If an active adventure in Belize is what you’re looking for, head underground to the Crystal Cave, located in Blue Hole National Park. An expert guide will take you spelunking (cave exploring) after a hike through the lush tropical forest amid a rugged limestone landscape. Inside caverns adorned with crystalline formations, you’ll find artifacts—including pottery, beads and obsidian blades—from the ancient Maya, who considered the cave a sacred passageway to the underworld (known as Xibalba). Your day trip from San Ignacio includes lunch, a swim in the Blue Hole and round-trip hotel transport.
Crystal Cave, also known as Mountain Cow Cave, is one of the largest cave systems in Belize. Located within Blue Hole National Park (not to be confused with the Great Blue Hole), the area allows you to explore amazing caverns where evidence of the ancient Maya—as well as many natural wonders—can be found.
After hotel pickup in San Ignacio at 7am, it’s an approximate 1.5-hour drive to Blue Hole National Park. When you arrive, your guide will provide any necessary equipment, such as helmets and headlamps, and offer safety instructions along with a history of the park. Then, embark on a 1.5-hour hike through the rugged terrain of the lush forest until you get to the cave entrance, located in the mountain.
After checking your gear, your guide lowers a piece of rope into the cave—making your descent down the cave wall even safer. As the slope is not too steep, the rope isn't necessary but can be used for extra support. Once you’ve moved into the first section of the cave, stop for lunch before venturing on. Here, your guide offers several options for continuing deeper into the challenging cave, including rappelling and methods of climbing up or down rocks. You’ll see a demonstration of the crab walk, a favorite technique necessary for traversing small passageways.
As you emerge into the crystal chamber of Crystal Cave, marvel at the sparkling formations everywhere. You’ll see beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, flow stones and rock columns, as well as an interesting array of cultural remains. Listen as your guide talks about the 1,000-year-old Mayan belief system, and points out ritual and ceremonial artifacts. Keep an eye out for shards of pottery, obsidian, beads and fire pits with charcoal ash, as well as evidence of human remains calcified into the limestone floor.
After exploring the first section of Crystal Cave, you’ll have the option of continuing your loop or venturing onward. If you choose to continue on, you’ll have two more hours inside the caverns, as your guide leads you to a place called Wonderland—one of the cave’s most impressive spots with glimmering formations everywhere. If you choose to return, a guide accompany you back and you'll have more free time to spend at the Blue Hole.
After your cave exploration, hike back downhill for an hour and then drive just five minutes to the Blue Hole for which the national park is named. Dip into the gorgeous aquamarine watering hole for a well-deserved and refreshing swim before heading back to San Ignacio with drop-off at your hotel.