Motorcycle Travel Blog Belize: It’s UnBeliezable!

Jungles, Caribbean islands, skeletons, caves, coconuts and sweaty camping. Belize may be small, but it packs a punch! Here’s what happened on our motorcycle ride through Belize… 

Motorcycle Travel Belize

This travel blog recounts our motorcycle adventure through Belize in 2024 as part of our round the world trip. To read more stories from our travels check out Our Adventures

Motorcycle Travel Blog Belize

It’s snowing

“The ferry to our town is broken. There’s a detour and it should take you about one hour” said Yanick over WhatsApp. Last year, his family decided to turn their front garden into a campsite for overlanders and we wanted to visit. We had just crossed the border from Mexico into Belize and, if the ferry was running, we’d be sat with our feet up in their garden within 20 minutes. An extra 40 wouldn’t be so bad…

But what we didn’t know was that half of our route would be filled with thick white dust called ‘Belizean Snow’.

We left the main road and cut across eerily silent and empty farmland tracks for over an hour. We thought the country had been deserted until we reached a rickety wooden ferry manned by a smiling chap who hand cranked it across the river for us. It doesn’t matter how many little ferries we put our bikes on – riding up a dodgy ramp and balancing on wooden planks will always put a smile on our faces.

But those smiles soon vanished… Nearly two hours of ploughing through fine dust with hardened berms that sent our front wheels sideways if they dared climb them. We had to stop for every truck as they sent sky high waves of floury powder into our faces.

Belizean family

We arrived caked in a paste of dust and sweat with sand in our mouths. But Maria’s cherry flavoured snowcones quickly soothed our desert dry tongues. We pitched our tent in their garden surrounded by palm trees, curious kids and eight puppies and spent the next few days living with an incredible family.

Maria, Lucas and their children welcomed us into their home. Breakfast, lunch and dinner every day with them while learning about their lives and culture was the best introduction to a new country we could ask for. Lucas took us out to visit empty Maya ruins and to where he fishes for barracudas. We spent our days eating, drinking, sipping coconut water, swinging in hammocks on the front porch and chatting around the dinner table.

Tackling the Belizean Snow route was well worth it. And if you’re going this way, the ferry and bridge are both up and running again now.

Caribbean

The only problem was we were entering Belize at the height of summer and even the locals were struggling. We had just spent the last few months in boiling heat through Mexico too. So, we made a dash for the Caribbean Sea to cool off. We headed for Caye Caulker island for a splash of diving and snorkeling with sharks and stingrays and a week off the bikes.

We fell into island life with white sand between our toes. Sure, it was touristy but we missed being on islands as it took us back to our motorcycle travels through Indonesia. A week of pina coladas later and the bikes were calling from across the water and whispering through palm trees. Maybe it was the cocktails talking, but we knew was time to go…

Belize City

We left our motorcycles in Belize City with Giambatista and Valentina. This wonderful Italian couple got in touch online and kindly offered us a place to stay if we ever passed by.

Incredibly, Giamba and Valentina travelled for 10 years on their catamaran sail boat from Italy to Central and South America – sailing to the Galapagos and even Antarctica. They’re now living in Belize and swapped their sails for two wheels (a KTM 990), have already ridden through South America and have more biking adventures planned. Giamba, a former professional GT racing driver and team owner and Valentina, an incredibly talented photographer are both amazingly kind people – you meet the most interesting people when you’re travelling!

Giambatista Valentina and Mad or Nomad

Into the jungle

We headed west to stay with another new friend, Andy, who lives in the most random, remote and out of the way place you could imagine in Belize. Andy left Canada six months ago on his KTM 500 to ride south to Argentina, got to Belize and loved it so much he never left. Now he’s living the life in this beautiful corner of the world and making chili sauce. 

We cooked up BBQ chicken, swapped travel stories and went for a ride. Andy left me (the slower Andy) in the dust as we flew down trails… when he later mentioned that he’s a former professional enduro racer and hard enduro guide, my bruised ego felt a little better. Again, you meet the most interesting people on the road.

But both of these experiences do make us wonder if we’ll ever come across somewhere we love so much on our travels that we don’t leave…

The locals

We stopped at a petrol station for some water when two guys jumped out of their car and asked what we’re doing… We laughed more in those 45 minutes chatting with Clive and Eric than we had in months. We tend to ask people what they think of their own country and what they think travellers think of their country as it’s always interesting to hear a local’s perspective. Safety of course came up and it seemed like it genuinely upset them that people thought of Belize as unsafe. There are areas that are dangerous – namely regions of Belize City and rural areas close to the border with Guatemala that you need to watch out for, but in our ride through the country we have only felt welcomed and safe.

