Island Life in Belize

With our nonstop schedules and always-on existences, it’s entirely possible that the idea of chilling out on a beach leaves you feeling anxious. If you need some help learning to let go, here’s our five-point plan to embrace the laid-back atmosphere of Belize’s cayes.

San Pedro, Belize
Hol Chan Marine Reserve, located just a few minutes’ boat ride from San Pedro, is the place to go for snorkeling in Northern Belize. This small, protected area (Hol Chan means “little channel” in Mayan) is home to part of Belize’s barrier reef, which is the second largest in the world (after Australia‘s reef), and the largest healthiest. There are many tour operators out of San Pedro that can take you out for a half-day of snorkeling the reef, and you’ll see colorful coral, rainbow fish, and manta rays, among other marine life. Make sure your guide brings you to Shark Alley, where nurse sharks come to feed on the fish scraps boats leave behind. There, you’ll be able to swim mere feet—or even inches, if you dare—from the creatures.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
“The Hol Chan Marine Reserve. You can swim with sharks and stingrays at Shark Ray Alley and you are pretty much guaranteed to see a huge variety of fish and other sea life. All of our guests are excited when they come back from a day there after seeing the many shades of the sea, which is 82 degrees and crystal clear, while the skies are usually blue and the sun bright, bringing out all the colors below. Huge fish, sharks, sting rays, sea turtles — you never know if there is going to be a dolphin or manatee joining everyone. The sea is our playground.” Kirsten Miglio, owner Ak’boL Yoga Retreat
One of Caye Caulker’s best beach bars is also its friendliest. Set right on the Split—a narrow channel dividing the island’s north and south portions—Caye Caulker’s most social corner invites tourists and locals to gather for a swim off an extended dock, or to enjoy a cocktail and music. Lazy Lizard’s recently upgraded look includes a variety of umbrella-covered wooden picnic tables, seating under palapas, and a new beach extension with steps leading into the shallow sea areas for easy entry. On the menu, you’ll find typical bar bites: burgers, fish tacos, and full meals like a lobster plate. The bar holds occasional full-moon parties, live music, family-fun days, and beach volleyball tournaments.
Caye Caulker, Belize
It won’t take long after you arrive on Caye Caulker before noticing the vibrant buildings that fill the island with color. Once you disembark from the water taxi, head to the right if you want to go to the north end, where Lazy Lizard is located, or head left and weave your way through town to experience all the hues of Caye Caulker. On the streets and the beachside paths, you’ll find yourself surrounded by bright yellows, blues, purples, oranges, and more. It’s a true feast for the eyes-don’t forget to bring your camera, or at least have your phone ready, as there are Instagram-worthy shots around every corner. To learn more about the many adventures waiting in the seven regions of Belize, visit
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Food + Drink
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East