The Ultimate Guide to Rio Frio Cave Belize

Your Friend the Nomad

The Ultimate Guide to Rio Frio Cave Belize

Curious about Rio Frio Cave in Mountain Pine Ridge, Belize?

xThis gigantic limestone cave is definitely worth your time if you’re able to make the journey. Although Iโ€™d seen pictures before visiting, I had no idea it would be so big. My photos also make it look smaller than it is so you’ll just have to trust me and see it for yourself.

The cave features huge stalactites, giant boulders, fresh water pools along the floor, and even a small sandy beach beside the river (who knew!) Despite being one of the most popular destinations in Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, Rio Frio Cave doesn’t see a ton of visitors, and you can easily get this sizable cave to yourself depending on when you visit.

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๐ŸŒบ My Belize Favorites ๐Ÿ

๐Ÿคฟ Barrier Reef Snorkeling & Diving: Belize has the best snorkeling I’ve ever experienced! You can book guided snorkel and dive trips from Hopkins, San Pedro, or Caye Caulker. Browse Belize snorkel and dive trip.

๐ŸŒฒ Escape to Mountain Pine Ridge: Climb up in elevation to a cooler (and less visited) area with gorgeous waterfalls, fun swimming holes, Mayan ruins, and so much more! You will need a vehicle with 4WD here, butย this day trip from San Ignacio is also an option.

๐Ÿฅพ Cave Adventures: Cave tubing is an adventure unique to Belize, and many people come all the way here to experience the ATM Cave, where you can witness human remains and Mayan artifacts.

๐Ÿš™ Explore the Hummingbird Highway: This breathtaking lush scenic drive connects the Cayo District and the Caribbean coast. Stop along the way at waterfalls, a cenote, a chocolate workshop, caves, and more! My guide to the Hummingbird Highway.

๐ŸŒด Where to Stay: A sustainable jungle treehouse beside the beach in Hopkins at Hamanasi, a quiet breezy room at Weezie’s on the vibrant small island of Caye Caulker, or a luxury bungalow overlooking waterfalls at Gaia Riverlodge.

Find more of my Belize favorites and Belize travel tips at the bottom of this article!

Visiting Rio Frio Cave in Belize

Exploring Rio Frio Cave is one of the best things to do in Mountain Pine Ridge, Belize, and its also one of the most underrated places I’ve visited in Belize.

If you’re like me, the the 30 meter (98 feet) high mouth of this massive cave will make your jaw drop. The cave is 50 meters (164 feet) wide, the length of almost five school buses, and you can see the other side’s opening from inside as the cave is long about 240 meters (797 feet) long. You can walk the length of the entire cave and explore the pools of water at the bottom of the cave.

Besides exploring the cave, there are a few other things to do at Rio Frio Cave, including walking along the Rio Frio River (which flows through the cave), and hiking along the nature trails. There are also picnic tables if you’d like to stop here for lunch!

But if you only take one thing away from this article, make sure its this: The road to Rio Frio Cave is in very rough shape and you should not attempt to visit if there has been recent rainfall. Even on a good day you’ll need to drive with care and only visit with a high clearance 4WD vehicle.

We visited on a dry day in February in a Ford F150 and almost got stuck on the way out! We did see some other travelers who visited with a small sedan and parked further up the road, then walked down the muddy road to Rio Frio Cave. This is an option of course but just be careful either way!

Once you do make it to the parking lot, the mouth of the cave is a short walk away. Be careful inside the cave as the rocks can get slippery. You can explore inside without a flashlight, but I’d definitely bring one if you can.

Rio Frio Cave Visitor’s Information

๐ŸŒฟ Official name: Rio Frio Cave C
๐Ÿ“ท Features & attractions: Large open cave, Rio Frio river
๐Ÿ’ต Entrance fee: None (free to visit)
โฐ Opening hours: 7am-5pm daily
๐Ÿ—บ Location: XXHR+6M7, Douglas Da Silva, Belize in Belize’s Cayo District
๐Ÿฅพ Accessibility notes: 4WD vehicle required, short walk to mouth of cave (not wheelchair accessible)

Related: Try Cave Tubing in Belize (An Unforgettable Adventure)

Rio Frio Cave in Belize

Does this photo give you a sense of how big Rio Frio Cave is?

