Belize is the smallest country in Central America’s group of seven nations. Almost equal in size to Wales or New Jersey; Belize is situated alongside the Caribbean Sea falling in between Mexico towards the north and Guatemala towards the south and west. The far-reaching reef system and Caribbean Islands are perhaps Belize’s most astounding as well as famous spots.
The reef, a UNESCO world heritage site, is only second in size to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Belize’s other tourist attractions include large caves, tropical jungles and Mayan ruins. Travelers to Belize will love the fact that the majority of Mayans prefer to wear traditional hand-woven dresses and still perform traditional rituals and performances.
Belize Travel Info
Language: The official language of Belize is English being spoken by over sixty-five percent of the population. The other major dialect spoken after English is Spanish and Creole.
Currency: Belize Dollar.
Visa: Travelers with passports from the USA, European Union and the Caribbean do not require a visa to visit Belize.
Electricity: Belize operates on 110 volts/220 volts with a frequency of 60 Hz. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
Belize Festivals & Celebrations
Belize Carnival: Every year in September, thousands of local people as well as tourists, visit Belize City to celebrate the annual Carnival. Every street of the city is full of large processions and parades with people dancing in joy on every drum beat. The people who participate in the procession don elaborate fancy dress.
Lobster Fest: Since Belize is situated in the vicinity of the world’s second largest reef, fishing is a big deal. Every year the in month of June, especially in areas like Placencia Peninsula, Ambergris Caye, and Caye Caulker, marks the start of Lobster Fest. Along with live music, local artifacts, and taste buds tingling delicacies of lobster make this festival one of the most sought after in Belize.
Cacao fest: Belize is known to grow Cacao, one of the main ingredients involved in making chocolate. The Punta Gorda town situated in Toledo is the major contributor in the farming of Cacao. The town and nearby upcountry areas choose a weekend every year to celebrate Cacao fest. The highlight of the festival is to celebrate everything with chocolate including strange chocolate soap and chocolate beer.
Safety In Belize
Belize is a relatively safe place for tourists to travel to, despite the high crime rate. Thefts, bag snatching and scams are prevalent in all big cities around the world and Belize is no exception, so be mindful of this. I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance no matter how safe the destination is considered. You can still miss flights, lose your luggage or break a leg, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am. For this reason I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks or months before you plan to visit Belize.
Top Things To Do In Belize
Visit Ambergris Caye
This beautiful island is about 25 miles long and has an array of outdoor sports to offer including diving and snorkeling. Ambergris Caye welcomes a large number of visitors looking for easy entry into the barrier reed around the island. Hol Chan Marine Reserve is an excellent spot for divers and snorkelers, and many shops related to the activities are found at San Pedro. There are some diving schools and tours too, the prices of which depend on the length and type of the tour.
Dive into The Great Blue Hole
This deep blue hole is full of ancient stalactites and coral fringes and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The great blue hole is among the most famous scuba sites of the world. The hole is about 10,000 years old and was created when the roof of a cave crumpled in. It has some underwater tunnels, rock formations, and caverns. The stalactites are present at around 410 feet below sea level, and at the surface of the hole, you might come across the marine life.
Explore the Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Towards the southern part of the Ambergris cave lies the Hol Chan Marine reserve which is Belize’s oldest Reserve. The name means ‘little channel’ which refers to the gap filled with corals in the vast barrier reef. This zone is densely populated with aquatic animals including eels, stingrays, sharks and many other creatures. The reserve is divided into four parts, the mangroves, the seagrass bed, the reef, and the shark ray alley.
Visit Caye Caulker
This is another lively island located nearly 20 miles towards the north of Belize City. This sun-soaked atoll boasts excellent snorkeling and diving spots and a tranquil atmosphere. Although the island is not frequently visited by many tourists, the restaurants, hotels, and shops are always busy. Adventure sports enthusiasts visit often looking for some mind-blowing range of scuba, snorkeling, sailing, kayaking and fishing services.
Go Animal watching at Belize Zoo
This zoo is spread across an area of about 29 acres and makes one feel that he has entered into a jungle. The zoo is home to nearly 45 species of animals including keel-billed toucans, Jaguars, vibrant scarlet macaws, ad coral snakes. Amid the thick canopy of trees, you might get a glimpse of the howler monkeys or tropical parrots, tapir, harpy eagle or Jabiru Stork. Keep your eyes open for the beautiful cats of Belize while you are strolling across the zoo.
Be awed by the Placencia Peninsula
This is Belize’s well-known beach town that is developing at a rapid pace. The town spreads across a sixteen-mile-long peninsula and boasts an array of underwater sanctuaries and nature reserves. The beaches are tranquil and topped with rustling palm, with a beautiful backdrop of beachfront villas and serene Caribbean waters. This is the only area in Belize that has golden sands. Ensure that you try some of the best cuisines of the peninsula as the area is famous for its seafood.
