The Best Belize Resorts & Hotels
The Best Belize All Inclusive Resorts & Hotels
Pick The Right Resort For You
Have you ever tried to pick just the best Belize resorts out of the hundreds sprinkled like sugary sands across Belize? It’s no easy job; there are amazing places everywhere you look. But as the saying goes, somebody’s got to do it, so we are tackling the challenge. Grouped by destination, any one of these gems will delight, surprise and pamper you.
Top Belize Resorts & Hotels in Placencia
From pirate’s hideaway to a sleepy fishing village, this contemporary, laid-back beach community on the western side of the 20-mile-long Placencia Peninsula is home to a bevy of luxe resorts, each of which can make your vacation the one you’ve dreamed about.
Chabil Mar (http://chabilmarvillas.com/). This luxe resort name translates as Beautiful Sea and you’ll learn why when you spot 400-feet of beachfront, 19 uniquely designed villas with private verandas and award-winning onsite dining.
Casa Sunsandsea (www.casasunsandsea.com) – At Casa Sunsandsea, our motto is “relax, enjoy, restore” but we often like to throw some adventure in the mix too! Opened in 2016, this luxurious vacation rental home is equipped with everything you need for an unforgettable Belizean vacation. Let us customize your stay with local tours, help you celebrate a special occasion under the palapa, or set out everything you’ll need for a day of fun in the pool and on the beach. And don’t forget to snap a picture with Hugh – our life-sized, hand-carved manatee – out on our beautiful 180 feet of gorgeous sandy beach!
Laru Beya (www.larubeya.com). If the urge to see everything or do nothing while on your exotic getaway is your style of vacationing, create your own itinerary at this award-winning, all-inclusive hideaway.
Mariposa Beach Resort
Mariposa Beach Resort (https://www.mariposabelizebeach.com/). Mariposa is the perfect beach resort to stay in the Placencia Peninsula. Mariposa has everything you need from sea view suites and private tree houses to ocean view dining.
Turtle Inn (http://www.coppolaresorts.com/turtleinn). When Francis Ford Coppola acquired this gorgeous enclave of 25 thatched cottages, he elevated interiors to such a level, they can only be described as breathtaking.
Roberts Grove (http://www.robertsgrove.com/). This secluded, Hacienda-style resort is situated on 22-acres of beach front. The concierge will book tours, but superior amenities may be all you need to achieve total bliss.
Belize Ocean Club
Belizean Ocean Club (http://www.belizeoceanclub.com/). No membership dues required at this elegant resort, where spacious two-bedroom suites with ocean or sunset views and romantic balconies will win your heart.
Top Belize Resorts & Hotels in San Ignacio Town/Cayo
This thriving tropical metropolis is the largest district in Belize, the nation’s capital and home to picture postcard natural wonders. Choose the south part of Cayo to avoid crowds or opt for the northern area where the population, excitement and attractions are bountiful.
Cahal Pech Village Resort
Cahal Pech Resort (www.cahalpech.com). These thatch-roof Cabañas with private verandas are guaranteed to please everyone from couples to families. Need some nightlife? Head for nearby San Ignacio town for fun 24/7.
Ka’aana (http://www.kaanabelize.com/). Western Belize is home to one of the most indulgent resorts in Belize. Personalized services and modern amenities amid lush jungles make this a number one spot for lovers.
Blancaneaux (http://www.coppolaresorts.com/blancaneaux). There’s nothing like this Francis Ford Coppola property, a 20-room luxury mountain lodge where dramatic waterfalls and proximity to ancient Mayan ruins await.
San Ignacio Resort
San Ignacio Resort (http://www.sanignaciobelize.com/). Charm and history meet on a 17-acre private estate atop a hillside overlooking the Macal River. Called “the only jungle in town,” you’ll enjoy the irony when you arrive at this luxurious resort.
Mystic River Resort
Mystic River Resort (http://mysticriverresort.com/). Located on the bank of the Macal River, this resort specializes in serenity, rejuvenation and privacy, but if you need a bit of excitement, San Ignacio town is close.
Caves Branch (http://www.cavesbranch.com/). Do you crave adventure? This former bare-bones jungle river camp is now an enclave of 5-Star tree houses with roof top decks and hot tubs. You’ll need both if you indulge in area tours and attractions.
Amber Sunset Resort
Amber Sunset Resort (http://www.ambersunsetbelize.com/). Sequester yourself in a luxuriously-appointed treehouse within 28 acres of lush forest, or ask staff to book you on unforgettable nearby excursions and adventures.
Top Belize Resorts in San Pedro/Ambergris Caye
The largest island off the Belize mainland is uber-popular. From luxury resorts to modest digs and from gourmet dining to street vendors dishing up savory beans and rice, ex-pats flock here for the ultimate in retirement living. Use a golf cart to get around because you won’t need a car!
Victoria House (http://www.victoria-house.com/). This award-winning, 42-room resort specializes in rest and relaxation, but since San Pedro is just a mile away, walk there if you need your batteries recharged.
Banyan Bay (http://www.banyanbay.com/). Recommended by families eager to spread out and have fun, this resort’s roomy villas and on-the-water dining is near San Pedro if you want to sample Ambergris Caye’s nightlife.
Pelican Reef (http://www.pelicanreefvillas.com/). Take the resort’s 360-degree virtual tours of the two and three bedroom accommodations via its website. Don’t miss the languid pool, ocean—and rave Mojito reviews!
Portofino (http://portofinobelize.com/). From magnificently-furnished, tropical-style suites to fresh-cut soaps delivered daily, shouldn’t a treetop suite beneath an 18-foot palapa roof with views of the Caribbean Sea be your destination?
Grand Caribe (http://www.grandcaribebelize.com/). Situated two miles from San Pedro, this resort delivers ocean or Barrier Reef views from all suites, but you’ll discover that beautifully-appointed interiors compete with those spectacular views!
Coco Beach Belize Resort
Coco Beach Resort (http://www.cocobeachbelize.com/). How do the rich and famous live? Check into the Sea View penthouse suite, revel in this 4-star resort’s amenities and you’ll be able answer that question.
SunBreeze Suites (http://sunbreezesuites.com/). This resort hugs the ocean for fun in the sun, but it’s close enough to San Pedro to add some kick to your visit. Gaze at Belize’s Barrier Reef from your private balcony or ask staff to get you there!
Sun Breeze Hotel
SunBreeze Hotel (http://www.sunbreeze.net/). This quaint hotel is set amid bountiful tropical gardens and a sparkling pool. Rooms are artfully appointed with flat screen TVs, spacious bathrooms and desks, if you insist on working.
Top Belize Resorts & Hotels in Toledo/Southern Belize
As Belize’s southernmost district, this sleepy area is loaded with pristine rainforests, cave systems, coastal plains and frequently-visited natural wonders. Cultural diversity is king: descendants of Europeans, Mestizos, Creole, Garifuna (Africans) and North Americans live amid this Garden of Eden.
Belcampo Lodge (http://www.belcampobz.com/). If you’re an “off the beaten path” traveler, this 12,000-acre nature reserve, lodge and organic farm will charm you. Choose from 16 nicely-appointed suites and enjoy meals made with crops grown on premises.
