Adventurous Day Trips from Ambergris Caye, Belize

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Ambergris Caye

The crystal clear waters of the Caribbean attract thousands of tourists each year to Ambergris Caye, Belize. Image credit: Areed145

The island of Ambergris Caye lies off the Caribbean coast of Mexico, but is actually part of Belize. Its only town, San Pedro, sits close to the southern tip of the island, and with its own airport, serves as home base for abundant day trips accessible to the area. There are more than 50 lodging choices on Ambergris Caye, ranging from minimalist hostels to luxurious condominiums. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing get-away to catch up on your reading or a destination full of action-packed adventure, Ambergris Caye has something for everyone.

Ambergris Caye

The Temple of the Jaguar can be found at the Mayan ruins in Lamanai, Belize. Image credit: Urbanarcheology

Mayan Ruins of Lamanai

This is an excellent trip that is offered by a few different tour companies. One itinerary includes abundant river wildlife viewing, a visit to a small village, and a trek through the jungle to the ruins of Lamanai. You’ll travel by boat down and around the southern tip of Ambergris Caye and then up the Northern River to the village of Bomba.  Bomba is a primitive village where several of the residents sell hand-made wood carvings in the street.  From here you’ll travel by bus to Tower Hill, where you’ll board another boat and begin your journey down the New River to Lamanai. Of the three temples currently excavated at Lamanai, one is climbable.  Although a bit strenuous, the view from the top makes the climb worthwhile.

Ambergris Caye

Dozens of Southern Stingrays and Nurse Sharks can be seen up close and personal at Shark-Ray Alley in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, just minutes from Ambergris Caye. Image credit: Barry Peters

Snorkeling at Shark-Ray Alley

Listed in Skin Diver Magazine as one of the seven best animal dives in the Caribbean, this is an amazing experience.  Located within the Hol Chan Marine Reserve (just a short boat ride from ambergris Caye), this trip allows you to swim in shallow water with six-foot long nurse sharks and Southern stingrays with wing spans of four feet. The rays and sharks are everywhere.  You don’t wear your fins in the water because it stirs up the bottom too much, so bring water shoes if you have them – and don’t forget your underwater camera.

Ambergris Caye

The Plaza of the Seven Temples is just one of several excavated Mayan ruins that can be found in Tikal, Guatemala. Image credit: Dennis Jarvis

Mayan Ruins of Tikal, Guatemala

For this trip you’ll catch an early flight back to the mainland from the San Pedro airport to Belize City.  From there you’ll board a small plane and fly to Flores, Guatemala. On the way to Tikal you’ll pass small villages where the local women carry water in pots on their heads and wash their clothes with stones on wooden platforms built into the lake. Once at Tikal you’ll hike through some small stands of jungle and have an opportunity to observe the local flora and fauna.  The ruins at Tikal include numerous excavated structures and are among the largest in the Americas.

Crystal Cave Tubing at Jaguar Paw

Jaguar Paw is a secluded 200-acre property in western Belize on the Cave’s Branch River, so this trip also requires a flight back to Belize City. Once there you’ll don an inner tube and let the current guide you through one of the largest caves in Belize. Along the way you’ll see centuries-old stalactites and stalagmites, rim stone dams and Mayan artifacts. On the way back to the airport, your tour might include a stop at the Belize Zoo, which is home to 45 species of animals, all native to Belize.

Additional Tips for ambergris caye day trips:
  • Be sure to take a good supply of insect repellent, as well as something to treat the bites you get anyway.
  • On day trips which include both wet and dry adventures, don’t forget to bring an extra set of dry clothing.
  • Study up on local birds and other wildlife before the trip.
  • Bring a flashlight in case you decide to walk around at night. Scorpions are prevalent.
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18 thoughts on “Adventurous Day Trips from Ambergris Caye, Belize

  1. Greg

    I’ve stayed on Caye Caulker, Belize, and from there took a snorkeling tour to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark-Ray Alley. My expectations weren’t very high – I thought it would be just another tourist trap. But it was really cool. It ended up being my favorite part of the trip. If you go there, you need to check it out.

  2. Natalie

    I haven’t ever been to Belize, but it looks as if I need to change that immediately! Two of my favorite things in the world are tropical places and ruins, and Belize gives me both in the same place! 🙂 I went to Mayan ruins in the Yucatan peninsula, but I was 11 and hideously sick from food poisoning, so I don’t remember it very well. I need to go back!

  3. Anne Younger

    I want to close my eyes and wake up in Belize. I am hoping that someday, after our kids are grown that my husband and I can travel to Belize and take it all in. I would love to see the temples and also check out the crazy sea life!

  4. Sara {Frugal Mama & The Sprout}

    Incredibly beautiful place! I would love to see the Mayan ruins, that is on my bucket list for sure! I’m not a fan of the water so the snorkeling is most likely out, but you can find me on the beach drinking a fruity drink with an umbrella in it! Thank you for the beautiful photos to fuel my fantasy!

  5. Leon Bailey

    Swimming with sharks and stingrays? I don’t know, I feel as if I am too chicken to do such a thing. Seeing the Mayan ruins would definitely be a sight to see. Maybe one day!

  6. Michelle Hwee

    This place is absolutely beautiful!! I love how vibrant everything is and how pretty the water looks. These tropical islands remind me of my Bahamas trip, so relaxing, warm and an amazing vacation destination!

  7. Myrabev

    I do not know about stingrays since that australian adventure got stung and died instantly i do not think i want to lol. The belize sounds like a great island to visit and maybe one i should add onto my travel bucket list, i have some parts of the caribbean that i want to visit so this would be great addition

  8. Ronni

    I have always wanted to go to Belize! It looks so beautiful. The color of that water is breathtaking. We’re looking into a cruise for next year that has Belize as one of the port stops!

  9. Roch

    It’s amazing how the Mayan Ruins of Lamanai exists. It’s like going to a different part of the world. How long will it take to climb to the top to see the temples? A good tip as well is to bring an umbrella to be ready for the rain or too much sunshine.

  10. Stephanie

    I’d love to go to Belize! My parents went several years ago and I can tell you they totally didn’t take advantage of the trip and see all of the amazing things you’ve outlined here. They went shopping – ugh. I’d spend all of my time in the ruins, hiking and spelunking. I’m glad you said insect repellent – that would be so easily forgotten! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Fi Ní Neachtáin

    Wow, Belize looks absolutely breathtaking! It’s such an exotic and faraway place to me living in Ireland. I remember getting a postcard from Belize years ago and being so in awe of it. The first picture looks so amazing, the waters are just so blue and crystal clear. The ruins are something my partner would LOVE to visit for sure. Thank you for sharing your adventure, Belize is now on my travel bucket list 🙂

  12. ItineraMagica

    This is an absolutely beautiful post! I am deeply in love with the Caribbean and I really enjoyed your pictures and story… The picture of the stingray is so impressive!
    I would be delighted if we could follow each other as fellow travelers 🙂

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