Belize

Travel Guide

BELIZE TRAVEL GUIDE

Belize is one of the Caribbean countries on the mainland and located in eastern Central America, bordering Guatemala and Mexico. Belize is the only country in the region with English as official language having one foot in Latin America and the other in the Caribbean. It has a fascinating cultural diversity such as Mayas or Garifunas and a long Caribbean coast of 240 miles.

Many come to Belize to snorkel or scuba dive in the second-largest barrier reef in the world which is easily accessible. I dove with sharks and saw many types of fish and beautiful corals! Inland, you can explore the ruins of Maya cities scattered throughout the country’s lush and secluded rainforests. No huge, overdeveloped resorts here, instead you’ll find a slower pace, friendly locals and dirt roads to get to many landmarks. Belize is amazing.

6 Top Things to Do in Belize

Great Blue Hole - Travel in Belize cheaply and in style

The Great Blue Hole

Maya-Ruins-Belize-Xunantunich-Travel-Guide--Tips-and-Costs

Maya Ruins

Shark-Ray-Alley--swimming-with-sharks-Wildlife-belize

Shark Ray Alley

Belize Zoo

Caves and Ecotourism in Belize, the Caribbean

Caves & Cave Tubing

National-Parks-Belize,-Hiking-Belize,-Best-Hiking in Bocawina Mayflower

National Parks & Hiking

Places to Visit within Belize

What are some interesting things to see or do in Belize?

Besides the spectacular easy access to the Great Barrier Reef (the second barrier reef system in the world), Belize offers many other attractions, especially for those who like nature and ecotourism.

What are the best snorkeling and diving spots in Belize? For those who like to snorkel or scuba dive, The Great Barrier Reef is the easiest to access from San Pedro in Ambergris Caye island followed by the island of Caye Caulker. San Pedro is 10 minutes from boat from Shark Ray Alley (Hol Chan Marine Reserve). Also in San Pedro you will find more boats and frequency of trips that will take you to dive in some of the worlds best diving spots, such as the Great Blue Hole (Lighthouse Reef), Glovers Reef and Turneffe Atoll. If you want to enjoy the unique experience of being on an island on top of the reef with around only 20 other people, go to Tobacco Caye.

Belize is also well known for its Maya ruins. Xunantunich is one of the easiest accessible Belize ruins and one of the prettiest too. Much nicer than for example Lubaantun or even Tikal.

Belize has spectacular jungle covering a very large part of its surface. There are some very well kept National Parks with impressive hiking trails where you can cool off in swimming in breathtaking waterfalls. I found Belize Hiking at its best in Mayflower Bocawina National Park, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve and the Blue Hole Park on the Hummingbird Highway.

Don’t forget checking out the Belize Zoo and also a cave in Belize! There are many such as Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch Reserve (best spot for Belize Cave Tubing), St. Herman’s Cave or the Tiger Cave in Toledo District.

Urban areas you are likely to pass through and it can be handy to have information on are: Belize Airport, Belize City, Belmopan, San Ignacio, Dangriga, Hopkins and Placencia.

Budget Travel – Belize

Typical Costs

How much does it cost to travel in Belize?

Even though the prices in general in Belize are close to prices in Europe or the US, you will find plenty low cost travel options in accommodation, transport, food and activities. For example, it is easy to find a bed in a dorm for 15USD.

Belize Budget Accommodation

A bed in a hostel dorm is on average 15 USD per night while private rooms range between 35-70 USD.

In Airbnb a bed in a shared room will cost you around 18 USD, a private room around 40-110 USD and a whole house between 50-120 USD although you can get it cheaper in places that require you to access them with your own transport.

When staying long term, the best option is to rent directly from locals.

san-pedro-belize-hostel Hostels in Belize cost around 15 USD for a dorm bed. 

Food of Belize

Breakfast in local shops where the locals eat will cost around 3 USD, while in touristy places it will be around 10 USD.

A warm meal (such as chicken and rice) at a food stall or local restaurant will cost around 5 USD. In touristy places or higher end local places it is usually from 17 USD onwards.

Check out the types of food in Belize

Transport in Belize

Getting to Belize
Air

Where do you fly into when you go to Belize?
The airport in Belize City (Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport) is the only international airport in Belize, so all visitors arriving by air will enter here.  Most visitors will go to San Pedro after arriving in Belize.

