While many visitors come to Belize for the islands and barrier reef, we wanted to experience as much of the country as possible, so we spent 3 nights in mainland Belize in addition to our island stay (read about our island stay here). About half of Belize is considered a rainforest, of which, about 80% is government protected. We wanted to be sure to check out the rainforest while we were in Belize, so we stayed at the Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge (check it out here) in central Belize, right on the outskirts of the capital, Belmopan, and it may have just been the unexpected highlight of our trip!
We rented a car to drive straight across the country because we had planned on doing some adventuring ourselves and didn’t want to plan a tour and be on someone else’s schedule. Belize only has a handful of main highways, everything else is basically gravel paths and off-roading, BUT, it makes it hard to get lost since there are only a few actual roads/highways. However, if you rent a car and plan to explore on your own do make sure that you get some type of truck/SUV type vehicle that can handle uneven/unpaved roads. The resort is about 1.5 hours away from the main international airport in Belize City, and is smack dab in the middle of the jungle. It really is a mountain jungle retreat and it was absolutely incredible! In addition, the grounds are absolutely breathtaking and are beautifully manicured and well-taken care of. There are gorgeous flowers and plants everywhere and you really feel like you have escaped into an Eden oasis. We were originally concerned about the jungle being buggy, but April is the beginning of the dry season and the bugs really weren’t bad! They were definitely present, but we wore bug spray and didn’t have a problem at all!
The resort has 26 rooms total, with 6 different lodging options. Prices range from $100-$750/night, depending on the room and season. We spent our first two nights in the Mountain View suite (pictured in slideshow below), which overlooks the Sleeping Giant property and gives you a fantastic view of the Maya Mountains. Just a note though – the view does come with a price. Not a steep one, and definitely not a deal-breaker, but there are about 4 flights of stairs to get up to that Mountain View building….a total of about 78 steps. It makes sense, as you normally have to get higher for a view, but it is TOTALLY worth it (attendants will carry your bags for you). The room itself was absolutely unbelievable….it included an enormous balcony with a private mini pool, a 2-person hot tub, and patio furniture set, complete with a balcony hammock. Most of the time we spent at the room was spent outside on our balcony. The room does not have WiFi or a TV, (none of the individual rooms do) in order to complete the jungle “escape”, which was actually really cool to fully unplug from the world. Both TV and Wifi are available down in the lobby building if you need them though!
Our third night we tried out one of the River View Rooms (pictured in slideshow below), which was also amazing. It also had a large balcony with a patio set and hammock, and this one overlooked the fish pond, gardens, and river and is a more budget-friendly option than the Mountain View Suite if that’s what you are looking for. All the rooms included a king bed, mini fridge and mini bar (stocked and reasonably priced), iron and board, hair dryer, and espresso Keurig machine with free pods. The furniture was grand and high quality, as were the gorgeous bathrooms. While the Mountain View Suite was our favorite due to the view, pool, and hot tub, both rooms were super luxurious and exceeded all of our expectations. In our opinion, the absolute BEST way to explore the jungle 🙂
In addition to outstanding lodging, the resort offers a host of additional amenities that are worth the trip in and of itself. The hotel has a high-quality restaurant that is a fabulous farm-to-table organic eatery, a gorgeous pool area with a hot tub, a main lobby with TVs and WiFi available, free bike, kayak and paddleboard (SUP) rentals, amazing jungle hiking trails, and a ton of additional tours and activities available. Activities range from about $35-$175/person and you can experience anything from jungle safaris, cave expeditions, ancient ruins tours, horse riding, zip lining, rappelling, bird watching tours, and more! The resort will set all of these different activities up for you and arrange transportation if needed as well. We chose to go to the ruins of Xunantunich on our own since we had a rental car, which was about an hour and 45 minutes away (read more about that and what else to do and eat in Belize), but I’m sure all of Sleeping Giant’s activities are fabulous! We took advantage of all the free options available at the resort as well, all of which were amazing! We did the Gazebo Hike one day to see the outstanding views at the top of the mountain. The hike only took us about 15 minutes, but was straight uphill, so we got a good workout. We were told it normally takes about 25-30 minutes to get to the top. It takes you right through the heart of the jungle, which is super cool. We were afraid it would be really hot and muggy, but it was surprisingly not – the foliage creates a canopy that shields you from the sun which was a lifesaver! We wore bug spray and were totally fine from bugs during the hike, so I would recommend planning for that. There was a secluded little gazebo at the top (we were the only ones up there) with spectacular 360-degree views of the Maya Mountains and Sibun River. This hike is a must-do while you stay at the resort – ESPECIALLY if you aren’t staying in a Mountain View Suite already! Another free activity that we loved was biking through the orange groves. The resort has their own orange grove on the premises at the base of the Sleeping Giant mountain, where they harvest and serve their own oranges. Their breakfast includes fresh-squeezed orange juice every morning that is absolutely INCREDIBLE that comes from their own groves. We borrowed the resort bikes and biked the 1-1.5 mile path to the end of the grove, stopping to pick fresh oranges off the trees for a refreshing snack. Something to note – this path is not through the jungle and therefore does not shield the sun, so be sure to wear sunscreen! We topped off our bike ride with a refreshing paddleboard trip up the Sibun River with the resort’s free SUP rentals. The river is safe to swim in and was clear all the way to the pebble bottom. The river runs right down to the base of the Sleeping Giant mountain, so you get that spectacular view the whole way.
We ate every breakfast and dinner at the on-site restaurant, Grove House Restaurant. As I mentioned earlier, this is a farm-to-table restaurant with reasonable prices for a nice sit down meal. The open-air seating area is on the top deck of the building, so you get to feel like you’re eating outside, and again, offers an incredible view. The menu features lots of local products, including cheese from the Mennonite community down the road, oranges from the resort trees, and veggies and herbs from the resort garden. Dinner is served at 6:30 and 7:30 every night. We tried coconut shrimp, mozzarella sticks, ribeye steak with onion rings, potatoes, veggies, shrimp bisque, papusa (an El Salvadorian dish of dough filled with beans/cheese/pork/shrimp and grilled), shrimp linguine, pollo asado (chicken/cheese), cheesecake, chocolate lava cake, and ayote en mile (traditional Belizean dessert of pumpkin slow simmered in cinnamon and spiced syrup). I know that sounds like a lot – but that was for 2 people for 3 3-course dinners 🙂 The continental breakfast buffet is about $12/person and includes a typical spread of eggs, bread, beans, potatoes, fruit, yogurt, cereal, and of course, fresh-squeezed orange juice. They seem to mix it up each morning by offering a different variety of eggs each day….spoiler alert: they’re all good! They also have a full bar that serves drinks all day, and are also available for some food throughout the day. Just a head’s up though, there is a 12.5% tax on all expenses, plus an additional 9% resort tax on all goods, so the bill will be a bit higher than what you expect unless you are factoring those additional taxes in on the front end. This restaurant is the only food option around unless you want to drive into town, but the prices were reasonable and we loved eating at Grove House every night so we didn’t feel the need to go elsewhere!
All in all, we absolutely loved our stay and would rank Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge as one of our top 5 favorite accommodations. They have something for everyone, and for all price points, so you won’t be disappointed! We would HIGHLY recommend this resort if you are up for a secluded jungle escape, and we can’t wait to return!
*This post was a collaboration with the Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge, but all opinions and photos are my own.