Tubing down the Macal River: Belize Floating Paradise

Tubing down the Macal River: Belize Floating Paradise

The joys of tubing down Belize’s Macal River

Chaa Creek -River-Tubing

Continuing with our Wet and Wild Inland Belize series and fulfilling the promise at the end of our post on the amazing Actun Tunichil Muknal, we now highlight another one of inland Belize’s aquatic adventures:


Chaa Creek’s Macal River tube floats!

Anyone familiar with Chaa Creek’s history would know how important the Macal River was in those heady days before there was road access into Mick and Lucy’s family farm. One of the young couple’s first major purchases was a hand carved dugout canoe, locally known as a dory, which joined the small flotilla of farmers and neighbours making their way with produce into San Ignacio town every Saturday market Day.

Yes, the Macal was indeed the lifeblood of the area and essential to living in what was a beautifully remote farm back in the day before cars, telephones, electricity and many 20th century comforts made their way in.  Supplies, communications and visitors usually came by way of the river, and a last-minute night time dory ride made it possible for the Fleming’s first child to be born in the relative comfort and safety of town.

We’ve seen every form of waterborne transport imaginable, from dories, canoes, skiffs and rafts of all kinds plying the Macal, and one of the more recent additions has become one of our favourites:

Humble inner tube, take a bow!

Tubes and the Macal seem like a match made in heaven. Gently making its way through the lush rainforest to San Ignacio Town before joining up with the Mopan to continue to the Caribbean Sea as the Old Belize River, the tranquil Macal is as inviting as they come. Wide enough but not too wide to easily swim across, usually serene and always lined with plenty of places to pull over and have a swim, snack or picnic, and with a colourful variety of birds, iguanas, monkeys and other forest dwellers in attendance, the Macal elevated tubing to new heights.

Those seeking extreme sports will need to look elsewhere – the Macal is as family friendly as they come. Couples can hold hands as they drift along, friends can converse, and individuals pass many an interesting hour with binoculars and (waterproofed) cameras. With your feet and cool drinks dangling over the side, you’ll enjoy one of the most relaxing adventures on the planet.

Like most things at Chaa Creek, tubing began as a couple of one-off adventures that caught on. In time, through experience and word of mouth, tubing became more and more in demand, to the point where it’s now another regular daily offering.

And, in keeping with Chaa Creek’s commitment to casual luxury and flexibility, there are many ways to enjoy tubing, from just aimlessly floating about near the Lodge to embarking on more ambitious excursions.

For instance:


  • Sign up and use tubes at your leisure

It’s another lovely warm day and the urge to submerge (or even just float) strikes you. Stop by the concierge office and ask for a tube(s). They’ll be ready and waiting to float you around to your heart’s content.

  • Do the Belize Botanic Gardens to Chaa Creek downstream float


This is a perennial favourite, and with good reason. The Belize Botanic Gardens is one of those rare Belizean gems. Started years ago as a labour of love by the late Ken duPlooy, the BBG has grown to become an important resource for students, botanists, the general public and anyone who enjoys wandering around plants. With thousands of Belizean and other plants, as well as the many birds and animals they attract, the gardens have a variety of unique attractions. The Native Orchid House, Plants of the Maya, Palms of Belize, Zingiber Alley and other displays are fun and instructive, and views from the fire tower are stunning.

Enjoy  refreshments in relaxing surroundings before heading down to the river to enjoy a two hour tube float back to Chaa Creek. You’ll drift along in warm water through a pristine river setting that not many people get to experience.  This is a great way to learn more about Belizean flora and fauna while enjoying the scenery and hospitality Belize is famous for.

  • Take the mini excursion to the Macal River Camp

Chaa Creek - River-Tubing

Perfect for younger visitors and those looking for  an easy downstream voyage while staying within Chaa Creek’s 365 acre private nature reserve, this popular mini adventure  is the perfect way to dip your toes into river fun. Drift past beautiful limestone cliffs dotted with resting iguanas as the jungle stretches around you. In no time at all you reach the Macal River Camp canoe landing where you can continue to float and splash, and walk up the path to rest and enjoy a cold drink. A lovely trail back to the Lodge will take you along the river where you can learn about Mother Nature’s pharmacy at the fascinating Maya Medicinal Plant Trail.

There are as many ways to enjoy tube floats on the Macal River as there are people enjoying them. We’ve seen enough couples, groups, entire families and individuals of all ages returning with big smiles on their faces to confidently recommend tubing to anyone.

And one thing’s for certain – after experiencing the Macal, you’ll never look at a tube the same way again.

Next Up will be: The Infinite Joys of the Eco-Infinity Pool


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