Car or Bus

You can take a bus or drive a car from neighbouring countries Mexico and Guatemala to enter into Belize.

Ferry

Ferries arriving Belize from Mexico and Guatemala and Honduras, have stops in Belize City and many other such as Caye Caulker.

Transport in Belize - Getting into Belize by car or busTransport in Belize: Getting into Belize by car

 

 Getting around Belize

What is the best way of getting around in Belize?
Public Transport in Belize is very good and will get you almost everywhere, if its close to a main road. In the larger towns there are bus terminals and bus stops, but the most common way of catching a bus is by flagging it down on the road.

To go to the many activities that are not directly located on the highway themselves (such as Nohoch Che’en Cave tubing or Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary) you will have to take a taxi, or be inventive in arranging it yourself with a shared taxi, hitchhiking, etc. You can also take a shuttle of a tour company to go door to door, which if not money will save you time.

Bus

Buses run frequently from early in the morning until around 5pm on the 4 main highways in the country (which are made of 2 lanes) . After it gets dark buses won’t stop on the road as it can be dangerous.

Public buses are the cheapest option to travel within Belize with fares costing between 1-10 USD (depending on the distance you travel). For example, a bus from Belize City to Belmopan takes around 2 hours and costs 4 USD.

Belize has many bus companies such as James Line. When busses are express runs (faster, for slightly higher prices) instead of regular runs they don’t stop on the road.

Taxi

Taxis are found easily in the bigger cities such as Belize City and San Ignacio. They are not very expensive. A journey of 10 minutes can cost you around 3 USD.

The journey from the airport to Belize City cost me 25 USD (25 min). The taxi from the Ferry Terminal to the bus station in Belize (5 min) was 3,5 USD. Both are fixed prices.

Ferry

Transport to the islands (the cayes) are between 10-20 USD. For example, a single trip from Belize City to San Pedro cost me 10 USD (2,5 hours) while a small boat to Tobacco Caye was 20 USD (40 min).

Ferries are needed to connect all the places along the barrier reef, with the cayes and the mainland. There are 2 main ferry companies: the cheaper (Ocean Ferry Belize) was 10 USD from Belize City to San Pedro (1h30min) and the more expensive one owned by Chinese (Belize Water Taxi) which is almost the double (18USD). They drive at about the same speeds, only the boats of the latter are bigger.

On windy days the Ferry from Belize City to San Pedro can be a little rough, but most times is smooth. Check a boat ride with real windy weather!

Bike

Bikes are a popular way of getting around in Belize and they are often rented out at tourist spots such as San Pedro and Hopkins.

Car

Busses are great but won’t take you from the highway (where they stop) to the activities which are often many miles within nature. Renting a car per day is around 50 USD and can pay off if you travel in a couple or group.

Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking is common in Belize. Use your common sense. I got picked up by mothers and their children, lorry drivers, workers in pick-up trucks and they were all very friendly and always eager to tell you things about Belize.

Buses in Belize are great and cheap - Getting around in Belize
Busses are a great and cheap option to get around in Belize

Buses in Belize are cheap and handy- Transport in Belize
Busses in Belize get to most travel destinations within Belize

Getting around in Belize - Transport on boat
Getting around in Belize is often on the water 

Hitchhiking the Hummingbird Highway in Belize

Activities

The entrance fee to Mayan Ruins and National Parks cost around 5 USD.

Belize Zoo was 15 USD.

Cave Tubing in No Chen caves 45 USD.

Half a day snorkeling is around 45 USD.

A full day scuba diving in the Blue Hole (Lighthouse Reef) cost me 300 USD, in Turneffe Atoll 200 USD and in Glovers Reef 250 USD.

Great_Blue_Hole of Belize Blue Hole of Belize (copyright US Geological Survey – USGS)

Money Saving Tips

How can my trip to Belize be cheaper?

Accommodation

  • Bargain prices – especially if you are going to stay a couple of days in low season which runs from April to November.
  • Couchsurfing – is great to find a place to stay with a local host to show you around but you will need to plan ahead. The are currently 752 hosts throughout Belize.
  • Camping – is a good when traveling on a budget (around 4 USD per night) but often require your own means of transport.