Our two favourite things about Belize are the back ‘roads’ leading to little towns and the people. It is strange though, spending so long in Mexico – a Spanish speaking country – to then enter neighbouring Belize where their first language is English and Queen Elizabeth is on the bank notes.

Its eastern shoreline is on the Caribbean, but the entire country feels more like a Caribbean island for the most part. Although, it is diverse with a number of cultures, languages and people: the Mayan people, Mayan-European and Afro Caribbean are the majorities and it can feel like you’re in a new country every 20 minutes.

There are a number of Mennonite communities throughout Belize too. Different communities have different beliefs, for example in the north we rode past communities that looked Amish, don’t drive vehicles and use horse and cart to get around. While other communities we rode through in the centre have huge trucks and it felt like we were back in the States.

It’s a huge mix of people in a tiny country and that’s part of its charm and what makes it so interesting to explore on two wheels.

The ATM Cave

Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM for short) is a 5-mile-deep cave in Belize. You swim into the cave and clamber over and under rocks and incredible formations the deeper into the cave you go. But aside from the fun caving… The ancient Mayans believed this cave was the entrance to the underworld. They first entered the cave 300-600AD.

But from 700AD, the river began to dry up so the Mayans moved deeper into the cave believing it was the source of all water and that they could pray to the gods in there for the water to return. The more the river dried, the more desperate the Mayans became and the deeper they dared go into the darkness.

Their offerings started to change from pots and food to self-mutilation. When that didn’t work, they went in even deeper and things got a little drastic…

After an hour of wading through this stunning cave you arrive at a huge amphitheatre. Massive stalactites hang from the rocky ceiling and were carved to look like their gods, so when the Mayans were there with their fire torches the carvings would flicker on the walls and move.  

Once they realised cutting themselves wasn’t working, they turned to human sacrifice. 14 skeletons (12 of them very young children and some babies) have been found in the cave. They were of noble decent and young so they were thought of as pure. They died from trauma to the head. It’s unclear whether they were kidnapped royals from neighbouring settlements or willing participants.

“The Crystal Maiden” is the most famous. It’s the skeleton of what is now believed to be a teenage boy. His bones have calcified gluing him to the ground for eternity. It’s believed his heart was removed while he was still alive.

This photograph is of him. Although, it’s not our photo. No cameras or phones are allowed into the cave because a tourist dropped their camera and broke a 1,000-year-old skull. And another visitor broke another skull by stepping on it. So this photo was sent to us by the company that ran our tour (they took the pic before cameras were banned).

Despite the sacrifices, water did not flow again for hundreds of years. This goes a long way to explaining why vast Mayan cities were left abandoned and reclaimed by the jungle. Its once prosperous people had no choice but to abandon their cities and homes and scatter across Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico in search of a new home.

The cave is filled with over 1,500 artefacts in incredibly well-preserved condition from pots to weapons and ornaments. Some even have food substances left. And there are strange markings which have been found in other places across Central America. But that’s a story for another day.

We love that the cave has never been excavated. The Bilezean government ruled that it should all be left exactly as it is. Meaning there is so much left hidden under these rocks. More skeletons, questions, answers and stories that we’ll never see or know. There are still mysteries in this world…

ATM Cave

Xunantunich

Just before we crossed the border to Guatemala, we heard of another set of ruins – ones you had to use a small ferry to get to. And you know how much we love a ferry!

The Xunantunich Mayan Ruins were inhabited around 1,000BC and these structures were built around 700 AD to act as a ceremonial centre for the Belize Valley region, which had around 200,000 inhabitants. Today, 1,324 years later, Belize’s population is only around 400,000.

There are 25 temples and palaces here, but the entire site was abandoned to the jungle over a thousand years ago and only discovered around 1890. It’s crazy to think Mayan ruins are still being uncovered and there are still thousands lost to the jungle. Even here, considering how huge Xunan is, a secret tomb of a Maya ruler was only found in 2016.

Don’t ruin it

Our time in Belize was over before we knew it. If you like Caribbean islands, incredible people, fun jungle trails and exploring ancient culture then this tiny country is for you. But we had just overdosed on caves and thousand-year old ruins and temples, so it’s time for us to move onto the next country… for even more temples! Next stop – Tikal – a gargantuan Mayan city tucked away in northern Guatemala…

Motorcycle Travel Belize

Read more on motorcycle travel in Belize

Thanks for checking out our Motorcycle Travel Blog Belize. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more related articles on riding in Belize and Central America that we recommend you read next. Make sure you have a read of our Belize Travel guide as it explains how to visit all of the places mentioned in this blog in more detail.

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