Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America and is home to a stunning barrier reef, the famous Great Blue Hole, and the world’s first jaguar reserve.
One week in the small country of Belize is enough time to visit both the mainland and the islands for a mix of jungle, cave, and ocean experiences.
I spent an adventurous week in Belize, and here, I share amazing things to do and tips to optimize your trip itinerary. This post covers:
- 🗓️ 7-day optimized itinerary
- ⭐️ Top attractions in the country
- 📍 Belize map with key places
- 🚙 How to get around & where to stay
- ✏️ Belize trip planner
Planning a trip? Here’s what to know about Belize.
Disclosure: Lists By Lukiih is readers-supported. If you buy through an affiliate link on this post, I may earn a small commission. Thanks!
Belize Itinerary Route
This itinerary takes you to some of Belize’s best places:
- Ambergris Caye – the biggest and most visited island.
- Caye Caulker – a more laid-back island and the second-most visited one.
- San Ignacio – a gateway to Maya ruins and other top attractions.
About This Belize Itinerary
This Belize itinerary efficiently sequences attractions and activities the country is famous for. It gives you the opportunity to:
- Snorkel in the stunning site of Hol Chan Marine Reserve
- Explore one of the world’s top sacred caves
- Visit famous Maya ruins with panoramic views
- See natural wonders like the Great Blue Hole
- Eat delicious food at local markets and restaurants
This map has all the recommended places in the Belize itinerary below.
One-Week Itinerary for Belize
Below is a great way to spend seven days in Belize. To help you plan efficiently, I’ve included suggested times for each activity based on my firsthand experience.
The Belize trip planner below has this itinerary prefilled.
|Day 1 – Ambergris Caye (2 Days)
|Arrive at Belize’s international airport
|Travel from Belize City to Ambergris Caye
|Explore downtown San Pedro
|Get into the ocean via a swimming dock
|Have dinner in San Pedro
|Day 2 – Ambergris Caye (2 Days)
|Snorkel at Hol Chan Marine Reserve
|8:30 am–12:30 pm
|Lunch at the Truck Stop
|Relax at Secret Beach
|Day 3 – Caye Caulker or Great Blue Hole
|Option 1: Take a day trip to Caye Caulker
|Option 2: Visit the Great Blue Hole
|Day 4 – San Ignacio (3 Days)
|Fly from Ambergris Caye to San Ignacio
|11:30 am–1 pm
|Have lunch at San Ignacio Market
|Go on the Green Iguana Tour before closing
|Have dinner in San Ignacio’s downtown area
|Day 5 – San Ignacio (3 Days)
|Enjoy a Belizean breakfast
|Go on the famous ATM Cave tour
|8 am–4 pm
|Relax after the tour and have dinner
|Day 6 – San Ignacio (3 Days)
|Horseback ride to Xunantunich
|7:30 am–2 pm
|Explore the nearby Cahal Pech
|Visit the Belize Zoo on the way to the airport
|Depart for home
This itinerary starts in Ambergris Caye and ends in San Ignacio, but you can also do the trip in reverse (i.e., start in San Ignacio and end in Ambergris Caye).
All prices mentioned in this post are in USD 💵 .
Ambergris Caye (Days 1-2)
Fly into Belize’s only international airport and start your Belize trip in Ambergris Caye.
🌴 Why Visit Ambergris Caye?
Ambergris Caye is one of Belize’s most popular destinations and the country’s largest island. It has access to endless water activities, including world-class snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and jet skiing.
It also has a lively downtown area with local restaurants, art galleries, and shops.
📍 How To Get From Belize City to Ambergris Caye
Belize has one international airport, Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (BZE), located in Belize City.
From the airport, you can get to Ambergris Caye by taking a water taxi or booking a short flight with a local airline.
|Cost Per Person
🛥️ Option 1: Water Taxi
Taking the water taxi operated by San Pedro Belize Express is the most common way to get to Ambergris Caye.
From Belize City, Ambergris Caye is about a 90-minute boat ride and costs $30 per person. The boats can hold a little over 100 passengers.
This is the budget-friendly way to get to Ambergris Caye, but it’s not ideal if you get motion sickness like me.
🛩️ Option 2: Local Airline
You can also take a small plane from Belize City’s airport to Ambergris Caye’s tiny airport, John Greif II Airport, in San Pedro.
The flight from Belize City to Ambergris Caye takes approximately 20 minutes and costs over $100 per person. Each plane carries about 8 to 12 passengers, and this is how I got to Ambergris Caye.
