Belize Maya Reef Explorer Kayak Adventure: 8 Days / 8 Nights Itinerary


“Lighthouse Reef was fabulous – away from the crowds and worry-free. From the moment we awakened, opened our tent and looked at the ocean yards in front of us the experience was unforgettable. Every good thing we had read about the trip was true, but none discussed the amazing gourmet meals prepared for us and the cultural knowledge and experiences that were shared with us by everyone at camp. I will never forget my first (planned and carefully supervised) wet exit from my kayak, kayak sailing, stand-up paddleboarding over a ray, snorkeling over a small reef to realize I was directly over a shark, and seeing photoluminescence during night snorkeling (which two guides kindly took me on despite no other guest wanting to go after our long day!). My bird-loving hubby really enjoyed Crooked Tree as well. Surprisingly the zoo was a treat – small, intimate, and close-up to the animals.”

Kory Kelly

Maya Reef Explorer

Departures 2017:    Dec 16, 20, 24, 28
Departures 2018:   Jan *12, 14, *26, 28   Feb *09, 11, *23   Mar *09, 11, *23, 25   April *06, 08, *20  (*Denotes Reverse Itinerary – Reef first then Inland second)
Group Size: 6-22
Guides: 2-4 North American and Belizean Leaders


Sea Kayaking
Snorkeling, Fishing
Scuba Diving (optional)
Hiking and Rainforest Birding
Mayan Ruins
Natural History


Lighthouse Reef Basecamp
Birdseye View Lodge at Crooked Tree
Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel

The Adventure


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. 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.

The Setting…

Lighthouse Reef

 One of three coral atolls offshore of Belize, 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.



Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary

Located northwest of Belize City the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary consists of a large network of inland lagoons, wetlands, and waterways.

The sanctuary provides both the abundant food sources and the safe resting areas necessary to support a large and diverse population of birds.

Those visiting in the later months of the dry season (Feb – May) are treated to a concentration of wildlife, which congregate in the park’s shrinking lagoons, as freshwater resources across the country dry-up.


The Mayan Sites… 

mre-lamanai-face- 300 Lamanai – The ruins of Lamanai lie scattered along the banks of the New River covering an area of 950 acres of tropical rainforest in central Belize.

The Mayan name Lamanai, translates into “submerged crocodile”. Due in part to its location straddling a major trade route. Lamanai was one of the longest continuously occupied Mayan cities in Central America —from about 500 BC to 1675 AD.The first major excavation was undertaken by the Royal Ontario Museum.

During a series of field seasons beginning in 1974, they mapped 718 structures stretching out along the shore of the lagoon.Lamanai’s importance is reflected in the large, imposing Late Pre-Classic temple-pyramids built over top of earlier temples.

On site researchers found buried deep inside a 600 AD temple a well preserved Pre-Classic temple dating back 700 years prior to 100 BC.

Belize Kayak Trips Itinerary 73 Altun Ha – Translates into “stone water”, which comes from the ancient Mayan reservoir, or aguada, that Belizeans call “rock stone pond”.

Altun Ha was an important Classic Period site situated to take advantage of the trading that occurred between the waters of the Caribbean and the deep interior of the Mayan Civilization.

The entire city covered three square miles (5 km2) and the population is estimated to have been 8,000 to 10,000 people at its peak. Within the central portion of the site there are more than 275 structures.

Though Altun Ha has become famous for a large jade head, representing the sun god Kinich Ahau, that was discovered in the main temple. This head is the largest Mayan jade artefact ever discovered weighing 10 lbs. It is now the national symbol of Belize and seen on the corner of every Belizean banknote.

A Note About the Ecology…The Flora and Fauna

Maya Reef Explorer 1022


We begin our trip, immersed in the rich savannah, grassy lowlands, lagoons and broadleaf rainforests of Central Belize. Within the savannah and lowland habitats of Belize, the dominant plant species is the Caribbean pine, but there also exists an abundance of other species such as grasses, palms, palmettos to cecropias and miconias.