Top Belize Resorts & Hotels in Hopkins/Southern Belize
As the epicenter of Garifuna history and culture, tourists love coming to the “friendliest village in Belize” to experience the ultimate in hospitality. Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, Maya Mountains and Cockscomb Range, the topography alone draws first-time tourists, but the local resorts bring them back!
Hopkins Bay Resort
Hopkins Bay Resort (http://www.hopkinsbaybelize.com/). Indulge your senses in close proximity to the heart of Garifuna culture. Hike nearby jungles, fish and dive, but don’t hit the hammock without a Pina Colada from the Rhum Bar in hand.
Hamanasi Resort (http://www.hamanasi.com/). Can you imagine sleeping in a deluxe treehouse within a forest? Do just that in resort suites that are anything but primitive—especially the private Jacuzzi on your veranda.
Almond Beach Resort
Almond Beach Resort (http://www.almondbeachbelize.com/). This Hopkins Village destination offers a haven for romance and wellness along seven miles of sandy beaches in southern Belize. Come for the view. Stay for the spa!
Top Belize Resorts & Hotels in Stann Creek/ Southern Belize:
Belize’s banana industry is headquartered here, as is the village of Placencia where shops, eateries and bars attract people of all ages. Millions of birds flock to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the world’s only protected jaguar preserve, but you’ll flock here for the fun.
Bocawina Rainforest Resort
Bocawina Resort (http://www.mamanootsbocawina.com/). Sojourn within 7,100 acres of pristine jungle at one of Belize’s most popular eco-resorts where your thatched cabana promotes sweet dreams when you’re not touring area waterfalls and Mayan ruins.
Top Belize Island Resorts & Hotels
There’s a great debate going on about how many islands are actually in the Belize chain. You won’t care once you pick the resort that suits your description of heaven on earth!
Yok Ha Island Resort
Yok Ha Island Resort (http://www.yokhabelizeresort.com/). This tiny private island is a three-acre paradise near Dangriga that balances tranquility, luxury and big-city access, just eight miles away.
Cayo Espanto (http://www.aprivateisland.com/). Cayo Espanto is a four-acre private island devoted to pampering guests. The mahogany-detailed villa interiors are spectacular and if you’ve no desire to leave, dine onsite so you don’t have to!
Thatch Caye (http://www.thatchcayebelize.com/). Architects situated every luxury villa on this little island along the ocean’s edge, so each guest is treated to both scenic splendor and the utmost in privacy.
Turneffe Belize Island Resort
Turneffe Belize Island Resort (http://www.turnefferesort.com/). The moment you set eyes on the interiors of 20 guest rooms decorated from floor to ceiling with local woods and unobstructed views of the sea from private patios, you’ll know you’ve arrived in paradise.
Hatch Caye Belize Island Resort
Hatchet Caye (http://www.hatchetcaye.com/). Hatchet Caye owners ask guests to imagine the Caribbean before it got crowded because that’s what they’ve recreated. You can book the entire island for a group getaway if you like.
Top Belize Resorts & Hotels in Caye Caulker
This limestone coral island is eight miles long and one mile wide, only accessible by boat or water taxi, but nature lovers prefer this place for the tranquility and peace. Whether you’re a backpacker eager to pitch a tent or one of the following luxury resorts calls your name, there’s no bad time to visit.
Island Magic Beach Resort
Island Magic Beach Resort (http://www.islandmagicbelize.com/). Reserve a 4th floor mini-suite with panoramic views of the ocean and spectacular sunsets and sunrises. Enjoy pool time, on-site dining and a private pier where the magic never stops.
Anchorage Resort (http://www.gocayecaulker.com/accommodations/anchorage-resort). Accommodations here offer pure relaxation in the sun. 18 nicely furnished rooms plus hammocks, sun decks and access to every watersport you can imagine will make your vacation perfect.
Rainbow Hotel Caye Caulker
Rainbow Hotel Caye Caulker (http://www.cayecaulkerhotelbz.com/). This resort’s name came from a beloved childhood toy, so you can expect hospitality here to be as homey and warm as that memory. Deluxe rooms, junior suites, La Casita or the Cabana guarantee one-of-a-kind memories.
Top Belize Resorts & Hotels in Orange Walk/Northern Belize:
Vacation here if you intend to undertake a multi-national holiday because you’ll be close to Mexico and Guatemala. This is the second largest district in Belize and the agricultural heart of the nation, so if you’re interested in Belize’s economy and resources, you’re in the perfect place.
Chan Chich Belize Resort
Chan Chich Resort (http://www.chanchich.com/). Deer graze peacefully on this 130,000-acre nature preserve in the heart of Mayan country. Beautifully-furnished Casitas, cabanas and a villa come with every amenity you desire.
Top Belize Beach Resorts
Take a look at our expert top picks for the best beach resorts in Belize.
Belize Beach Resort#1
Chabil Mar, Maya for “Beautiful Sea”, is The Guest Exclusive Resort of Placencia, Belize. A boutique resort of 19 Villas and a Honeymoon Suite, Chabil Mar is situated on 400 feet of gorgeous oceanfront and a stroll along the beach to Placencia Village, the closest full-service resort to the Village, where our guests can partake of the Village restaurants, shops, and nightlife at their leisure.
At Chabil Mar each villa on this lushly landscaped property is uniquely designed and furnished, appointed with original artwork, and feature excellent views of the Caribbean from personal verandas. In addition, two infinity beach-side pools, nestled in lush tropical gardens, grace the property.
Belize Beach Resort#2
Victoria House is an award-winning luxury resort located on the island of Ambergris Caye, Belize, in the Western Caribbean and is one of the most luxurious places you’ll ever want to stroll around barefoot. The 42 room resort spans ten acres of white sand beaches and lush tropical gardens. Whether you choose to bask in the warm Caribbean sun, fish, dive, snorkel or visit an ancient Mayan ruin, Victoria House is the place to stay for your Vacation, Honeymoon or Destination Wedding.
Over the years, Victoria House Belize Resort has received award recognition from Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Condé Nast Johansens and Trip Advisor. Victoria House is also a member of Andrew Harper and the Signature Travel Network.
Belize Beach Resort#3
Nestled 3.5 miles north of San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye is a haven for romance, barefoot luxury, relaxation, and adventure known as Coco Beach Resort.
This 4-star luxury beach resort offers the utmost in beachfront relaxation, including two large free-form swimming pools, swim-up pool bar, Jacuzzi and waterslide. Coco Beach has some of the best accommodations on Ambergris Caye. To suit every guest’s needs, Coco Beach Resort offers a wide range of accommodations from hotel rooms that sleep two to sea view penthouse suites that sleep six. Daily Housekeeping is provided with all accommodations.
Belize Beach Resort#4
Dreaming of utter seclusion and a respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Make your dream a reality at Coco Plum Island Resort. Dotted with beach beds, lounge chairs, and swaying hammocks, this Belize all-inclusive beach resort is the perfect place to cast your worries away. They’ve thought of just about everything to make your Belize beach vacation as easy and seamless as possible.
Belize Beach Resort#5
Turtle Inn is a true labor of love. Less than a year after Francis and Eleanor Coppola acquired this beachside refuge in 2001, it was swept out to sea by the forces of Hurricane Iris. Turning disaster into triumph, the Coppolas led a two-year reclamation project that has created a magnificent luxury hotel in Belize that consistently ranks among the best in Central and South America.
