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4 Family-Friendly Experiences in Belize

by Teresa Bitler

Jan 21, 2020

Photo: Teresa Bitler

Listicles

A tiny, English-speaking country on Mexico’s southern border, Belize is a great choice for families with a thirst for adventure. Experience the best it has to offer with these family-friendly activities.

 

Visit Mayan Ruins

Belize has more than 600 Mayan ruins spread throughout its jungles, many of which you can walk through or climb. One of the most impressive, Altun Ha is just 30 miles from Belize City.

Altun Ha. Photo: Teresa Bitler

 

Closer to the Guatemalan border, the Caracol and Xunantunich sites boast the country’s two tallest Mayan ruins while Cahal Pech in San Ignacio has more than 30 structures. From San Ignacio, you can hire a guide to drive you to Tikal National Park in Guatemala (2.5 hours away) to see the more than 3,000 Mayan structures there.

 

Go Cave Tubing

Looking for a unique adventure? Go cave tubing with Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Adventure Company & Jungle Lodge. Anderson popularized the activity more than 20 years ago when he launched a seven-mile river float past stalagmites and stalactites and to an area littered with Mayan pottery and artifacts. While other companies offer similar experiences, none have access to Anderson’s cave.

 

His adventure company also leads tours to Actun Tunichil Muknal, a Mayan burial site with four skeletons. Because the cave adventure requires swimming, climbing and squeezing through tight spaces, it is recommended for those who are physically fit, not afraid of the dark and at least 10 years old.

 

Mayan ruins. Photo: Teresa Bitler

 

Snorkel at the Belize Barrier Reef

Considered one of the top snorkeling destinations in the Caribbean — if not the world — the Belize Barrier Reef teems with sting rays, sea turtles, grouper, snapper and vibrantly colored fish. Hire a local company on the islands of Ambergris Caye or Caye Calker, just off the Belizean coast, to take you to Hol Chan Marine Reserve.

 

There, even not-so-great swimmers can snorkel wearing a flotation device and swim with nurse sharks in nearby Shark Alley. Expert scuba divers can make a separate trip to the Great Blue Hole, a limestone sinkhole considered one of the world’s top dives.

 

Learn How Chocolate is Made

If your family has a sweet tooth, take a cacao farm or factory tour. Eladio’s Chocolate Adventure takes guests on a tour of Eladio Pop’s organic cacao farm, then shows them how a small batch of beans is roasted, ground into a paste and turned into Mayan hot chocolate for sampling.

 

Ixcacao Maya Belizean Chocolate offers a slew of chocolate activities and tours. Depending on the tour you book, you can make your own chocolate using stone tools, visit the processing facility, trek to the cacao farm or dine on chicken with a dark chocolate sauce for lunch. Short on time? Take a 30-minute tour at Lamanai Chocolate, just south of Belmopan on the Hummingbird Highway.

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