Where to Find the Best Hikes in Belize
Pristine turquoise waters, impossibly lush jungles, and sky-high Maya mountains turn an outdoor adventurer’s dreams into reality. We’re talkin’ Belize, baby! But with so many natural wonders, how do you choose which places to explore?
Well, we’ve got the answers. Make the most of your Caribbean getaway by tackling the incredible hikes in San Ignacio and Bocawina National Park, making waves in Glover’s Reef, and more! Let’s take on Belize the Explorer Chick way. Are you ready?
Why Hiking Is A Must-Do In Belize
Belize may be known for its pristine aquatic landscape featuring stunning turquoise water in the Belize barrier reef and an array of vacation-worthy cayes. Still, this Caribbean country’s mainland is just as spectacular. Lush jungle ecosystems, ancient cave exploration, and numerous nature reserves make the Belizean wilderness a total haven for any adventurer.
And you certainly don’t have to be a pro climber to tackle Belize’s many national parks and excellent hiking trails. From intermediate nature walks like Ben’s Bluff trail through Guanacaste National Park to the Victoria Peak Climb high in the Maya Mountains, there’s something for everyone on a Belize vacation.
Get ready to be transported to this Central American haven filled with tropical forests, pristine rivers, and shimmering crystal caves. Not to mention, you’ll spot flourishing diverse flora and fauna species throughout this coastal paradise. Pinch yourself — you’re not dreaming!
Where Can You Go Hiking In Belize
The Belize islands are must-see destinations on your Caribbean getaway, but you can only find the best hiking trails on the mainland. Bordered by Mexico to the north, Honduras to the south, Guatemala to the east, and the tranquil Caribbean Sea to the west, you’ll encounter a unique blend of diverse culture and landscape on your Belize vacation.
BTW did you know tropical forest covers over 60% of the country? jaw drop It’s the perfect place to discover some of the most well maintained trails in Central America — and take a dip in the refreshing natural pools.
Trek the dense tropical rainforest surrounding San Ignacio, then lose yourself in the natural beauty of Mayflower Bocawina National Park, which contains Silk Grass, the country’s first forest reserve.
Hiking in San Ignacio
Eco-tourism is at the core of San Ignacio, a small town in western Belize’s Cayo District. It’s the ideal basecamp for endless adrenaline-boosting fun in the dense forest nearby, including horseback riding, cave tubing, ziplining, and, of course, several marked trails. The town itself boasts a unique food scene where you can sample all of Belize’s most iconic dishes — so make sure you work up an appetite!
- Big Rock Falls. Trails that end in a natural waterfall pool are always the best hikes. Find the Big Rock trailhead 30 minutes out from San Ignacio and take in the incredible rocky landscape along this riverside intermediate hike.
- Thousand Foot Falls. Visit the tallest waterfall in Central America right here in western Belize! At Mountain Pine Ridge, located a couple of hours away from San Ignacio, you’ll enjoy blissful solitude on this self guided walk to the magnificent waterfall.
- Masewal Forest Garden Medicinal Trail. Put on your foraging hat and learn about Belize’s traditional medicinal plants — and how to avoid the poisonous ones — along this captivating walk. Established by the late Don Beto Cocom, the Masewal Maya Jungle Garden and Medicinal Trail in Bullet Tree Falls is globally renowned.
- Explore the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave. A swimming, climbing, and guided hiking tour all in an ancient Mayan cave? Yup! Prepare to get wet in this labyrinth of partially underwater chambers — and to spot some crystal-covered human sacrifices that miiight send shivers down your spine.
- Explore the ancient Mayan Xunantunich Ruins. Even adventure gals who fell asleep in history class will stare in awe at the temples, plazas, and altars taking you back over 3,000 years. Legend has it that a disappearing ghostly woman once appeared at the cave mouth, leading a local man to discover the incredible Xunantunich Ruins just 30 minutes from modern-day San Ignacio.
Hiking in Bocawina National Park
Head to the Maya Mountains for some incredible climbs through Bocawina National Park! Just off the Southern Highway in Stann Creek lays this haven of lush forest, soaring waterfalls, and flourishing wildlife. This national park is a southern Belize gem with mountains, trails, and swimming holes galore.
- Antelope Falls. Head off on your hike early in the day: it gets hot in the tropical rainforest, and this trail will open those sweat glands right up. Who needs the spa? This advanced trek brings you to the top of the waterfall, high above the jungle, and is one of the best hikes in Belize.
- Big Drop Falls. As the most demanding hike in all of southern Belize, this trail is not for the faint of heart. Test your endurance by conquering the uphill ascent on this challenging day hike and spot jaw-dropping views of this beautiful park before rappelling down the rocky falls.
- Tears of the Jaguar. You’ll technically be chasing three waterfalls on this Stann Creek hike: Lower Bocawina Falls, Upper Bocawina Falls, and the even higher Tears of the Jaguar waterfall. Yeah, you’ll feel the burn in your tush as you complete the final section, but it’s sooo worth the sore muscles.
- Zip-line above Mayflower Bocawina National Park. Time to conquer your fear of heights: Bocawina National Park contains the country’s longest canopy zipline at over 2.300 feet! Better yet, try night flying to enjoy the jungle glowing in the moonlight.
- Rappel down rushing waterfalls. Instead of jumping into the crystal clear natural emerald pools at the base of tropical waterfalls, rappel into them! We’re talkin’ a 250 feet drop alongside Antelope Falls, babe!