This 25-room seafront hideaway combines natural wonders with luxury style. Luxury Belize resort dwellings are in individual thatched cottages, decorated with handcrafted Balinese furnishings and are naturally cooled by the ever-present sea breezes.
Just steps beyond your private deck, the white-sand beach dissolves into the clear Caribbean Sea. In addition, the resort has two infinity swimming pools for your daily enjoyment.
Belize Beach Resort#6
Laru Beya is located in the Placencia Peninsula and takes its name from the Garifuna phrase for “on the beach”. The resort features room service, a private beach area, and an outdoor swimming pool. Activities like snorkeling, diving, and fishing can be arranged at the resort and guests can also use the resort as a base to explore Maya archeological sites, caves, and wildlife in Southern Belize.
Guest rooms highlight Placencia’s culture with artwork and furniture produced by local artisans. Prepare meals or future awards-show speeches in the full kitchen of a one- or two-bedroom suite, or head to The Quarter Deck to feast on local seafood and tropical fruits in an open-air thatch dining room.
You’ll find more restaurants and nightlife in Placencia, just a 10-minute drive down the peninsula.
Belize Beach Resort#7
As one of the newest luxury properties on the island of Ambergris Caye, Las Terrazas is a Preferred Boutique Resort and the only member of Preferred Hotel Group in Belize. Located just 3.5 miles north of San Pedro, Las Terrazas Resort invites you to experience exceptional, spacious townhome-style accommodations and gracious hospitality at their oceanfront retreat.
Situated on one of the most beautiful and secluded private beaches, their Ambergris Caye resort is an exhilarating tropical playground where you can discover Belize; “Mother Nature’s best-kept secret.” Experience world-class attractions from diving and snorkeling, the lavish Serenity Spa and Wellness Center, fishing, zip lining, and cave tubing, Mayan Ruins, or snoozing on the beach. How best to relax is entirely up to you.
Belize Beach Resort#8
Set on a secluded stretch of natural white-sand beach facing the world’s second-largest barrier reef, Matachica offers a choice of 26 intimate villas, including 25 single casitas and 1 two-bedroom villa. Vibrantly colored and exotic with thatched roofs, their villas are uniquely decorated with hints of Central American motifs and original art collected from around the world.
The villas are spacious, privately located from each other and include Matachica’s distinctive features of large traditional mosaic bathrooms, air-conditioning, ceiling fans, private patios with hammocks, Matouk & Frette linens with feather duvets, bathrobes and daily maid service. All rooms have private safes.
Belize Beach Resort#9
Belizean Dreams is an intimate, locally owned and managed all-inclusive beach resort nestled on the coast of Hopkins Village, in southern Belize. Accommodations and packages are tailored to providing vacations to discerning travelers who crave relaxation, romance, and adventure. They are dedicated to facilitating all kinds of vacation experiences.
Travelers can choose from several packages: Belize Jungle & Beach Package, Romance or Honeymoon Package, Inland & Island Package, Just-Chillin’ Package, and the Ultimate Diving Package.
Belize Beach Resort#10
Opened in 2003, the stellar reputation of The Placencia Hotel & Residences (http://www.theplacencia.com) has now gained further accolades and notoriety. While already an impressive resort and property, the addition of the new Casino at the Placencia has added a new dimension to the stay and play resort.
Sure, you can still spend your holiday lounging on the beach, patronizing the spa and eating gourmet food, but the addition of Belize’s new casino gaming’s epicenter makes The Placencia the one-stop, must-visit destination in the region. Offering a full range of gaming, you can enjoy the excitement of the casino action and then relax by the beautiful, swim up bar and watch the activity at the new mega-yacht marina. Whether swimming, snorkeling, fishing or planning your future trip to the upcoming golf course, there is something for everyone, every hour of every day. the 24/7 playground in paradise.
Belize Beach Resort#11
The Cove is one of the most beautiful and luxurious accommodations on the Ambergris Caye. A collection of eight secluded, luxurious seafront villas each elegantly decorated with its own unique style and décor. Enjoy, not only, your very own private in-bath jacuzzi, but also the chance to rise to the sounds of the ocean lapping against the shoreline, and stepping out from your master suite directly into a bevy of cascading pools just footsteps away from your bedroom door.
Each of these spacious villas is meticulously decorated and feature fully equipped gourmet kitchens, private verandahs overlooking the Caribbean, king size beds, 52″ HD Flat screen TVs, iPod™ docking stations, DVD players, and an assortment of books, games, and DVDs for you to enjoy. Private, spacious luxury is at the forefront of the tastefully adorned villas each providing all the necessities, comforts, and conveniences of home. These three bedroom villas are well suited for large family groups or couples traveling together who are seeking an intimate, secluded and elegant holiday home for extended vacations or special occasions. One and two bedroom options are also available.
If you visit Belize, please note:
Why You Should Visit Belize
Belize is a rewarding, authentic destination for travelers in search of unique, intimate experiences in a Caribbean/Central American getaway.
A Belize vacation will stir your soul, expand your mind and change your life.
Serenely situated in one of the last unspoiled places on earth, you can easily tour Belize’s rainforests, dive the Western Hemisphere’s largest barrier reef or explore mystical Maya temple cities – all during the same adventure.
The multitude of experiences offered by this compact paradise refreshes travelers of all kinds. A single day can take you cross-country through temple tours to marina-side martinis overlooking turquoise water. Belize is renowned for both its preserved ancient treasures as well as its welcoming residents – often referred to as the country’s greatest natural resource.
An enduring commitment to the preservation of Belizean lands and waters inspires a genuine and intimate connection with Belize. Wherever you come from, you are welcome to take part in extraordinary escapades without ever feeling like a stranger.
Every journey promises opportunities to capture every moment and let the senses come alive. For generations, the English-speaking people of Belize have demonstrated a cultural commitment to preserve the country’s one-of-a-kind charms.
Through a convergence of natural wonder, delightful people, savory food and rare adventures, you can truly be one with Belize.
Belize, previously British Honduras, lies on the East coast of Central America and in the heart of the Caribbean Basin. It is bordered by Mexico to the North, Guatemala to the West and South, and the Caribbean Sea to the East.
Geographically Belize is located between 15° 52′ 9″ and 18° 29′ 55″ North Latitude, and 87° 28″ and 89° 13′ 67″ West Longitude with an area of 8,866 sq. miles including 266 sq. miles of islands. The cayes or islands, the offshore atolls, and the barrier reef are the main attractions to Belize.
The barrier reef, which is the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, is 185 miles long. The cayes and atolls provide a great opportunity for SCUBA diving, snorkeling, fishing, boating, sailing, and kayaking, and also serve as a habitat for both nesting birds and turtles. In the central part of Belize, the land is higher.
It is between 1,500 and 3,680 feet above sea level in the Mountain Pine Ridge Area and the Maya Mountains.
Breathtaking waterfalls, historic Mayan cities, and majestic mountains are but a few of the attractions that can be enjoyed in this area.
The climate is subtropical, with a brisk prevailing wind from the Caribbean Sea. The country has an annual mean temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity is nicely tempered by the Sea breezes. The variation in weather further emphasizes the interesting difference in elevation, geology, plant and animal life. Summer high temperatures, are normally around 98 degrees Fahrenheit, and winter lows have rarely gone below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night.
