Did I mention that we are sooooo looking forward to our honeymoon in Belize? Yes, of course I did (right here). For those that are looking at vacation or honeymoon options in Belize, we wanted to share our own two-week affordable honeymoon itinerary and our considerations for planning. There is no one size fits all itinerary, so outline your own goals for your time in Belize!
We considered the following goals when planning:
- Experience the culture and country
- Maintain affordable costs
- Soak up the beach life
- Throw in some adventures
Since we are going for two weeks, we wanted to have a nice balance of seeing new things without moving around too much. Keep in mind that moving around takes both time and money.
Initially we had a grand scheme to do an action packed circuit to visit Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala (or some combination). But when it came down to it, we weren’t willing to spend hundreds of extra dollars to fly between locations. And while the countries are relatively close to one another there just isn’t a fast way to get from place to place (aside from flying). Can you make it happen? Certainly. It all depends on how you value your time and your budget.
Hopkins, Belize. Photo Credit
Where to stay and how long
Since we decided to stay in the country for two weeks, the next decision was where to stay and for how long. We wanted a combination of ocean and in-land time. Personally, we’re more water people – which you’ll see is where the majority of our time is focused. However, do not discount all that Belize offers in-land as well. Additionally, we needed to be close to public transportation, since we decided to forgo a car rental (more on that below).
Tipsy Tuna, Placencia. Photo Credits
Since we want to spend the majority of the time along the coast, we decided to head inland first to San Ignacio. SI is a vibrant town in Cayo and will serve as the perfect jumping off point for a tour of ATM and exploring ruins. While we’re not huge on guided tours, a guide is absolutely required for ATM.
We’ll take ourselves around Xunantunich (hop on the bus) and we can walk to Cahel Pech from our hotel base. Although, if I had it my way we would visit Xunantunich on horses – because, horses!
Doesn’t this look magical? Photo Credit
But please, focus – don’t forget your goals (damn you affordability). We’re staying in town the first three nights before heading to the coast. Keep in mind there are some gorgeous jungle getaways to consider if you are looking to disconnect and are not a fan of the beach.
Next was the tough decision to determine where to stay along the coast. Caye Caulker is an obvious choice for me, as it was my favorite place last time I visited. Jimmy really had no say in the matter; we were definitely going there. Luckily, he was happy with the recommendation and I know he’ll love it. I was worried he would get bored if we stayed there for a week or more; he’s an active guy and may go stir crazy on an island that you can walk across in 20 minutes. We decided to save the laid back, “go slow” vibes of Caye Caulker for the last 4 days of our trip.
Go Slow in Caye Caulker. Photo Credit.
So where do we spend the week that we have between San Ignacio and Caye Caulker? We narrowed it down to Placencia and Hopkins. Any further north or south and we would be in for a long bus ride. If you find yourself trying to evaluate where to stay between the two, here is an excellent post written by Laura on her blog Pure Placencia.
Placencia offers great beaches, many accommodations, and a fun nightlife. Jimmy is Scottish; he really appreciates a fun bar and a cold lager. All of which Placencia offers. On the flip side, January is high season, which means accommodation is more expensive and there are more tourists in town. Yes, I realize we are the tourists, but we like to step out of the tourist throes and absorb more of the country. Hopkins is a bit quieter and would give us time to connect with the way of life in Belize.
Restaurant and Open Air Bar at Paradise Resort
So what did we decide in the end? To go to both! We’ll spend 4 nights in Placencia and then hop on the bus north to Hopkins for 3 nights. Hopkins is approximately 35 miles north of Placencia, so while this does add a travel day, it will not take more than an hour or two to get there via car or bus.
There is a variety of accommodation in Belize. Want to spend a week at a gorgeous resort? No problem. Backpacking on a shoestring budget? Hostels and cabins offer an affordable night of sleep. But since the title of this post is “affordable” Belize itinerary, we were aiming to keep the price moderate. It was important for us to find some place safe, affordable, close to town, and with some added perks if possible.