Belize’s local airlines do not fly to Ambergris Caye daily, so check their flight schedules beforehand.
If you book your flight in advance and miss your flight, the airline will put you on the next available one. The planes frequently leave whenever they have enough passengers.
📍 How To Get Around Ambergris Caye
Once on Ambergris Caye, you can get around by walking or renting a golf cart.
👟 Option 1: Walking
Ambergris Caye’s downtown area, San Pedro, is pedestrian-friendly. If you want to travel outside San Pedro, you’ll need to rent a golf cart.
Avoid walking around San Pedro on Pescador Drive, as there are no sidewalks there. Instead, walk on the main street, Barrier Reef Drive.
🚙 Option 2: Golf Cart
Locals and tourists primarily travel around Ambergris Caye by golf cart. Cars are rare on the island, as a special permit is required to drive one.
There are several golf cart rental places in San Pedro, and you can also rent a golf cart online in advance.
⭐️ Top Attractions in Ambergris Caye
Ambergris Caye is an island where visitors can spend over a week doing just water activities.
With two days on the island, here’s how to efficiently optimize your time doing some of the best things there.
🗓️ Day 1 in Ambergris Caye
After arriving in Ambergris Caye on your first day, settle in San Pedro town.
Stop #1: San Pedro
San Pedro is the pedestrian-friendly downtown area of Ambergris Caye. It’s lined with shops, restaurants, bars, galleries, and palm trees. It also has a vibrant nightlife with live music and beach bars.
San Pedro is the bustling main area of Ambergris Caye; everywhere else on the island is mostly resorts or small remote shops.
Here are a few places in San Pedro that are worth visiting:
🦞 Local Restaurants: Belizean cuisine is flavorful and influenced by several cultures, including the Caribbean, Mexico, African, and Mayan. I think the best food on Ambergris Caye is served in San Pedro and not at the resorts.
- Elvi’s Kitchen is a nice sit-down establishment that serves an amazing grilled octopus.
- El Fogon Restaurant serves one of the best ceviches I’ve ever eaten.
- DandE’s makes homemade ice cream with a wide variety of flavors.
- Hungry Grouper serves all kinds of delicious fish and sometimes has live music.
🖼️ Art Galleries and Shops: Belizeans are proud of their artists and sell beautiful paintings at competitive prices.
- San Pedro Originals Art Gallery has some of my favorite high-quality Belizean art.
- Meliza’s Art and Soul and Belizean Arts both feature local artists.
Some restaurants will also have art for sale. I bought my three-piece painting at Elvi’s Kitchen, which partners with San Pedro Originals Art Gallery to feature artwork.
🍫 Other Great Places: If you walk around, you’ll be able to find a variety of other arts and crafts, souvenir, and dessert shops.
- Belize Chocolate Company has great chocolate chip cookies and offers chocolate-making classes.
- San Pedro’s Central Park hosts local events and has food stalls on Friday nights. The pork rib hot dog I got here was mouthwatering.
Stop #2: Belize’s Swimming Dock
Before the sun goes down, head to one of Ambergris Caye’s many swimming docks.
The island is not known for sweeping white sand beaches. Instead, Ambergris Caye is a great place to enter the ocean through swimming docks, and you’ll see locals and tourists jumping in from them. Here are two docks that I visited and can recommend:
- Ramon’s Village – A popular dock, Ramon’s Village attracts locals and tourists. I saw stingrays swim by both times I visited (they don’t bother people as they typically stay close to the ocean floor).
- Matachica Resort – This dock is further north and feels more private. It also has a more luxurious feel than Ramon’s Village and caters primarily to tourists.
All beaches in Belize are free and open to the public, so you can visit swimming docks at resorts you’re not staying at. You can’t use the hotel’s equipment if you’re not a guest, so bring towels, gear, etc.
Stop #3: Dinner in San Pedro
After taking a dip in the ocean, head back to San Pedro for a delicious local dinner. See above for some of the local restaurants I recommend.
🗓️ Day 2 in Ambergris Caye
On your second day in Ambergris Caye, snorkel the world’s second-largest barrier reef and visit one of the island’s better beaches.
Stop #1: Hol Chan Reserve and Shark Ray Alley
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve (which includes Shark Ray Alley) is part of the stunning Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It’s a top snorkeling site with abundant tropical fish, stingrays, sea turtles, coral reefs, and nurse sharks (which are harmless to humans if left unbothered).