Normally, the rainy season is usually between June and November and the dry season is between February and May. Usually, the weather becomes cooler at the end of October and this lasts up until February. Average humidity is 85 percent. Annual rainfall ranges from 50 inches in the North to 170 inches in the South.
The population of approximately 360,000 people consists of a mixture of Creoles, Garifunas, Mestizos, Mayas, Caucasians, Mennonites, Lebanese, Chinese, and East Indians. Belize has gained a widespread reputation for its friendly people.
English is the official language of Belize, Spanish is the second language and Creole is the commonly used dialect you will hear spoken throughout the country.
The Belize Dollar (BZ$) has a fixed rate of exchange of BZ$2 to US$1. Most hotels, resorts, restaurants, and tour operators will accept U.S. currency, traveler’s checks, or credit cards.
Time observed year round is GMT-6, which is the same as United States Central Standard Time. Daylight Savings Time is not observed in Belize. Learn about Belize, from beaches, food and one-of-a-kind destinations throughout our site.
When you are ready to become one with Belize, visit the Belize Vacation Planner to start mapping out the most memorable vacation you will ever take.
Best Places To Visit in Belize
One location. Countless quests.
At the north of Central America sits Belize, a spectacular country full of cultural and ecological diversity seen nowhere else in the world. Hike the ancient Mayan ruins, lost for centuries to the dense jungles. Swim with the creatures that make up the second largest barrier reef in the world. Explore the beauty of the underground through the caves carved by the country’s rivers.
Visit untouched swathes of jungle, home to the elusive jaguar. Relax along 386 kilometers of coastline staring out over the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean or on one of its over 400 tropical island paradises. Salivate over the locally caught fresh seafood. Dive the world-famous Great Blue Hole and scale Big Rock Falls.
The country’s combination of Garifuna, Mennonite, Chinese, Arab, Creole, Mayan and Mestizo influences has led to a distinct nation full of unique traditions just waiting to welcome you to Belize.
Ambergris Caye is the largest and most popular island in the northern waters of Belize and measures 25 miles long and 5 miles across. It is located just 35 miles northeast of Belize City and can be reached on a 10-minute plane ride or an hour and half boat ride. Read more: https://www.belizehub.com/about-us/belize/ambergris-caye-belize/
Belmopan, Capital of Belize
Belmopan, the current capital of Belize, holds a number of distinctions. Belmopan is the smallest national capital in the region with just 17,000 residents and was built as a brand-new city in 1970 after the long-time colonial capital of Belize City suffered catastrophic damage from Hurricane Hattie in 1961. Read more: https://www.belizehub.com/belmopan
Some of the most popular attractions in Belize City include the historic Baron Bliss Lighthouse, the country’s Supreme Court, the beautiful St. John’s Cathedral, and the House of Culture. Another popular local attraction is the Museum of Belize. First built in 1857, the structure served as a prison until 2002, when it was transformed into a museum dedicated to showcasing the country’s heritage. Read more: https://www.belizehub.com/about-us/belize/belize-city/
Belize Islands and Atolls
The waters off the coast of Belize are dotted with more than 450 beautiful small islands, known locally as cayes (“keys”), as well as tiny atolls that rise up from the floor of the Caribbean Sea. Some of these tiny islands and atolls are uninhabited, but visitors are increasingly being drawn to the rich abundance of marine life and gorgeous coral reefs that can be seen in the waters offshore. Read more: https://www.belizehub.com/about-us/belize/belize-islands-and-atolls/
If “off the beaten track” is the only type of vacation you enjoy, you owe it to yourself to spend time on Caye Caulker, the Belize getaway island that’s geologically nothing more than a sand bar over limestone that forms ancient caves atop the ocean floor. This island is so laid back and mellow, nervous business types find it downright irritating, as Caye Caulker is something of a magnet for backpacking, bohemian souls who think nothing of bringing two changes of clothing for a long visit. Read more: https://www.belizehub.com/about-us/belize/caye-caulker/
The northernmost district (state) in the country, Corozal has long been overlooked by most tourists, although that is beginning to change.
Near the district’s capital of Corozal Town can be found the Maya ruins of Santa Rita and Cerros. The ruins now known as Santa Rita once controlled vital trade routes between present-day Mexico and Guatemala. After the Caste War ended in 1901 in neighboring Mexico, thousands of ethnic Mestizos emigrated to Corozal to become farmers. Read more: https://www.belizehub.com/about-us/belize/corozal-district/
How did a sleepy little fishing village on the coast of the Stann Creek District in Belize gain a reputation for being the nation’s #1 cultural destination? A little luck. A rich heritage. And proximity to some of the most remarkable sights, sounds and experiences Belize has to offer—so many, you’ll understand how Hopkins gained so notable a reputation despite its small size. Read more: https://www.belizehub.com/about-us/belize/hopkins-belize/
Orange Walk Town is the fourth largest town in Belize and is located 53 miles north of Belize City. The town is known for its diversity and visitors come to explore Mayan sites like Cuello and Lamanai (pictured above) and a variety of other natural parks. Read more: https://www.belizehub.com/about-us/belize/orange-walk-belize/
Veteran travelers have been known to joke about vacations they’ve taken that sent them to a different area of one or more countries daily. “If it’s Tuesday, it must be Orange Walk!” we overheard a woman say as she tried to match the day with her itinerary. Of course, seeing lots of places when going abroad is fun, but nothing surpasses an immersion, which is why we recommend targeting one area of Belize: Placencia. Read more: https://www.belizehub.com/about-us/belize/placencia-belize/
No visitor departs Belize without leaving a piece of their heart behind, and this is particularly true of travelers who have found their own version of paradise in San Ignacio, a glorious, friendly destination that’s so close to Guatemala, you can get a second stamp on your passport if you insist on leaving Belize. But, why bother? There’s so much to see, do, taste and learn in the district known simply as “Cayo,” your time and energy are much better spent in this intriguing area of Belize. Need to plan your trip so you don’t waste a minute of time? Start with our suggestions and you’ll be ready to fly. Read more: https://www.belizehub.com/about-us/belize/cayo-district-belize/
Stann Creek District
Located on the coast of southeastern Belize, the Stann Creek District is home to the popular tourist destinations of Placencia Village, the peninsula of Placencia, and the Garifuna village of Hopkins.
With approximately 34,000 residents, the Stann Creek District is home to a wide variety of indigenous and local peoples, including the Mestizos, the Creole community, the Garifuna, and descendants of the Maya. Without any large metropolitan areas, visitors are drawn to the Stann Creek District because it is a unique opportunity to explore the authentic slow-paced Central American lifestyle of Belize. Read more: https://www.belizehub.com/about-us/belize/stann-creek-district/
Every inch of Belize could be described as lush, but if you are interested in seeing a primeval world that’s as natural as it gets, a trip to the Toledo District will prove to be an eye-opener. There are approximately 1,700 square miles of rain forests, rivers, offshore islands, jungle and even mountains, making it the least-developed of Belize’s districts—but perhaps the most fascinating. Read more: https://www.belizehub.com/about-us/belize/toledo-district/
The Top 10 Things to Do in Belize
The wisest move you can make when planning your Belize trip is to fill your itinerary with variety. Sure, you want beach time, hammock time and your fill of fabulous restaurants, and if you read more than one guide book, you’ll spot commonalities despite different editor picks. But why bother to read guides when our list of Top 10 things to do in Belize includes all of the hot spots? After all, we want you to spend that extra time shopping for flip-flops and bathing suits!
