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Belize Travel: Before You Go

An overview for the well-informed Belize traveler!


Belize Travel: Caye Caulker

Belize Travel: Caye Caulker

Jenny Hicks
Belize travel: Forty percent of Belize’s land mass is protected — more than any country in the world. Because of this, Belize’s natural attractions are superlative, from the translucent Caribbean waters scattered with islands (called “cayes”), to the dense inland forest abundant with wildlife. While Belize has approximately the same area as El Salvador, El Salvador is home to a staggering 6.5 million people. Belize is home to only 270,000!

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Belize Travel: Where Should I Go?

First, take a look at our Belize Travel Photo Gallery.

While Placencia in southern Belize is the country’s best mainland beach, the most popular island is long, skinny Ambergris Caye. Ambergris’s main settlement, San Pedro, is probably the most cosmopolitan in Belize — yet it’s still quintessentially Caribbean. Just south of Ambergris Caye lies Caye Caulker, a smaller, funkier, and less expensive version of its big sister island.

Because the second largest coral reef in the world fully borders Belize, diving (or at least snorkeling) is a necessity. Both Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are great bases to explore the reef and outlying cayes (like South Water Caye). You can also take a boat trip out and dive the Great Blue Hole, a perfectly circular, ocean-locked sinkhole plummeting hundreds of feet.

Inland, heavily forested San Ignacio in the eastern region of Cayo is Belize’s adventure sports epicenter. In Orange Walk, the Maya ruins of Lamanai are worth a visit, if only for the gem-like birds swooping overhead on the riverboat journey to the ruins.

Belize Travel: What Are the People Like?

Belize’s complex Caribbean culture is as much of a reason to visit the country as its breathtaking natural beauty. Once a British colony, Belize is now a true melting pot—among its ethnic groups are the Creole, Mestizo, Maya, Garifuna, and even Mennonites. English remains the official language, though with a few linguistic twists!

Belize Travel: What Can I See?

Belize’s territory actually consists of more ocean than land, with the second largest barrier reef in the world running through it. Whether you strap on a snorkel or a dive tank, below the surface you’ll marvel at scenes straight out of a Cousteau documentary. Back on shore, Belize’s inland jungles flourish with wildlife like monkeys, anteaters, parrots, ocelots, and tapirs—Belize’s national animal. Belize also boasts the only jaguar reserve in the world, and the highest waterfall in Central America.

Belize Travel: How Do I Get There and Around?

Belize is well-served by public bus, ranging from the creaky and rundown to the air-conditioned. Cabs are widespread in larger settlements. Larger islands Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are served by water taxi as well as small aircraft from Belize City.

Travelers can cross into Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula through Corozal in northern Belize, and into Guatemala in the east (via San Ignacio, or Cayo). It’s also possible to travel to and from Guatemala via motorboat: between Punta Gorda in Belize, and Livingston or Puerto Barrios in Guatemala. Infrequent boats also run between Belize and the Bay Islands of Honduras—-ask around.

Belize Travel: How Much Will I Pay?

Prices in Belize are extremely easy to figure out—since one US dollar is equal to two Belize dollars, all you have to do is halve them!

Costs in Belize are typically the highest in Central America. When arriving from Guatemala or Honduras, prepare to be unpleasantly surprised. But it’s still possible to get by on $20-$25 US a day, especially if you travel by bus and dine at less touristy establishments.

Belize Travel: What Will I Eat?

Check out our article on Belize Food and Drink.

Belize Travel: When Should I Go?

Belize’s driest season is between November and April, while June and September tend to be the wettest months.

The first weekend of July is Caye Caulker’s Lobsterfest, a unforgettable celebration. Placencia holds a summertime Lobsterfest as well. On Ambergris Caye, the weeklong San Pedro International Costa Maya Festival is an explosion of color and music, as is the island’s Mardi Gras, called Carnival. If you plan on visiting any of these areas during the festivities, be sure to book ahead.

Belize Travel: How Safe Will I Be?

Immunizations against Hepatitis A, B, and Typhoid are recommended for all travelers to Belize, as well as standard booster shots like tetanus and measles. Also make sure to take malaria prophylaxis with cholorquine before, during and after your stay.

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