The area of Belize known as the Mountain Pine Ridge offers lots of activities, but be prepared -- most of the forest of pine trees has been devasted by the beetles. The Southern Pine Beetle has destroyed about 90% of the Pine Ridge forest. The forest appears as if it's been burned, so it's not very scenic.  But back in 2001 it was massively replanted and the new growth is coming up quickly. If you're staying in this area and have a car, there is a lot of self-guided activities and hikes. You can swim at Rio On Pools -- a series of natural pools fed by waterfalls.   Close by is the Rio Frio Cave, where the Maya buried their dead.  It has a river that runs through it. There is 1,000 foot falls (which is actually 1,600 feet.)  Almost every inch of the Mountain Pine Ridge is littered with ruins and caves.  Horse back riding tours are very popular and can be done pretty much anywhere. The Mayan village of San Antonio is very picturesque, not only do the people still speak the Mayan language (english is spoken too) the villagers still make Mayan pottery and slate carvings.

The biggest attraction in this area, and an alternative to travelling to Guatmala's Tikal site, is the Mayan ruins of Caracol, which was, at one a time, a bustling city in the middle of a forest. The road down to Caracol is very senic and beautiful jungle and senotes.  Stop at the front desk to pick up a map and a description of each site. For more information on Caracol and the continuing excavation, visit this site: http://www.caracol.org/

You can also pack a picnic and hike to Big Rock Falls on the Privassion Creek. If you begin the hike at Blancaneaux Lodge, the hike can be challenging and slippery at times and you'll have to cross the river to continue the hike, so prepare to get wet. If hiking isn't your thing, you can also park near these falls and walk down a very narrow, steep walkway to the falls. There is Pinol Sands which is a great place for a swim and has little palapas where you can relax and have a picnic.  There is a new general store and gift shop called The Junction (at the  Junction of the Pine Ridge Road and the San Antonio Road)  that has anything a toursit would need, food, drinks, sunscreen etc.. and a very extensive gift shop. In the afternoon you can stop in the little bar at The Junction and visit with local expats and neighboring resort owners.  In the middle of nowhere many characters come out of the jungle.

Right in this area is also the Thousand Foot Falls, but unlike Big Rock Falls, you are viewing the falls from a distance.

Big Rock Falls