Although, this ecosystem is not as diverse vegetation as the broadleaf tropical rainforest, it does posses a unique system that relies on specific ecological influents. Fire is the major ecological influent, which contributes to the continuous dominance of this system.

This can be seen through-out the lowland savannah zones as charred stumps and burned bark on many of the trees, which seems like a destructive force to the untrained eye, however, this is an important factor in the regions ongoing renewal.

The cycle of burns renews growth in the region, and certain species cannot release their seed without fire! The lagoons and riverine environments of the lowlands also harbor an tremendous diversity of plant-life, which ranges from small thin-boled trees, to large kapoks along the floodplain.

While traveling in the Crooked Tree Sanctuary of northern Belize, we have great opportunities to view a diverse array of wildlife.Travelers flock to the region to see the diverse bird life found throughout the savannah and marshlands; over 250 different species have been spotted in this region (approximately 2/3 of Belize’s total).

During the dry-season, when the birds tend to congregate in shrunken pools and riverbeds, it is not uncommon to see one hundred species or more in a day. Some of the birds seen are: the jabiru stork, the belted kingfisher, the tri-colored heron, boat-billed heron, the snail kite, tiger heron, the osprey, and the black-collared hawk.

While traveling along the river or lagoons we are also likely to spot some of Belize’s interesting land creatures, such as the Morelet’s crocodile, turtles, and iguanas.


Belize’s Barrier Reef is the largest reef in the northern hemisphere, second largest in the world, extending 185 miles (300 km) along the coastline. Nineteen miles seaward from the eastern border of the Barrier Reef, lies one of Belize’s most spectacular atoll – Glover’s Reef.

These circular shaped reef systems climb from the ocean floor and surround a central lagoon.

The surrounding reef is primarily made up of two kinds of coral, the hard hydro-coral (reef-forming coral), such as brain coral or elkhorn coral, and the soft corals, such as sea fans and feather plumes.

The sheltered lagoon harbors one of the world’s most diverse sea environments; an extensive community of fish, shellfish, and patch reefs. One mile off the eastern shore of the atoll, the reef wall quickly drops 2600 feet to the ocean floor below.

The interaction between the deeper, open waters of the Caribbean Sea and the sheltered lagoons of the atoll, results in a diversity and abundance of marine life, which is unsurpassed for sea kayaking, snorkeling and diving.

 Typical Daily Itinerary:

LH 7

Day 0

You’ll arrive at the Belize International Airport where our 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.

Accommodations: (Lodge) Meals: Dinner is included on this nigh

mre-lamanai-face- 400 Day 1

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.

Accommodations: Birdseye View Lodge Meals: B,L,D

mre-boat-captain Day 2

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.

mre-reef-fish Accommodations: Birdseye View Lodge Meals: B,L,D
Maya Reef Exploredr Kayak Teach

Day 3

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.

Accommodations: Half Moon Caye Basecamp Meals: B,L,D

Double Atoll 5

Day 4, 5 & 6

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.


Accommodations: Half Moon Caye Basecamp Meals: B,L,D
Double Atoll 17-R Day 7

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.

Accommodations: Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel Meals: B,L

Double Atoll 11 Day 8

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.

What’s Included…

1. Comprehensive pre-trip information package
2. All meals, accommodation, and transfers described in the itinerary
3. Professional Guiding Services
4. Unlimited use of our Equipment and facilities
5. Accommodation the day before the trip (‘Day 0’)
6. Government Fees & Taxes

What’s Not Included…

1. Gratuities
2. Fishing Licenses
3. Scuba Diving
4. International Flights and Airport Departure Tax
5. Extra costs due to late Arrivals, lost baggage and other circumstances beyond our control


LH 15-250 On ‘Day 0 – 2’,

We are staying at Birds Eye View Lodge, situated on the water’s edge of the Crooked Tree Lagoons.

This comfortable Belizean-style hotel offers private bath and lakeside views.