Transport

  • Travel off-peak (between April and November) to reduce prices for accommodation and flights.
  • Take public busses instead of shuttle services. You will pay much less and get to know many friendly locals.
  • Hitchhike as it’s a common custom among the locals and you will see many people including families and children on the side of the road looking for a ride. It is mainly a matter of patience as usually you will have to wait a bit but eventually someone will stop. Don’t stand on the curves of roads as that decreases the visibility of vehicles which will be less liable to stop. For this same reason avoid hitchhiking after 5pm when it gets dark.
  • Many tours are very expensive. Try and get yourself to the tour destination with public transport and pay for the tour or activity there. You will save money but sometimes it will cost you more time as you might be waiting for the bus.

Activities

  • Scuba diving is very expensive. Instead snorkel or freedive. If you plan to snorkel each day you might bring your mask and snorkel like I did. Shop around to find the best prices to go scuba diving or snorkeling tours as they can vary widely.

Food

  • Avoid drinking alcohol – as it’s pretty expensive. A beer is 1.70 USD and a cocktail around 6 USD. If you still want to drink find happy hours. Buying alcohol in the Chinese supermarkets that dominate all of Belize will not save you much on beer but will save you on rums as the local brands can be very cheap and ok to drink.
  • Eat in backstreets  – specially in touristy places such as San Pedro or Hopkins, go to back streets to have breakfast or lunch. You might not have the first class view to the sea, but you will be saving a lot of money on food.
  • Buy warm food in street stalls  and eat it on the way. Normally places where you sit down to eat will cost more. There are great budget options to try food with Mexican roots (tacos, garnachas, tamales) but also food with Caribbean roots (bbq chicken with beans). Non- alcoholic drinks usually cost around 1 USD.
  • Street stalls – Buy warm food in street stalls and eat it on the way. Normally places where you sit down to eat will cost more. There are great budget options to try food with Mexican roots (tacos, garnachas, tamales) but also food with Caribbean roots (bbq chicken with beans). Buy it and eat it on the beach! Non- alcoholic drinks usually cost around 1 USD.
  • Eat lots of fruit – You will find it everywhere and in all forms (natural, smoothies, juices), it’s cheap and delicious.

Suggested daily budget

Average cost per day in Belize is $40-90 USD

This suggested budget is only possible when you sleep in hostels or cheap guesthouses, eat in street stalls and use local transport. Try the Money Saving Tips to lower this daily amount.

Ecotourism – Belize

Ecotourism and activities related to nature are the main reason that most people come to Belize. While Belize has amazing jungles like it’s bordering countries, it is the only country with such a proximity to The Great Barrier Reef. Belize is also unique in that (further away of it’s coastland) it has 3 atolls: Lighthouse Reef, Turneffe Atoll and Glovers Reef.

The list of protected areas of Belize is very long. Hence I could not go to all of them! Read below for some of my favourite places:

  • Hol Chan Marine Reserve – is a very varied section 10 min on a boat from San Pedro. It’s main attraction is Shark Ray Alley, where nurse sharks gather in large amounts (in a shallow very transparent water) to be fed by the tourist boats. You can swim with those sharks, which are from a variety that don’t attack people (Nurse Sharks). The second biggest attraction in Hol Chan Marine Reserve is snorkeling around Hol Chan Cut, which is where they is a cut on the reef and many variety of fish and corals.
  • Mayflower Bocawina National Park – This national park has amazing hiking trails that are very well kept. Trails take you to waterfalls and beautiful views. I had the whole park for myself as there were so few people. Stunning.
  • Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve – This park which is more well known than the above had more people in the park (I think I saw 20 persons throughout all the day). I found the hiking trails in Bocawina more spectacular but the view points in Cockscomb just touched my soul. In the second viewpoint, the highest point of Ben’s Bluff trail, time stood still for me while drooling at the beauty in front of me while hearing down below i the valley the noises of the howler monkeys. Hours passed and almost saw the sunset from there, when I realised I had to rush down to make sure that the wildlife sanctuary would not close.
  • St. Herman’s Blue Hole – Is a park with a spectacular cave and an amazing refreshing blue hole ideal to take a swim. The park is conveniently located on the highway and accessible with bus.
  • The Great Blue Hole – The Great Blue Hole is on Lighthouse Reef and is one of the symbols of Belize. When you take an excursion to the Great Blue Hole (which is around 2 hours on a boat from the coast), it usually includes a lunch on Half Moon Caye which like The Great Blue Hole, is another national monument.

