Due to the crime, chaos, and often oppressive heat and humidity, you'll probably want to get out of the city, or on to the water, before undertaking anything too strenuous. But if you want to brave the elements, there are a few outdoor activities for you to try in and around Belize City.
Caving -- The Caves Branch region is about a 50- to 90-minute drive from Belize City, depending on where you enter the cave systems. Several tour operators offer a variety of hiking and tubing trips through an extensive network of caves here. I recommend hiking because it allows more time for close examination of the formations and Mayan relics than tubing. The Crystal Cave, located adjacent to the Jaguar Paw Jungle Resort, is one of the more spectacular caves you will ever visit, with numerous stalactites, stalagmites, and pillars encrusted with the glimmering quartz crystals that give the cave its name. The Caves Branch River is a slow, meandering river that should probably be called a creek. Nevertheless, it passes through a series of long caves, making it perfect for a slow float on an inner tube through a dark and mysterious world. Most tour operators and tour desks in Belize City can arrange these trips, or you can call Jaguar Paw Jungle Resort (tel. 820-2023; www.jaguarpaw.com) or Ian Anderson's Caves Branch Adventure Company (tel. 822-2800; www.cavesbranch.com) directly.
Fishing -- While most serious fishermen head to one of the cayes or southern Belize destinations, it's possible to line up fishing charters out of Belize City. The marinas at the Radisson Fort George Hotel & Marina (tel. 223-3333), Old Belize (tel. 222-4129) and Princess Hotel & Casino (tel. 223-2670) all have regular sport charter fleets and can arrange a variety of options. You could also check in with the folks at the Belize River Lodge (tel. 225-2002; www.belizeriverlodge.com). Expect to pay around US$1,200 to US$1,800 (£636-£954) per day for a boat that can accommodate up to four fishermen.
Golf & Tennis -- Your options are limited if you want to play golf or tennis in Belize. There's only one regulation golf course in Belize and it's located on Caye Chapel, a little island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. Luckily, Caye Chapel is only a 30-minute water taxi ride or an even shorter commuter flight from Belize City. The course at the Caye Chapel Island Resort (tel. 226-8250; www.cayechapel.com) is flat and often very windy. Still it's rather gorgeous, with stunning views, plenty of water and sand hazards, and the ocean bordering the entire length of many holes. Nonguests on Caye Chapel can play the course with advance reservations only. The rate is US$150 (£80) per person per day for unlimited golf, cart, clubs, and use of the resort's pools and beach.
There are no public tennis courts in Belize City, and none of the major hotels have courts.
Jogging -- Belize City is not very amenable to jogging. If you must run, you could try a loop around the Fort George neighborhood, hugging the coast from the Fort George Lighthouse to Memorial Park, then heading to Fort Street, which will bring you back to the lighthouse. It's best to jog very early, before there's much street traffic and before it gets too hot. Another nice stretch for jogging is on the sidewalk and parks that line Barracks Road where it fronts the sea.
Sailing -- The waters off Belize Harbour are theoretically perfect for day sailing excursions, although currently no one is consistently offering this option. The two main charter companies, The Moorings and TMM Charters, are both based outside of Belize City, the former in Placencia, the latter in both Placencia and San Pedro. However, if you're interested in trying to line up a day sail, ask at your hotel desk or check in with the marinas at the Radisson Fort George Hotel & Marina (tel. 223-3333), Old Belize (tel. 222-4129), and Princess Hotel & Casino (tel. 223-2670).
Scuba Diving & Snorkeling -- The Belize Barrier Reef lies just off the coast from Belize City. It's a short boat ride to some excellent scuba diving and snorkeling. While most serious divers chose to stay out on one of the cayes for really close proximity to the reefs, it is still possible to visit any number of excellent sites on day trips from Belize City, including the Blue Hole and Turneffe and Lighthouse atolls. Check in with Hugh Parkey's Belize Dive Connection (tel. 223-5086; www.belizediving.com).
Spas & Gyms -- Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza and Princess Hotel & Casino have small gym facilities and offer basic spa services. However, neither of these hotels allows nonguests use of their facilities.
If your hotel doesn't offer massage and you want some pampering, check in with the folks at Oltsil Day Spa (tel. 223-7722; email@example.com), which is located on Barracks Road about 2 blocks south of the Princess Hotel & Casino.
Swimming -- A few of the higher-end hotels in Belize City have pools. Of these, Radisson Fort George Hotel & Marina (tel. 223-3333), is your best bet, allowing nonguests to use their pool facilities for BZ$10 (US$5/£2.65) per day.
Alternatively, you can head out to the Cucumber Beach at Old Belize. The beach here has both an open-water section and an enclosed, and hence calmer, lagoon. There's also a waterslide and children's playground, as well as chaise lounges and palm-thatch shade shelters. Admission is BZ$5 (US$2.50/£1.35) for beach access, and BZ$10 (US$5/£2.65) for both the beach and waterslide privileges. Children are half-price.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.