Our stay at Rainforest Haven Inn is close to town in San Ignacio
We agreed not to spend more than $100/nt (remember, prices are more in January) and wanted to keep the total cost of accommodation under $1,000 for 14 nights. We came pretty close – $1,085 with taxes included. Make sure you define your own price range for what is considered affordable.
Every place we are staying will save us money in some way. For example, the use of free bikes and kayaks at Paradise Resort will save money on rentals. Plus, every place has a kitchenette or a fridge/coffee maker so that we can prepare some simple meals and save on eating out.
Kitchenette at Lebeha Beach Cabanas in Hopkins
Again, the time and money trade-off must be considered when you figure out how to get around the country. Car, bus, water taxi, and airplanes are all options. We will be on mainland Belize for 10 days and on the Cayes for 4 – so we need transportation to get around the first 10 days.
Caye Caulker Water Taxi. Photo Credit.
When we looked at recommended car rental sites such as Crystal, we estimated the average car rental for 10 days would be $700 (could be more or less depending on where you rent and what kind of vehicle you want). Throw in the cost of gas for 10 days of driving which is twice as expensive as it is in the US. I’m guessing you won’t always be getting that great highway mileage. A car rental could easily set you back $800. Can you find deals? I’m sure you could.
To be clear, we’re not saying the cost is unreasonable. It is a fair price for what you get, plus you have the freedom to go where you want, when you want. But when we considered the value and amount of money we could save, it simply wasn’t worth the price to us. It’s your honeymoon or vacation, what’s important to you?
Enter public transportation. When I was in Belize in 2012 I took the bus everywhere. Yes it will take longer. No, the seats are not comfortable. But it is significantly cheaper. SIGNIFICANTLY. I estimate it will cost us about $50 to get around by bus for 10 days. With that cost savings I will even let Jimmy (finally) rent a motorcycle for the day to explore the Jaguar preserve.
There is of course an option to fly within the country, and it’s not entirely unreasonable. For $150 each you could catch a flight from Placencia and be in Caye Caulker two hours later. If flying is within your budget I say go for it – the views are supposed to be wonderful. As for us, we get the added bonus of buying roadside snacks from vendors that hop on the bus yelling, “Ice it up”! Seriously, check out this video.
Drumroll please… Here’s how it all shakes out:
Nights 1 – 3: Arrive in San Ignacio on Saturday evening. Stay at the Rainforest Haven Inn (includes access to kitchen). Spend two full days to tour ATM, Xunantunich, and Cahel Pech.
**Day 4 Travel Day** Depart for Placencia by bus on Tuesday.
**Day 8 Travel Day** Depart for Hopkins by bus on Saturday.
Nights 8 – Day 10: Arrive in Hopkins Saturday afternoon. Stay at Lebeha Beach Cabanas (kitchenette included). Soak up the beats at the drumming center and spend a day hiking at the Jaguar Reserve.
**Day 11 Travel Day** Depart for Belize City by bus on Tuesday. Take the water taxi to Caye Caulker.
Nights 11 – 14: Arrive in Caye Caulker Tuesday afternoon. Stay at Barefoot Beach Belize (includes free bikes). Snorkel at Hol Chan Marine Reserve and take it easy before heading home.
**Depart Day 15** Say goodbye to a fabulous two week honeymoon and head back to the Arizona desert.
About the planning process
Everyone is different, but our recommendation would be to plan without over planning. The first time I visited Belize I was a solo traveller that showed up with no itinerary or accommodation booked. That worked for me, and it may for you too. But this trip isn’t about me – it’s about us. In order for us to enjoy our honeymoon, we wanted to have accommodation booked and a general idea of how to get around.
Aside from that, our days are free to do what we want –hiking, kayaking, stuffing our faces with delicious Belizean food… the sky is the limit. We did book our ATM tour in advance. The hotel offered to help us book any activities and we just weren’t sure about how busy the tours would be in high season. In this instance, better safe than sorry.
We’ll be sure to follow-up after our trip with feedback on the itinerary, transportation, and if there was anything we would change.
What is your ideal 2-week Belize itinerary?