Highlights
  • Discover the diversity of indigenous birds and wildlife at Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary on a boat tour of Crooked Tree Lagoons.
  • Check out Crooked Tree, one of Belize’s oldest Creole settlements
  • Journey to the ancient Mayan ruins of Lamanai and Altun Ha.
  • Explore and stay on remote and renowned Lighthouse Reef Atoll, with four nights in a tent-walled cabana at our all-inclusive Adventure Basecamp on Half Moon Caye.
  • Paddle and snorkel ‘the Aquarium,’ as well as Jacques Cousteau’s legendary Blue Hole.

The Maya Reef Explorer combines a three day inland adventure to Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary with five days at Lighthouse Reef Atoll, a remote tropical marine park and designated world heritage site fifty-five miles off the shore of the Belize Mainland.

Ideal for those wanting to experience both reef and inland, as well as the local Creole and ancient Mayan cultures. Well suited for families and couples of mixed abilities, our Basecamp trips offer a choice of guided activities on the reef and the flexibility for traveling companions to do things together or separately. All abilities welcome! Includes accommodation on the mainland before and after your trip to Lighthouse.

62
Island Expeditions Travel Reviews & Ratings
98% Recommend

4.8 out of 5
Excellent 51 Great 11 Average 0 Disappointing 0 Terrible 0
Value
4.8 Guide
4.8 Activities
4.8 Lodging
4.8 Transportation
4.8 Meals
4.8
Maya Reef Explorer

K

Recommends

Lighthouse Reef was fabulous December 2016

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
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 photo luminescence 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.

Why did you choose to travel with Island Expeditions?:
We saw that REI, an organization we trust, worked with Island Expeditions. The itineraries looked amazing and we liked the idea of using local guides.
What was the highlight of your trip?:
Can't pick just one - Nearly getting sprayed with urine by a tapir (as the guide warned us might happen) - SUP while a ray glided beneath me - Being alone with a guide in the ocean at night, turning off the lights and basking in the soft glow of photoluminescence - Cultural night
What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
Jump in and try everything. I had never done yoga, but enjoyed it each morning on the beach and really missed it when I returned from reality. I was nervous about both night snorkeling and kayak sailing and was so glad I just went for it!
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Operator Island Expeditions

E

Recommends

Birds Eye View Lodge: amazing location! December 2016

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Birds Eye View Lodge: amazing location, liked to stroll in crooked tree village in addition to birds' views. The bathroom was a bit small. Lighthouse camp was wonderful. People were extremely friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. The weather was hot and windy - no rain. This trip is excellent for nature-loving families with independent kids. Our 7 year-old loved every minute and enjoyed the special attention from guides and others in our group.

Why did you choose to travel with Island Expeditions?:
We liked the style and value that you offer, with emphasis on the quality of guides, activities, and excellent simple food, with relatively basic travel and lodging means.
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Operator Island Expeditions

G

Recommends

The guides were all excellent !! December 2016

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
The guides were all excellent and very friendly, funny and mixed well with everyone in the group. I just wish we could have spent longer at Lighthouse Reef.

Why did you choose to travel with Island Expeditions?:
Small groups, experience and very friendly, helpful and informative on the phone.
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Operator Island Expeditions

M

Recommends

Very impressed with the kindness, patience, flexibility! December 2016

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
The Bird's Eye View Lodge was welcoming, clean, had a lovely location, friendly and very hard working staff. I liked that we could walk out the door and see so many birds and get such lovely views. We were so impressed with the kindness, patience, flexibility and knowledge of each of the guides - They were all truly outstanding and provided us with skills and set up experiences that would be safe and within our ability levels. The food was delicious everywhere we went and we could not believe what Ann and Bol produced from the small cookhouse. The food was always perfectly prepared with a nice variety and accommodated different dietary needs of the group.

Why did you choose to travel with Island Expeditions?:
High recommendation by family members. The website was very comprehensive and well laid out. I have been raving about it to friends. I felt very well prepared when I set off on the trip.

What would be your advice to potential travellers?:
I was so impressed by the health of the reef - please remember not to stand up on the reef or touch with your fins!
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Operator Island Expeditions

K

Recommends

I really loved cultural night!! December 2016

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Half Moon Caye is paradise and basecamp is beautifully designed and maintained. The staff and guides went way beyond my expectations to make everything perfect. They never seemed to stop working but always had time to give extra of themselves for the guests. I really loved cultural night on my last night at camp. The next day I was recommending Island Expeditions to everyone I met at the hotel!

The only thing I wished for was brewed coffee.

Why did you choose to travel with Island Expeditions?:
I was impressed by how long you have worked in Belize and I found a tour that was perfect for me.
What was the highlight of your trip?:
I have traveled all my life to many places and Belize has become my instant favorite. The weather was perfect and the people went out of their way to make sure everything about my trip was great.
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Operator Island Expeditions

Itinerary

Day 1

Accommodation: Lodge

Meals: Dinner

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. 


Day 2

Accommodation: Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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. 


Day 3

Accommodation: Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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. Alta 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. 


Day 4

Accommodation: Half Moon Basecamp

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

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.


Days 5 - 7

Accommodation: Half Moon Basecamp

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

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. 


Day 8

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

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. 


Day 9

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 8, and breakfast and transportation to the airport on day 9 are not included. 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.

Dates & Pricing

Price From

$ 2,019

Price Per Day:

$ 224 per day
 
Start DateEnd DateItinerary Version 
Dec-20-2018Dec-28-2018Reversed Itinerary - Reef first, Inland secondReserve
Dec-22-2018Dec-30-2018Inland first, Reef secondReserve
Dec-28-2018Jan-05-2019Reversed Itinerary - Reef first, Inland secondReserve
Dec-30-2018Jan-07-2019Inland first, Reef secondReserve
Check Current Availability, prices, specials with Island Expeditions
  • Other Mandatory Fees: $ 330

Please note the price of the trip for double standard (per person on double occupancy):

  • In USD starts from $2,019 + $330 Taxes & Fees
  • In CAD (Canadian Dollar) starts from $2,204 + $395 Taxes & Fees
Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.
Details
Trip Includes
  • Comprehensive pre-trip information package
  • All meals, accommodation, and transfers described in the itinerary
  • Professional Guiding Services
  • Unlimited use of our Equipment and facilities
  • Accommodation the day before the trip ('Day 0')
  • Government Fees & Taxes
Trip Excludes
  • Gratuities
  • Fishing Licenses
  • Scuba Diving
  • International Flights and Airport Departure Tax
  • Extra costs due to late Arrivals, lost baggage and other circumstances beyond our control
Optional Activities

Extensions:  This trip combines well with the  Rainforest Canopy Extension , the  Maya World Extension

Meals Included:

7 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches and 6 Dinners

Flights & Transport
Only ground transport
Group Size:
Small Group - 24 max
6-25 Limited
Start City
Belize
End City
Belize
Cancellation Policy:

Cancellations and Refunds

Of course we regret any cancellations and our cancellation policy is as flexible and understanding as possible.  Many of our trip costs are incurred well in advance of trip departures and other travelers may have been turned away because the trip is full. All cancellations must be received at our office in writing and refunds will be issued according to the following schedule:

Holiday Season Departures: (Dec 15 - Jan 1 Each Year)

90 days + prior to departure will be Deposit retained as an administration fee.

60-89 days prior to departure is 70% refund

30-59 days prior to departure will be 35% refund

0-29 days prior to departure will be the full amount retained

Additional Information:

Note: Dinner on day 7 and breakfast and transfer to the airport on day 8 are not included.

Trip ID#: MayRefIsl

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