Since the reef is a protected area, you’re required to book a tour with a licensed operator to snorkel or scuba dive in Hol Chan Marine Reserve. A half-day snorkeling tour costs $60 to $90.
Remember to pack and wear reef-safe sunscreen when visiting the Belize Barrier Reef.
The dry season is the best time to visit Belize. But even during the rainy season, I could see the colorful marine wildlife during my snorkeling tour.
Stop #2: Truck Stop and Secret Beach
Although Ambergris Caye is not necessarily known for sweeping beaches, Secret Beach is one of the nicer beaches.
It has clear water, soft sand, and a more typical beach vibe with beach chairs, picnic tables in the water, umbrellas, food stalls, and massage spas. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing afternoon.
Several businesses on Secret Beach will allow you to use their beach equipment if you spend a minimum on food and drinks. However, not all places seem to strictly enforce this.
Secret Beach is located on the west side of Ambergris Caye, so you’ll need to rent a golf cart and drive approximately 30 minutes from San Pedro.
You can break up the drive to Secret Beach by stopping at the tourist-friendly The Truck Stop for lunch.
🏠 Where To Stay in Ambergris Caye
Ambergris Caye has numerous resorts on its northern and southern sides, away from San Pedro. Those areas are a great option if you primarily plan to be in the ocean and aren’t interested in spending significant time in San Pedro.
I chose to stay in San Pedro because I wanted to walk around, eat at local restaurants, and be close to the meeting places for some snorkeling tours.
I stayed at the Blue Tang Inn for $56 per person per night. I liked that the hotel is located in a more secluded corner of town. They serve a simple, satisfying breakfast daily, which is convenient for the early morning tours.
Caye Caulker (Day 3, Option 1)
On the third day, visit a more laid-back island for a change of scenery.
🏝️ Why Visit Caye Caulker?
Caye Caulker is Belize’s second-most popular island. It’s not too far from Ambergris Caye, and it’s more laid-back, less touristy, and cheaper overall.
📍 How To Get From Ambergris Caye to Caye Caulker
From Ambergris Caye, you can get to Caye Caulker by ferry or plane.
|Cost Per Person
⛴️ Option 1: Water Taxi
Several ferry companies operate water taxis between Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye. San Pedro Belize Express is one of the larger operators.
The water taxi ride takes 30 minutes and costs a little over $20 during the peak season.
Caye Caulker does not allow cars on the island, so you can get around by walking, biking, or renting a golf cart once you arrive.
🛩️ Option 2: Local Airline
Belize’s local airlines, Maya Island Air and Tropic Air, have flights between Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye. The flight takes ten minutes and costs around $50.
⭐️ Top Attractions in Caye Caulker
Like Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker offers a lot of water activities. With a day in Caye Caulker, here are some great things to do on this smaller island:
1. The Split
The Split is an iconic stretch of water that separates Caye Caulker into two beaches. It was created during a hurricane in 1961 and is now a popular swimming and sunbathing spot.
2. Marine Life Feeding
Every afternoon, Iguana Reef Inn hosts a marine life feeding where you can have stingrays calmly swim up to you. It’s considered the best place to see stingrays and a unique experience.
3. Go on a Bike Ride
Caye Caulker is a small island, stretching only about 5 miles long. It’s a great place to rent a bike and go for a leisurely ride.
You can also snorkel and see the Hol Chan Reserve from Caye Caulker. My friend did a six-hour snorkeling tour with Salt Life Eco Tours and highly recommends them. They greatly respected the environment and knew where to spot marine life.
Great Blue Hole (Day 3, Option 2)
If you rather skip Caye Caulker, spend the third day visiting the famous sinkhole of Belize instead.
🤿 Why Visit the Great Blue Hole?
The Great Blue Hole is a marine sinkhole in the Caribbean Sea. One of Belize’s most iconic natural wonders, it has captured the imagination of divers, scientists, and marine enthusiasts.
📍 How To Visit the Great Blue Hole
The Great Blue Hole is 50 miles from Ambergris Caye and can be visited by helicopter or on a snorkel/scuba tour.
🤿 Option 1: Snorkel/Scuba Tour
Several full-day snorkel/scuba tours visit three sites, one of which is usually the Great Blue Hole.
These tours typically start early in the morning (between 5:30 and 6:30 am) and cost over $200.
🚁 Option 2: Helicopter Flyover Tour
Another way to view the Great Blue Hole is by helicopter.
Some offer a standard tour, which usually includes 8-10 people, and others offer a private charter helicopter tour. A standard tour lasts one to two hours and costs over $100.
