stand up paddleboarding, kayaks and snorkeling are all fun water activities you can partake in. Most hotels and Airbnb’s have these items for water activities for free!  The ocean waters in Placencia are very calm so taking a kayak out is quite easy.

Enjoy Happy Hour at Tipsy Tuna

        This eclectic restaurant and bar is typically filled with local expats and long term visitors.  While we typically like to enjoy authentic restaurants of the places we visited, we stopped in due to a recommendation.  We loved this place because everyone there was welcoming and had wonderful conversations with so many people.

Wander around the main part of town

        There are so many colorful shops in Placencia, that window shopping can be great fun.

Treat yourself to Tutti Frutti Gelato

        This Belizean gem creates delicious gelato (surprising because gelato is a traditional Italian dessert so finding it so far from Italy that tastes so great is a wonderful treat!)  Tutti Frutti’s flavors are made fresh each day and a must have when in Placencia.

Experience Mayan history via cave tours

        Check out my blog post about caving tour options that Belize offers.  If your trip to Belize involves only Placencia than you won’t want to miss the opportunity to explore ancient caves.  There are plenty of tours that can pick up guests in Placencia town to experience the jungle.

Snorkel the Silk Cayes

        Belize has quite a few marine preserves to help protect the wildlife and reef, and Silk Cayes is a must-visit location.  The boat ride to get here is about an hour from Placencia.

The preserve consists of three islands, although you will snorkel only one of them.  The main island has a simple grill and restroom for tour groups coming here, but rest assured Belizeans have made sure to maintain this place’s natural beauty and do an incredible job bringing reusable tableware and cleaning up any garbage.

        Being at Silk Cayes feels like you’ve discovered an uncharted island in the middle of the ocean.  The water is calm and pristinely clear. Once under the water, you’ll see lavender-colored reefs, princess parrotfish (these remind me of the Rainbow Fish children’s book), manta rays and if you’re lucky a turtle!

Treat yourself to a nice dinner at Rumfish

        Placencia is a traditional fishing village, so like most of Belize, their fresh seafood in Placencia is some of the best you can find anywhere. Rumfish gives off some serious New Orlean vibes, and serves traditional Belizean dishes, along with the best fish tacos in the area (or so I’ve heard) They also have delicious vegetarian options, which we rarely found throughout our time in Belize. And since centrally located in Placencia town you can easily walk around after your meal.

Meander down Main Street

        Main street is a pedestrian-only walkway that is 4,000-feet long and is lined with art murals and beaches

 Once a sleepy fishing village, Placencia is now a colorful vacation spot for Belize with some of its most beautiful beaches.  Be sure to schedule a few days here to truly enjoy its easy-going vibe and maritime beauty.

TIPS for visiting Placencia, Belize:

  • There are a range of hotels and Airbnb’s to fit any budget, but be aware that town is towards the edge of the peninsula.  If your hotel is farther north it can take upwards of 40 minutes to get to town because the speed limit is fairly slow.
  • You can rent a golf cart or order a taxi to get around if you aren’t staying directly in town

Don't Forget to Pack:

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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If you’re planning a trip to Belize, check out my other blog posts on the most beautiful places to visit & the best things to do in Belize

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Experience Mayan Caves in Belize

Experience Mayan Caves in Belize

belize

The best tours and caves to explore in Belize

Note: this post contains affiliate links to products we love and have purchased ourselves on Amazon. Clicking these links doesn’t cost you any extra money, and you’re supporting us by doing so. You can view our disclosure page for additional details.

I’m a history lover by nature, and once I learned that the caves in Belize were idolized places by the Mayans I knew I had to go explore them. Caving in Belize is a wonderfully sustainable way to experience history, nature, have an adventure and get to know the local culture.  There are a few options for cave tours, each with their own adventurous spirit, and all with a load of history embedded in the story.

Things to know about visiting caves in Belize

  • You MUST book a tour to visit any cave in Belize- almost all of them are sacred places that have historical artifacts inside so the government requires a tour guide
  • There are hundreds of caves in Belize, but only a fraction are open to the public to visit.  The Belizean government has done a phenomenal job protecting the caves from over crowding them with tourists
  • The environment inside of caves is extremely fragile.  A rule of thumb is to leave the place the same or a little better than when you arrived; meaning do NOT leave any trash (all of the guides will review this with you as well), and if you see trash notify your guide so it can be picked up to be removed.
  • Each hotel will offer similar and unique tours; be sure to check out Tripadvisor for tour reviews & to get even more ideas
  • Wear clothes you are comfortable getting wet, including closed toe shoes.  The first river crossing will have you submerged up to your shoulders. We purchased these water shoes prior to our trip and loved how they felt like lightweight sneakers.

Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) 

      The ATM cave is the most popular cave to visit in Belize.  Uniquely, it’s popularity doesn’t equate to an overcrowded tourist trap.  Tours here must be booked in advance, as there are only a handful of approved licensed guides.  In fact, the government has stated that it will no longer allow any more people to be licensed on guiding groups into this cave.  This means that once all of the current guides have retired, the cave will be closed off from the public!

        Most tours will pick you up at your hotel, and you’ll enjoy a scenic drive through stoney back roads, small farms and lush jungle hills as the backdrop.  Be sure to inhale the fresh orange scent while driving through the orange groves prior to parking. Once there, helmets will be provided with headlamps. The adventure starts right away with a short swim through a river (three different times!) and a 40 minute flat level hike to get to the entrance of the cave.

        Greeted by clear, teal water and multiple pools of water cascading from the cave entrance, a curtain of ivy disguises its true depth.  After jumping into the water to swim through the caves entrance, you will notice how the rock surfaces you walk on are not slippery at all.  That is due to the lack of sunlight. Sunlight allows moss to grow, so no sun exposure means no moss.

        Right away you will learn and see visible traces of the Mayans who came here to worship their gods.  Mayans viewed the tree roots in the caves as the roots to their Tree of Life that connected them to the spirit world below.  These caves, and the well preserved ATM cave, was a place of sacrifice during difficult times. Take note of how the sacrifices intensify with the depth of the cave, meaning that the more troublesome their situation the further in they would go to place offerings.  This was done because the Mayans felt that the deeper into the cave they went equated to their closeness to the gods. Towards the back of the cave is the “Crystal Maiden”, who is thought to be a sacrifice victim. Years of annual rainy seasons has left her appearing to have a ‘fairy dust’ coating.

        Once all the way in the cave, enjoy the dynamic hike back down through the cave.  Climbing through crevices and sliding down into natural pools of water until you swim out of the cave and back into the jungle sunlight.  Finishing your hike with a lunch outdoors and a beer with your group.

*I cannot recommend this tour enough if you are visiting Belize.  It is so well structured, informative and well managed. I also loved how it felt like an adventure that anyone could do.  Since our group had only four excited adults, our guide gave us a more exciting cave hike, and he was so willing to answer questions & point out cool things about the plants, animals and Mayan people.  See below for a link of how to book him for your tour here.

TIPS for visiting the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave:

  • NO cameras of any kind are allowed inside (someone has cracked a fragile skull by accidentally dropping their camera on it) *Hence, why there are no pictures for this tour on this section of the post
  • Try to book with a small group.  With only one other couple on our tour, our guide was able to maneuver us to different areas inside of the cave, and you’ll spend more time swimming throughout the tour.
  • There are simple showers you may use after your hike back to the vehicle.  I’d suggest bringing a change of clothes and towel from your lodging, so that you can quickly rinse off and feel refreshed on your drive back

Waterfall Cave Expedition

        The most vigorous cave tour option, the Waterfall Cave Expedition will involve hiking through a jungle, crawling in a cave, swimming and jumping off from the top of waterfalls. Caves Branch Jungle Lodge picks up the group in a  ‘renovated’ (loosely used word here) tank.  Which is needed when driving through unpaved roads through a valley of orange groves.

       Once far enough into the jungle, enjoy a short 20 minute hike that starts with a warning of ‘watch out for snakes!’ and the guide pulling out his machete.  A sure sign that today’s endeavor will be one to remember.

        Unlike the ATM tour, the cave entrance is on dry land with tree roots pulling around the cave entrance.  You will eventually get to water that comes up to your knees and will go from walking to crawling through low hanging stalactites in the dark, and tip toeing when you’re able to stand so as not to disturb the delicate cave equivalent of an ocean’s coral reef.

Once you are deep enough into the cave the real adventure starts. Dropping your packs, you put on a life vest and start by swimming under low hanging spaces with bats flying right above your head.

        Coming up to the first large open space, you’ll feel like a kid again jumping feet first into a natural pool of water to swim to the first waterfall.  And then you’ll feel anxiety as you watch the guides clip in each visitor to a rappel line secured alongside the largest waterfall.

Climbing up, face-first into a gush of water means relying on your intuition to hike up successfully.  Luckily your guide will direct you with a forceful nudge in the right direction (thank goodness for that too because once your eyes are squeezed shut I was grasping at straws trying to pull myself up) and pushing your feet into the natural gaps to hoist yourself up.

