This review could save a life.
The pools look innocuous but there are strong currents, slippery rocks and some very deep pools with muddy bottoms.
On Saturday, June 11th, 2022, my two young adult children and I visited Caracol with a Belizean tour guide friend. On the road back to San Ignacio we were flagged down and told a little boy was missing in the pools. He had been wearing arm floats and was part of a large and loving family group who'd been enjoying a day out.
We are strong swimmers, divers, and first aid trained. As such we rushed to assist in the search, joining the family of the boy, as well as other tourists and locals . After almost two hours of searching in the pools and surrounding area, the little boy was sadly located drowned, with his foot caught in the rocks between two pools and a waterfall preventing him from being visually located.
The Belizean Defence Force and a Forest Ranger arrived late into the search but, apart from looking in the undergrowth on the nearby hillside, they didn't contribute anything - one BDF member entered the water but he obviously wasn't a confident swimmer. The BDF lacked any knowledge of how a search should be conducted, they didn't take charge or make suggestions and ultimately stood around with their guns slung across their bodies.
As we were transporting the boy's body back to his family's van, other families were going down the path to the pools. Neither the BDF or rangers prevented them from continuing, instead it was us, mere tourists, who warned them the area wasn't safe.
The following day another family visited Rio On Pools and sadly their daughter also drowned. Another family whose lives will never be the same, another family who have to fly home with the body of their child in the hold, another heartbreaking tragedy.
Why wasn't a Forest Ranger or BDF Guard stationed at the entrance to the pools after the little boy's death on Saturday? Why wasn't the entrance to the path barricaded with a notice informing people a drowning had occurred and the area was closed whilst an investigation was carried out? There's a sign by the entrance warning of the danger but it's not enough and now two young lives have been lost.
Please consider if this area of natural beauty is the right choice for your family and use extreme caution if you decide you must visit the pools.