Copal Tree Lodge

Sample Itinerary—Best of Belize

Curated exclusively for National Geographic

Experience a sampling of what makes Belize’s southernmost region shine—from its ancient Maya heritage to the dazzling intersection of jungle and sea. Join local guides on snorkeling and fishing excursions, inland adventures, and cultural explorations.

Your experience at the lodge will be tailored to your interests. The sample itinerary below was designed for National Geographic travelers and can be customized as you wish.


  • Learn about Belizean chocolate and its Maya roots during a bean-to-bar chocolate-making class and join the lodge’s resident coffee expert for an in-depth coffee tasting (National Geographic Exclusive).
  • Join the lodge chef on a snorkeling excursion in the Caribbean that ends with an on-board barbecue—of seafood you’ve watched the crew pull from the water.
  • Tour ancient Maya ruins with a knowledgeable guide, then learn how to make corn tortillas and enjoy a traditional lunch in the home of a local Maya family.
  • Try your luck at the world-class catch-and-release permit fishing that attracts flocks of anglers to this prime position on the Rio Grande, just minutes upstream from the Caribbean Sea.

Day 1—Arrive Punta Gorda, Belize

Land in Punta Gorda and take a guided transfer to the lodge. Retreat to your suite and get acclimated to the sights and sounds of the jungle surroundings. While relaxing on your private veranda, spot colorful toucans hopping between branches and listen for the cries of howler monkeys.

Day 2—Bean to Bar

Get your day started right: After breakfast, delve into the world of Belizean chocolate and its Maya roots in an exclusive bean-to-bar chocolate-making class. Visit the lodge’s cacao nursery, try your hand at grinding dried cacao beans on a traditional matate, and temper and mold a chocolate bar to take home. Later, join the lodge’s resident coffee expert for an in-depth coffee tasting. Wind down the afternoon on a covered 12-seat catamaran, and toast the sunset as you cruise the Rio Grande River.

Day 3—Snorkel with the Chef

Wake up to coffee on your private veranda set to a jungle soundtrack. Then head out on a day-long snorkeling excursion with an expert guide, barman, and chef. Board a shaded eight-seat riverboat and cruise down the river to the Gulf of Honduras, where you’ll spend the morning snorkeling the open ocean amid a dazzling array of marine life and coral. Watch the crew dive for the likes of conch, lobster, crab, and invasive lion fish. Spend as much or as little time in the water as you’d like and enjoy the boat’s comfortable accommodations. Once you’ve had your fill of swimming, relax while the barman mixes a tropical drink to sip on while the chef fires up the catch of the day.

Day 4—Lubaantun and Blue Creek Cave Experience

Spend today exploring the Toledo District’s ancient Maya culture. Join a local guide at the nearby Maya ruins of Lubaantun, which flourished in the eighth and ninth centuries. Then visit the authentic village of Blue Creek. Experience a traditional lunch in the home of a Maya family and try your hand at making corn tortillas. Next, hike through the jungle to Hokeb Ha Cave, a mystical underground realm with a waterfall inside where you can go for a dip. Back at the lodge this evening, meet with an expert fishing guide in the Rum Bar to talk gear and plan tomorrow’s outing.

Day 5—Fishing

Rise early to join a local guide for a day on the water of world-class catch-and-release permit fishing. Depending on your interest and experience, choose to cast for tarpon and snook on the river and in the mangroves; angle for elusive permit in the flats; spin-fish for barracuda, jacks, snapper, grouper, and mackerel; or (weather permitting) wade for bonefish along the white-sand beaches of the Sapodilla Cayes.

Day 6—Depart

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.