Driving in Belize
Enjoy Belize up close and personal.
Driving yourself through the country is an adventure all on its own.
While some tourists enjoy being carted around on a pre-planned excursion, there are those that like to get to know the country outside of tourist-filled destinations. Nothing helps you connect with a country better than driving around it yourself.
Your first stop is picking up your car rental at the Belize International Airport following your arrival. Due to the rough roads that can turn into quagmires during rainy days, it’s best to go with a four-wheel drive, such as a Toyota 4runner, Isuzu Trooper or Ford Explorer. Though expensive, they ensure the best traction when you venture off of one of the country’s three highways.
Be sure to check vehicle mileage. Expect the total to range from 100,000 to 150,000 and never be afraid to ask for a new vehicle if the mileage is too high for comfort. Breaking down in Belize is nothing like breaking down in America. Also, take a good look at the tires. Figure out where the spare and the jack are. Next, talk with the rental company about what you should do in case of a break down. Some will send mechanics to your location. Expect to pay around $6.50 per gallon for gas.
Once you’re on the road, there are some interesting local practices to be aware of. The most noted are the speedbumps along the residential roads. Used in place of stoplights for many areas, they are extremely common, giving you a chance to slow down and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding country.
For your safety, it is important to not drive at night. Apart from the wildlife that frequents the desolate roads, Belize also has drunk drivers. In addition, never pick up any hitchhikers. Though it may seem like a nice gesture, if they are found to have even an ounce of marijuana while you are stopped at a checkpoint, your entire party will be thrown in jail. Make sure you always remove valuables from your car and always leave it parked in a protected, well-lit lot.
Beyond this, have fun navigating the myriad of roads and sites within the country. Travel the Phillip Goldson, George Price and Hummingbird Highways. Head off-road to jungle sites not seen by the typical visitor. Explore the bustling culture that makes up the heart of Belize.
Belize Roads and Highways – A Quick Overview
Belize has a vast network of roadways, thoroughfares, and streets that measure over 1,900 miles (3,000 kilometers) long. Currently, only approximately 350 miles (570 kilometers) are paved, but several gravel and dirt roadways are currently being upgraded.
Even the biggest “highways” in Belize are two-lane roadways. Principle arteries include:
The Philip Goldson Highway, commonly known as the Northern Highway, connects Belize City to points north, including Corozal Town and the Mexican border at Chetumal. This highway measures 95 miles (153 km) long and is completely paved.
The George Price Highway, commonly known as the Western Highway, connects Belize City to points west, including Belmopan, San Ignacio, and the Guatemalan border at Benque Viejo del Carmen/Melchor de Mencos. This highway measures 81 miles (130 km) long and is completely paved.
The Hummingbird Highway connects Belmopan in central Belize to Dangriga on the southeastern coast. This highway measures 55 miles (89 km) long and is completely paved.
The Southern Highway begins at the southern terminus of the Hummingbird Highway in Dangriga and connects to points south, including Punta Gorda and ancient Maya sites like Nim Li Punit and Lubantuun. The Southern Highway measures 97 miles (156 km) long and is completely paved.
The Coastal Highway, sometimes known as the Manatee Highway, is currently a deeply rutted, gravel roadway that is almost impossible to traverse even in good weather without a four-wheel drive vehicle. Measuring just 30 miles long (48 km), the Coastal Highway connects an area west of Belize City to just north of Dangriga. The Coastal Highway is scheduled to be upgraded and paved in the next few years.
Belize Road Rules
Driving is on the right side of the road with speed limits of 55 miles per hour (90 km/hour) outside residential areas and no more than 40 miles per hour (65 km/h) within towns and villages. All signs are in English, and all distances are displayed in miles.