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.
A Comprehensive Belize Safety Guide
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.
Belize Travel & Safety Tips Worth Noting:
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.
Contact us and we will provide you with Belize safety tips and the best information on where to stay and things to see and do in the country.