How to Drive to Rio Frio Cave

As I mentioned above, you need a 4WD high clearance vehicle to drive to Rio Frio Cave. The road directly before the cave is the worst road we drove on in Mountain Pine Ridge (which is known for bad roads to begin with) and we almost got stuck in our Ford truck.

Also, you should not attempt the drive if there has been rain, and just drive with caution either way. If you must see the cave but are nervous about the road, park before it gets too bad and then walk the rest of the way. I’d bring water and snacks, and other essential supplies just in case.

You can compare rental prices from various local Belize rental companies here. I usually end up renting from Crystal Auto Rental when Iโ€™m in Belize.

The drive to Rio Frio Cave from the entrance of Mountain Pine Ridge takes about 45 minutes, but can vary based on road conditions and speed. It is worth mentioning that the main road through Mountain Pine Ridge was recently paved and is in better shape than the majority of roads in Belize, but the bumpy road leading to Rio Frio Cave from the main road is the part that is in poor condition.

Once you do make it to Rio Frio Cave, the walk to the cave from the parking lot only takes a minute or two.

Truck driving along muddy road in Belize

The road feels a lot worst than it looks! We nearly had to dig this truck out of the mud!!

Tours to Rio Frio Cave

If you’re not comfortable driving to Rio Frio Cave on your own, just go with a local guide! It’s a lovely way to support a local business and see Belize’s hidden gems without having to drive!

I highly recommend this Mountain Pine Ridge day trip, which is hosted by an incredible local tour company. I’ve had great experiences with this company on their other tours, and their Mountain Pine Ridge experience has lots of five star reviews. You get to explore Rio Frio Cave, and visit my two favorite swim spots nearby, Rio On Pools and Big Rock Falls.

Belize Hummingbird Highway Travel Guide

What to Pack for Rio Frio Cave

๐Ÿฅค Drinking water and snacks: Mountain Pine Ridge is a nature reserve with very little development, and only a few restaurants at the lodges. Bring all the water you’ll need for the day, plus snacks and maybe lunch!

๐Ÿฅพ Water shoes, hiking shoes, or sandals: Pack some shoes you can walk in down muddy hills and along slippery rocks. I brought these shoes that are grippy and sturdy for hiking and double as water shoes!

๐Ÿ”ฆ Flashlight or headlamp: You can just use your phone flashlight if you want, but having an actual flashlight or headlamp will enable you to enjoy the cave more! Plus it comes in handy when visiting other Belize caves, especially St. Herman’s Cave which is a lot darker.

๐Ÿ› Bug spray: I didn’t have any issues with bugs while I was in Mountain Pine Ridge, but definitely experienced my fair share of itchy bug bites during my month in Belize. Always bring insect repellant just in case!

๐Ÿฉน Travel insurance: While it is not a physical item to pack, please donโ€™t forget to purchase travel insurance in case something happens! I always buy a policy with SafetyWing.

๐Ÿ‘™ Optional swim suit: You don’t need a bathing suit at Rio Frio Cave, but it is certainly nice to have one if you want to stop for a refreshing swim at the nearby Rio On Pools or Big Rock Falls on your way back!

More Things to do Nearby Rio Frio Cave Belize

If you’re making the journey to Rio On Pools from San Ignacio, Belize City, or another part of the country, consider checking out some other gorgeous spots in the Mountain Pine Ridge area! My favorite things to do nearby include:

๐Ÿ’ฆ Sunbathing and Swimming at Rio On Pools: These stunning natural pools along the river are very close to Rio Frio Cave. There is also a great viewpoint nearby overlooking the falls with picnic tables if you want to stop for lunch! Read my full guide to Rio On Pools.

๐Ÿ‘™ Swimming Beneath Big Rock Falls: This beautiful waterfall is the most popular attraction in Mountain Pine Ridge and is definitely worth a stop if you have time!

๐Ÿน Enjoy a Drink at Gaia Riverlodge: Slow down and take in the tranquility of Mountain Pine Ridge at Gaia Riverlodge’s boho luxury restaurant overlooking the Five Sister’s Waterfall.

๐Ÿฆ‹ Visit Green Hills Butterfly Ranch: Learn about the butterfly lifecycle and spot 7 species of hummingbirds here!

Read more about these Mountain Pine Ridge attractions and others in my full guide to the best things to do in Mountain Pine Ridge Belize.

