A Week in Belize.

A Week in Belize

A couple weeks ago, I spent a full week in Belize with my family. This was a really fun trip. I got a lot of questions about where to stay and what to do but this wasn’t really one of those trips where we did a lot. We stayed at the Portofino Beach Resort (it was really lovely) and didn’t really do much besides a day long excursion to the Mayan ruins and a couple trips to Secret Beach.

This trip was all about the kids and having time together. My sister and her husband chose the resort because they could get a nice suite (two bedrooms and a living area with a kitchen where they could cook for their picky-eater kiddos). My parents and I crashed their trip, booking the resort’s two beachfront rooms. It felt sort of like family summer camp. We did a lot together but we did the trip two different ways. My sister and her fam rented a golf cart, went into town to get food to cook, etc. My parents and I did not rent a golf cart and got the all inclusive package which included our transfers and the flight from Belize to San Pedro (and a taxi to the resort). We ate all our meals at the restaurant.

The trip wasn’t perfect but we had the best time. I’m going to get into all the details below!

A Week in Belize

Getting there:

I flew on Delta, flying from Charleston to Atlanta, and then Atlanta from Belize City. Then at Belize City I flew Tropic Air from Belize City to San Pedro. Then a 35 minute golf cart ride to Belize. (This part was a little bit brutal, you know I love a golf cart ride but it’s very bumpy and dusty as half of it is down a dirt road. I was very dirty/dusty after each trip!).

It was a quicker trip than I had thought; and a lot easier than I had anticipated. (I’ve had some real doozy travel days since moving to Charleston since there are few direct flight options; Holbox and Anguilla both felt much harder to get to). My flight was at 7am with a 90 minute layover; I landed at noon. Then a 1:40 flight to San Pedro, (only 15 min) and a 40 min drive to the hotel. I was at the pool by 3. Not bad!

Portofino Beach Resort
Our Hotel:

We stayed at the Portofino Beach Resort. I loved it. The staff was so friendly and the food was amazing. Seriously, SO good. The food was the second best part of the trip (number one was family time!). I had stone crab for dinner most nights. We ate like kings. There is a great continental breakfast in the morning that is free for everyone, and if you do the all-inclusive there are tons of amazing options like a veggie scramble, an omelette, avocado toast, etc. Lunch is delicious (so many great salad options) and there’s a 3 course dinner every night. The waiters (especially Gianni and James!) were so friendly and accommodating and just nice to chat with.. Also: GREAT coffee in the morning. This is important!

It’s rustic and cute and when we stayed (Feb/Mar 2023) it was reasonably priced. The hotel has 17 rooms. My parents and I did the two beachfront rooms. I loved my room. A big comfy bed with a mosquito net canopy (there weren’t any bugs in the room) My sister and her family took the “upper mansion,” a two bedroom suite with a kitchen and small living area.

They also have a great spa. I got a massage (on the beach!) one morning, and my dad and I both got pedicures.

A few things to know about Portofino Beach Resort.
  1. I do wish it was a little closer to town. It was a 30-40 minute golf cart ride on a dirt road. We didn’t really explore the town because we were so far out.
  2. There was a pretty big seaweed issue, which was a bummer. I mention this because I’d want to know before planning a trip but feel badly even complaining about this because they had workers were down on the beach every day raking it and carting it away, but there is SO MUCH SEAWEED. The hotels face an uphill climb: even with daily maintenance (there were workers there every single day!) it just piles up. We couldn’t swim in the ocean at the beach, and I had figured I’d get exercise by walking along the beach. You couldn’t do that. Mountains of seaweed blocked each way. The kids loved playing in it though!
  3. It was very windy. Like, you can’t put your book down or it will blow away. We did a little research and this isn’t even the windiest time to come (apparently, that’s April).
  4. This is a small thing but worth noting if you do the all inclusive option: just know that the alcohol options are limited. It’s domestic liquors only (lots of rums, one mediocre vodka, no tequila), lots of beers, and no wine. We were a little bummed that we had to pay extra for wine and tequila/margs which were our drinks of choice!

I think I had stone crab for dinner four out of our seven nights? It’s a full pound! I still think about it.

Spending a Week in Belize
The Weather:

It was warm but really, really windy! Like really windy. I think this might have been more specific to the part of the island where we stayed. (Where we were it was very windy and there was a lot of seaweed in the ocean, but by Secret Beach it wasn’t windy at all and there wasn’t any seaweed). In some ways this is nice as you never feel too hot but if you are reading a book, it makes it hard.