If you choose to do the helicopter tour, you’ll have the rest of the day to do more water activities in Ambergris Caye or do a short visit to Caye Caulker.
San Ignacio (Days 4-6)
On the fifth day, head to Belize’s mainland for jungle and cave adventures.
🦎 Why Visit San Ignacio?
San Ignacio in the Cayo District of Belize is a town known for its rich cultural heritage and acts as a gateway to several archaeological wonders.
From San Ignacio, you can visit several ancient Maya ruins, explore one of the most sacred caves in the world, and canoe through intricate cave systems.
📍 How To Get From Ambergris Caye to San Ignacio
From Ambergris Caye, you can get to San Ignacio by water taxi and shuttle or by plane.
|Water Taxi + Shuttle
|Cost Per Person
🚐 Option 1: Water Taxi and Shared Shuttle
First, take a water taxi from Ambergris Caye to Belize City. From Belize City, you can take a shared shuttle to San Ignacio. This is the most budget-friendly option, but it takes significantly longer.
I took a shared shuttle from San Ignacio to Belize City, and it cost $56 per person, split between four people.
Belize does not have ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft. The country’s only public transportation is the local bus.
🛩️ Option 2: Local Airline
Maya Island Air and Tropic Air stop at San Ignacio’s tiny airport, Maya Flats Airstrip (CYD), so you can take a small plane from Ambergris Caye directly to San Ignacio (and vice versa).
The flight takes about 45 minutes and costs over $200. This is how I traveled from Ambergris Caye to San Ignacio.
There are no taxis waiting around San Ignacio’s airport, so ask your hotel to call one in advance if you don’t want to wait. I had the airport attendee call one when I arrived, and I had to wait 20 minutes for it.
📍 How To Get Around San Ignacio
Once you’re in the town of San Ignacio, you can get around in four ways.
🚕 Option 1: Taxi
Official taxis in Belize look like ordinary cars, but they have green license plates. Taxis in San Ignacio have a flat rate per person. When I visited, it was $2.50 per person per ride.
The quality of the taxis in San Ignacio can vary (for example, I rode in a taxi that didn’t have seat belts). If you find a taxi driver you like, you can ask for their number and arrange future rides through WhatsApp.
👟 Option 2: Walking
The downtown area of San Ignacio is small and pedestrian-friendly, but most of the resorts and hostels are further away on a hill.
Walking between the resorts and the downtown San Ignacio area takes about 20 to 30 minutes. I wouldn’t call the walk pleasant, but it isn’t difficult.
🚗 Option 3: Rental Car
Many top attractions are more than 30 minutes from San Ignacio, so you can rent a car to get around independently.
A United States license is sufficient to rent a car in Belize (you don’t need an International Driver’s License). Note that many cars in Belize are old and not in great shape.
🚐 Option 4: Tour Transportations
Almost all guided tour packages in Belize will include transportation to and from your hotel and the tour’s destination.
⭐️ Top Attractions in San Ignacio
Here’s how to efficiently sequence the best attractions in San Ignacio across three days.
🗓️ Day 4 in San Ignacio
After arriving in San Ignacio, you’ll have enough time to visit the market and make the green iguana tour on the fourth day.
Stop #1: San Ignacio Market
San Ignacio Market features several local vendors selling fresh produce, souvenirs, and meals for $5 to $10.
Some of my favorite meals in Belize came from this market. It’s open daily until 3 pm, so it’s a great place to get lunch.
San Ignacio Market is cash-only. Remember that tipping is customary in Belize. See more cash-related tips in this Belize trip cost breakdown.
Stop #2: The Green Iguana Tour
After lunch, walk 15 minutes to see one of the #1 things to do in San Ignacio, according to Tripadvisor.
Green iguanas are an endangered species in Belize. The Green Iguana Conservation Project tour gives educational information and raises scholarship funds for local children.
The tour is located in the San Ignacio Resort hotel and costs $12.
They’ve recently changed their policies to discourage visitors from touching the iguanas. When I visited, touching was allowed and encouraged.
Stop #3: Dinner in Downtown San Ignacio
Spend the rest of the day relaxing and exploring the downtown area before an adventurous tour the next day.
Make sure to try fry jacks, which are deep-fried dough pieces. They’re a delicious traditional food often served at Belizean breakfasts.
🗓️ Day 5 in San Ignacio
On your fifth day in Belize, get ready for an all-day adventure.