What Kind of Animals Can You See in the Jungles of Belize
Belize’s tropical climate creates the perfect ecosystem for a diverse array of critters. Thousands of flora and fauna reside here but respect the wildlife by admiring it from a distance. Always keep your hands to yourself around jungle animals. It’s hard, we know! But it’s for your safety — and theirs.
- Birds. Over 543 bird species call Belize home, with at least 300 types living in Bocawina National Park alone! Head to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary or Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve for some of the best sights, and visit during winter to spot the migratory species.
- Reptiles. Iguanas, lizards, snakes, and other reptiles thrive in Belize’s mangroves and tropical forests. But fear not, snake-haters: most of the ones you’ll spot are pretty harmless to humans!
- Wildcats. See the endangered jaguar in Belize’s Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary: home to the world’s only jaguar preserve! Although hunting has threatened many jungle cat populations, five different kinds still call the Caribbean nation home.
- Monkeys. You don’t need an alarm in Belize: you’ll hear the loud cries of howler monkeys from half a mile away! Keep an eye out for them in the trees above Monkey River, pelting jaguars with twigs for their entertainment. Watch out!
Best Time To Go Hiking In Belize
First things first: it’s never the wrong time to visit Belize. However, hiking is naturally best during the dry season of December to April since paths can get slippery and dangerous with rainfall. These months also bring slightly cooler temps, which you’ll appreciate during strenuous climbs.
Remember that this is the busy season, so popular trails and tourist sites like Mayan ruins will be a tad busier.
But if you’re all about aquatic adventures like scuba diving, snorkeling, or jet skiing, visit when the seas are calm from May through November, AKA the rainy season. Just be prepared that water activities can be a no-go when the water levels are high.
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What Should You Wear To Go Hiking In Belize?
Belize’s steamy temperatures and humid climate make loose, breathable, UV-protectant fabrics essential while crushing hiking trails through the country’s 17 national parks. It may seem wrong, but long fabrics are king in hot weather. It keeps the sun off your skin, which surprisingly keeps you feeling cool.
- Great hiking boots. Take the time to find (and break in) the best pair of hiking boots for the types of trails you’re planning to explore. Properly fitted low- to medium-cut shoes with solid traction and arch support work well for most Belize self guided hikes.
- Breathable, protective shirts. Loose-fitting light-colored tops made from breathable fabrics like nylon or wool keep you perfectly cool. Choose UV-protective clothing when possible! We like this SunDefense long-sleeve shirt.
- Lightweight, long pants. Avoid scratches and bites along jungle trails by wearing long pants while trekking Cayo district and the national parks. These Savanna Trails Pants are perfect for tropical hiking.
- Sun hat. Skip the burnt scalp and forehead by packing any brimmed hat to protect from that hot Belize sun. We like this cute sun hat at REI.
- Bug spray and sunscreen. Protective sunscreen and bug spray protect your skin and body from burns and bites. Mosquitos are bad enough. We don’t need any other insect stings! We like this all natural bug spray.
*Disclosure: we independently choose all product recommendations. When you buy from product links in our posts, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This supports our ability to provide the best advice possible.
What Else Can You Do In Belize
Belize is filled with more adventure than just hiking! Get in touch with your aquatic side by exploring Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, wandering a gorgeous crystalline cave, and soaking up allll the culture. There’s never a dull moment!
- Snorkel flourishing tropical reefs. Grab your flippers: snorkeling UNESCO World Heritage Site Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve is a must-do. Watch for sea turtles, coral, and the cutest little fishies.
- Explore ancient Mayan caves. Tube, wade, or canoe through the many mysterious limestone caves scattered across Belize. Keep an eye on the cave’s walls to spot human handprints, drawings, and 3,000-year-old artifacts!
- Catch and cook a fresh fish dinner. With all those stunning turquoise waters everywhere you look, it’s no surprise that Belize is one of the best places in the world to master your angling skills. Local guides will teach you to line fish and savor every bite of your fresh AF catch.
- Embrace local culture and dance. Sample (or try cooking) Belizean delicacies like hudut, caldo, and dry jacks, then shake your booty the Garifuna way!
Belize, According to Explorer Chicks
Hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking glamping-style in Belize? Yes, please! This trip may sound un-BELIZE-able, but it’s even better than it sounds. Explorer Chick Mary can confirm.
She says joining the EC Belize adventure was the best thing she ever did (we’re blushing). And the friendships she made? They’re lifelong.
BTW, gals on our recent Belize trip confirmed that line fishing is so much easier than it seems. And get ready to try TONS of new snacks on your hikes, courtesy of Miss Jungle herself.
Ready to Go Hiking in Belize?
Make a huge dent in your bucket list in a single trip to Belize. It’s an adventurer’s gold mine! You’ll trailblaze rainforests, navigate ancient cave systems, and zipline, rappel, or dance your way to life-changing memories. Join our all-girl crew and take on Belize the Explorer Chick way. Start packing now!
Meet the Writer
Megan Wray is a queer, mixed-race Japanese-Canadian freelance writer based on Treaty 1 Territory. Passionate about pleasure, identity, and anti-oppression, Megan’s fuelled by meaningful chats about topics that aren’t “appropriate” for dinner table conversation. When she’s not writing, you can find Megan cooking vegan food, singing to live music, and trying to understand astrology.
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