Welcome to Belize!
Introduction to the paradise called Belize
Belize, known for stunning landscapes and a rich culture, is one of the most sought-after tourist spots in Central America.
With a yearly visitor count of over one million, Belize consistently manages to captivate backpackers, honeymooners, and international students alike with its ethereal beauty.
In this guide, I will share my Top Belize Travel Tips to ensure your next vacation is fantastic.
Why you should choose Belize for your next vacation
Belize is the perfect blend of sublime natural beauty and thrilling adventure. Its unique offerings extend from ancient Maya sites nestled within the lush rainforest to exploring impressive caves, particularly Actun Tunichil Muknal.
Its unique geographical location in close proximity to the second-largest Barrier Reef in the world makes it an ideal destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.
Whether you’re looking for relaxation on sandy beaches or trekking in the wilderness, Belize’s diversity ensures there’s something for everyone.
Adding to that the warm hospitality and rich cultural heritage, it truly makes for a dream vacation destination.
Preparing for Your Trip to Belize
1. Necessary travel documents and visas for Belize
Traveling to Belize is relatively straightforward. If you are American, British, Canadian, Australian, or an EU citizen, no tourist visa is required.
However, your passport must be valid for at least six months upon entry, and you need one blank visa page.
Although tourist visas are unnecessary for stays up to 180 days, if your stay exceeds this duration, an application for a longer visa is required.
If unsure about any travel requirements, the Belize Immigration website provides comprehensive and updated information.
Be prepared to show your return ticket and proof of adequate funds relative to your intended length of stay.
2. Health and safety concerns in Belize
While Belize is generally safe for tourists, it’s crucial to stay vigilant. The country does have higher homicide rates, mostly attributed to local gang violence, predominantly in Belize City.
However, tourists are rarely the targets of such activities. Avoid deserted areas, especially at night, and refrain from displaying valuable possessions.
In terms of health, it’s advisable to have updated vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, and varicella (chickenpox).
A few other recommended vaccinations are Hepatitis A and Typhoid. If you plan on hiking or visiting rural areas, consider precautionary measures for malaria. Consult your local travel health clinic for the latest advice.
Other health risks include venomous snakes and ticks, so it is wise to wear protective clothing while hiking. Drinking sterilized or bottled water is also recommended to prevent waterborne diseases.
3. How to pack wisely for Belize
Belize’s subtropical climate calls for casual, comfortable clothing.
- The essentials include lightweight summer dresses, shorts, and tank tops, perfect for the hot and humid weather.
- If you’re off to a beach destination, don’t forget swimwear, sandals, and UV-protected sunglasses. A beach towel and a reef-friendly sunscreen are must-haves, too.
- For adventurous souls planning on hiking, pack comfortable clothes and lightweight shoes suitable for tropical climates.
- Trail runners are a fitting choice as they are lightweight and suitable for humid conditions. A light rain jacket or poncho can be your best friend during unexpected downpours.
- Last but not least, pack mosquito repellent to protect yourself against the pesky insects prevalent year-round due to Belize’s humid climate.
Check out my Detailed Belize Packing List to ensure you’re perfectly equipped for your Belizean adventure.
Getting to and around Belize
4. A guide on making your way to Belize
Belize is located on the eastern coast of Central America and is well-connected by air with several major international airports around the world.
The main airport, Philip SW Goldson International Airport (BZE), is located in Ladyville, 10 miles from Belize City.
There are numerous weekly flights from cities like Miami, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.
Direct and one-stop flights are offered by airlines such as American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta, among others, making coming to Belize comfortable and convenient.
Some regional flights can also be taken from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Upon arriving in Belize, you can take local taxis or bus service, or rent a car to reach your destination.
5. Navigating Belize - moving around with ease
Once in Belize, getting around is fairly simple. If you’re on the mainland and wish to explore freely, consider renting a car.
With only five major highways, it’s easy to navigate and offers you the freedom to explore at your own pace.
However, if you’re heading to the islands, golf carts and bicycles are the preferred modes of transportation.
There’s a regular ferry system that connects Belize City to San Pedro and Caye Caulker. You can check the San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi schedule for more information.