1. Go beachcombing. No Belize beach is identical, and since the country’s coastline runs an impressive 175 mile stretch along the Caribbean Sea, prioritize the most highly-recommended: Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, the Placencia Peninsula and the southernmost beaches in Hopkins. Kill two birds with one stone near the Belize Barrier Reef, because you can swim to your heart’s content without worrying about undercurrents. If you long for privacy, 200 little cayes along the coast–a majority of which are deserted–should do it for you.
|2. Talk to the animals at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary—if they come out! As the only jaguar reserve on the planet, this property is vast and filled with jungle hiking trails, so whether you come for a day or stay at a rental cabin onsite (book in advance), explore this area to your heart’s content and learn about U.S. research scientist Alan Rabinowitz, whose persistence and energy morphed this reserve from great idea to popular destination. Bring hiking boots. There are over 128,000 acres of lush jungle edged by the Cockscomb Mountain Range, and you wouldn’t want sore feet to keep you from seeing it all.
3. If the only cat you care to see is the one you left home, tour Belize’s Cultural Capitals, Dangriga and Hopkins Village, both homes of Punta Rock, the lively pairing of traditional and contemporary music that’s the signature sound of Belize. Love a good party? Stick around Dangriga Town, the capital of the Stann Creek District, where festivals and celebrations are frequent and ongoing. Some are traditional affairs showcasing the Garifuna people who settled in Belize a century ago. Take drumming lessons or spot an impromptu dance party. In this area of Belize, nobody needs an excuse to express their joy.
4. You’ll have plenty of Mayan ruins to choose from in Belize, but if you don’t get your fill, it’s just a short drive to Tikal in Guatemala. Will you need to cross that border when so many ballparks, palaces, stele and temples built by former residents exist? No way. Maya centers like Xunantunich, Caracol, Altun Ha and Lubaantun showcase both buildings and objects d’art, carvings, paintings, jade, pottery, vessels, ritual objects and enough folklore to keep you happy as you (and your imagination) wander places that time seems to have forgotten.
5. If you can only see one Mayan site during your visit, make it Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM), a cave that requires stamina to reach it. After being driven to the ATM Cave, you must hike through the jungle and slog through water to access chamber after chamber of limestone caverns (lit only by beacons affixed to hard hats). Your walk ends at the biggest surprise of all, The Cathedral. This ceremonial chamber is filled with remnants of rituals performed here: a crystal-encrusted skeleton, human bones, altars, pottery and artifacts. You must be accompanied by a licensed guide since this fragile cave is protected by laws, rules and regulations. Even cameras are prohibited.
6. There’s no sign that reads “Welcome to Hiker Heaven” at Belize’s international airport, but there should be. Giving in to your inner trekker not only gets you up close and personal with the plants, creatures, jungles, flowers and forests of Belize, but you’ll get a lesson in ecological responsibility as well. Whether your taste runs to guided walks, mountain trails or you’re up for wandering on your own with map in hand, trails and paths are marked, so rest assured, you won’t get too lost. Don’t want to hike? Get yourself some wheels. If your lodging doesn’t loan bikes to guests, there’s likely a rental resource nearby, so you’ve no excuse to skip exercising when you visit.
7. Go up a creek with a paddle, down a river or do both courtesy of Belize’s network of rivers that connect so efficiently, Belize commerce once relied completely on these waterways. The largest among them are the Mopan and Macal Rivers that flow into the Belize River; you can canoe, sail or kayak these waters so ask your resort host to fix you up. Alternately, take a fishing cruise on the New River, Sarstoon or Temash. Adventure-seekers will find whitewater challenges in some places while those seeking a slow and easy cruise won’t miss a photo opportunity along these jungle-edged waters.
8. The Museum of Belize is headquartered in Belize City at the junction of Gabourel and Hutson Streets. It’s a nostalgic remnant of Colonial British architecture with a fascinating history. Built originally to house prisoners in the 1800s, the museum was fully-functional as late as 1993, at which point, it was restored and turned into a museum. You’ll still see cells, graffiti, chains and balls, but they’re used as decoration to enhance permanent exhibits that include romantic aspects of Belize’s history: Maya artifacts, treasures left behind by buccaneers and pirates and a history of Belize’s labour movement.
9. Commune with the animals housed at the Belize Zoo; they’re all treated like honoured guests rather than caged specimens clinging to iron bars. Designed to emulate natural habitats, the zoo is is home to a jungle of native plants, trees and flowers so more than 150 animals indigenous to Belize feel right at home here. This special population is composed of rehabilitated and orphaned animals in addition to those born here at the zoo. Located west of Belize City, the Zoo is across the road from the Tropical Education Center. It’s worth the drive to visit both.
10. Go big or go home! Far be it from us to remind you that life awaits back home, but you can’t leave Belize until you see the stars in the nation’s constellation: Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker and the Placencia Peninsula, known as the Big Three. Each area has a flavour and vibe that distinguishes it from the others. You will want for nothing when you divide your time between them, because merchants and residents alike adore tourists. Expect gourmet dining, ethnic eateries, attractions and a collection of lodgings that is so extensive, if you can’t find the accommodation you crave at each location, it might not exist.
Is Belize Safe to Visit
Is Belize Safe for Tourists?
While no country is completely free of risks to the international visitor, in general, travel in Belize is very safe.
Visiting Belize offers some unique challenges and it is a good idea to be prepared ahead of time to ensure that your visit to the country goes smoothly.
Generally, Belize is a very safe and peaceful country where tens of thousands of tourists visit every year without incident. But as in all countries, it’s always a good idea to use common sense and take normal precautions so that you too can experience a safe and enjoyable vacation.
Belize is largely a very rural country, but its formal capital and largest municipality, Belize City, has a few urban issues found in cities all across the world. Tourists should stick to public areas, avoiding low-income neighborhoods. At nighttime, lighting can be inadequate in some areas, so traveling by taxi is always recommended even for short distances in urban areas. Some areas of Belize City have experienced gang activity, but these are far away from popular tourist attractions like the historic downtown district, the Fort George Tourism Village, and the Baron Bliss Lighthouse.
Many tourists experience problems due to excessive drunkenness, which can exacerbate tensions and invite trouble. Likewise, flashing large amounts of cash is not recommended. Should an incident occur, tourists should never attempt to use violence, remembering that material items can always be replaced. Cash is widely accepted in Belize, but all major hotels, restaurants, resorts, and lodges accept credit cards, particularly Visa but also MasterCard, Discover, and American Express to a lesser extent.
All legal and licensed taxis in Belize bear a green license plate. Never accept a ride from someone with a vehicle without this distinctive license plate. Registered taxis will also display a sticker listing the co-op to which they belong, something you should note down in case you accidentally forget your belongings in a taxi.
It is generally recommended that visitors not travel on the roads of Belize at nighttime. Inadequate lighting, animals in the roadway, pedestrians, and poor road conditions make traveling at night hazardous. If you are renting a vehicle, make sure you park it in a secured location overnight. During the day, park it in a well-lit public area and lock up any valuables in the trunk.