Over top of the hotel there is a deck and bar, which is a perfect place to catch the evening breeze, watch the tropical birds over the wetlands and reminisce over your recent discoveries.

 LH 5-250  On Days 3-6

At Lighthouse Reef, we are “base camping” in tent-walled cabanas.

These spacious safari-style tents have ample headroom and are outfitted with wood floors and wood-framed beds.

On the island, we have a fresh-water collection system for drinking water, access to freshwater showers, modern composting toilets, a fully-equipped kitchen including refrigeration, with a large dining area complete with resource library and a field marine lab including microscope and hand lenses.

 08-biltmore-poo-250l  On Day 7

At the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel, a comfortable hotel located on the outskirts of Belize City.

Transportation…At the start of the trip we pick you up on arrival at the Belize International Airport on Day 0. On the last day of the trip we can drop you off directly at the Belize International Airport( flights departing later than 3pm) or the Biltmore Plaza Hotel. All transportation by land, air and water from Day 0 to Day 7 on the trip is included.

Scuba Divers… Optional diving is available for certified divers on certain days of the trip. Single tank dives are available from $50 US, with further discounts for multi-tank dives. For first time divers we can offer, a Discover Scuba for a subsidized rate, or you may be able to take your Open Water Referral course. Please let us know in advance. There are some great opportunities to scuba dive at Glover’s Reef. We can also arrange a variety of dive packages before or after your trip.

Scuba Diving Rates… (2014)

BC and Reg Rental $15 US Single Tank Dive $50 US Two Dives $75 US Discover Scuba Course $125

 scuba-tube-sponge 3
Single Traveler Pricing
Many of our guests travel on their own. Our style of trip is ideal for single travelers combining the benefits of group camaraderie and group security with lots of individual flexibility in what you want to do each day. Single supplement options vary by trip style. Standard trip pricing is based on double occupancy.
Solo guests can request either to share twin accommodations with another traveler or request single accommodations for an additional fee.
If you are willing to share and we are able to match you up – no problem and no extra cost. If we cannot match you up then we have a simple, affordable $259 CAD /  $199 US supplement fee . This fee will be applied at the time of booking, but will be reimbursed just before your departure if we are able to match you up.
Should you prefer private accommodations, we can provide you with your own room and the following charges apply. Coral Atoll & Maya Rainforest – $485 CAD / $390 US
NOTE: The number of single rooms available on most departures is limited, and may not be available at each location. If we are not able to provide your own room throughout the trip, we will pro-rate the supplement fee.

Recommended Tour-books:
Eltringham, Peter. 2002. Belize: The Rough Guide .London. Penguin Publishers. Perottet, Tony. 2000. Belize: Insight Guide Singapore. Houghton Mifflin Publishers. -Great photographs and written by a Belizean!

Recommended Reading:
Rabinowitz, Alan. 2000 Jaguar, One Man’s Struggle to Establish the First Jaguar Sanctuary New York. Island Press.

Getting to Belize City:

American Airlines: Toll Free: 1-800-433-7300 website:

US Airways: Toll Free: 1-800-622-1015 website:

Delta Airlines: Toll Free: 1-800-221-1212 website:

United Airways: Toll Free: 1-800-421-4655 website:

Southwest Airlines – via Houston, TX Toll Free: 1-800-435-9792 website:

Expedia: website: (Canada) (US)

WestJet (Canada): Toll Free: 1-888-937-8538 (United Kingdom): Toll Free: 0-800-279-7072 website:

Still have questions? Please give us a call toll free in North America at: 1-866-383-9453 or email us at

Booking: The booking requires a 30% deposit by Visa or MasterCard (for Canadian Credit Cards) with the balance due 60 days prior to trip departure. Non Canadian Credit Cards are charged the full trip fee payment in US dollars or a Bank Wire Transfer in Canadian Dollars at the time of booking.

The trip dates do sell out so please book early to get the trip dates you want.

Book this Trip Here
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