Discover Belize with Explore!

By Philippa Baines with Explore! Holidays

Rich in exotic wildlife, tropical forests, white-sand beaches and lost civilisations, Belize really is a diverse pocket of overlooked beauty. Keen traveller Philippa recently experienced our Discover Belize trip, read more about her experience…

If I had to describe Belize in one word, it would be laidback. My small group tour (Discover Belize) to this stunning country encompassed ancient Mayan ruins amid lush vegetation; pastel-hued houses lining white-sand beaches; and small boats gliding through turquoise-blue waters.

Belize fuses a Latin American spirit with a Caribbean vibe. Located on the east coast of Central America, this small country has a population of around 400,000. I felt a strong sense of community and camaraderie while I was there, which was helped by our tour leader, Wilfred, who was always bumping into someone he knew!

The tour included a two-night stay in Guatemala, which borders Belize to the west. We climbed ancient ruins with endless panoramic views and stayed in a jungle lodge where we watched howler monkeys playing in the forest. When it came to crossing the border, both to and from Belize, Wilfred arranged the tickets, collected our passports and checked us through, ensuring our experience was completely stress-free from start to finish.

Wilfred also showed us where he grew up (we even met his mum and son!), advised on what to wear for certain activities and knew the best times to visit places to avoid the crowds. For any meals that weren’t included in the tour price, Wilfred organised group dinners where everyone could pay individually. Having such a passionate and insightful tour leader reminded me why small group tours are so beneficial.

My fellow Explorers were a great bunch, too, with ages ranging from those in their 40s to mid 80s. Belize is an excellent bird-watching destination and a few in the group were keen birders. Their enthusiasm was infectious and before long we were borrowing each other’s binoculars – we must have seen about 120 different species of birds, including scissor tailed kites, frigate birds, woodpeckers and pelicans . Other wildlife you might see on this trip include toucans, wild cats, tapir (the national animal of Belize) and, in Guatemala, coatimundi, which roam freely in the likes of Tikal.

Getting around Belize was as fun as the country itself. We mostly travelled by minibus as the main journeys were by road. Hummingbird Highway, which is as beautiful as it sounds, stretches alongside the Macal River and there was always something to look at. There was so much vibrancy: palm trees, stilted houses, local people going about their day at the marketplaces, all taking place beneath a brilliant blue sky.

We also used water taxis (a large catamaran-style boat used by both locals and tourists) to reach Caye Caulker, a tiny tropical island where you can enjoy fresh seafood and beachside BBQs. While we were in Guatemala, we used jungle trucks to reach the ancient ruins of Tikal, a UNESCO-listed national park that’s home to one of the most important sites in the Maya world.

One of my trip highlights was canoeing through a cave passage at Barton Creek. At one point, we came together, turned off our torches and simply sat in silence, listening to the dripping water echoing around the caves. It was a very tranquil and calming experience. Belize is also home to the Belize Barrier Reef, which is the second largest in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. We had the option to go snorkelling, where we spotted turtles gliding through the crystal-clear water.

It wasn’t just the scenery that was fascinating, but the history as well. Wilfred told us about an Englishman called Baron Bliss, a yachtsman who had always appreciated the hospitality of the Belizean community. When he died in 1926, he left $1 million to the citizens of Belize. They built a lighthouse and a granite tomb for him, and to this day hold an annual harbour regatta in his name. There aren’t any information signs about this local legend, though, so being on this small group tour provided these special extra touches.

Overall, the tour had a moderate pace, meaning there was enough down time to balance out the itineraries. There are also several optional activities you can choose from, too; I thoroughly enjoyed my day spent in Flores, a small town in Guatemala filled with brightly painted buildings and lakefront restaurants. Placencia was another highlight, with its unspoilt sandy beaches and windswept palm trees providing the perfect setting to stroll along pedestrianised streets away from the beachfront.

I would thoroughly recommend this tour to anyone and everyone; especially those interested in wildlife, history and the great outdoors . Travelling with Explore allowed me to really scratch beneath the surface of this surprisingly multi-faceted country – and now I’m itching to return.

Next steps

To plan and book your holiday to Belize, call Silver Travel Advisor on 0800 412 5678.


Share Article:

Silver Travel Advisor

Leave a comment


Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Explore China with our guide tailored for travellers over 50. Discover ancient wonders, vibrant cities, culinary adventures, and landscapes…

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.