Belize in 8 Days - A Solo Travel Itinerary
There’s a lot to see and do in Belize. My one wish for my own trip is that I had more time to relax and actually ‘go slow,’ in the words of Caye Caulker. Here’s what you should do when you have eight days in Belize:
From the international airport, make your way by shuttle van, bus, or flight to San Ignacio. This compact market town is the jumping off point for tours to Mayan pyramids, to jungle adventures, and more. Try to book a hotel or airbnb that’s in town or nearby, so you can walk and not rely on cabs. I stayed at Tia Maria Guesthouse, which was fine for its low price point - it’s main attractions are air conditioned rooms, a communal kitchen, and it’s proximity to town. I met other tourists who stayed at the Cahal Pech Village Resort. It sounded nice, but they found it difficult to get anywhere besides the namesake ruins that they overlook, so you’re pretty much bound to the resort. When you arrive, spend the rest of Day 1 settling in - walk around town, book any tours that haven’t been done in advance, pick up several bottles of water (if your hotel or airbnb doesn’t have filtered water). Check out the local market to pick up snack food. Have a delicious Belizean dinner at Ko-Ox han nah in town. Be forewarned that very few restaurants (outside of at the resorts) have air conditioning.
What’s your trip style? If it’s cultural, take a day trip to Guatamala’s Tikal. Keep it mind it’s a bit of a lengthy journey to get out there, as I document in this blog post. If it’s daring, take a trip to the ATM caves for a combination of hiking, swimming, water tubing, and checking out Mayan skeletons. Several travelers I met in Belize called the ATM caves the highlight of their trip. If you want a little of both culture and adrenaline, take a tour that encompasses the nearby Xunatunich pyramids along with a cave tubing adventure. I used MayaWalk tours, who were excellent and offered a wide variety of experiences.
If you’re like me, Day 2 is going to exhaust you, so take a day to enjoy San Ignacio. If you’re up for it, try the traditional Belizean breakfast of fryjacks - fried dough served (or stuffed with) cheese, beans, bacon and eggs. You may need a nap after.
Take a cab over to Cahal Pech, a fantastic smaller set of Mayan pyramids right outside of town. It’s only a $5 entry fee for a self-guided tour. Be forewarned that if you want to walk there, it’s about 20 minutes from town and the last section is up a very steep hill. Also, the official closing time is 5pm, but that’s only when the ticket office closes - you’re welcome to still wander the site. Other activities in town, especially during the frequent rains? Take a one-hour Mayan chocolate-making class with Ajaw, tasting lots of samples along the way! Hang out with iguanas on a tour through the sanctuary, located within the San Ignacio Resort Hotel. Are you a fan of hot sauce? Marie Sharp’s is the #1 sauce in Belize, which you’ll find on every table in the country (not an exaggeration). They host Belizean cooking classes and taste tests of their variety of sauces at their San Ignacio location.
Head back out into the surrounding jungles, rivers, and caves on another trip into the colorful, vast offerings in this area. Whichever tour you didn’t do on Day 2, fit it in here!
Leave relatively early and take a bus, shuttle, or flight out to the cayes. Buses will drop you within Belize City, where you’ll have to get a taxi to the ferry terminal. Any of these routes can be a bit of a trek, and you’ll want to get out to Ambergris or Caye Caulker by mid-afternoon. This will give you time to get settled before you head out to explore the island. Check if your hotel or airbnb offers bikes, or if you’ll need to rent one. Cars are a rarity on either caye - it’s golf carts, bikes, or walking. In Caye Caulker, I stayed at the fantastic Colinda Cabanas. We had an air conditioned room towards the rear of the property. While at first I was bummed by the lack of ocean views, a rear cabin meant no smells of rotting sargassum in the mornings!
Days 6 & 7
There are two main activities here, which you should do in whatever order you like. Activity #1 is to take advantage of the nearby Barrier reef with either a SCUBA or snorkeling tour. I did a half day tour with Anda de Wata, which was fine, although I’d recommend the full-day tour. Skip boat tours that take you to the Blue Hole. It’s an hour each way out to see it, and the site is really the most impressive from above. On the surface or under the water it looks like… well, just water, really.
Activity #2 is to do very little! Find a dock with a comfy chair on the eastern side, or an actual beach on the western side, and sit and read. Take a break and head into town for food. Stop for a midday Belikan beer or coffee and chat with fellow travelers. Take a bike ride or a kayak out to enjoy the beautiful views and ocean water in a relaxing environment. At night, hit up some of the bars to meet travelers and ex-pats and discuss your travels so far and what’s to come. If you’re staying on Caye Caulker (as I was), you can take the free ferry one afternoon over to Koko King on the north island for a more beach-y experience.
Have a final breakfast and any last morning island activities, as it can again be a bit of a trek to get back to the airport. The water taxi from San Pedro is 90 minutes to Belize City, from Caulker it’s 45 minutes. Once at the ferry terminal, it’s another 20 minute cab ride to the international airport. Check the ferry schedule to make sure you’ve got enough time to get there. Flights from the islands are obviously much shorter, though you’ll need to schedule in time to get to the airport and check any luggage. Either way, you’ll want to get to the international airport about an hour to 90 minutes in advance. No need to arrive sooner. It’s a small airport with a few small souvenir shops. Enjoy the views leaving the country!