Belize – Reef & Jungle
With one foot in the Central American jungles and the other in the Caribbean Sea, Belize may be small but it’s packed with adventure and culture. ROAM’s Reef & Jungle Adventure explores Belize’s incredibly diverse rainforest, national parks and the mysterious civilizations of the ancient Maya before heading out to the atolls for kayaking, snorkeling and paddling adventures.
Lying like a string of pearls in a blue sea, Glover’s Reef consists of half a dozen small cays of white sand and palm trees. Considered one of the richest tropical marine environments in the entire Caribbean, Glover’s is protected as a Marine Reserve and a designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At our deluxe Beach Camp, situated on the white sand shores of Southwest Caye, you are accommodated in deluxe platform tents with comfy beds and treated to stunning views facing east over the open Caribbean Sea.
Ideally located for snorkeling, SUP, sea kayaking and kayak sailing, diving and fishing, participants enjoy daily outings are led by expert guides who are skilled naturalists and fishermen, marine biologists and kayakers making your experience a blend of adventure, island culture, tropical vacation and learning. The remarkable abundance of life and the complex, simple beauty of this richest of tropical marine environments leaves its mark on all those who are fortunate enough to visit.
|Trip Length||8 Days|
Optional Blue Hole Extension: 4 days/3 nights $750 for meals and lodging (diving is extra)
|Meeting Place||Belize City|
|Gateway City||Belize City|
- Itinerary at a Glance
On this remote Jungle & Reef adventure you will enjoy flexibility in your choice of daily guided activities. You and your traveling companions can do things together or separately, making it ideal for families and couples of mixed abilities.
- Explore the jungle, rivers, caves and waterfalls
- Zip line, rappel, kayak and tube local rivers
- Watch for 575 species of birds
- Paddle, kayak sail, fish or SUP as you explore a pristine group of tropical islands set within a turquoise lagoon.
- Snorkel some of the 700 patch reefs in this thriving coral reef system.
- Relax at our Beach Camp on Southwest Caye, a 13 acre island within Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve
- Sleep in comfortable, safari style tent cabanas and dine on fresh seafood, tropical fruit, and local favourites.
- Enjoy an amazing sunrise yoga session
- Detailed Itinerary
Arrive in Belize City and transfer to your hotel.
Today we’ll transfer to our jungle lodge and get settled in for the next two nights. Depending on the program you are on, the lodges are situated in or near nationals parks and have day trips both on-site and off-site.
Hiking, zip lining and waterfall tours are some of the many highlights. Birding, wildlife viewing, cave swimming, tubing and visits to Mayan ruins are all activities for you to choose from.
After an early breakfast, we’ll be transferred to the town of Dangriga, where we catch our boat to Glovers Reef. It’s a 1.5 hour boat ride in good weather to Southwest Caye Basecamp on Glover’s Reef Atoll. A protected marine park and designated world heritage site, Glovers is located thirty-six miles offshore of mainland Belize.
Days Four, Five, Six, Seven & Eight:
In our private tropical paradise, we’ll enjoy daily outings – paddle, snorkel, SUP and explore its turquoise lagoon and thriving coral reefs with some of the most experienced guides in the country.
You will sleep in comfortable, ocean view safari style tent cabanas and dine on fresh fish and local cuisine. Enjoy a flexible daily schedule on the reef, with activity choices geared to all abilities.
After a morning paddle or snorkel, we’ll board our boat and transfer back to Dangriga and catch a domestic flight to Belize City.
For those wanting to dive the Blue Hole or simply continue exploring the reef, we offer a fantastic extension to Tobacco Caye.
Extension – Tobacco Paradise Caye
At the center of Lighthouse Reef is the world-famous Blue Hole Natural Monument, an incomparable natural wonder and unique diving experience. The image of the Blue Hole – a deep blue pupil with an aquamarine border surrounded by the lighter shades of the reef – has become a symbol of Belize.Deep blue in the center, the hole forms a perfect 1000ft-diameter circle on the surface. Inside, it is said to be more then 40oft deep. Divers drop quickly to 130ft, from where they swim beneath an overhang, observing stalactites above and, sometimes, a school of reef sharks below. Snorkelers can also enjoy a trip to the Blue Hole, too, as there’s plenty to see around the shallow inner perimeter of the circular reef.
Deluxe Lodge Option:
Blancaneaux Lodge is a 20-room luxury hideaway where waterfalls tumble into turquoise pools above the jungle canopy. Its remote mountain setting allows guests to explore the ancient civilization of the Maya and to return to their own thatched roof dwelling, rich with Guatemalan décor and nestled in the foliage of the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve.