If your itinerary includes just a couple of destinations, or you’re seeking an authentic local experience, you can also utilize public transportation, transfer companies, and local puddle jumpers.
So, depending on your travel preferences, Belize offers a transportation solution that suits everyone’s needs.
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Scheduling your Vacation Time
6. How long is enough? Knowing the perfect duration for your trip
The perfect duration for a trip to Belize majorly depends on what you want to see, do, and how relaxed you want your pace to be.
If your visit only includes key highlights such as diving the Great Blue Hole, exploring Maya ruins, and spending a few beach days, a week to 10 days should suffice.
However, if your travel itinerary involves truly soaking in the Belizean culture, exploring remote landscapes and nature reserves, consider extending your stay up to two weeks or even a month.
Remember, the pace of life is slower in Belize, and part of the experience is to embrace this ‘go slow’ spirit.
It’s essential to take your time and enjoy every bit of what this beautiful country has to offer.
7. Best times of the year to visit Belize
The best time to experience Belize at its finest is during the dry season, which typically runs from late November through mid-April.
This time presents clear skies and warm temperatures, making it the most desirable period to visit. However, this is also the peak tourism season, and certain spots may get crowded.
If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the rainy season from September to October.
Do keep in mind, though, that some establishments shut down during this off-peak season, and sudden showers are a common occurrence.
Water visibility for underwater activities like scuba diving and snorkeling is the best during the dry season, with temperatures averaging around 80°F (27°C) each day.
For those who plan their travel around natural events, the whale shark season from March to June is a unique experience not to be missed.
Make sure to check the weather forecast and local events to ensure your Belize trip is memorable.
Related Article: Things to Do in Belize.
Budgeting Your Belize Vacation
8. Choosing your budget for your Belize experience
Determining a budget entirely depends on the kind of experience you’re seeking.
Belize caters to a wide range of travelers, from luxury seekers who prefer exclusive beach-side resorts to backpackers who relish low-budget jungle lodges or beach cabanas.
In general, Belize is not an inexpensive destination, but with wise planning, costs can be kept to a minimum.
- For budget backpackers, approximately $50 per day should cover petty expenses, including hostels, street food, public transportation, and affordable activities.
- On the other hand, mid-range vacationers can expect to spend around $100 per day for a simplified yet comfortable experience that includes private rooms in budget hotels, eating in affordable local restaurants, and taking part in popular tourist activities.
- For luxury seekers wanting a plush Belize experience, the sky’s the limit. High-end resorts, fine dining, private tours, and exclusive services will be available, albeit at a considerably higher cost.
With Belize, there’s an experience waiting to unfold perfectly suited to your budget, all it takes is in-depth planning.
9. A detailed breakdown of Belize travel costs
A detailed breakdown of Belize travel costs can help out with your budget planning.
- Budget travelers can opt for hostels, which typically range from $15 to $25 per night for a single bed in a dorm.
- Mid-range hotels cost around $60 to $120 per night for a double room.
- For luxury seekers, expect to pay $250 or more per night.
- Street food or local restaurants can cost as low as $3-$6 per meal.
- While fine dining could go upwards from $45.
- Buses are the cheapest mode of transportation, costing about $2-$5 per ride, depending on the distance.
- A one-way ticket for a water taxi service to the islands could cost as much as $28.
- Car rentals range from $50 to $125 per day, including insurance.
- A guided tour of a national park or a visit to a Maya ruin site averages around $50.
- More expensive activities like scuba diving or a trip to the famous Great Blue Hole could set you back by $200-$300.
Use these figures as a guide, but always have some extra budget for any unforeseen expenses or add-ons to your existing plans.
And remember to book your flights and travel insurance in advance.
Things You Can’t-Miss Doing in Belize
10. Must-visit top locations in Belize
Belize boasts several must-visit locations, each offering unique experiences.
- Ambergris Caye: Belize’s largest island, known for its azure waters, white sandy beaches, and vibrant nightlife. Here, you can dive into the famous Great Blue Hole and explore the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
- Caye Caulker: A paradise for budget travelers and backpackers, this car-free island is known for snorkeling, swimming with nurse sharks, and its “go slow” vibe.
