Passing through jungle and citrus orchards as it skirts the northern edges of the Maya Mountain range, the Hummingbird offers a near constant procession of postcard-perfect vistas. There are also plenty of reasons to stop and while away a few hours before hitting the Southern Hwy.
Chief among these may well be a visit to some of Belize's most amazing caves, many of which are located in this neck of the jungle. The 575-acre St Herman's Blue Hole National Park contains one of the few caves in Belize that you can visit independently. The visitors center (where flashlights can be rented for BZ$5) is 11 miles along the Hummingbird Hwy from Belmopan. From here a 500yd trail leads to St Herman's Cave. A path leads 300yd into the cave alongside an underground river. To explore deeper in the extensive cave system, with its huge caverns and classic Maya ceremonial chambers containing calcified skeletons and artifacts, you must have a guide.
Highly experienced Kekchi Maya guide Marcos Cucul can sometimes be found at the visitors center (when he isn't leading jungle survival tours deep in the bush; check his website for more details). With over a decade's experience as an area guide, Cucul enjoys an excellent reputation. A three-hour spelunk costs BZ$100 per person. There's also a 1.5-mile above-ground jungle loop trail starting near the cave entrance, with a lookout tower at the area's highest point.
The Blue Hole for which the park is named is just off the highway, 1 mile east of the visitors center (an off-road trail connects the two). This is a 25ft-deep sapphire-blue swimming hole inside a 328ft-wide cenote that was formed when the roof caved in on one of the Sibun River's underground tributaries. An attendant at the Blue Hole parking area will collect your park fee if you don't have a ticket from the visitors center. Buses along the Hummingbird Hwy will drop you at the visitors center or Blue Hole entrance.
Further west down the road sits the small Barquedier Waterfall, a magnificent waterfall sitting along a trail 15 minutes by foot from the Hummingbird Hwy. The falls cascade into a pool perfect for an afternoon swim or morning shower.