The lodge itself is nestled on the banks of Privassion Creek and is set among tropical pines, oaks, palmetto, craboo, and ancient melastome shrubs. Within a few miles of this boutique hotel you will find the steep limestone hills and valleys of the 13,000-acre Noj Kaax Meen Elijio Panti National Park. The dense jungle, steep ravines, spectacular waterfalls, and fast flowing rivers are home to many rare or endangered species of flora and fauna.
Beyond the Mountain Pine Ridge lies the vast uninhabited network of 14 protected areas that comprise the 1.2 million acre Maya Mountain Massif. Less than an hour drive along dirt roads to Guacamallo Bridge, the granite bedrock and red soils of the Mountain Pine Ridge meet the limestone and moist tropical broadleaf forests of the 264,000-acre Chiquibul National Park and the Caracol Archaeological Reserve.
This unique year-round eco-resort is located in the heart of Mayflower Bocawina National Park, 7100 acres of lush jungle, offers refreshing waterfalls and un-excavated Mayan sites. Hidden away in the Southern Maya Mountains, the lodge runs on alternative energy and provides a true off-the-grid experience.
Located inside the park is the longest zipline in Belize, 5 different waterfalls and excavated Mayan ruins, and more than 200 species of birds. Our local Mayan guide has more than 20 years of experience in birdwatching. Other activities offered at the park include waterfall rappelling, a waterfall expedition and hiking and night hiking.
Located on Glover Reef Atoll, we have eleven, 2 person, safari-style platform tents with 2 twins or 1 king bed, showers, flush toilets and a comfy lounge and dining area. Situated in an idyllic location all the tents overlook the oceans and beachfront. SUP’s, kayaks and snorkel gear is provided along with daily guided adventures.
- About the Region
Under the Sea
Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world, after Australia’s, and with more than 100 types of coral and some 500 species of tropical fish, it’s pure paradise for scuba divers and snorkelers. Swimming through translucent seas, snorkelers are treated to a kaleidoscope of coral, fish and turtles, while divers go deeper, investigating underwater caves and walls and the world-renowned Blue Hole.
Add to this island living on the sandy cayes, where you can spend your days kayaking, windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, swimming, fishing or lazing in a hammock, and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect tropical vacation.
Our trips spend time at Glover Reef. The Atoll is 32 km long by 12 km wide, encompassing a turquoise clear shallow lagoon with an estimated 850 coral heads and pinnacles rising to the surface. On the eastern edge of the atoll, five post-card perfect sand cayes, fringed with coconut palms lie atop the reef crest.
The prevailing NE Trade winds blow across hundreds of miles of open sea before reaching the atoll where the swells break and dissipate in foaming white surf. This east wall of the atoll is breached in three places by channels, allowing for a tidal flow of water into the lagoon that sustains one of the most diverse coral ecosystems in the Caribbean.
Glover’s Reef was named after the English pirate John Glover who used this remote offshore ring of islands and coral reefs as a base from which to raid Spanish merchant ships during the 17th century. Today, the attractions found within the atoll (20 miles long by 7 miles wide) are the incredible clarity of the water and the remarkable profusion of marine life. In 1993, the atoll was declared a marine park and to further efforts to protect this extraordinary environment, the atoll was designated as a World Heritage Site, in 1996.
In the Jungle
Inland, a vast (by Belizean standards) network of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries offers a safe haven for wildlife, which ranges from the industrious parades of cutter ants to the national animal of Belize, Baird’s tapir, or the shy jaguar. Birders aim their binoculars at some 570 species, which roost along the rivers and lagoons and in the broadleaf forest. Keen-eyed visitors who take the time to hike can easily spot spider monkeys and howler monkeys, peccaries, coatimundis, gibnuts and green iguanas. Even the showy keel-billed toucan – the national bird of Belize – occasionally makes an appearance in public.
The Land of the Maya
Belize is home to one of the world’s most mysterious civilizations – the ancient Maya. The Cayo District and Toledo’s Deep South in particular are peppered with archaeological sites that date to the Maya heyday (AD 250–1000), where enormous steps lead to the tops of tall stone temples, often yielding 360-degree jungle views. Explore excavated tombs and examine intricate hieroglyphs, or descend deep into natural caves to see where the Maya kings performed rituals and made sacrifices to the gods of their underworld. You can appreciate the culture today by staying in village guesthouses and by learning the art of chocolate-making.