- San Ignacio: The heartland of Belize’s adventure tourism, where you can visit ancient Maya sites such as Xunantunich and Caracol and explore the stunning Actun Tunichil Muknal cave.
- Placencia: Known for its laid-back Caribbean atmosphere, miles-long sandy beach, and easy access to the Cayes, this is the perfect choice for beach lovers.
Each place presents its unique charm, making Belize a diverse and vibrant country to explore.
Here are the Top Beaches in Belize.
11. Top 5 things to see and do in Belize
Belize’s treasure trove of adventures ensures you’ll never run out of exhilarating experiences.
Here’s a list of the top five things to see and do in Belize:
1. Scuba Diving and Snorkeling:
With the second-largest Barrier Reef in the world, Belize presents unbeatable experiences for water enthusiasts.
The Great Blue Hole, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, and Shark Ray Alley are some top spots for incredible marine sightings.
2. Explore Actun Tunichil Muknal
Actun Tunichil Muknal, commonly known as the ATM, is a breathtaking cave located in Belize’s lush Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve. Steeped in history, it was a site of intense Mayan rituals and sacrifices in the past.
Within its mysterious depths, one can witness the skeletal remains of sacrificial victims, including the famous “Crystal Maiden,” whose bones have fused with the cave’s minerals over centuries, resulting in a shimmering, spectral effect.
3. Visit Bacab Adventure & Eco Park
A fun-filled day of adventures awaits you at the Bacab Adventure & Eco Park. From serene pools to cool down, to exploring Mayan Ruins, and enjoying amazing food, this place has it all.
Plan to spend the entire day here, this place is enormous!
4. See Caracol
Situated within Chiquibul National Park, Caracol is an immense Maya city whose historical significance and size rivals its famous cousin, Tikal in Guatemala.
Known as the capital of the civilization in the region following its conquest of Tikal during the Classic Period (250 to 900 A.D.), Caracol was home to an estimated 150,000 residents, a figure that surpasses the current population of Belize City.
The Maya thrived here, developing corn cultivation methods and erecting stone wall buildings. Today, Caracol’s central structure, Cana, remains the tallest manmade structure in Belize.
5. Experience Belizean Wildlife
Belizean wildlife is as diverse and vibrant as its extraordinary landscapes.
The country’s wildlife sanctuaries, such as the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, are well preserved and serve as natural habitats for an array of mesmerizing creatures.
From the elusive jaguar residing in the subtropical forests of the Maya mountains to the spectacular display of over 300 bird species, Belize offers an unrivaled experience for wildlife enthusiasts.
In the heart of the country, primordial howler monkeys, jaguarundis, and the pig-like peccary can be seen in their natural surroundings. Belize wildlife also features an interesting mix of coastal and wetland creatures.
Leave your comfort zone behind and make your travel plans to Belize—to dive, explore, feast, and embrace a myriad of unforgettable experiences.
Savoring Belizean Cuisine
12. Best places to eat and drink in Belize
In Belize, most cities and towns are home to a selection of mouthwatering local and international cuisines that cater to a wide array of tastes.
Here’s a list of some not to miss places:
- Elvi’s Kitchen (San Pedro): Known for its delicious seafood and Maya buffet that offers an array of traditional Belizean dishes.
- Guava Limb Café (San Ignacio): Serves up farm-to-table meals in a charming setting. It’s an excellent spot for vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.
- Secret Garden Restaurant (Placencia): Famous for their pizzas and seafood dishes. Try their lionfish; it’s a delicious way of supporting local efforts to control this invasive species.
- Bird’s Isle (Belize City): If you’re looking to sample authentic Belizean cuisine like stewed chicken, rice, and beans, Bird’s Isle is the place to be.
- Chef Rob’s Gourmet Cafe (Hopkins): Known for its innovative menus that change every day, Chef Rob’s offers delicious Pan-Caribbean cuisine.
- 501Hub (Caye Caulker): A popular watering hole, known for beautiful sunset views, refreshing cocktails, and tasty bar bites.
Make sure to savor the local drinks such as the Belikin beer, Caribbean rum, and fresh coconut water.