Environmental Issues

  • The amount, size and types of fish all around Belize has decreased dramatically over the last two decades.. All the locals I spoke to told me that the bigger fish have disappeared and only smaller fishes remained. The amount of corals has also drastically reduced due to pollution and global warming.

Government Action

  • Seafood Guide for Belize – The government of Belize has created a ‘Seafood Guide for Belize’ in which it lists the sea species that are near extinction and so totally banned, those that need a special permit to fish them, and those that can be caught and eaten without restriction.
  • Banned Species – There is a total ban on fishing parrot fish, blue tang, surgeon fish, doctor fish, permit, tarpon, bone fish, marine turtle (all species), whale & nurse sharks, all marine mammals, crocodile, diced conch and diced lobster.
  • Invasive Species – On the other hand, eating of lion fish is encouraged as it is an invasive species new to this region that eats commercial fish and has no predators.
  • Legislation on Conservation – Despite complaints about over-development, Belize is taking measures to protect the Great Barrier Reef. The Belize government has recently announced bold legislation to end oil activity in all of its waters to protect the reef, oceans and marine life. This is a good initiative of sustainability of the government of Belize.
  • Choose your Dive Center Wisely – Dive instructors should know all about marine species and leave them undisturbed, for example not taking out sea stars so tourists can touch them. I went to Mexico Rocks, Tres Cocos and Hol Chan Marine Reserve with Chuck and Robbie’s scuba diving school. To the Great Blue Hole and Turneffe Atoll I dived with with Amigos del Mar dive centre. They were both very eco-friendly and knowledgeable of the sea and its life.
  • Be careful when Snorkeling or Diving – Remember to dive carefully so you don’t harm the ecosystem. Coral often breaks by divers not controlling their fins enough. Also turtles and other marine life should not be touched.

Travel Tips – Belize

  • Banks & ATMs The ATMs of most Banks in Belize have trouble identifying the metal chip that is common in all bank cards today, so often ATMs won’t give you money.

    When you finally find a bank does can read your chip, you find out that you can only get out batches of 250USD at a time. This can be an issue when the type of bank that works for you has 4 branches in the country. Before you go, make sure your bank has a local bank that will read your card.

    ATMs are also available across the country, particularly in most tourist destinations- including Placencia, Punta Gorda, Belmopan, Dangriga, Belize City, San Pedro Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Orange Walk, San Ignacio and Corozal.

    • Safety in Belize

      Is Belize safe? Belize is a very safe country and you can hitchhike for example without any problem. I travelled alone as a female and had no problem at all.

      Only in Belize City is it advisable to be very careful. I was advised by everyone including the security guard of Ocean Ferry Terminal to take a taxi to the bus terminal (5 min).

  • People of Belize

    Images of Belize

    mangrove tree on Walk-to-North-Caye-Caulker--things-to do in Caye Caulker

    Mangrove Tree - Walking in North Caye Caulker

    Mangrove Tree - Walking in North Caye Caulker

    Walking in North Caye Caulker

    walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

    Boat traffic between North and South Caye-Caulker (ie. The Split)

    Boat traffic between North and South Caye-Caulker (ie. The Split)

    walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

    Small Beach - West side of Caye Caulker

    Small Beach - West side of Caye Caulker

    Small Beach - West side of Caye Caulker

    walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

    Mangroves in North Caye Caulker

    Mangroves in North Caye Caulker

    Mangroves in North Caye Caulker

    walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

    Nurse Shark in Shark Ray Alley

    Nurse Shark in Shark Ray Alley

    Friendly nurse Shark in Shark Ray Alley

    walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

    Center of Caye Caulker

    Center of Caye Caulker

    Center of Caye Caulker

    walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

    Hol Chan Cut is full of fish

    Hol Chan Cut is full of fish

    Hol Chan Cut is full of fish

    walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

    Lobster in Hol Chan Cut

    Lobster in Hol Chan Cut

    Lobster in Hol Chan Cut

    walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

    Hiking in Belize

    Hiking in Belize

    Hiking in Belize

    walk-to-north-caye-caulker-things-to-do-in-caye-caulker

    Sailboat with Great Barrier Reef behind

    Sailboat with Great Barrier Reef behind

    Sailboat with Great Barrier Reef behind

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