Many visitors to Belize stick to the usual tourist destinations because they are easier to get to, but there is a lot more to explore besides popular spots such as Lamanai, ATM Cave and the Blue Hole. With the following three off the beaten path Belize destinations, getting there really is half the adventure. If you consider yourself an intrepid traveler and can endure long, bumpy dirt road trips and a ride into the open sea, these places are well worth the effort.
A quiet fishing village in Corozal, getting to Sarteneja requires a two hour road trip from Orange Walk on some of the worst roads you can find, as well as crossing bridge-less waters on two hand cranked ferries. Once you get there, grab a snack and sit on the seawall, taking in the crystal clear water and colorful fishing boats.
Sarteneja is also home to Belize’s only manatee rescue shelter, Wildtracks, which accepts volunteers to help with the care and rehabilitation of these peaceful and adorable mammals.
Mountain Pine Ridge
Endure a bumpy ride deep back-a-bush in Cayo district, and you will find red dirt and twisted pine trees of Mountain Pine ridge that looks like nothing else in Belize. Hidden in the Martian landscape are pocket valleys of lush jungle and secret waterfalls with the most refreshing water you’ll ever discover.
My favorite waterfalls are Big Rock Falls and Butterfly Falls. If caveing is more your thing, there are several to explore, such as the Rio Frio caves. Another great aspect about this area is that you can visit Belize’s largest Mayan temple: Caracol.
The Snake Cayes
This destination is the longest journey, but the pristine island is so worth it. The Snake Cayes lie in protected waters off the coast of Toledo, all the way in the south of Belize. It is about a seven hour drive from Belize City to Punta Gorda Town. Then, to get to the Cayes, you must charter a speedboat and hire a TIDE tour guide (the local coast guard). This is surprisingly affordable with a group. An hour or so boat ride brings you to the result – your own private castaway island.
Hang up a hammock and watch the wild hermit crabs scavenge for coconuts, or scavenge yourself for coral and shells that have washed up on the perfect white sandy beach. Or climb the observation tower to get a breathtaking view of the mangroves and turquoise waters. And yes, there are snakes here… but is unlikely you will even notice the boa constrictors peacefully curled up in the top of their palm trees when there is so much else to take in.
Have I convinced you to visit any these off-the-beaten path places? I’d love to hear which is your favorite?