After this, the remaining waterfalls are much easier to climb up. Once halfway through the cave – as the other half is too far to access on one day – the group will turn around and the really fun part begins. Jumping down the waterfalls into their natural basins!

       Each adrenaline-pumping jump comes with the possibility of leaving a piece of yourself behind…  Be sure to jump in the place the guides point out so as not to hit the rocks under the water.

Once you’re finished jumping and sliding back down through the cave, enjoy a fresh (vegetarian-friendly) lunch prepared for you inside of the cave!  Table cloth, cutlery and all.  Taking all of the food and trash with you, you hike back out of the cave and through the jungle for your calm ride back through the forested orange groves.

The best part is the potential for awesome animal sightings- night herrings, green parrots, hawks and egrets.

Cave Tubing

        Cave tubing is another tour option that you can book while in the Belizean jungle. We chose to be more adventurous and hike the cave waterfalls, but if you’re looking for a relaxing trip this is great to learn about the history and enjoy the fresh water.

*We booked our tours through our hotel, the Sleeping Giant Rain forest Lodge.

The ATM cave tour they offer is with a contracted guide, named Abel.  He was fantastic! He can be booked only through your stay here.

The Waterfall Cave Expedition is through Caves Branch Jungle Lodge.  Sleeping Giant booked it for us, and a Cave Branch vehicle picked us up.  Meaning, you could book the same tour we took with them and they should be able to accommodate your pick up and drop off.

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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If you’re planning a trip to Belize, check out my other blog posts on the most beautiful places to visit & the best things to do in Belize

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Visiting the Belize Zoo

Visiting the Belize Zoo

belize

Why it’s worth a visit (even if you don’t like zoo’s)

The Belize Zoo is a safe haven for orphaned, injured, or misused animals local to Belize.  I’m not a fan of zoos or animal encounters, as so many contain animals in unnatural habitats, living in cement cages, who were ripped from their parents and paid for for human enjoyment.  So, I make sure to do research prior to contributing any funds towards something that could potentially endanger or threaten the quality of life for an animal. With this being said, the Belize Zoo is a gem of a place for the creatures it houses.

        The Belize Zoo started as a simple ‘backyard zoo’ to help house and protect animals that were used on film sets in the 1980’s.  Today it protects animals only natural to Belize’s land in open enclosures (some of which the animals could very easily leave if they wanted to).  It serves as a resource to the country as prior to the zoo existing many did not know of the species native to their country.

        These native animals living at this zoo have come in naturally; meaning they weren’t paid for to complete a set of animals a guest might want to see.  As I stated earlier, this place began on the premise that film set animals needed a refuge after being used for ‘work’ (another post for another time).  Currently many of the animals are rescues of wildfires, hunting accidents/orphaned young, or injured due to loss of habitat.

How unique & precious are tapirs?!

They are very difficult to see in the world and are Belize’s national animal.  To me, they look like a cross between an ant eater and a hippo.

        While still hesitant to visit any zoo, no matter it’s rescue efforts as a cage is a cage to a wild animal, I really enjoyed how the areas that held the animals were much larger than what I’ve seen at any zoo in the United States (with the exception of the San Diego Safari Park).

There were also signs throughout the park educating guests not to pluck any plants, the need for these animals to remain wild and why these animals ended up at the Belize Zoo. And the staff here are caretakers, not just assigned trash pick up or queue directors.

        If you find yourself in beautiful Belize and are able to, try to make time to contribute to the conservation efforts of the Belize Zoo with a visit.  See for yourself and compare to others zoos that you have visited- if you’ve been there, what did you think? Would you agree with how they have built this place?

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing web designer & photographer. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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End Note regarding the Belize Zoo:

I do not endorse any zoo or animal encounters of any kind.  I truly believe that animals should be kept in their natural habitat if possible.

Unfortunately, much of Belize land has been changing (tourism increases and buildings) that if an animal’s home is burned or destroyed their last option may be a zoo similar to Belize’s.

Please keep in mind that we are all entitled to our own opinions- if you disagree with mine or the words used in this post feel free to share, but in a respectful and kind manner.

*there is an option to pay to feed one of the jaguars;  I’ll admit I had considered doing this (as jaguars are my favorite big cat) however we connected with someone who used to work at the zoo while on another tour and he told us that he didn’t agree with the direction these encounters were going — as you can now have the jaguar perform tricks (?!) While these animals are well protected and cared for, this type of ‘entertainment’ should not be an option.  Pay to visit the zoo, but don’t fall for the trap of this kind of animal encounter.

If you’re planning a trip to Belize, check out my other blog posts on the most beautiful places to visit & the best things to do in Belize

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