Action & Adventure
Whether you’re scuba diving the Blue Hole, zip-lining through the jungle canopy, rappelling down waterfalls or crawling through ancient cave systems, Belize is a genuine adventure. Tube or canoe through darkened river systems or hard-core spelunk in renowned caves. Zip-lining is virtually an art form in Belize where you can sail through the jungle at half a dozen locations. Horseback riding is well organized and hiking is superb in national parks, such as Mayflower Bocawina National Park, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, Shipstern Nature Reserve and Río Bravo.
- Trip Planner
On Arrival in Belize
The Belize International Airport (Phillip Goldson International Airport—airport code BZE) is small and easy to navigate. You will disembark your plane directly onto the airport tarmac and will be directed to the terminal building and immigration. After your passport is stamped, you collect your bags and move through the customs area. The whole process can take up to an hour, but is usually much quicker than that. After completing your check-in, porters are standing in clear view and are ready to assist you with your bags if you wish. Please be aware the porters are not employed by the Airport Authority, they can be pushy and they charge $1US for each bag – you are not obligated to use their services.
Travel to the Lodges
The type of vehicle we use will depend on your group size. Luggage usually rides on the roof so a water resistant North Face or Patagonia style duffel is highly recommended over square luggage.
Rendezvous with Boat Charter
We depart Dangriga early in the morning at approximately 8:00am on Sunday, by charter boat out past the main Barrier Reef to our remote Beach Camp on Southwest Caye, at Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve. The transfer to Glover’s typically takes 1 and 1/2 hours during fair weather conditions and longer during inclement weather conditions.
Return to the MainlandWe depart Glover’s Reef Atoll by boat in the late morning and usually arrive back in Dangriga on the mainland at approximately 12 noon. We will be flying from Dangriga to Belize Airport but any flights departing Belize that day should be after 5pm.General Tips
As a general rule, don’t bring more than you can carry. This will help ensure smooth and efficient transfers in airports, customs, hotels, and loading vans. Please follow the Personal Equipment & Packing List as closely as possible. When traveling in Belize, luggage is placed on the roof racks of our vehicles. Soft luggage is preferred over hard-cased luggage. This allows for easier transport onto roof racks or into stowage compartments on boats. Try to keep your gear in one main bag, preferably a backpack or duffel bag. Also, carry a daypack to keep things handy that you will need during each day.
With heightened security and busy airports it pays to pack wisely to make your airport travel run smoothly. For a complete list of important packing tips please visit www.tsa.gov.
Make sure everything you have is labeled, don’t put any metal objects in your carry-on baggage or wear metal jewelry, clothing, and have your entire luggage unlocked for inspection. Recent changes to carry-on baggage restrictions may disallow carrying any liquids on the plane with you – check your airport authority for the most recent updates. If you purchase any duty-free liquids previous to your trip into Belize, please check those into your main luggage or you will have to surrender them to the airport authority.
When packing your carry-on, try to include what you would need to be comfortable in Belize your first few days in case your checked baggage is misrouted by the airline.Packing for your TripWhen traveling to Belize it is best to travel with one larger check-in bag and one carry-on bag. We recommend a medium duffle bag and a medium day pack as a carry-on. These bags are easy to move around, can be toted easily, fit in boats, small planes, and van/bus roof racks. Backpacks can work too; do try to avoid large suitcases.Our guides will instruct you on how to prepare for travel between locations and we will provide storage for extra bags in our Dangriga office when necessary. Most airlines have reduced the weight maximums for each bag to 50 pounds. Be sure to check with your airline for weight restrictions and carry-on allowances. When packing your carry-on try to include what you would need to be comfortable in Belize your first few days in case your checked baggage is misrouted by the airline.We recommended you have one small waterproof bag for your documents, camera, etc., that you can carry in the cockpit of your kayak and have handy on motorboat trips. It is especially important that electronic equipment such as digital cameras, video cameras, etc. is fully waterproofed, especially on the boat ride to and from the atoll. For the motor charter to Glover’s Reef we recommend you pack your clothing in garbage bags INSIDE your duffle bag/packsack/suitcase since the boat ride out to Glover’s can be wet. Our luggage is stored in a water resistant area in the boat but it is not 100% waterproof and thus we recommend this extra waterproofing precaution for your luggage.
