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Detailed Maya Reef Explorer Itinerary (Jungle to Reef)

Lighthouse Reef, made famous by legendary underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau, has become known amongst divers as the ‘Aquarium’ due to the sheer abundance of marine life, crystal clear waters, and thriving coral reefs.

The Maya Reef Explorer combines an inland adventure to Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary with an excursion to Lighthouse Reef Atoll. View Belize’s birds and wildlife on a boat tour through the Crooked Tree Lagoons. Tour the ancient Mayan ruins of Lamanai and Altun Ha. Visit Crooked Tree, one of Belize’s oldest Creole settlements. After three days of inland exploration, you’ll spend five days on Lighthouse Reef atoll. Lighthouse Reef is a remote tropical marine park and UN world heritage site fifty-five miles off the shore of the Belize Mainland. Stay on Half Moon Caye, a protected island that is managed by the Belize Audubon Society. Sleep in safari-style tent cabanas at our all-inclusive Half Moon Caye Basecamp. Enjoy a choice of flexible daily guided reef activities, including paddling and snorkeling excursions to ‘the Aquarium’ and Jacques Cousteau’s legendary Blue Hole. This trip is ideal for guests who would like to visit Lighthouse Reef, and also experience Belize’s tropical wetlands and ancient Mayan culture.

Day 0 stay
You’ll arrive at the Belize International Airport where an Island Expeditions’ representative will meet you and welcome you to the country. You’ll be taken to Bird’s Eye View Lodge in the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. After checking into your accommodations you’ll have a chance to meet your fellow travelers, enjoy a fine meal and if time permits, explore Crooked Tree Village. Crooked tree Village is one of Belize’s oldest Creole Settlements. Airport transfers, dinner, and lodging are included.

Birdseye View Lodge 

MEALS

Dinner


Day 1 stay
You will have a full day of exploration as you travel overland and by river to the Mayan ruins of Lamanai. With the very best guides you explore the many temples, plazas, palaces, and museums within the park’s boundaries. In the afternoon, you’ll depart Lamanai by riverboat and your guides will help you discover amazing opportunities for birding and viewing wildlife. Iguanas, parrots, toucan, aracaris, and Morelet’s crocodiles are frequently seen while traveling down the New River. You will return turn to your lodge along the banks of the Crooked Tree Lagoons.   

Birdseye View Lodge 

MEALS

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner


Day 2 stay

Coffee is served at sunrise. With your binoculars in hand, you’ll enjoy the sounds and sights of the awakening wilderness. You’ll also have the opportunity to see hundreds of birds feeding along the shores of the Crooked Tree Lagoons. This protected area was created in 1984 primarily to preserve resident and migratory birds. It consists of a network of inland lagoons, wetlands, and waterways, which shelter one of the world's largest flying birds, the Jabiru Stork. On this day, you’ll enjoy boat tours through the protected lagoons and a tour to the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha. Altun Ha is considered one of the major Mayan ceremonial centres of Belize, and functioned as an important trading center between the people of the interior and the coast during the Classic Period (250-900 AD). Within the site, there are more than 275 structures and 250 to 300 unexcavated mounds.  

Birdseye View Lodge 

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 3 stay
This morning you’ll travel to Belize City, and board a chartered water taxi to Lighthouse Reef Atoll. Our route takes you along numerous white sand, partially submerged mangrove cayes until you cross Belize’s Barrier Reef. From there, you’ll enter the narrow passages within the Turneffe Islands before crossing the blue waters towards Lighthouse Atoll. Upon reaching our Half Moon Caye Basecamp, your guide team will orient you to your new setting and accommodations. You will receive thorough instruction on the fundamentals of sea kayaking, snorkeling, and safety on the Caribbean Sea. In the afternoon, weather permitting; you’ll have an opportunity to sea kayak and snorkel within this marine reserve.  
Half Moon Caye Basecamp 

MEALS

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner


Day 4-6 stay
Early risers may want to go for a swim, do some yoga - or just grab a cup of coffee and watch the tropical sunrise. After a healthy Belizean breakfast everyone gathers to plan the day’s activities. The waters of Lighthouse Reef Atoll are exceptionally clear with a fabulously rich reef system, which offers some of the best kayaking, snorkeling, and diving in the Caribbean. Throughout your stay, you’ll have the opportunity to try a variety of activities as you explore this remote and magical part of Belize. Snorkeling at the ‘Aquarium’ is a favorite guest activity. The Aquarium has a profusion of tropical fish and towering coral formations, and is an unforgettable underwater experience. You’ll also be taken on a snorkeling excursion to the renowned Blue Hole, a site made famous by the legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau. The Blue Hole is an underwater cave and sinkhole in the middle of the Lighthouse lagoon. In the mornings and evenings, a favorite guest activity is to walk to the red-footed booby colony to watch nesting boobies come in from the sea to tend their nests and feed their chicks.  
Half Moon Caye Basecamp 

MEALS

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner


Day 7 stay
For your last day on Lighthouse Reef, choose from a variety of activities. Don a mask, snorkel, and fins and swim to a favorite patch reef. Circumnavigate Half Moon Caye by kayak or explore by Stand Up Paddleboard. Walk the trails, or beachcomb along the island beaches. Our water taxi typically arrives later in the afternoon to take everyone back to the mainland. The Belize Biltmore Hotel is your final destination for today, a comfortable hotel located on the outskirts of Belize City.  

Belize Biltmore Hotel


MEALS
Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8 stay
This last day is yours to enjoy at your leisure before you fly home or continue on your travels. Relax by the pool or investigate the optional tours offered by the hotel activity desk.  

Note: Dinner on day 7, and breakfast  and transfer to the airport on day 8 are not included. 
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MEALS 
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Important Note:  We offer 2 versions of this very popular trip.  Depending on the departure date, the jungle portion of the trip may be before or after the stay at our Lighthouse Reef Adventure Basecamp.  Both versions of the trip itineraries ( Jungle to Reef  and Reef to Jungle)  are below.

For those who are doing the Reef to Jungle itinerary with us and connecting with their international flights on the last day of the trip it is important your flight is scheduled to depart after 1pm. If you are planning on staying an extra night in Belize we can make reservations for you at the Biltmore Hotel or add on an extra night at our lodge in the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. Please make sure you talk with our reservations staff (1-800-667-1630) to coordinate details for the last day of the trip before booking your international flights.

Please note all itineraries are subject to change depending on weather or safety considerations. Flexibility as our guest and as an international traveler is the key to an awesome experience.

 Click Here for a Printable PDF Jungle to Reef Trip Itinerary