● International dialling code: +501
● Emergency numbers: 90 or 911
● Tourism Police (in Belize City): 227-6082
Belize is a natural paradise with a host of wonders like the world's second-longest barrier reef, and the 120 metre-deep Blue Hole - one of the world's most iconic dive sites. Wildlife enthusiasts can expect to find toucans, iguanas, howler monkeys, coatimundis, kinkajous, tapirs and even jaguars in Belize's jungles and countryside.
Ancient sites like Xunantunich, Caracol, Lubaantun, Altun Ha, and Lamanai make for excellent day trips, while the subterranean adventure into the Cave of the Stone Sepulchre (Actun Tunichil Muknal) is a truly unforgettable and unique experience
With a population of around 400,000, Belize is the second-smallest country in Central America, making it fairly easy to navigate. But it's also one of the more expensive countries in the region; tours and trips can add up - but the country remains accessible to backpackers and is a safe destination for families. Here's what you need to know before you visit.
The subtropical climate means that temperatures are warm in Belize throughout the year. In the dry season from January to May temperatures are between 20–27°C. While the wet season from June to December is a little more hot and humid with temperatures of around 22–32°C.
Peak tourist season runs from January to March, including the lively Carnaval festivals in February, prices tend to be higher than later in the year. April and May are the best times to visit as it’s not too humid, but the prices and crowds have started to drop for the wet season.
Taxis and shuttle services offer a good, if a little expensive, way of getting around in Belize - Belizing are a popular shuttle service that can save big on airport taxi fares.
If you really want to explore all of the off-the-beaten-track spots and see the best of Belize, renting a car is the way to go. You will find all of the usual global brands at the airport along with local car hire company Crystal Auto Rental. Make sure to get a 4WD, as many of the sites in Belize lie well off of the highways on unsealed roads. Prices start from around US$50 per day.
If you're travelling Belize on a budget, 1950s retired American Bluebird buses run across the length and breadth of the country connecting major towns like Belize City, Belmopan, San Ignacio, Dangriga, and Punta Gorda in the south. Journeys are slow, uncomfortable and often crowded - there are no seatbelts or reserved seating and the legroom is distinctly lacking (the buses were made for children after all).
The major advantage is that journeys cost just a few dollars (cash only paid on the bus), you can flag down a bus or ask to be dropped off anywhere along the route, and they do generally stick to a timetable so are quite reliable.
From Belize City, there are regular and affordable water taxis to/from Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. And there is also a daily water taxi service to Chetumal in Mexico. On the islands, cars are banned so walk or bike instead. You can hire a golf cart to get around the larger San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, but watch out for ‘sleeping policemen’!
Most travellers will find themselves entering Belize through Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE), located 18km north-east of Belize City. It remains the country's main hub even though the capital city was officially relocated to Belmopan.
Citizens of Australia, Canada, the EU, New Zealand, the UK and the US do not need visas for stays in Belize of up to 30 days. Most other visitors must purchase a visa costing US$50 (valid for up to 90 days) - check the official website for more details.
In Belize the power plug sockets are type A, B and G and the voltage is 110 / 220V. They use the metric system of measurement like much of the world, but local maps can often be hard to find so invest in a good travel guide or download offline maps before you go.
Crime in Belize is largely drug or gang-related and doesn’t affect tourists - although Belize City has made a name for itself as being a haven for pickpockets, especially at night. Avoid the problem hotspots and stick to designated tourism zones, and Belize feels very friendly and safe.
Belize is also safe for families and solo female travel, though there can be some minor harassment in the form of catcalls. Travel insurance is always advised, but is especially important in the hurricane season.
Health standards are quite high with a good standard of hospitals as well as private physicians, well-stocked pharmacies and free walk-in clinics. Check your home country's travel advice for recommended vaccinations.
The official currency in Belize is the Belize dollar (BZ$), but US dollars are widely accepted at a rate of two-to-one. ATMs accepting international cards can be found in all of the largest towns.
Things like buses and public services only take cash, so it’s best to always have some on you. But many popular cafes, restaurants and hotels now accept debit and credit cards.
Tipping has been widely embraced from American culture, a cash tip of 5%-10% or rounding up for waiters, guides and drivers is appreciated.
Accommodation in Belize can be a little pricey when compared to other countries in Central America but standards are usually good. Hostels and campsites can be hard to find for budget travellers, but mid-range B&Bs and hotels are abundant.
Some of the best options when it comes to places to stay in Belize are homestays, jungle lodges, and eco-retreats, although as an eco-friendly destination many guesthouses and hotels will also have sustainability in mind. Read our full guide on where to stay in Belize.
Unlike many other Central American countries, English is the main language in Belize due to the fact that the country was annexed by the British in 1840 (when it was known as British Honduras).
That said it’s best not to assume that everyone speaks English - 62.9% of the population speak the official language, while Spanish is spoken by 56.6% of Belizeans. Many speak Belizean Kriol, often used interchangeably with English in conversation.
What’s up? - Weh di go aan?
How are you? - Da how yu di du?
Fine - Aarait
What time is it? - Weh taim yu gat?
I don’t understand - Mee noh andastan
It doesn’t matter - Ih noh mata
The opening hours of shops and restaurants are more suggestions than strictly adhered to. Buses and water taxis do have schedules but often run a little late.
Tap water is fine to drink in Belize, but filtered water is generally served for tourists. Belize banned single-use plastic in April 2019, so it’s easy to find refill stations for a reusable bottle.
Internet access is widespread in Belize, excluding some remote areas. Hotels, restaurants and cafes usually provide WiFi free of charge - although some tourist areas charge by the hour.
Local SIM cards can make navigating through the country much easier, get an eSim from a provider like Airalo before you arrive to save time.
Mosquitoes, venomous snakes, and tick bites can be an issue when walking in jungles, so always tuck trousers into socks and use a strong insect repellent.
It’s best to pack light in Belize, especially if you plan to use public transport. There isn’t space for heavy suitcases on public buses and backpacks are much easier on water taxis. As the weather is warm, there’s no need for many layers or bulky items like coats.
If you have a snorkel and mask, you can save a fair few dollars on rentals by bringing your own - as long as you don’t mind carrying it around.
The people in Belize are very relaxed and welcoming. It’s a diverse country, although mainly Christian there are many different ethnic groups including Creole, Maya, Garifuna, East Indian, and Mennonite.
The motto on the islands is to “go slow” and you will soon find it’s easier to go with the flow (rather than rushing and expecting things to run on time).
Food is a big part of the nation's culture with breakfast staples like fryjacks, and the ubiquitous rice and beans being staples throughout the country. Being invited into a local's house for some home-cooking is one of the best ways to experience the food and the way of life.
Belize is unfortunately not a particularly accessible destination so it’s best to book private tours for exploring the country. Public transportation is not advised, and many of the major attractions are not yet suitable for wheelchair users - in fact Belize Zoo is considered the only accessible nature experience in the country.
Head to Push Living for detailed advice on travelling with a disability in Belize from a traveller's perspective.
Last Updated 21 October 2023