PLEASE NOTE: We cannot be deemed responsible for people’s personal property while travelling. There are a variety of luggage and personal property insurance policies available to purchase.Personal Packing List
Optional Packing List
- Photocopy of passport
- Air tickets
- Favourite snacks for between meals
- Personal spending and emergency funds
- 1 extra set of clothes for flight home
- 1 pair light running shoes for around camp
- 1 pair watersport sandals or water shoes (Teva’s or Keens are a good choice)
- 1 or 2 pair lightweight quick-dry long pants
- 2-3 pairs of socks
- 2 pair quick-dry nylon shorts and/or loose skirt or sarong
- 1 bathing suit
- 3 t-shirts
- 2 long sleeved shirts preferably with a collar (for protection from the sun & bugs). Silk shirts work well and dry quickly
- 1 fleece jacket or wool sweater (this will keep you warm even when wet)
- 1 good quality rain jacket
- 1 wide brimmed sunhat (to keep the sun off your face and neck)
- Sunglasses with band (Chums, Croakies, etc.)
- 1 bandana (handy for sun protection)
- Spare set of eyeglasses (even if you wear contact lenses) and contact lens solution
- 1 headlamp and spare batteries
- Mask, fins, snorkel (or we can provide it for you with notice)
- Shortie wet suit, especially for kids (not essential but water temperatures in Dec. and Jan. can be cooler)
- Capilene or polypropylene, or silk long underwear (great for snorkeling)
- 1 liter water bottle
- 1 TOWEL (either a small camp towel or thin beach towel)
- Personal toiletries
- Personal medication and prescriptions
- Small personal First Aid Kit: i.e. Band-Aids, aspirin/Tylenol, scissors, tweezers, safety pins
- Sunscreen – biodegradable reef-friendly sunblock & soap. We do highly recommend the use of environmental products if you are certain the product does work for you
- Biodegradable soap –
- Vaseline, Aloe Vera lotion, or skin care cream
- Caladryl/After Bite/Benadryl Cream or lotion to ease itching from bug bites
- Insect repellent (20 – 100% Deet)
- 2 to 3 garbage bags – serves as extra waterproofing protection and keeps wet gear separate
- Earplugs if you are a light sleeper or sensitive to wave noise and animal/bird sounds
- Camera equipment – waterproof or waterproof throw-away camera
- Bug jacket
- Skin-So-Soft Avon used as repellent
- Handy Wipe moist tissues for hands and face and/or waterless bacterial cleanser
- Toilet paper for emergency travels
- Good reading book, log book, and pen
- Wine or favorite liquor
- Small day-pack (can be handy on any of our trips)
- Mesh bag for carrying snorkel gear
- Fishing rod and tackle
- Art supplies, sketching tools, or water colors
- 1 pair light cotton gloves/bike gloves (for protection from the sun/blisters when paddling)
- Foot powder
- Waterproof watch
Snorkeling in the Tropics
For many, the highlight of their trip is the time spent exploring the wonders of the underwater world. This does not require great skill or expensive equipment to accomplish. Our guides enjoy teaching the simple skills necessary to enjoy snorkelling.
In many of the areas we explore the water is shallow enough to stand. Initially, we enter the water from a beach but as our skill level increases we will learn to enter and exit from our kayaks. This will enable us to experience longer and deeper dives as well as drift dives – floating along a patch of coral with our boats drifting behind us.
To ensure the reefs are protected for future generations we avoid damaging the coral by not touching, standing on, or dropping anchor on coral. As a living organism, many corals rely on nematocysts to sting their prey. These same nematocysts can sting humans ranging from mild to strong intensity. Care is taken to show all participants the coral species which should be avoided.
If you get cold easily a lightweight wetsuit or ‘shortie’ is recommended to keep from getting cold when spending extended time in the water. Polypropylene or capilene long underwear work as well. In addition, this clothing also protects against sunburn. We highly recommend wetsuits for children.
Paddling in the TropicsKayaking trips in the tropics differ from northern climates in that much of our exploration is under the water amongst the coral reefs. A typical day will include paddling and sailing from one island to another or to patch reefs within the atoll. Whenever possible we take advantage of the northeasterly trade winds to fill our sails as we travel. The protection of the reef wall and shallow inshore waters provides one of the best places in the world for sea kayaking. Our main concerns while on the water are protection from sun (both above and reflected off the water), dehydration, and the effects of salt. Protection from the sun and dehydration are easily managed by wearing a wide brimmed hat, using a good waterproof sunscreen (SPF 15-35), and wearing light-coloured clothing and, of course, drinking plenty of fluids.As for salt, the high salinity of the Caribbean Sea can dry your skin and cause blisters on hands (paddling) and feet (snorkelling). Skin lotion or moisturizer for your skin, gloves to protect your hands (cotton garden gloves or cycle gloves work very well), and socks for your feet while snorkelling are recommended.