For a small country, Belize does not lack in things to do. The Caribbean coastline is home to the second largest coral reef in the world, while its lush inland is filled with dense jungle and plenty of adventurous things to do in Belize. This article is a complete guide to visiting Belize, covering visas for Belize, the best time to visit, things to do and many other travel tips.
Tourist Visas for Belize
Visitors from certain countries will require a visa to enter Belize. You can find out if you do or don’t need a visa for Belize here. Those who do not require a visa can stay for up to 30 days. All visitors must travel to Belize on a valid passport, that is valid for at least 6 months after your expected departure date.
Visitors must pay a departure tax when exiting Belize. The tax is approximately $35 USD when flying out of Belize International airport, but it is recommended that you check the government website to find current rates as this could change. Some flights include this fee in the ticket price, so be sure to check so you don’t pay twice.
Currency in Belize
Belize Dollars BZD and USD are accepted in Belize.
$2 BZD = $1USD.
Arriving in Belize
The major airport in Belize is located in Belize City. If you do fly into Belize City, I recommend leaving as soon as possible.
You can also arrive into Belize by crossing the border from Mexico or Guatemala. There are options to enter by land and boat.
Getting around Belize
You can get around Belize via bus, boat air, taxi or hire car.
Regular boats run between Belize City, Caye Caulker and San Pedro. You can also fly from Belize City into the islands. Once in the islands, you can hire a gold buggy, bike or walk.
To get around the mainland, you can travel by public bus, express bus, taxi or hire car. The public bus services most towns in Belize, but can take longer to arrive at your destination than an express bus. Travel by taxi in Belize is a quick but more expensive option. A hire car will give you complete freedom to travel around Belize at your own pace. If you have an international license, I suggest hiring a car. Search for hire cars here.
Accommodation in Belize
Belize has plenty of accommodation options, ranging from hostels to luxury hotels and Airbnbs. Prices vary from city to city and, of course, the quality of the place you’re staying at.
Bucket List Experiences in Belize
Caye Caulker is a small Caribbean island off the coast of Belize, popular for it’s laid back atmosphere and world-class coral reefs. Caye Caulker should be on any Belize bucket list. Although the island is small, it has lots of personality and things to do. Residents live by the motto “Go Slow”, which is well fitted for the Belizean tropical paradise. Here is a quick guide on the best things to do in Caye Caulker Belize.
Diving / Snorkelling on The Belize Barrier Reef
The second largest barrier reef (after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia) lies off the coast of Belize and the marine conditions are pristine. Any trip to Belize should involve a snorkelling or scuba diving trip to the Belize Barrier Reef.
The Great Blue Hole
The Blue Hole is Belize’s postcard image. No doubt you have seen it scattered on advertisements and across social media before.
The Great Blue Hole is a giant marine sinkhole, 318 m wide and 124 m deep. It lies near the centre of Lighthouse Reef, a small atoll 70 km from the mainland and Belize City.
Visitors can visit The Great Blue Hole by boat, or can fly over it. It is said that the best way to experience The Great Blue hole is by flying over it. This is because you get to see more than you do by boat, where you can only see it at eye level. It is also said that there are better places to snorkel and scuba dive than the Blue Hole because once you get inside you actually can’t see a lot.
Either way, a trip to the Blue Hole is a must do during your trip to Belize.
Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM cave) has been voted as the #1 sacred cave in the world, so it is safe to say that you should add it to your Belize Bucket List. Guides will lead you through the caves with flashlights, showing you the sacred sights. The ATM cave is actually a Mayan Burial site.
You can also book cave tubing tours, which involves relaxing on a tube as the current takes you through several caves. The most popular spot for cave tubing is the Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch Archeological site.
Tours into the cave aren’t cheap, starting at $85USD if you book once you have arrived. They will cost more if you book online.
Regardless of the cost, it would be an unforgettable experience in Belize.
Explore Mayan Ruins
Belize has the largest concentration of Mayan ruins in the world with over 600 sites identified. And some experts estimate that thousands of ruins have yet to be discovered!
Some popular Mayan ruins in Belize include Xunantunich, Lamanai, Caracol, Altun Ha, Cahal Pech, Cerro Maya and Lubaantun.
The choice is yours.
