Belize is known for it’s top scuba diving sites such as the world-famous Great Blue (sink) Hole, tropical jungles (home to jaguars and other wild cats) and ancient Mayan ruins. Situated alongside the Caribbean sea falling in between Mexico towards the north and Guatemala towards the south and west. Belize is the smallest country in Central America’s group of seven nations however the far-reaching reef system is only second in size to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
BELIZE TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
The Great Blue Hole
One of the most famous diving sites in the world, The Great Blue Hole, located off the coast of Belize, is one of the world’s biggest ocean sinkhole and a true natural wonder. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a world-class destination for recreational scuba divers attracted by the opportunity to dive in crystal-clear waters and see myriad species of marine life including tropical fish and spectacular coral formations.
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.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Towards the southern part of the Ambergris caye 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.
This 11 mile strip of land sandwiched between the Caribbean Sea and the Placencia Lagoon is an easygoing beach town that attracts lots of visitors with it’s beautiful beaches, diving, snorkeling, and saltwater fly fishing. With the look and feel of an island, it’s no surprise that Placencia is often described as the “caye (island) you can drive to.”
Towards the west of Belize City lies a cluster of Mayan sites amid rolling hills, serene butterfly gardens and jungles. In the center of the Cayo District, you will find San Ignacio, a small town that offers excellent food and affordable accommodation. Once the heart of the Belizean Maya world, it’s rich with pre-Columbian archaeological sites. Cayo is known especially for the ruins of Xunantunich, with its 39m-high El Castillo pyramid, and Caracol, the country’s largest Mayan ruin.
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BELIZE TOP 3 FESTIVALS
Every year in September, thousands of local people as well as tourists, visit Belize City to celebrate the annual Carnival. Streets are full of processions and parades with people in fancy dress dancing to the beat of the drums.
Lobsterfest in Belize is an official summer kickoff event coinciding with the first lobster harvests that continue through February 15th. As the lobster season opens, Belizeans celebrate by having this annual lobster fest in three locations, San Pedro, Caye Caulker and Placencia. With three grand festivals to choose from, the Lobster Festivals in Belize will leave your stomach full and your heart hungry for more!
The Belize Chocolate Festival was started in 2007 by a group of local cacao farmers and chocolate manufacturers. The Punta Gorda town situated in Toledo is the major contributor in the farming of Cacao and this is where the festival is held each year. The highlight of the festival could be the chocolate soap (yes really) and the chocolate beer.
Language: The official language of Belize is English which is spoken by over sixty-five percent of the population. Other major dialects spoken are Spanish and Creole.
Currency: Belize Dollar.
Visa: Nationals of the USA and the EU do not require a visa to enter Belize as a tourist for a stay of up to 30 days. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after the intended period of your stay in Belize. Use these free online visa checker and calculator tools so you know if a visa for Belize is required (which may depend on the country you are from) and how long it will take to process your visa and the cost.
Electricity: In Belize the power plugs and sockets are of type A, B and G. The standard voltage is 110/220 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz. Buy a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each new country you visit.
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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 Ceviche 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 all over Belize. The dish sometimes includes shrimp, chicken, beef or lobster, cooked in coconut milk and annatto seeds it’s often served with a potato salad.
Tamales: Tamales, also called bollos in Belize include beef or chicken, 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. The most popular appetizer in the country the mouthwatering mollusks are chopped, dipped in batter and then deep fried into crispy balls and served with a spicy sauce.
Panadas: Panadas or empanadas are filled with beans or fish and fried until they turn crispy. These are then served with onions, cabbage, and salsa on the side.
WHERE TO STAY IN BELIZE
Belize is a reasonably affordable place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Belize is super easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget.
Hostels and dormitories make travel to Belize affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget. Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, Belize will not disappoint you. A basic hotel room in Belize can cost less than $50.
If you’re looking for accommodation that includes luxury amenities and comforts then there will be endless options to choose from in the big cities and popular tourist hotspots like Belize City and Belmopan. Whatever month you choose to visit Belize, it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have been snapped up already. Belize is an extremely popular year-round destination.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Belize. However, if you are backpacking in Belize or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Belize very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies where ever you go.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
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 but dealing with crowds is an easy sacrifice to make for warm temperatures and easy access to the Belize’s top attractions.
BELIZE TRAVEL BUDGET
Belize is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to Belize really depends on the level of comfort you want. If you are backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between $35 to $50 per 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 at least $250 plus per day.
IS BELIZE SAFE FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS?
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 before your trip to Belize.
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BELIZE TOURS & ACTIVITIES
BELIZE PACKING TIPS
Packing for a trip to Belize, like most other places in Central America, is a breeze. You really don’t need as much travel gear as you may think for a trip to Belize.
That said, the gear you do bring on your trip should be the very best option available for you and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Jetset Bunnies around the globe are always discovering the latest and the greatest in travel gear for women and this is where we share our awesome finds with you.
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, most importantly, 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. Read our related blog post with advice on how to choose the best backpacks for women travelers. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
So if you’ve found your travel inspiration, figured out the practicalities and got the travel gear it’s time to stuff it all in a bag and go right? Well, no, hold your horses, you see there’s an art to packing which we have (almost) perfected. Hop to our Travel Packing Tips for all of the latest on this topic.