Last but not least, don’t forget to try Belizean traditional dishes like fry jacks, ceviche, and Johnny cakes to make your culinary journey complete.
13. Why you should try Belize’s street food
Belizean street food is the reflection of the country’s rich and diverse cultural melting pot.
A blend of Mestizo, Creole, Garifuna, and Mayan culinary traditions, street food in Belize offers a unique gastronomic experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else.
You’ll find stalls serving delicious and budget-friendly food at every corner of the city.
A few must-try items include:
- Fry Jacks: A type of fried bread, often served at breakfast. You can have these fluffy treats with eggs, beans, or cheese.
- Belizean Garnaches: These are essentially Belize’s version of open-faced tacos, topped with beans, cheese, and sometimes chicken.
- Salbutes and Panades: These involve deep-fried masa dough, transformed into crispy crescents filled with beans, cheese, or hashed fish.
- Conch Fritters: A beloved coastal snack, these are breaded and fried dough balls, filled with the delicious meat of the conch, akin to a sea snail.
- Gravy-filled Meat Pies: Light, flaky pastries filled with seasoned ground beef, these savory pies are typically a morning delight.
Not only does street food provide an authentic taste of Belizean culture, but it’s also a fun way to interact with locals.
Despite its simplicity and affordability, the flavors pack a punch, truly making Belize’s street food an experience to cherish.
Lodging Options in Belize
14. Best Hotels and Resorts in Belize
Belize’s hospitality landscape is as diverse as its natural beauty, catering to all kinds of travelers.
Here’s an array of options ranging from luxury resorts to eco-lodges:
Victoria House Resort & Spa (Ambergris Caye):
One of the luxurious resorts in Belize showcasing the colonial charm with modern sophistication.
- Breathtaking beachfront suites and villas
- Spa and wellness center
- Onsite diving and fishing activities
- Exquisite dining options
- Outdoor infinity pools
Ideal for those seeking luxury and tranquility in a beachfront setting.
Other great locations include:
- Ramon’s Village Resort (Ambergris Caye)
- Turtle Inn (Placencia)
- Gaia Riverlodge (Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve)
- Blancaneaux Lodge (Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve)
Each accommodation has its unique charm and offers different experiences to make your stay in Belize enjoyable and memorable.
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15. Backpacking Belize: Budget accommodation options
Backpacking Belize doesn’t have to be a costly affair with careful planning. Numerous budget-friendly accommodation choices can help you spend less on sleeping and more on experiences.
Here are some standout options:
Yuma’s House (Caye Caulker):
An affordable beachfront hostel known for its relaxed atmosphere, making it perfect for backpackers looking to meet other travelers.
- Dormitory and private rooms
- Shared kitchen facilities
- Breezy hammock area
- Steps away from the ferry dock
- Helpful, friendly staff
Best for budget-conscious travelers seeking a social hostel environment and a beachfront location.
Other great locations include:
- Dirty McNasty’s Hostel (Caye Caulker)
- The Funky Dodo Backpackers Hostel (Hopkins)
- Bella’s Backpackers (San Ignacio)
- Pedro’s Hotel (San Pedro, Ambergris Caye)
These establishments prove that you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy Belize’s beauty. They offer excellent value for money, allowing you to save more for excursions, food, and other experiences.
Practical Tips for Travelling in Belize
16. Basic customs and culture you should respect in Belize
While Belize is a welcoming and relaxed country, respecting local customs and traditions is key to a harmonious experience.
- Attire: Except at beaches and swimming areas, revealing clothing is generally frowned upon. Dress modestly when away from the beach, and especially when visiting religious sites or traditional Maya villages.
- Behavior: Belizeans value politeness and courtesy. A kind greeting is appreciated, and refusing an offer needs to be done respectfully.
- Local laws: Be aware of local laws. Drug offenses, including marijuana, carry severe penalties. It’s also illegal to carry pre-Columbian artifacts without a permit or to photograph certain government and military buildings.
- Environment: Belize takes great pride in its natural wonders. Littering, taking of wild flora or fauna, and damaging coral reefs are seriously frowned upon and can carry hefty fines.