The climate in Belize is quite warm, so visitors are strongly urged to stay hydrated. Although the tap water is safe to drink, bottled water is sold everywhere across the country. Visitors with sensitive skin are strongly urged to use hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen to prevent getting sunburned.
If you do encounter a problem, immediately contact the police or the manager of your hotel. The emergency number in Belize is 911, just as in the United States.
Marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and other narcotics are illegal in Belize. Visitors in possession of these substances can face serious jail time. Prostitution and other paid sexual services are also illegal. Public consumption of alcohol in a glass bottle is prohibited, but plastic cups and aluminum cans are permitted.
Any cash or financial instruments that have a total value in excess of $10,000 must be declared to a customs agent upon entering the country. Failure to do so will result in steep fines.
There are no mandatory vaccines that are required to visit Belize, but you should always check the Center for Disease Control for detailed recommendations if you are pregnant, suffer from a compromised immune system, or have an ongoing medical issue.
Statistics about incidences like armed robberies and murder can be a little misleading when it comes to Belize. Belize is a largely rural country and almost all incidences of violent crime are restricted to Belize City, the nation’s largest municipality. Almost all of these crimes involve local gang feuds and tourists are very rarely targeted. .
Due to historical disputes stemming from the colonial era, the occasional flare-up of violence on the border between Belize and Guatemala has been documented. These incidents usually involve the confrontations between governmental forces and rarely involve tourists or civilians. Visitors crossing from Belize into Guatemala are advised to stick to common transportation routes and travel in the daytime only.
With hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists entering the country every year, there is always a small chance that a visitor may become the victim of a minor crime like pickpocketing, purse snatching or burglary. Visitors are advised to never confront or resist a criminal and to immediately report all such incidences to the police.
As a tropical country, Belize is more prone to contagious diseases. Mosquito-born illnesses like dengue fever occasionally experience sporadic outbreaks. Visitors to Belize are advised to use insect repellant when outdoors and to stay in facilities protected with mosquito screens and nets at night. There have been only a few isolated cases of the Zika virus in Belize, an illness primarily transmitted by mosquitos.
Due to poor infrastructure, road accidents can pose a risk to anyone traveling in Belize, especially on rural roads. Public buses and some taxis are often in poor condition and may lack critical safety equipment. Visitors are advised to travel with modern vehicles only. By law, all registered taxis in Belize have to display a green license plate.
Some water taxis are poorly maintained and do not have sufficient safety equipment. Some boat captains may sail in bad weather or with too many passengers on board. Visitors are advised to sail only in calm weather aboard modern vessels containing a full range of safety gear. All boat captains and dive tour operators are required to be licensed by the government of Belize. Visitors are encouraged to verify licenses, references and equipment before boarding any boat.
Best Time To Visit Belize
The best time to visit Belize is from mid-November to April. This peak tourist season boasts plenty of sunshine making it an ideal time for exploring rainforests, scuba diving and lounging on the white sandy beaches.
There is no clear answer to the question when is the best time to visit Belize? because there is always something exciting to do and see in the country. The drier, warm months are more popular with tourists, but the off-season rainier months can be a great opportunity to partake in fishing, snorkeling, or diving. With plenty of colorful and lively festivals occurring throughout the year, visitors to Belize are sure to find plenty of excitement no matter when they arrive.
The Two Seasons of Belize
The weather in Belize is divided into two seasons, the dry season and the rainy season. Both seasons are approximately equal in terms of temperature, although the rainy season is slightly cooler. Because more tourists come to Belize during the drier months, this is known locally as the “high season”, with correspondingly higher rates for accommodation and entertainment venues. The “low season” is when fewer visitors come to Belize, and lodging costs are roughly a third to half as much as during the high season.
Generally speaking, the best time for visitors to experience Belize is between late November and early April, which falls during the country’s dry season. Thousands of tourists come to Belize during this time of the year, drawn to the delightfully warm temperatures, sunny skies, and many local festivals and celebrations.
Less popular for tourists is the period between late April and the month of May, as humidity levels rise to truly tropical levels, and daytime highs top out in the low 100s Fahrenheit. The period from June to early November is the rainy season, with regular precipitation and tropical storms and strong winds. Less popular with tourists, but still a good time to visit, is the period between September and October, when rains tamper off somewhat.
High Season in Belize – November to April
The height of the dry season, the skies remain clear and sunny, and temperatures average about 80 Fahrenheit. Starting in late December, strong winds come bearing down from the north, known locally as “northers”, which will continue off and on through February. Starting in March, the weather becomes more calm, and temperatures become much more pleasant. March and April are prime months for scuba diving and snorkeling, as the waters off the coast become more tranquil and calm. Local hotels usually offer off-season rates during March and April.
Low Season in Belize – June to November
The green season in Belize, which can sometimes see hurricanes and other strong tropical storms. The height of the rainy season are the months of August, September, and October, which feature near-daily rain showers. Daytime temperatures range from the mid 70s to mid 80s Fahrenheit. Fewer tourists come to Belize during this period, but intrepid visitors can take advantage of off-season rates.
Festivals in Belize
The local people of Belize love to celebrate, with regular festivals and holidays spread throughout the year where people can dance, drink, and have a good time. With some of the most lively festivals in all of Central America, Belize is a great place for visitors to see the colorful side of life.
The most popular tourist events in Belize are the numerous Lobster Festivals. After the lobster season opens in mid-June, different localities in Belize each hold their own lobster festival, including in Caye Caulker, Placencia, and San Pedro, each dedicated to fresh seafood, dancing, and music.
Another popular party in Belize is the International Costa Maya Festival. Held in the city of San Pedro in mid-August, visitors from around the world can revel in a this week-long celebration of heritage with beauty pageants, parades, and parties. Also held in August is the Deer Dance Festival, where indigenous locals strut their best steps to the beat of the drum.
The month of September is jam-packed with festivals, as locals celebrate Independence Day, the big party of Carnival, as well as St. George’s Caye Day. Other popular celebrations held throughout the year include the Battle of the Drums, the delicious Toledo Cacao Festival, the world-renowned La Ruta Maya River Challenge, and Garifuna Settlement Day. October is a great time to visit, as the World Indigenous Music Festival features hundreds of musicians celebrating their rich cultural heritage.
Month By Month Guide To Traveling in Belize
When the cold winter winds blow, dumping snow and ice on North America, the best place to be in January is Belize. With clear skies, and lovely balmy temperatures, you can swim in the warm waters of the Caribbean or simply sun yourself on one of the sugar sand beaches. If you’re looking for something more adventurous, you can explore the tropical rain forests, cruise up jungle rivers to spot birds, or go snorkeling off the biggest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere.
Belize is also a great place to ring in the New Year, giving your soul, mind, and body a chance to rejuvenate and start off fresh.
Belize Weather in January: Generally mild temperatures, with intermittent rainfall. The end of the month marks the beginning of the dry season, so January is a very popular month for visitors to come experience Belize. Daytime highs average around 80°F (27°C) with nights around 70°F (21°C).
February is one of the best months to visit Belize. With delightfully warm tropical weather and endless sunny skies, February is a great time to escape the snow and cold up north and come relax on a beach or splash in the warm waters of the Caribbean.
