Tailor made holidays in Belize

“The biggest reason I’d suggest a tailor made tour in Belize is the chance to really get to know your guides,” says Greg Thurston, from our partner Audley Travel.

“We work with people who we consider to be the best in Belize, handpicked by us or our local partners. It’s not only that they’re passionate about their work and strive to offer real insight into their country’s culture and nature. They’ll also share their personal stories and life experiences and recommend specialised visits – stuff that there’s not necessarily time for on a group trip. This greater connection is the difference between a good trip and an outstanding one.”
“On a tailor made holiday in Belize, the greater connection with your guides is the difference between a good trip and an outstanding one.”
Tailor made holidays in Belize are at first glance similar to small group trips. Around 10-12 days in length, accompanied by local guides, and taking in a variety of experiences both inland and on the coast, from kayaking and rainforest hikes to exploring Maya ruins and cacao plantations.

The key difference with a tailor made tour is that you’re travelling independently, so the itinerary can be bespoke to your interests, budget and timescale. There is a structure to the holiday, but nothing is set in stone.

“Your route is tailored to your interests,” says Greg, “perhaps combining well-known highlights of Belize with more unusual, off-the-beaten-track experiences to make your trip that bit more special. Crucially, everything will be at your own pace. If you want to stop to make a detour to explore Maya ruins, jungles and caves or spend that little bit longer wildlife watching, a tailor made tour will enable you to do just that.”

Why choose a tailor made holiday in Belize?

Not having to share a guide with a larger group is a major plus when it comes to tailor made tours. “Our guides can help you identify bird species by their song, monkey species by their region, and tree species by the local environment,” says Greg. You’re always first in line for questions and you don’t have to worry about holding up the rest of the group if you want to learn more about an interesting sculpture or tree.

Tailor made holidays also give you greater flexibility on your travel dates. You might want to come outside the peak season, when it’s rainier but less expensive and popular destinations aren’t so busy. You can add or remove days from the itinerary as you please, the holiday unfurling in accordance with your own interests. In some areas, it will also be possible to select different accommodation options depending on your budget.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Belize or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

What can I do on a tailor made holiday in Belize?

Visit Maya archaeological sites

There are believed to be some 900 Maya sites across Belize, many of them still hidden away in the jungle waiting to be revealed. Those that have been discovered, mapped and preserved include Lamanai and Altun Ha in the north of the country, close to Belize City, and Xunantunich and Caracol in the south. 

Tailor made holidays allow you take as much time as you want exploring them in the company of expert Maya guides who will be able to give you their full attention rather than coordinating a group of people all with their own queries and priorities. And the more sites visited, the more conservation funds are generated from visitor income.

“Caracol is a huge site and widely regarded as one of the most impressive ruins in Belize,” says Laura Rendell-Dunn, from our partner Journey Latin America. “But if someone on a tailor made tour is really interested in Maya ruins then I’d suggest adding the little-visited Lamanai in the north. The temples are shrouded in jungle and one way to access the site is by kayak, making it feel like a real adventure.”

Outdoor adventure activities

“The rainforest around San Ignacio is amazing,” says Laura. “Our tailor made Belize holidays already include things like tubing and exploring the nearby Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave, but there are also opportunities to abseil down waterfalls, and go zip lining, mountain biking, canoeing and horse riding.”

A tailor made holiday allows you to try a variety of activities and experiences both inland and on the coast. And if, for instance, you love the thought of capering along rainforest trails on a mountain bike, stopping now and again to swim under a waterfall, then you can add on a second day.

More than a quarter of all Belizean people work in the tourism industry, so responsible holidays that take care to draw their guides and instructors from local communities can have a significant positive impact on those areas. Who better to explore these rainforests, rivers and ruins with than people who have lived in and around them all their lives?

Exploring Belizean culture

When it comes to cultural exploration in Belize, the Toledo District in the south is one of the most interesting areas to visit.

“Toledo is like Belize’s last frontier and much less-visited than other areas,” says Greg. “We have found the people here to be exceptionally friendly, and through the relationships we’ve developed we can arrange fascinating private tours, such as to a cacao plantation to learn about chocolate production from start to finish.”