Visiting the Lamanai Archaeological Reserve
Visiting the Lamanai Archeological Reserve:

Okay this was the best but also… an excessive amount of travel. It took us about 5 hours each way to get there (a car ride, a ferry ride, a van ride, a boat ride) for 3 hours at the ruins. I am so so glad we did it (a must!) but if I were to take this trip again, I’d do a night on the mainland (a reader recommended San Ignacio). See the ruins and caves, and then get to the islands separately for some R&R!

I highly recommend visiting the Lamanai Archeological Reserve. We booked the excursion via our hotel. My photos don’t do it justice, it took our breath away. The city/site dates back to 1500 BC and contains 738 structures. Of the 738 only 6 are partially exposed and open to the public. It breaks my heart a little bit because of course exposing the structures (and preserving them) is very costly but the government just doesn’t have the budget.

Secret Beach

This was about a 20-25 minute golf cart ride and where we were advised to go to dodge the seaweed and be able to swim. But the name is deceptive, it is not secret at all. It was the most crowded place we went, and there were big signs proclaiming SECRET BEACH everywhere.! I giggled at the irony.

The water was really nice and we managed to snag 5 lounge chairs in the shade. (Get there by 10am to claim a spot!). It’s nice because you can order food + drinks and use the bathrooms, though I am pretty sure that I got sick from the food. So maybe proceed with caution (drink bottled drinks, not frozen drinks like I did and stick to chips).

Other Stuff:
  • I got asked if this would be a good spot for a honeymoon. I think it depends what kind of trip you are looking for. If it were me I’d want something a little more luxe for my honeymoon but if your taste is more rustic, absolutely. This is personal taste though! And also, a thing with traveling with a significant other: there’s no door on the bathroom (why is this a thing, so many of my fav hotels in Mexico do this too) soooo if you are traveling with your significant other that is an interesting thing to manage.
  • Take out cash! You’ll be fine using dollars (don’t worry about converting it) but make sure you have lots of cash. Most places also take credit cards but I didn’t see very many ATMs. Nowhere we went seemed to take Amex.
  • Wifi worked well at the resort (their TripAdvisor page said otherwise), and my data plan worked well anytime we left the resort.
  • When we got to the paved part of the road, I noticed Coco Beach Resort. It looks very nice and is also close to some cute restaurants and coffee shops. I can’t personally vouch for it but if you want to be able to hop around a little more, this might be a better option.
  • I have a sensitive stomach and have to be really careful when I travel. At the hotel I ate everything under the sun and had a million frozen daiquiris. I did not get sick at all until the last day and I blame this on the frozen drinks and/or ceviche I had at Secret Beach.
Belize beach life
dog in Belize
Leave the world behind book poolside

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment


  1. Laura:

    I love Belize and am so glad you and your family had an overall good time. Funny- when i went in April we had great weather! But again, that may be down to location. We spent 4 days inland at Blancaneaux Lodge which is built and owned by Francis Ford Coppola. It’s luxe without being ostentatious- traditional architecture, locally grown ingredients for the fabulous food and excursions like Mayan ruins, horseback riding through the rainforest and river trips were all close by. We then spent 4 days on Ambergris Caye for beach and ocean time. Lots of golf carts, easy water taxis to other islands for dinner. I forget where we stayed there but it was much more cookie cutter beach resort, which was fine for that part of the trip.

    3.13.23 Reply
    • Ummmm Blancaneaux Lodge sounds incredible! Adding to my list!

      3.13.23 Reply
      • Sharon:

        I am impressed that you read Leave the World Behind at a tropical beach vacation! That book creeped me out so bad. It was great and I recommend it to everyone, but as you said in your review, not a beach read!

        3.14.23 Reply
        • I wouldn’t recommend it, LOL! I had just heard it was really good and threw it in my suitcase. Oops. So good though.

          3.14.23 Reply
    • Angela:

      oh, and the seaweed is Sargassum Grass. It has been a huge problem in much of the Caribbean – even in Florida, for the past several years. Some years are worse than others, and some seasons are worse.

      3.13.23 Reply
  2. Alex:

    We went to Belize on our honeymoon (almost 20 years ago! So YMMV…) and split our time between the jungle/mainland area and the beach. We stayed at Chaa Creek (loved) inland and Victoria House at the beach in Ambergris Caye (loved even more). And a couple nights near Tikal in Guatemala. I liked our spot in Ambergris Caye bc the resort was relatively private but you could bike around the town if you wanted some more action. Glad you had a great trip!