Belize Weather in February: Very little rainfall and cool breezes make for very pleasant weather in February. Daytime highs average around 80°F (27°C) and nights rarely drop below 70°F (21°C), making this winter month still warm enough for T-shirts and sandals.
With fantastic weather, Belize in March is at the top of tourist season, with countless opportunities to fish, dive, snorkel, sail, and explore the lush landscape of tropical rainforests, mountain peaks, and rich fertile plains. March is also when many high-energy festivals and celebrations occur throughout the country, making it the perfect time to visit the tropical paradise of Belize.
Belize Weather in March: Almost no rainfall, so the weather is extremely pleasant for visitors celebrating Easter in Belize. Temperatures during the day are around 83F (28°C), while nights stay breezy but warm at around 74F (23°C). One of the balmiest and most enjoyable times for visitors to experience Belize.
April is the best month to visit Belize, preferred by many visitors because the large crowds of Easter and Spring Break have begun to taper off. With plenty of warm sunny weather and fewer crowds, April is a fantastic time to visit Belize. Whether you’re interested in exploring Maya ruins, swimming with whale sharks, tubing down a river through a series of caves or simply enjoying a lovely holiday in a tropical paradise, there’s plenty on offer in Belize in the month of April.
Belize Weather in April: Warmer temperatures mark the onset of the “Iguana Rains”, short, refreshing rain showers that keep temperatures pleasantly warm and excess humidity at bay. Days can get up to around 85°F (29°C) while nights stay comfortably warm at around 76°F (24°C).
May is a great month to visit Belize because numerous resorts, hotels, and tour companies offer huge discounts on accommodations, tours, and all inclusive vacation packages making it affordable for travelers to enjoy an exquisite and amazing Belize vacation.
The weather is also fantastic in May and there are endless activities that you can partake in such as scuba diving with whale sharks, exploring the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, bird watching in the rainforest, and taking a dip at Belize’s top waterfalls like Big Rock and Rio on Pools in the Mountain Pine Ridge.
Another big reason to visit Belize in May is that there are fewer tourists in the country and thus you can enjoy all of the top attractions thoroughly and without rushing.
Belize Weather in May: One of the warmer months, daytime temps are generally around 87°F (31°C), while it’s easy to enjoy the nightlife with temps falling to only around 79°F (26°C). Some light showers occur in the morning, while some nights see the occasional thunderstorm.
Slightly cooler and with better breezes than the months of April and May, June in Belize is a wonderful time to visit. Probably the best attraction for seafood lovers is all of the festivals throughout Belize that celebrate the beginning of the lobster season. The islands of Ambergris Caye and Caulker Caye, and the peninsula of Placencia, each hold their own special festival dedicated to all things lobster.
June is also a great time to visit Belize as airfare from the United States is more affordable than ever. Major airlines like Delta, American Airlines and Southwest all run specials, and Belize is only 3-5 hours’ flying time from several major American cities.
Belize Weather in June: Warming temperatures are moderated by plenty of fresh Caribbean breezes, with an average daytime high of 84°F (29°C), with warm nights as well at around 80°F (27°C). Expect to see a short rain shower on most afternoons that will quickly transition to sunny skies once again. One of the most enjoyable times for visitors to experience Belize.
July is one of the best months to enjoy a vacation in Belize. With fewer crowds and most resorts and hotels offering deep discounts, July is a wonderful time to visit. Air carriers in the United States offer affordable rates on direct flights from several major American cities, and there is plenty to do and see in Belize.
Belize Weather in July: The heart of the summer, July daytime highs average around 86°F (30°C), while nights stay pleasantly warm with an average of 79°F (26°C). Expect to see plentiful rain showers in the early morning, and fairly frequent thunderstorms during the night. Fishing, diving and snorkeling opportunities are fantastic during this month.
Unlike the scorching temperatures found in most of the United States, August in Belize is filled with balmy weather and lots of sunshine. With fewer crowds and lots of advantageous discounts on tours and lodging, August is a great month to come and visit this gem of a country located on the shores of the Caribbean Sea immediately south of Mexico.
Belize Weather in August: As the rainy season takes a break, August is known locally as the “Little Dry” month. The weather in Belize in August stays nice and warm, with daytime highs of about 86°F (30°C), while nights stay balmy at 78°F (26°C), making it perfect beach and swimming weather.
September is an outstanding time to visit Belize as airlines offer competitive rates, resorts and lodges offer discounts, and tours and popular spots are less crowded. With great weather and plenty of sunshine, September is when Belizeans come home from abroad to participate in a month-long celebration of their national heritage and history.
Belize Weather in September: Expect to see a brief resumption of regular rains during this month, especially early in the morning and during the night, but most days stay sunny and clear. Daytime temps average about 81°F (27°C), while nights stay pleasant with a low of 77°F (25°C).
The leaves might be turning and the weather getting chilly in North America during the month of October, but there’s plenty of sunshine, warmth, and adventures to be had in Belize during October. The weather does actually cool down in Belize during October, but that’s a good thing! The weather will be perfect for sailing, snorkeling, swimming, or enjoying one of the many festivals and fun events that take place in October.
Belize Weather in October: The rainy season begins in earnest, with more regular bouts of heavier rainfall. Occasionally, stronger rain storms known as “Northers” will bring plenty of precipitation, especially in the region of the Maya Mountains, which can see heavy rain for days at a stretch.
Daytime highs are slightly cooler, with a high of about 79°F (26°C), and lows reaching around 75°F (24°C).
November may mean cold winds and wintry weather in North America, but balmy temperatures and sunny skies in Belize make it the perfect time to visit. With the big crowds arriving later for Christmas and New Years, November is the ideal time to enjoy fabulous weather with plenty of affordable deals on tours, transportation, and lodging at some of the top resorts and lodges in the country.
Belize Weather in November: The coolest month in this tropical nation, daytime highs average about 76°F (24°C), with nights dipping down to around 73°F (23°C). Although these temperatures seem warm to visitors from America and Canada, this marks the beginning of winter for locals.
December might herald cold winds and snow across North America, but it’s a month of long, sunny days and warm temperatures perfect for snorkeling, swimming, sailing, and hiking in Belize.
With all of the top airlines, including Delta, United, American, and Southwest, offering non-stop service from the United States, it’s now easier and more affordable than ever to enjoy an exotic getaway vacation in Belize. Whether you’re an adventure traveler, want to celebrate your honeymoon, or simply looking for a fun family vacation, Belize has something for everyone.
Belize Weather in December: This month usually starts with plenty of rain, but the end of the year heralds the start of the dry season. The last month of the year sees daytime highs at a pleasant average of 80°F (27°C), while nights average around 75°F (24°C), making Belize the perfect place to enjoy a balmy Christmas on the beach.
Belize Travel Tips
Although a relatively small country, Belize – approximately the same size as Massachusetts – it is home to one of the most diverse natural habitats on Earth. Few spots on the globe can rival the gorgeous tropical landscape, complete with an enormous coral reef offshore. On land, the Belizean countryside is dotted with the ruins of huge Mayan cities, interspersed in a kaleidoscope of tropical rainforests and jungles. The people of Belize are a patchwork of indigenous and local cultures, with a rich history and proud craftsmanship traditions still preserved in hundreds of villages.
