More than a travel agent, not quite a tour operator, Belize country specialists are small, independent operations that work directly with their clients to arrange all kinds of niche, group, and solo travel within Belize. There is usually no charge for their services, so you really can’t go wrong by letting them handle some of the planning and booking.
Belize Trips (tel. 501/610-1923, U.S. tel. 561/210-7015, www.belize-trips.com ) helps you arrange active itineraries, weddings, and honeymoons, and can book you at the best mid- to upscale accommodations in the country. Owner Katie Valk finds out exactly what kind of experience her clients want and then, through her vast network of friends and colleagues across the country, makes that experience happen. Katie is a self-described “music business refugee from New York City” who has lived full time in Belize for 20-odd years, and you’ll often find her swinging a machete through the bush or paddling her kayak as she seeks out and test-drives every adventure she promotes.
Barb’s Belize (U.S. tel. 888/321-2272, www.barbsbelize.com ) is another small operation that offers custom itineraries for any budget, from backpacker to decadent. Barb’s specializes in unique interests such as traditional herbal medicine, jungle survival, and extreme adventure expeditions. She charges US$50 for her planning services and advice, which she credits to your invoice if you book through her.
Dangriga- and Vancouver-based Island Expeditions (U.S. tel. 800/667-1630, www.islandexpeditions.com ) has been leading exciting sea kayaking, rafting, ruins, nature, and snorkeling adventures in Belize since 1987. It’s a very experienced and professional outfit, and they have stunning island camps in Glover’s Reef  and Lighthouse Reef Atolls  with canvas-wall platform tents. They also offer popular lodge-to-lodge sea kayaking trips and inland river adventures, and can help you outfit your own kayak expedition.
Slickrock Adventures (U.S. tel. 800/390-5715, www.slickrock.com ), based on their primitively plush camp on a private island in Glover’s Reef Atoll, offers paddling trips of various lengths and specializes in sea kayaking, windsurfing, and inland activities like mountain biking.
With decades of experience as a premier land operator in Belize, International Expeditions (U.S. tel. 800/633-4734, belize [at] ietravel [dot] com, www.ietravel.com ) has a full-time office in Belize City . They offer group and independent nature travel in sturdy, comfortable vehicles and are staffed by travel and airline specialists, naturalists, and an archaeologist. Trips run 7–14 days with two- and three-day add-ons available.
You’ll also find an interesting menu of tours offered by Intrepid Travel (tel. 800/970-7299, intrepidtravel.com), an Australian company that runs trips around the world and has a dozen trips that include Belize, some Maya-themed.
For those interested in letting someone else do the driving (and planning, booking, etc.), various tour operators are reliable. In Belize City , Sarita and Lascelle Tillet of S & L Travel and Tours (91 N. Front St., tel. 501/227-7593 or 501/227-5145, www.sltravelbelize.com ) operate as a husband/wife team. They drive late-model air-conditioned sedans or vans and travel throughout the country with airport pickup available. The Tillets have designed several great special-interest vacations and will custom design to your interests, whether they be the Maya archaeological zones (including Tikal ), the cayes, or the caves and the countryside.
InnerQuest Adventures (www.innerquest.com ) has over 14 years of experience leading wildlife-viewing trips with local guides around the country. They’ve been featured in dozens of magazines.
Minnesota-based Magnum Belize Tours (U.S. tel. 800/447-2931, www.magnumbelize.com ) is one of the biggest, most longstanding tour operators, with an extensive network of resorts across the country; the staff is very experienced, and they can customize every aspect of your trip.
Sea & Explore (U.S. tel. 800/345-9786, www.seaexplore.com ) is run by owners Sue and Tony Castillo, native Belizeans who take pleasure and pride in sharing their country with visitors by the means of customized trips. They know every out-of-the-way destination and make every effort to match clients with the right areas of the country to suit their interests. Susan worked with the Belize Tourism Board before coming to the United States.
Mary Dell Lucas of Far Horizons Archaeological and Cultural Trips (U.S. tel. 800/552-4575, www.farhorizon.com ) is known throughout the Maya world for her excellent archaeological knowledge and insight. Her company provides trips into the most fascinating Maya sites, regardless of location. Although Mary is an archaeologist herself, she often brings specialists along with her groups.
Also check Jaguar Adventures Tours and Travel (4 Fort St., tel. 501/223-6025, www.jaguarbelize.com ), located in Belize City  and offering night walks at the Belize Zoo , cave tubing trips, visits to Maya ruins, snorkeling the reef, and diving the atolls, to name a few adventures.
Belize Travel Representatives (www.belizetravelrepresentatives.com ) specializes in tour packages to the cayes, Placencia , and most of the mainland resorts and lodges. They also have some of the most extensive archaeological-themed tours in Belize. Contact The Mayan Traveler (www.themayantraveler.com , tel. 888/843-6292 or 713/299-5665); they can satisfy even the most serious temple junkie, going to some of the most spectacular sites in the region.