All-Day Stop: The ATM Cave
National Geographic considers the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) one of the world’s top sacred caves. The cave, which contains Maya human sacrifices, is one of Belize’s main attractions, and tickets sell out during the high season.
Exploring the cave requires a short hike, swimming, and climbing. It was the highlight of my trip and remains one of my favorite tours of all time.
Learn how to plan for the ATM Cave.
After the ATM Cave tour, you’ll likely be tired, so spend the rest of your day relaxing near the ocean or by a swimming pool.
🗓️ Day 6 in San Ignacio
On your second-to-last day in Belize, visit some of the country’s biggest archaeological wonders: the Maya ruins.
Stop #1: Xunantunich
Xunantunich is one of Belize’s most well-known Maya ruins. Visitors can learn about its mysterious history, which includes a ghost story and the unknown disappearance of its 200,000 inhabitants in 750 AD.
Visitors can also climb El Castillo, Xunantunich’s tallest structure, to get a peek at neighboring Guatemala. If you’re lucky, you may also see some howler monkeys.
Stop #2: Cahal Pech
After visiting Xunantunich and having lunch in San Ignacio, you can take a short walk to Cahal Pech, a small Maya archaeological site.
Although Xunantunich is more popular, visitors are freer to wander and explore Cahal Pech, which makes it more fun for some visitors. Cahal Pech has a $5 entrance fee.
🏠 Where To Stay in San Ignacio
In San Ignacio, you can stay within the downtown area or in one of the resorts about a 20-minute walk away.
I stayed at Cahal Pech Village Resort for $46 per person per night. The resort is located on a hill and has a very nice view.
However, the walk to the downtown area wasn’t pleasant, so I wished I had stayed closer to downtown in a place like Venus Hotel, which I walked by several times.
Belize Zoo and Departure (Day 7)
On your last day, stop by the zoo before departing.
Stop #1: The Belize Zoo
Stop at the zoo while on your way to the airport from San Ignacio.
The Belize Zoo features unique animals (e.g., tapirs and pumas), many of which are rehabilitated and rescued.
The zoo is one of the most highly-rated attractions in Belize. Some people even spend multiple days there. The entrance fee for adults is $15.
Stop #2: Belize City International Airport
After the Belize Zoo, you can take a 40-minute shuttle or taxi to Belize’s only international airport to fly home.
How much will a trip set you back? I share my travel expenses in this Belize budget breakdown.
With More Time: 10 Days in Belize
If you’re spending extra days in Belize, you can easily extend your stay in Ambergris Caye, San Ignacio, or a third destination.
🤿 More Time in Ambergris Caye
Visitors sometimes stay for as long as one week in Ambergris Caye, primarily doing water sports and activities.
Ambergris Caye is a popular place for some expats and digital nomads to stay for extended time.
🛶 More Time in San Ignacio
San Ignacio has a plethora of other activities to check out if you have more time:
- Tikal Maya ruin is another ruin that enables you to take a day trip to Guatemala.
- Caracol is the biggest Maya city in Belize, making it one of the most famous ruins.
- A visit to Barton Creek gives you the unique opportunity to canoe through a network of caves.
- Mountain Pine Ridge is a largely untouched forest where you can hike and visit waterfalls.
- Cave tubing is another popular activity in Belize if you’re looking for a chiller experience.
🏝️ More Time in Placencia
If you want to visit a third destination, you can check out Placencia, Belize’s best beach area featuring soft white sand.
Placencia is a three-hour drive from San Ignacio, so it’s only worth stopping there if you have more than a week in Belize.
Placencia is also near Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. This tropical rainforest is the world’s first jaguar reserve and one of Belize’s 17 national parks.
Belize Trip Planner
To make your travel planning easier, download the trip planner below and use it as a starting point. The planner has country-specific travel information, an itinerary, a packing list, and a map with key places pinned.
The trip planner is built on Notion, which I use for all my travel planning (I genuinely love this tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.
If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below.
Belize Travel Guides
- 🇧🇿 Belize Travel Tips: 10 Practical Things To Know
- 🐠 One Week in Belize: Itinerary + 12 Great Things To Do
- 💰 Trip to Belize Cost: 2024 Budget Breakdown
- 💀 ATM Cave Belize: What To Wear + Things To Know
- 🐎 Horseback Riding to Xunantunich: An Honest Review
- 🌧️ Visiting Belize in Its Rainy Season: What To Know & Pack
Lists by Lukiih is Readers-Supported
If you find my travel tips helpful, say thanks with a bubble tea🧋!