For many years, tourists neglected Belize in favor of more popular destination spots in Mexico such as Cancun, Cozumel, and Tulum. But today, Belize is becoming increasingly popular as vacationers can luxuriate in jungle lodges, climb large Maya temples, snorkel in the crystal clear waters, and relax in the slow-paced lifestyle that characterizes much of Belize. Located on the edge of the Caribbean Sea, Belize has hundreds of miles of gorgeous beaches, while inland rain forests and mountain slopes are home to large nature reserves. Over 450 small islands (known locally as “cayes”) and atolls can be found just off the coast, offering unparalleled opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
The largest island in Belize, Ambergris Caye, is a popular destination spot for visitors. A true tropical paradise, the island has laid-back beaches with waterfront bars, and the island is home to numerous clubs and places to dance until dawn.
How to Save Money in Belize
Belize is still one of the most affordable places to visit in Central America, but the budget-conscious traveler can save money and explore this beautiful country by:
- Visit during the low season – Otherwise known as the green season, lodging and entertainment is between 30-50% cheaper from May and October than during the peak months. As long as you don’t mind the occasional light rain shower, you’ll be able to explore Belize in all of its glory during these less popular months.
- Inquire about family discounts – Many hotels and resorts offer special pricing for children under the age of 12, and most also offer baby-sitting services. Many rooms also feature small kitchenettes, as well as extra amenities, so be sure to ask about special family discounts when booking your room.
- Take the bus – While some visitors prefer to rent their own car, gasoline is quite expensive in Belize. It’s usually far cheaper to take one of the numerous public buses. Watch out though for the infamous “chicken buses”, decrepit overcrowded vehicles that offer little in the way of safety or comfort.
Culture and Customs in Belize
Before becoming an overseas British colony, the land now known as Belize was the heartland of the Ancient Mayan Empire. Functioning as an important trade route for goods and valuable resources between what is now Guatemala and Mexico during the Classic Period of the Mayan Empire (roughly A.D. 250 to 950), Belize was also an important religious center as well. Visitors to Belize can explore more than 1,400 different known Mayan religious, ceremonial, and urban sites.
In the early part of the 17th century, Belize came under the jurisdiction of the British Empire, which is why English is the official language of this Central American country. The British established numerous sugar plantations, bringing in Creole peoples and the Garifuna from nearby Caribbean islands. Officially known as “British Honduras” until 1981, today Belize is a rich blend of different cultures and traditions.
With approximately 350,000 residents, Belize is home to over a dozen distinct cultures. The largest ethnic group in the country are known as Mestizos (Spanish for “mixed”), descended from European and Mayan ancestors. The second largest population group are the Creoles, forming about a quarter of the population, descended from peoples originally from other locations in the Caribbean. Other ethnic groups in Belize include the descendants of the Maya, including peoples of the Yucatec, Mopan, and Ketchi tribes. Also present are the Garifuna, who arrived in Belize just over 100 years ago, a mix of African emigrants who escaped persecuting in nearby Caribbean islands. Other ethnic groups found in Belize include British, German, East Indian, Spanish, and people of Mexican descent.
The official language of Belize is English, which most of the population speaks. Also quite popular is Spanish, spoken by about half of the people in the country, as well as the Creole and Garifuna languages. With plenty of retired immigrants from Canada and the United States, Belize is a true melting pot, with dozens of different cultures living peacefully together. Known for their hospitality and laid-back friendly attitude, the people of Belize are truly special.
The dress code in Belize, even for most formal events, is rather casual, with shorts and sandals perfectly appropriate almost everywhere. Due to its abundant coastline and rich ethnic heritage, the food in Belize is a mix of Caribbean and African influences, with lots of local seafood delicacies including conch served with beans and rice, chimole, and shrimp ceviche. The fertile tropical soil of Belize means that you can always get fantastic fresh fruit, as well as cashew, cacao (chocolate), sopadilla, and soursop.
Bottled water is a must, as it is not recommended that you drink tap water unless you are sure it has been purified and boiled. The U.S. State Department also advises visitors to Belize to get vaccinated for hepatitis A and typhoid, as well as ensuring that your vaccinations for tetanus and diphtheria are still valid.
When eating in restaurants, tipping between 10 and 20% is expected for good service, and cash is always preferred. There’s no need to tip taxi drivers, as fares are all-inclusive.
The local currency in Belize is known as the Belizean Dollar (BZD), but American dollars are accepted almost everywhere. The Belizean Dollar is permanently pegged to the American dollar at a 2 to 1 ratio (2 Belizean Dollars are 1 U.S. dollar), making it very easy to convert prices.
Tourism forms the biggest part of the local economy, and most tourist spots are very safe. Nonetheless, it is wise to always be vigilant against petty thefts and pickpocketing. Organized crime has gained a foothold in this otherwise laid-back country, particularly strong in Belize City, where violent crime has recently seen an upsurge. When traveling to Belize, it is recommended that you stay in groups, monitor your belongings at all times, and always carry a copy of your passport with you.
Ten things to know before traveling to Belize
Belize is the vacation destination of a lifetime waiting to happen. It is incredibly beautiful and warmly welcoming. It comfortably close to home for Northern American visitors. It is surprisingly affordable and is sure to provide tons of fun for all members of the family but before booking your adventure vacation to the “Jewel” here’s what you need to know.
1.) It was home to ancient Mayan cities and civilizations and there are many ruins and archaeological sites scattered across the country. These mysterious historical monuments offer a glimpse into the past of the people who once inhabited the land.
2.) Belize was first occupied by Spain but later became a British colony. It was granted independence from Great Britain in 1981 and remains a member of the Commonwealth nations.
3.) It is locked in an age-old territorial dispute with Guatemala, which claims Belize as part of its territory. The countries are currently in the process of arranging measures to settle the dispute in the International Court of Justice.
4.) Early in the country’s development, its economy depended heavily on agriculture and later oil but now tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner hence its emphasis on providing an excellent tourist experience.
5.) The exchange rate from Belize to US dollars is 2:1 meaning tourists get more bang for their buck. Credit cards are accepted but having cash on hand is encouraged since ATMs are few and most businesses charge 5 percent for using credit cards.
6.) There are no Visa requirements for citizens of the European Union, CARICOM, the US, Costa Rica, Chile, Guatemala, Iceland, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia, Uruguay and Commonwealth territories.
7.) There is a US $35 departure tax to be paid when leaving the country.
8.) Visitors can legally drive in Belize with an international driver’s license and a passport.
9.) There are plenty of bugs and insects in Belize so visitors are advised to keep bug spray and repellent handy.
10.) Tipping is not mandatory but is encouraged. Also, some restaurant bills come with a 10 percent service charge added on.
Once you know the basics then it’s time to hit the beach at any of the award-winning world class resorts in dreamy coastal towns such as San Pedro, Caye Caulker or Placencia. If you fancy something a little less salty there are plenty more resorts located inland with spectacular mountain and jungle views. The small size of the country means getting from the beach to the mountains is just a short drive away.
Belize is a wonderful destination for an unforgettable romantic getaway or a relaxing family retreat. Belize is also the only Central American nation with English as its first language. It’s also home to the second largest barrier reef system in the world. Its small population (360,000) includes a richly diverse cultural mix and the residents are friendly, hospitable and are willing to accommodate. Many tourists come to Belize and enjoy the experience so much they keep coming back for more!