Belize City

Travel Guide

Belize City – Travel Guide

Belize City is not in the top the list of tourist destinations in Belize as it lacks major attractions. Besides Belize City has a bad reputation for crime and poverty. Many visitors choose to bypass the country’s largest city as most people arriving to Belize come to see natural attractions such as the jungle and reef.

That was also my case so I just walked a bit around the centre and swing bridge while waiting for my ferry to the cayes (islands). Belize City reminded me so much of a port Eritrea (Africa) called Massawa! Belize-City-Streets


Where is Belize City?

Belize City is located on the east coast of Belize at the mouth of the Belize River on a peninsula on the Caribbean Sea.


Belize City, the main Transport Hub of Belize

Belize City is the nation’s main port and transport hub. Visitors arriving to Belize from abroad, will pass Belize City at some point. In fact visitors usually pass Belize City as a first thing when they leave the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport, which is located 10 miles from Belize City.

In the old centre of Belize City you can find the ferry terminals that take people to the cayes (San Pedro in Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker being the most popular destinations) and the bus terminals (that take people anywhere else in Belize).

Since Belize City is the nation’s main port, the city is also a hub for cruise ships with more than 5000 people that jump off to excursions to other parts of Belize. They are brought to for example Maya archaeological sites, caves in Cayo District, snorkel the blue hole or to hang out in Hopkins.

Click the slides above to view the pictures of Belize City

Transport to San Pedro

What are the best ways to get from Belize City to San Pedro?

Most people take a ferry to go from Belize City to San Pedro (see below). It is also possible to take a small plane from the municipal airport of Belize City that takes you in 15 minutes to San Pedro.

How much is the boat ride from Belize City to San Pedro?

There are 2 ferry companies doing this route, the locally owned Ocean Ferry and the Chinese owned Belize Water Taxi. Both take the same time to arrive, the only difference is that Ocean Ferry are cheaper (Ocean Ferry ticket cost me 10 USD for a one-way ticket, while Water Taxi tickets cost more than double: 28 USD) and the boats a bit smaller which for me is a plus.

How long is the ferry from Belize City to San Pedro?

This ride takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes and makes a 5 minute stop in Caye Caulker.

Schedule Ferries From Belize City to San Pedro and Caye Caulker

Ocean Ferry 8:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 1:30 PM, 3:00 PM, 5:30 PM Belize Water Taxi 8:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 12:00 PM, 1:30 PM, 3:00 PM, 4:00 PM, 4:30 PM, 5:30 PM

 

What are the best ways to get from Belize City to Placencia?

Whether you are coming from the airport or from the main cayes (San Pedro or Caye Caulker), to get to Placencia you will have to take a bus at the Belize City bus terminal. From Belize City take a bus that will pass Belmopan (the capital and transport hub in the middle of Belize). Stop here and change to a bus with direction to Punta Gorda which is a town in the south.

Because of Belize’s City reputation of low safety and crime, it’s advisable that you arrive to Belize City bus terminal in taxi.

From the airport to the bus terminal it is 25 USD and from the ferry terminals to the bus terminal it’s 7 BZD which is 3,5 USD.  Bus Terminal of Belize City  A James bus in the Bus Terminal of Belize City  Belize City’s Bus Terminal – Get a taxi to get there

 

What are the best ways to get from Belize City to San Ignacio?

From Belize City take a bus with the direction to Benque Viejo del Carmen which is the town on the East of Belize that is closest to the Guatemalan border.

The bus will stop in Belmopan which is the new capital and main bus hub in Belize. If you have time cross the street of the bus terminal in Belmopan and head to the food market to get yourself a very cheap and delicious meal.

Because of Belize’s City reputation of low safety and crime, it’s advisable that you arrive to Belize City bus terminal in taxi. From the airport to the bus terminal it is 25 USD and from the ferry terminals to the bus terminal it’s 7 BZD which is 3,5 USD.

 

What are the best ways to get from Belize City to Dangriga?

From Belize City take a bus that will pass Belmopan, a transport hub in the middle of Belize. Stop here and change to a bus with direction to Punta Gorda which is a town in the south. In this bus line you will find that at the north most passengers are mestizos, while the further south you go the more black the passengers are.

This road is called the Hummingbird Highway and is so beautiful with its green hills on both sides, that I am glad I made this journey many times. I started to know all the driver’s helpers that deal with the money on that bus line who were always super friendly to me.

