Caye Caulker Belize
17.7425° N, 88.0250° W
We had a blast during our time in Banos!
There is so much to do in this little mountain town and all of it is so affordable!
We stayed at Hostel Transylvania and I’d highly recommend it. It’s owned by a couple and they do a great job really helping you understand the area. They go out of their way to help you schedule tours and activities as well as help you find your way around town.
Here is my list of the
Top 12 Things To Do In Banos
There are a couple options to get to the Amazon from Banos.
The first is to go to the Puyo Reserve. It isn’t quite so deep in the Jungle, but they do put on great 1 day tours. You can stay for longer than a day, but the advice from our hotel if we wanted to spend multiple days was to go deeper into the jungle.
The deeper jungle experiences are still 8-10 hours away so you’ll need to overnight bus to the Jungle and it’s about equidistant from Banos and Quito.
We were offered 2 options, a more gritty sleep in tents and move along each day in the Coco Jungle or a sleep in your private hut 4 days in the Cuyabeno Jungle which I’m writing about next.
The trip was $50 a person a day and included lodging, canoeing into camp and around the jungle, and all our meals.
2. Rent ATV’s and do the waterfall route
Tom and I had a blast driving in our caged machine!
The waterfalls and zip lining along the way are awesome as well!
If you don’t like ATV’s or want to save money you can also rent bikes and do the same route, or take a taxi and just go ziplining!
3. Drink Good Coffee
My favorite place to get coffee was the Bookstore across the street from Blah Blah Cafe.
They do great coffee and probiotic shakes!
They, however, recommended we try Arte Cafe and Te and that was very good as well and serves Galapagos Coffee!
The one place I WOULDN’T recommend is Cafe Ali Cumba!
It was the first Coffee shop in Banos we found and we actually tried to go there 3 times!
- The first time we only had credit card. (Most places don’t take credit card so this wasn’t too weird.)
- The second time we only had a $20 bill and they didn’t have the change from 2 Coffees so they wouldn’t serve us. (Their Coffee is $5 a cup how do they not have change for a $20???)
- The third time, despite swearing he would never go to them again Tom showed up craving a coffee and looking to do work to be told he couldn’t use WIFI unless he bought breakfast too.
Luckily we ran into the Coffee Shop/Book store (across the street from Blah Blah Cafe…I wish I remembered it’s name!) so we didn’t have to try ever again!
4. Hike up to the Virgin Mary
This was my favorite run/hike (depending on the day) to do in Banos!
Along the way there are random stations of the cross. (I wonder if they were all there are some point?)
5. Go to a spa
I wish I had the pictures as they were hilarious, but alas they are on another travelers’ waterproof camera probably never to be seen again!
Anyways, on recommendation from our Israeli friend we went with, we decided to get steam treatments.
I had never had one before, but it was an awesome experience.
Here’s how it works:
- First you sit in a steam box all to yourself up to your neck for 5 minutes. (This was the funniest part! I so wish we had photos! Just imagine Tom and I sitting side by side in separate boxes with just our heads hanging out.)
- Then the spa worker comes and flushes you with a bucket of water. (I think it’s just slightly lower than room temperature but feels freezing!)
- Then you sit in your box for 5 min.
- Then you sit in a bath of cool water
- Then box for 5 min.
- Then you flush yourself with water.
- Then box for 5 min.
- Finally a spray down/shower (yes they take a hose and spray you down!)
As crazy as it sounds I was actually super relaxed after the experience! –Now if only I had the pictures!
These spas also have mud baths, facials, and massages!
6. Pull Taffy
The best part about the Taffy is you’ll see people making it all day on the streets.
Tom decided he’d only buy from whoever let him have a turn whipping the taffy! 🙂
7. Hike (or taxi) up to the Casa del Arbols
Before we started our trip, I used to pin things I wanted to see on Pinterest (make sure you look at your boards if you do this!) and one of the first was a pin labeled 27 Surreal Things you have to see. The Swing at the end of the World AKA Casa del Arbols was one of those 27 things and we got to do it ourselves in Banos!
You can get there by either hiking up through the back end of town or taking a $16 taxi there and back. The hike takes about an hour and the taxi 15min.
We actually had hiked 3/4 of the way to the swing without realizing it earlier in the day, so we took a taxi up racing to catch the sunset!
We made it not only with plenty of daylight, but also the first clearing of the volcano in days!
8. Go To a Thermal Pool
Banos is named Banos after the thermal pools that are in town.
There are many pools, but my favorite is at the base of the waterfall for the view!
They might seem dirty, but the water is murky because of the healing minerals.
If you stay late enough you’ll see them clean the pools every day!
9. Visit the Basilica
The Catholic Church in town is beautiful.
Church runs around the clock on Sunday, but you can walk in any day of the week.
The walls show pictures of the town during times of natural disasters such as volcano eruptions.
There is also a very large prayer area where you can say a prayer and light a candle for someone.
10. Bridge Jump
Bungee jumping is illegal in Ecuador, but bridge jumping is not and it only costs $20, $25 if you want the video and all the pictures.
Any tour group will sell you the experience, but the best thing to do it to walk over to the bridge near the bus terminal and wait your turn. We literally waited 5 minutes.
Before you know it, you’re strapped in and standing on a metal platform wondering if you can really open your arms and fall off. (It took me 2 times, Tom was a champ and went on his first count of 3!
Here are the videos of the experience:
and some cool pics!
11. Eat Stall Food
And really Cheap! Tom and I both got meals like above for $1.50 a piece!
I might avoid the guinea pig though :/
12. Muck Around
13. Eat at Cafe Hood
It is definitely the best place in town.
Casa Hood tries to compete, but at the end of the day Cafe Hood has the best food hands down and coolest vibe!
They serve a mix of everything and you can pick the protein in any dish.
My favorite thing is they will substitute freshly grilled veggies for rice and potatoes so I loved their Eggplant Curry dish with Chicken over fresh cooked veggies with a mixto salad!
Right next door to Cafe Hood is Amerello which has some great craft beer and yummy apps!
Banos is great because at the end of the day you can afford to do EVERYTHING and EVERYTHING is so fun!
It’s hard to pick a favorite!
What activity would you come to banos for?