“The Maya communities in Toledo still maintain traditions carried out by their ancestors and the people we work with are delighted to share them,” agrees Laura. “We find out how the Maya used to communicate from village to village by beating drums and learn how they crush corn to make tortillas using centuries-old tools. With the cacao plantations, you see the whole process from bean to bar, and you also get to make it yourself.”

The ethnic makeup of Belize shifts from Maya and Mestizo communities inland to Garifuna and Creole communities on the coast that often make their living from the sea. Greg also suggests visiting Hopkins, a small and relaxed Garifuna fishing village on the mainland, to experience the culture away from the busier Ambergris Caye.

You can stay in places for longer and visit more out-of-the-way areas on a tailor made tour, whereas small group trips tend to be faster-paced by nature. Accommodations, restaurants and other businesses in these communities benefit more, while you gain a deeper understanding of the diverse Belizean culture.

Wildlife sanctuaries

Belize is a rising star when it comes to ecotourism, and potentially a regional rival to Costa Rica, but the wildlife and the habitats that it depends on do face serious challenges, among the most serious of which is deforestation. Biodiversity loss is driven by the logging and agriculture industries, and means that larger animals such as jaguars and monkeys are threatened as their territories shrink. Which is the reason our responsible partners will often feature nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries on their holidays.

You can walk or cruise around spectacular wetlands such as Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary – a near-paradise for bird watchers. Or hike trails through the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, thought to have the densest population of jaguars in the Americas. The Community Baboon Sanctuary, formed from a string of riverside villages close to Belize City, has been immensely successful in improving the population of black howler monkeys in the nearby forest. Tours here on foot or by boat focus on the resident troop of howlers, but also take in other species such as Morelet’s crocodiles, iguanas and armadillos.

These vital projects rely on visitor income, and if you’re passionate about wildlife you can visit as many reserves and sanctuaries as you choose on a tailor made holiday to Belize, with your entrance fees and donations providing financial support.

Scuba diving, snorkelling & kayaking

Belize has hundreds of cayes and coves off its Caribbean coast to explore either in a sea kayak, with a snorkel and mask, or as part of a scuba diving excursion. Given the variety of marine life that makes Belize’s vast coral reef home, including whale sharks, stingrays and turtles, this kind of activity is often a major highlight of a holiday here.

With a tailor made trip, you can spend more time on the water or below the surface and visit more remote, less busy areas, rather than just the most popular destinations such as the famous Blue Hole.

“Glover’s Reef is a paradise caye teeming with marine wildlife,” says Laura. “You can spend a few nights here glamping, kayaking, paddleboarding and snorkelling.”

Greg, meanwhile, recommends diving enthusiasts make for Turneffe Atoll, where there is a PADI-certified diving centre and what he considers some of the best diving in the world.

When to go

The best time to visit is between November and May, although with a tailor made holiday you can travel to Belize whenever you want. The weather is hot all year round, but from June to October it can be quite wet and hurricanes, though rare, are possible in August and September. Peak season comes to an end by April, and there are fewer cruise ships around, so popular destinations are less busy.

Lobster lover? The first day of July marks the beginning of the Caribbean spiny lobster season in Belize, when the juiciest delicacy in Central America becomes available in many restaurants across the country – and it’s worth risking a few showers.

“The ideal occasion to try the variety of delicious grilled lobster dishes is the Lobster Festival, which is held in early July in San Pedro,” advises Greg. “But there are similar, smaller festivals held in Caye Caulker and the southern resort of Placencia too.”

Responsible Travel would like to thank Belize for their sponsorship of this guide.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Belize Tourism Board] [Intro: Belize Tourism Board] [Visit Maya archaeological sites: Belize Tourism Board] [Outdoor adventure activities: Belize Tourism Board] [Exploring Belizean culture: Belize Tourism Board] [Wildlife sanctuaries: Belize Tourism Board] [Scuba diving, snorkelling & kayaking: Belize Tourism Board]