Visiting Belize with Kids: The Ultimate Guide
Belize is a wonderful place to travel with kids, and kids at heart!
I finally took my family on a vacation to Belize. And by family, I mean I visited Belize with my kids, a teenage daughter and 20-year old son. As a single mom, I am always looking for places to travel with my kids where we can enjoy adventures together, that are safe and fun. Belize is a great place to visit with families! Though my kids are older (15 and 20), I would imagine a trip to Belize with any age child to be a great family vacation. Though they enjoyed the jungle, they both preferred the cayes, where there were more people and a bit more freedom for them to go out and about on their own (to the store, or a shop, to a restaurant, etc). Here is my ultimate guide to traveling to Belize with your kids.
IMPORTANT NOTE for traveling to Belize with a minor child:
If you are traveling with a minor child without both parents, and you have shared custody, you MUST have the following documentation to enter Belize: A notarized letter from the non-traveling parent with the dates of travel, the passport information, etc. (see example here); a photocopy of the non-traveling parent’s ID and a copy of the birth certificate. If you have sole legal custody, you will need to present the documentation. They will ask for this in the Belize airport when you arrive and depart, so if you get there and don’t have it, you will not be able to exit the airport.
We stayed at Black Rock Lodge. And though it was restful and peaceful, and there are things to do in the area, most activities require transportation which, unless you rented a car, you will need to request from the staff at Black Rock. The kids liked the lodge, but would have preferred something less remote. On-site activities include tubing and hiking. The food is amazing.
1.Horseback Riding – There is a horse farm just before you enter the property for Black Rock Lodge called Morningside Ranch. They provide an absolutely excellent tour of the un-excavated ruins in the area (on private property) as well as local cultural history and information about local foods and medicines. The total ride time is 2 hours, and as a beginner, it was very doable.
2. Ruins – Xunantunich ruins are worth a visit, as you can climb the ruins and the view into Guatemala is exceptional! I recommend hiring a guide (many resorts have guides they work with) to get the most from your visit. Other nearby ruins include Cahal Pech, which are smaller but closer to San Ignacio.
3. Chocolate making tour – Learn how chocolate is made and taste the fruit and final product in this 1-hour tour at Ajaw. This is perfect for kids since it’s not too long, and it’s very interesting! Chocolate available for purchase as well, which makes a great souvenir or snack.
4. Eat local Food! Lunch at Benny’s Kitchen/ San Ignacio market – What better way to share the culture of the area than through food. Benny’s Kitchen is a popular spot after a visit to Xunantunich and has so many local dishes to choose from. Adventurous eaters might try the cow-foot soup, which is so rich in collagen. Even the pickiest eater will enjoy the salbutes, small fried corn tortillas topped with shredded chicken, lettuce and cheese. The soursop juice is a delicious tropical treat! The San Ignacio market is another place to get a bite of local food. Try the pupusas or tacos!
5. Explore the caves and jungle – Though my kids opted out of cave tubing, canoeing at Barton’s Creek was on my list. Unfortunately, they came down with a stomach bug, but I would like to go next time. They loved the zip line adventure, and taking a dip in the river after is a must. There are so many locations to do these activities. We went to Caves Branch for zip lining and I have cave tubed at Herman’s Blue Hole National Park. Taking a dip in the natural swimming hole afterward is a must! You can book these activities through your hotel or an independent travel service. I recommend Roeming Belize!
Lodging and Activities:
A lot of people write off a visit to Belize City, citing it as a city “not worth” visiting or dangerous. And though there are parts of the city that you should not go into especially at night, (as is the case with any city) there are some worthwhile areas to visit and things to do with kids. I suggest staying at the Best Western Biltmore Plaza. It has a pool and great service.
- Old Belize (includes a water park) – A great way to experience Belize City with kids! Includes train tour showcasing Belize’s rich culture and history and a beach area with a huge slide and some water toys and shops.
- Luba Garifuna Museum – Learn about the cultural history and diversity of Belize at this museum which was built to safeguard the Garifuna cultural heritage and educate people about their history and culture.
- Di Bruwry – This brewery and restaurant near the airport is an ideal landing spot if you just need a place to grab a bite. The food is delicious, beer is brewed on site (they have Belikin beer and also a microbrewery called Two 5’s) and they have yard games such as giant jenga. Perfect for parents and hungry kids!
My kids LOVED Caye Caulker and want to go back asap. It’s a very small and friendly island, with lots of options for kids that are free. Caye Caulker can be accessed easily from Belize City by ferry (Belize express water taxi) in about 45 minutes, or by plane (a very short flight from BC).
I have stayed at Barefoot Caye Caulker Hotel, which is centrally located and also an Airbnb south near the airport. Because the island is so small and walkable, both were great! With kids I like the airbnb because of the affordability and we are able to have a kitchen space as well, however if you are traveling with one kid or another kid-like adult, and like the service and amenities of a hotel, I highly recommend barefoot Caye Caulker hotel.
Caye Caulker Activities:
1. Iguana Reef Inn Beach – Feed the rays/tarpons – every day at 4 at Iguana Reef they feed the rays. It’s beautiful and magical, and you will see lots of wildlife from rays to sharks, tarpons and seahorses.
2. Sunset cruise – try a catamaran sunset cruise with Wanderlust Catamaran Tours. The catamaran tour includes ceviche and a drink and you just sail, enjoying a beautiful sunset before heading back underneath the stars. You can add dinner on if you like.
3. Hang out at the Split – A very fun place for kids and parents. Grab a drink and let your kids jump off the diving platform while you watch, with a cold drink in hand.
4. Snorkel tour/cooking – We booked a whole-day snorkel adventure with Under da Sea Adventures and it was so fun! We went spearfishing and my son caught lobster and fish, and they prepared ceviche. We saw a manatee! Then we went to a beautiful little piece of land on the Split and they cooked a delicious meal with the fish and lobster that we caught.
Hopkins is a great place to share the cultural richness of Belize with your family. This Garifuna fishing village is low-key with lots of great food and things to do. The hotel zone is a bit south of town and easily accessed by bike or local taxi.
I have stayed at Jaguar Reef and Parrot Cove. I like both locations. Parrot Cove is a bit smaller and has the feeling of a family run place, and you can still enjoy some of the amenities at Jaguar Reef (for example if you want a latte, you can walk over to get one). Parrot Cove is currently building new beachfront units which will be beautiful, and the Chef’s Table dinner experience with Chef Rob is not to be missed! Jaguar Reef has beautiful boutique accommodations, and the Colonial is slightly more affordable. With a pool with swim up bar, and a dock with a ceviche bar plus beach swings and an incredible restaurant, there lots to do!
1.Palmento Grove Garifuna Cultural Center – The cooking and culture experience is incredible and a great way to really learn and appreciate the Garifuna culture. The experience is long, about 4 hours, but can be tailored to your family. Don’t miss the bioluminescence kayak tour at night in the mangrove swamps. There is a kayak crossing to get to the island, and the family who runs the cultural center will help to take you if you are not experienced.
2. Chill on the beach, and eat great food – There’s so much to enjoy just being on the beach and relaxing. Sometimes the best thing we can do for our kids, and the kids in us, is to not schedule anything and just be.