Belize Rivers - Everything You Need To Know About Belize Rivers

Belize Rivers – What You Should Know

belize rivers

Most people think of beaches when they think of Belize. However, Belize is also blessed with around 35 rivers.

In northern Belize, there are only 3 major rivers, the Hondo, Boots and New River. By contrast, there are 18 major rivers in southern and central Belize thanks to the mountainous terrain and increased rainfall.

Spanning from the Belize Old River in the north to the Sarstoon in the south, these were the ancient highways of the Maya. Unfortunately, they are not a good source for drinking, though Belize City, Dangriga and Belmopan have modern water treatment plants that make the water potable.

For tourists, there are 4 rivers that stand out. These are the New River in the north, the Monkey River in the southeast, the Mopan River in the mountains and the Macal in the central region. What makes these so special?

The New River

The New River is near the ancient Maya city of Lamanai. Here, along with historic temples, you’ll see iguanas, hawks, egrets, herons and perhaps even a crocodile. Many visitors like to hike among the ruins before taking an airboat or canoe tour of the New River.

The Monkey River

An ecotour of the Monkey River begins near Placencia Village. First there is a journey through thriving mangroves. These help to keep erosion at bay and host many types of birds and fish. While taking a jungle tour on this river, you are likely to encounter both Howler and Spider Monkeys, whose calls you’ll hear from a distance. You might also see some of the big cats of Belize including the beautiful ocelot.

The Mopan River

The Mopan River is one of the most beautiful and pristine rivers in western Belize. The river spans the Petén Department of Guatemala and the Cayo District in Belize. The Mopan River merges with the Macal River at Branch Mouth, Belize, forming the Belize River which discharges into the Caribbean Sea. The tributaries of this river include Chiquibul Branch, Ceiba Grande, Salisipuedes, and Delores.


From the nearby town of San Ignacio or Bullet Tree Village, you can find tours that will take you canoeing or tubing down the river to enjoy the beautiful landscape. With deep ravines, waterfalls and interesting rock formations, this is one of the most visually stunning parts of Belize.

The Macal River

The Macal is also accessed near San Ignacio. It flows through the pristine environment of the Maya mountains. You can take an inner tube or try a canoe tour on the Macal.

When you plan your trip to Belize, don’t limit yourself to the beaches. Remember, there are also many rivers that run through the country!

Get a copy of The Ultimate Belize Bucket List! Written by Larry Waight, a local with more than twenty years of experience in the travel industry, the book is packed with tips, information, and recommendations about all of the best things to see and do in Belize.
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