Because of Belize’s City reputation of low safety and crime, it’s advisable that you arrive to Belize City bus terminal in taxi. From the airport to the bus terminal it is 25 USD and from the ferry terminals to the bus terminal it’s 7 BZD which is 3,5 USD.

Belize City Airport

Besides the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (located in Ladyville 10 miles from Belize City), Belize City has its own Municipal Airport called Sir Barry Bowen. This Municipal airport is mainly used to travel to Belize’s cayes, allowing quicker transport to the cayes than by ferry or water taxi. Flying to the cayes takes around 15 min while a ferry to Caye Caulker takes around 45 minutes and to San Pedro around 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Only the two local airline companies (Maya Air and Tropic Air) fly from this airport.

Maya Island Air flies to Caye Caulker, Caye Chapel, Dangriga, Independence, Placencia, Punta Gorda and San Pedro.

Tropic Air flies to Belize City-International, Belmopan, Caye Caulker, Dangriga, Silver Creek, Placencia, Punta Gorda, San Pedro and San Ignacio


Belize City Beaches

You might think that because Belize has a long coast on the Caribbean that it will have amazing beaches, but that is not exactly like that. Belize’s coast in the mainland is dominated by mangrove areas in most places with some exceptions as Placencia and Hopkins where you will see beautiful beaches. You will also find amazing beaches in some cayes like in Salt Water Caye or Half Moon Caye. Belize City is certainly not famous for its beaches so if it’s that what you are looking after read this list of the best beaches in Belize.


History and Population

Belize City was once the capital of the former British Honduras (as Belize was then named then). The city was almost entirely destroyed in 1961 by Hurricane Hattie. The capital was moved to the new capital of Belmopan in 1970 which lay on higher ground to avoid flooding again. According to the 2010 census, Belize City has a population of around 60,000 people


Location and Geographic Setting

Belize City is divided into two areas:

The Northside, considered the safest and most prosperous area of this population center. The Belize City north side has the better hotels, casinos and the Museum of Belize and is also the zone of the ferry terminals and cruise ship terminals. (The Northside area is bounded by the Haulover Creek and ending in the east at the Fort George area).

The Southside, which has a couple of tourist attractions, namely historic St. John’s Cathedral and the House of Culture. (The Southside area extends to the outskirts of the City and the Port area and including downtown).

Since the river is full of sediments the water of the river is miky brown. When you take a ferry to the cayes, this colour quickly turns from deep green to light blue.


Belize City Map


The Swing Bridge of Belize City

Belize City has the only manually operated, functioning swing bridge in the world. It is in the centre of the city, just next to the ferry terminals so it will be easy for you to see. The swing bridge connects the north side of Belize City with the south side and is built over the Haulover Creek, a tributary of the Belize River.

Since it is the oldest swing bridge in Central America and one of the few manually operated swing bridges in the world still in use, it has become a tourist destination and historical landmark of Belize. The bridge requires a minimum of four men to crank it and traffic is halted for over an hour when opened. The Maritime Museum of Belize is also close to the swing bridge.

History of the Swing Bridge

The swing bridge was built in England in 1922, brought to Belize City and its installation was finished in 1923. It allowed sailing fishing boats with tall masts to pass the bridge so that they could bring their supplies to the city. The bridge was damaged in the 1931 hurricane, by Hurricane Hattie in 1961 and by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Repairs for restoration have been done and there are talks about automating the bridge but some locals oppose as the swing bridge has become a major tourist destination in the Belize City.

Bridges and other infrastructure

Apart from the Swing Bridge, Belize City is linked by 2 other main bridges too: the Belchina Bascule Bridge and the Belcan Bridge. Also numerous smaller bridges link individual streets.

Things to do in Belize City

Besides using Belize as a transport hub to get to any place in Belize, people often take a look at the swing bridge and also the Maritime Museum of Belize, which is close to the swing bridge.

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Belize Destinations

Check below the Things to Do in Belize, in WATER (swim, snorkel, sail) on LAND (hike, see ruins, caves, nature parks) or in URBAN areas.

WATER

Ambergris Caye (San Pedro)
Caye Caulker
Great Blue Hole
Shark Ray Alley
Lighthouse Reef (Half Moon Caye)
Glovers Reef
Turneffe Atoll
Tobacco Caye
Dangriga
Hopkins

LAND

Xunantunich
Belize Zoo
Caves Nohoch Che’en 
Hummingbird Highway
Blue Hole Park
Toledo District (Tiger Cave)
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve
Mayflower Bocawina National Park

URBAN

Airport
Belize City
Belmopan
San Ignacio

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