Remember that Belize is a multicultural society with distinct ethnic communities, each with its unique customs and practices.
Learning a little about these differences will go a long way in ensuring your interactions with Belizeans enrich your travel experience.
17. What to know about tipping etiquette in Belize
Tipping etiquette in Belize is influenced by tourism, but it’s largely discretionary.
It’s generally expected to tip servers in cash even though some restaurants charge a pre-added 10%-15% service charge, so double-check your receipt before tipping.
For exceptional service, you can match the 12.5% General Sales Tax on the receipt or even more. For tour guides, a 20% tip is usually recommended if the service is exceptional. Housekeeping staff also greatly appreciate tips.
Tipping taxi drivers is not mandatory, but they sometimes round up the fare since Belize has no fixed tariffs. Remember to only tip when you’ve received good service.
Note that most establishments in Belize prefer tips in cash, as a portion of credit card tips go to the card company.
What's the weather like in Belize?
Belize’s climate is primarily tropical, marked by a wet and a dry season.
The rainy season, coinciding with hurricane season runs from June through November. Brief afternoon thunderstorms are typical during these months, with hurricanes peaking in September and October.
The dry season extends from late November to mid-April and is characterized by pleasant weather, with little rain and warm temperatures peaking in the mid-80s F.
It’s warm enough for swimming in the ocean during winter, although occasional cold fronts, named “northers,” do occur.
Excluding the hottest months in April and May, where temperatures might hit triple digits, weather in Belize stays relatively consistent, ensuring a comfortable visit anytime.
However, rainfall differs by region, with the south getting thrice as much (150 inches) as the north (50 inches).
Is Belize safe to travel for tourists?
Yes, Belize is generally safe for tourists, but like any travel destination, it’s important to take the usual safety precautions.
The country’s key tourist areas, especially the islands and interior lodges, tend to be quite secure.
However, crime can be an issue in some zones, mainly Belize City. It’s advisable to stay vigilant, particularly against non-violent crimes like pickpocketing and burglary in touristy areas.
To enhance safety, consider booking guided tours with reputable operators, stay in well-reviewed lodgings, and avoid walking alone in low-lit areas.
Tourists aren’t typically targets of gang or violent crimes, but it’s important to be aware and mindful during your travel.
Personal experience has shown that using common sense and taking easy preventive measures lets tourists enjoy a hassle-free Belizean holiday.
What are the best months for visiting Belize?
The peak tourism season, and the best time to visit Belize for optimal weather, is during the dry season, stretching from late November to mid-April.
This period sees warmer weather, clear skies, and is ideal for all outdoor activities, including diving, snorkeling, and exploring historical sites.
For those wishing to avoid the crowds, February offers an excellent blend of clear weather and less tourist buzz.
However, because this is the popular season, prices tend to be higher, and tourist spots can be busier.
If you don’t mind the occasional rain, consider visiting during the off-peak rainy months of September and October.
During this time, you’ll experience fewer tourists and potentially lower costs, but some businesses might shut during the offseason.
It’s always a good idea to check the seasonability of your desired activities and make bookings accordingly.
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Conclusion: Belize Travel Tips
Belize is a country waiting to be discovered, a tropical paradise that offers more than just sandy beaches.
From the mesmerizing Blue Hole to Mayan ruins hidden in the jungle, amazing wildlife, a rich cultural heritage, and mouthwatering local cuisine, Belize is truly a real-world wonderland.
Whether you’re eager to explore the national parks or the coral reefs, relax on the beach, or immerse in the local culture, Belize offers opportunities that cater to every preference.
Remember to respect the local customs, take care of the environment, and adopt a relaxed pace to fully embrace the Belizean spirit.
With proper planning, respect for local customs, and a sense of adventure, your vacation in Belize can truly be a memorable experience.
I hope these 17 Belize Travel Tips help guide you toward making the most of your Belize adventure.
No matter how you choose to spend your time in this tropical oasis, Belize undoubtedly promises an unforgettable journey flavored with vibrant landscapes, thrilling adventures, and amicable locals.
Have a fantastic trip!
And if I missed anything, let me know in the comments below!