More Caves to Explore in Belize

Belize is home to diversity of intriguing cave systems, and plenty of fun cave adventures like cave tubing. The most popular cave in Belize is Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM Cave), where you can encounter the remains of human sacrifice victims and hundreds of Mayan artifacts. The easiest cave to visit, though, is St. Herman’s Cave which is situated right off the scenic Hummingbird Highway. As long as you have a headlamp and pay the small entry fee, you can explore St. Herman’s Cave by yourself and its quite different from Rio Frio Cave.

Belize Travel Blogs

Getting Around Mainland Belize

๐Ÿš™ Renting a Car: The best way to experience all (mainland) Belize has to offer is to rent a car! Just keep in mind that some roads are not in the best shape and you should never drive for the first time after dark (learn the potholes in the light first!) You can compare rental prices from various rental companies here, but I usually end up renting from locally-owned Crystal Auto Rental when Iโ€™m in Belize.

๐Ÿš• Private Shuttles (and Tours): If you prefer not to drive in Belize, you can easily get around by booking a private shuttle from the airport, and then going on guided tours for all your jungle adventures. This shuttle is also the best option for folks flying into Belize airport and then going directly the islands!

๐Ÿš Public Busses: Riding the local chicken bus is a popular way to get around Belize for backpackers and budget travelers, but I wouldn’t recommend it to most people as the busses are hot, crowded, slow, and unreliable. Spend the extra money for a private shuttle (or car rental) so you can get your destination more quickly and maximize your time in beautiful Belize.

Best Things to do in Belize

๐ŸŒฒ Explore Mountain Pine Ridge: Perhaps the most underrated area of Belize, Mountain Pine Ridge is full of beautiful waterfalls and fun swimming holes, plus the most striking cave I’ve ever seen! You will need a vehicle with 4WD here, but this day trip from San Ignacio is also an option!

๐Ÿบ Discover Ancient Ruins: There are far more Mayan ruins here than you could ever expect. I recommend a day trip Tikal (UNESCO World Heritage Site) in nearby Guatemala, a river cruise to Lamanai in Northern Belize, and/or a visit to Xunantunich near San Ignacio.

๐Ÿ‘™ Experience ATM Cave or go cave tubing: Dare to explore the famous ATM cave system, where youโ€™ll swim upstream until you find rooms with hundreds of Mayan artifacts and human remains. Book your ATM tour here ahead of time (they sell out!) Or, go on a more relaxing cave experience, cave tubing!

๐Ÿš™ Drive the Hummingbird Highway: Belizeโ€™s most scenic drive connects the Cayo District to the Caribbean coastline. Chase waterfalls, swim in a cenote, indulge in local chocolate, go caving, and taste Belizeโ€™s famous hot sauce along the way. My guide to the Hummingbird Highway.

๐Ÿฆˆ Coral Reef Snorkeling & Diving: Whether you stay in Caye Caulker, San Pedro, or Hopkins, be sure to book a guided snorkeling or diving experience on Belizeโ€™s gorgeous barrier reef!

My Favorite Places to Stay in Belize

๐Ÿคฟ Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort in HopkinsThe best place I’ve stayed in Belize! Hamanasi is located in Hopkins, which is said to be the friendliest place in Belize. The town is full of Caribbean charm, and the resort itself is incredible with next-level service, a gorgeous oceanfront property, and wonderful guided day trips to both the jungle and islands. Read my review of Hamanasi.

๐ŸŒบ Weezie’s in Caye Caulker: My favorite hotel on the vibrant island of Caye Caulker. Weezie’s has a beautiful property on a quieter part of the island, but it is still very close to all of Caye Caulker’s restaurants. Check Weezie’s nightly prices.

๐Ÿš  Gaia Riverlodge in Mountain Pine Ridge: The most breathtaking (and peaceful) hotel I’ve ever seen! Gaia is situated on a cliff overlooking the river and mountains in Mountain Pine Ridge, with an excellent onsite restaurant, and a tranquil area by the waterfalls below to relax. Check Gaia Riverlodge nightly prices.

More Belize Travel Guides

๐Ÿบ Worth It? Belizeโ€™s ATM Cave Tour

๐Ÿš™ Unforgettable Stops Along the Hummingbird Highway

๐Ÿšค Best Lamanai Belize Tours & What to Expect

๐Ÿ  My Honest Review of Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort

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