    3.13.23 Reply
    • I had to look up YMMV haha. Sounds like an incredible trip!!!

      3.13.23 Reply
    • Gina:

      I visited Victoria House with a friend about ten years ago (eek!) but I wanted to chime in because it was indeed LUXE!! I went with a friend and we booked the most inexpensive room, and upon arrival discovered that a pipe had burst and flooded our room, so they gave us the only other available room… the two-story gigantic honeymoon suite! A memorable vacation for sure!

      3.13.23 Reply
  3. Billie Ruby:

    We are leaving today after staying 7 weeks in Belize. My favorite, and a must, was our visit to Hidden Valley resort and Martz Farm, all near San Ignacio. We hiked to waterfalls, horseback to a cave, with a private tour guide (owner of Martz Farm) and toured Mayan Ruins. Spent 2wks in Placencia, spent two nights on Ranguana Caye (also a must), at least any of the private Cayes. But lastly we spent 3wks in San Pedro, my least favorite. It was so windy, had to postpone water activities, the Sargassum seaweed was terrible, and the golf cart traffic awful. But, people are so kind, and food is delicious.

    3.13.23 Reply
  4. Wendy:

    I stayed at the coco beach resort a few years ago and it was good, quiet. The onsite restaurant had great ceviche. Bike and golf carts available for rent to go to nearby places.

    3.13.23 Reply
  5. Lauren Heath:

    When I first saw you post pictures, I knew you had to be on Ambergris! We actually did go there for our honeymoon (in 2013) and stayed at these cute little resort condos called Tara del Sol on the south side of the island. It was so relaxing and quiet! We enjoyed the pool, golf cart rides to restaurants (there a lot of small, hidden places around there that were amazing!), and took a catamaran over to Caye Caulker. We enjoyed it so much that we went back again 6 months later with friends and then 3 years later with more family and our baby. Back then, Secret Beach was really a secret!

    3.13.23 Reply
    • Angela:

      Secret Beach was a secret. until so many resorts opened up. 6 years ago there was 1 small bar and 1 food place (like a food truck). Drnks were $3. Then they figured out Americans would pay $12-$15 for 1 drink and the very next year, that was the normal price and two or three more places were open there. We ruin everywhere we go. Secret Beach used to look like the Corona beach commercial.

      3.13.23 Reply
  6. Angela:

    Secret Beach was a secret. until so many resorts opened up. 6 years ago there was 1 small bar and 1 food place (like a food truck). Drnks were $3. Then they figured out Americans would pay $12-$15 for 1 drink and the very next year, that was the normal price and two or three more places were open there. We ruin everywhere we go. Secret Beach used to look like the Corona beach commercial.

    3.13.23 Reply
  7. Annie:

    We went to Belize last summer with a 2 and 4 year old. San Ignacio was incredible and would highly recommend if you go back (don’t miss the ATM tour which was a little cave tour to ruins). And then we spent almost a week a few miles south of San Pedro. The golf carts and seaweed are definitely all over the island (except maybe Secret Beach but then you have little crabs and crowds everywhere) but the island is very beautiful – as long as you plan on pool time over beach time. 🙂 I’d also highly recommend The Truck Stop for anyone going with kids to San Pedro – it was a great open area dining and eating place with live music and lots of space to run around so the kids loved it too!
    On another note, we went to Playa Grande, Costa Rica (just north of Tamarindo) and it was probably the best beach I’ve ever been to. No rocks, no seaweed, perfect size waves for playing around with kids, clean sand, some cute shells to collect, no crowds, and a taco stand. Highly highly recommend!

    3.13.23 Reply
  8. Molly:

    Glad you enjoyed the trip! We went to Caye Caulker (very rustic but absolutely blissful) and then San Pedro for our honeymoon. It would have been perfect, but Belize got hit with their first hurricane in like 17 years so we lost power for 3 days and it was quite an adventure 🙂

    Can’t wait to go back though!

    3.14.23 Reply
  9. Amadi:

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience in Belize!! I am planning a trip there with my daughters in the Summer. I have looked at several reviews and YouTube videos to determine the best parts to visit and where to stay. So far Placencia will likely be where we spend more time.

    3.14.23 Reply