Wildlife spotting at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Jaguars rule Belize, and Cockscomb Basin is the best place to see their beautiful wild cats. This vast reserve was built in the 1980s to protect the endangered species of Belize. Today many species including pumas, ocelots, tapirs, peccaries, otters, armadillos and king vultures inhabit the basin. There are several nature trails that visitors need to follow, but most visitors find these trails extremely challenging. If you visit at the start of the rainy season, you are likely to see more animals.
Visit the Cayo District
Towards the west of Belize City lies a cluster of Mayan sites amid rolling hills, serene butterfly gardens and verdant jungles. In the center of the Cayo District, you will find San Ignacio, a small town that offers excellent food and affordable accommodation. Begin your trip from the ancient Mayan ruin Xunantunich. Travel along the river Mopan that lies at a distance of one mile from the border of Guatemala. Here you will find the Xunantunich temple that was the center for ceremonies for the Mayan people.
The meaning of Lamanai is ‘submerged crocodile’ in Yucatec Mayan, and this Mayan site sprawls across 960 acres of land and is located on the New River Lagoon in Belize’s north. You will come across artifacts depicting images of reptiles including crocodiles crawling on eth river bank to laze in the sun. The compound also has three Mayan pyramids, remains of a church and a few temples and plazas dating back to the pre-classic Mayan rule.
Hike up Altun Ha
Altun Ha is another well known Mayan Site that is dotted with tombs, temples, and pyramids. This was the trading hub of the Mayan empire Classic Period. Altun Ha means ‘Rockstone Pond,’ and its main feature is an artificial lagoon which is still intact. The place has a fair population of deer, foxes, and birds and even crocodiles that inhabit the pond. You can also explore the Temple of the Green Tomb which is the burial ground of the top-most priest-kings.
Other than these top things to do in Belize, there is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Be prepared to be flexible because sometimes other travelers that you meet on your travels will have the best suggestions for things to do in Belize that are off the beaten path.
What To Eat In Belize
The amalgamation of cultures can be witnessed in the kitchens of Belize, where dishes from across the world are served with a local twist. The names might be similar, but the taste is usually unique. Some dishes that you must try the Belizean way are listed below.
Ceviche: Belizean Chivice is different from the one served all over central and South America. The chevice served in Belize is made of shrimp and raw conch. It is served raw, and the fish is soaked in lime juice and then tossed with fresh vegetables to dish out a delicious and nutritious meal.
Rice and Beans: Rice and beans are a staple of Central America and can be found anywhere in Belize. The dish is made of bean, and even shrimp, chicken, beef and lobster can be used. It is cooked in Coconut milk and annatto seeds and is served with potato salad.
Tamales: Tamales, also called bollos in Belize are a delectable option when traveling to the port of call. Beef or chicken is mixed with spices, cornmeal, and vegetables. These are then cooked in banana leaves or plantain to produce the perfect tamales.
Conch Fritters: As conch is a favorite in Belize, conch fritters are found almost all over the coastline. They are the most popular appetizer of the country. They mouthwatering mollusks are chopped, dipped in batter and then deep fried into scrumptious crispy balls. These are served with a spicy sauce.
Panadas: Panadas or Empanadas are filled with beans or fish and fried till they turn crispy. These are served with onions, cabbage, and pepper salsa on the side. They are so delicious that you will not be able to stop at just one.
Where To Stay In Belize
Belize is a very affordable place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Belize is easy even if you’re on a tight budget. Belize hostels and dormitories make travel here very affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best accommodation options have already been snapped up. Belize is a very popular year-round destination.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Belize.
If you’re backpacking in Belize or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Central America very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
Belize Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit Belize
Belize temperatures are great all year round but for sunny and dry weather in Belize, November to May is the best time to visit with the hotter weather arriving in February. The rainy season is from June to October, but the rainstorms only last a few hours at a time. Although dry season is the best time to visit Belize, this peak season draws thousands of tourists so be prepared to deal with the crowds during this time.
Belize Travel Budget
Belize is generally an affordable destination for travelers on a tight budget. The cost of your trip toBelize really depends on the level of comfort you will want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between $35 to $50 a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $50 to $100 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget about $250 plus a day.
- Budget: $15 – $35
- Mid-range: $35 – $100
- Splurge: $100 +
Meal For One
- Budget: $8 – $25
- Mid-range: $25 – $60
- Splurge: $60 +
Belize Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to Belize, like most places in Central America is easy, just remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing for dry season and warm, waterproof clothing for trips during the rainy season.
Be prepared for the weather to get extremely hot during the summer so pack a high factor sunscreen and a sun hat. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need while you’re in Belize. Prices are generally higher in smaller boutiques (aimed at tourists) than they would be online so expect to pay a premium if you don’t have the option of shopping around due to time restraints on your Central America trip.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Belize include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to Belize check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate Central America Packing List For Female Travelers.