Belize is home to 600+ species of birds ranging from the colorful national bird, the keel-billed toucan, to statuesque jabiru storks to raucous parrots. Along the coasts and cayes you’ll find sand pipers darting in the tides, pelicans scooping up fish and boobie and frigate colonies clinging to mangroves. In the coastal savannahs are a variety of wading birds including roseate spoonbills, wood storks and tiger herons. In the dense mountainous rainforests are red-capped manakins, jacamars, blue-grey tanagers and more.
Visit Shark Ray Alley
This was the highlight of my stay on Caye Caulker. We visited Shark Ray Alley and literally seen and swam with hundreds and sharks and stingrays. It was an amazing experience.
If you do plan to visit, go with an eco-conscious company that does not feed the sharks.
Watch a Belizian Sunset
I experienced some of the best sunsets in my life in Belize, in particular on the island of Caye Caulker. Make sure you set aside the afternoon to sit back, relax and enjoy a rum punch as the sun sets over the ocean creating a firey sky.
Visit the Belize Zoo
Now I am not one to support zoos, but Belize zoo does have a great reputation. The Belize Zoo only has animal species native to Belize — you won’t see any polar bears suffering in humid climates here. They have 45 species of animals, all of whom have been orphaned or hurt and are unable to survive in the wild.
Snorkel with manatees
Caye Caulker is located right nearby an amazing wildlife reserve, Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can actually swim with manatees in their natural habitat. This is a unique experience that you should add to your bucket list.
Zipline through the rainforest
Try zip lining through the rainforest canopy past towering trees and curious birds, often with the roar of howler monkeys in the background. With extremely safe equipment and experienced guides, almost all ages are able to experience this thrill.
Map of Belize
Budget for Belize
$ – Expect to pay around $50+BZD for a bed in a hostel dorm room.
$$ – Expect to pay around $100BZD – $150 BZD for a mid-range hotel room.
$$$ – Expect to pay $200+ BZD for a luxury hotel room. Luxury hotels are limited on Caye Caulker.
Flights between Belize City and Caye Caulker / San Pedro start from around $200 BZD one way.
The ferry from Belize City to Caye Caulker costs 19BZD one way, 29BZD return. This is the cheapest way to get to Caye Caulker.
Car hire costs around $200 BXD per day.
There are no cars on Caye Caulker. Bike hire costs 15 BZD per day and golf buggy hire costs 150BZD per day.
Expect to pay between 10BZD – 25 BZD per meal, depending on what you want to eat. I usually spent 15 BZD on each meal.
Some traditional Belizian foods include:
Rice and Beans
A typical meal in Belize (and anywhere in Central America) is served with rice and beans. Rice and beans are typically served with meat and potatoes or fried plantains.
Fry jacks are basically fried tortillas filled with beans, egg, ham and meat. They are typically served for breakfast and are a must try.
Tamales can be made in many variations, but are generally chicken wrapped in cornmeal and banana leaves then steamed over an open fire. These are generally found in markets.
Seafood and Ceviche
Belize is home to some of the freshest seafood, making it a locals favourite.
Weather in Belize
Belize’s climate is described as subtropical, with year-round warm temperatures.
The best time to visit Belize is from late November to mid-April, during the country’s dry season. This is also the busiest season so you can expect lots of tourists and higher prices.
The rainy season runs from June to November.
The early months of May and June when rainfall is just getting underway, are a good time to travel to Belize as you can you can escape the tourist rush and hotel rates tend to be lower.
Travel Insurance for Belize
Safety in Belize
Belize feels like a relatively safe country to travel to, but safety precautions are recommended.
- Avoid flashing your valuables
- Keep an eye on your belongings at all times
- Lock your belongings in the hotel safe
- Remain aware of your surrounding
- Avoid unknown streets at night
- Don’t drink too much
Language in Belize
The official language in Belize is English. Some locals will also talk Kriol (Belizean Creole).
Vaccinations for Belize
Check the Travel Doctor website to find out what vaccinations you need when planning a trip to Belize. If you have any further questions regarding vaccinations required for Belize, I recommend consulting a doctor.
Packing for a trip to Belize
Some essentials I recommend packing for Belize are:
- Reef safe sunscreen
- A Go Pro
- Insect Repellant
- A travel towel
- A good book