Planning Your Trip
Things to Do
What to Eat & Drink
Nestled along the coast of the Caribbean Sea in Central America, Belize is a tropical paradise that has much to offer travelers. From pristine beaches and lush rainforests to ancient Mayan ruins and some of the best scuba diving sites in the world, there is plenty to see and do in this magnificent country. Whether you're looking for an active, adventurous escape or a relaxing vacation in the sun, Belize can accommodate your wishes, while managing to deliver more than a few surprises along the way too.
Planning Your Trip
- Best Time to Visit: The weather in Belize is warm and tropical all year long, but some months are better than others for travelers. For instance, April and May are a good time to go, as the crowds are small and the summer rains have yet to arrive. Avoid the peak season of January if you can help it, as the crowds can be quite large.
- Language: Because Belize was a British colony for more than a century, it is the only country in Central America where English is the official language. Visitors will also hear variations of Spanish and Creole in parts of the country as well.
- Currency: The official currency used in Belize is the Belize dollar. It features a fixed exchange rate of 2 Belizean dollars to $1, and both currencies are accepted in most places.
- Getting Around: While most cities and towns are quite walkable, taxis and buses are a cheap, reliable way to travel throughout Belize. Numerous bus routes run throughout the country, and hopping on and off these buses is an affordable way to explore the region. Travelers looking for extra flexibility may consider renting a bike or a car, depending on their needs.
- Travel Tip: Belize may be located along the coast in Central America, but it operates more like a Caribbean island in terms of time and schedule. In other words, you'll be on "island time" throughout your stay, so don't expect anyone to be in a big hurry or to show up precisely at the appointed time. Your best bet is to embrace this approach and go with the flow.
Things to Do
Belize is widely considered to be one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world, attracting divers and snorkelers from around the globe. Back on land, hikers will find plenty to love, too, particularly if they enjoy spotting colorful birds and wildlife on a remote jungle trail. The ancient Mayan ruins found throughout the country are a big draw also, allowing visitors to explore some of the best-preserved archeological sites located in all of Central America.
- Dive the Great Blue Hole: There are plenty of coral reefs and even shipwrecks to visit while scuba diving in Belize, but the famous Great Blue Hole is, without a doubt, the biggest underwater attraction. This submerged sinkhole is more than 1,000 feet across and 400 feet deep, making it a top bucket-list destination for divers the world over.
- Wander through the Mayan Site of Xunantunich: Perhaps Belize's most well-preserved Mayan site, Xunantunich is one of the best tourist attractions in the entire country. Dating back to the seventh century, the place offers visitors a chance to hike past ancient temples and plazas that were once home to thousands of people.
- Spot wildlife: With more than 575 bird species to spot, not to mention an array of monkeys, iguanas, crocodiles, and other creatures as well, Belize is a favorite destination for those who love wildlife encounters. Of course, the best of those experiences is tracking jaguars in the jungle, where the elusive big cat can still be found in abundance.
What to Eat and Drink
As befitting its location as a crossroads of the world, Belize looks to its surroundings when it comes to its culinary traditions. As a result, travelers will typically find plenty of fresh seafood on offer, often cooked with a mix of Caribbean spices and paired with vegetables from Africa and fruits from Central America. Lobster and conch are typical delicacies, while classic regional dishes such as beans and rice and ceviche are very popular too. Everything tends to be fresh, flavorful, and maybe even a little spicy, so don't be afraid to indulge.
The local tropical fruit makes for delicious and refreshing drinks as well, with plenty of cafes and juice shacks offering up a wide array of flavors. Those same juices can be used in the creation of some colorful cocktails as well, although the Caribbean staple of local rum remains a favorite when it comes to alcoholic beverages. The locals also love Belikan beer, which is brewed locally and can be found just about everywhere.
If you're looking for an especially good meal, head over to the Maya Beach Hotel Bistro or Chef Rob's Gourmet Cafe. Both places deliver fresh, tasty dishes that you'll be thinking about long after you've gone home.
Want more tips on what to eat and drink? Check out recommendations for must-try foods in Belize.
Where to Stay
Options on where to stay abound in Belize, where visitors will find everything from sprawling and luxurious resorts to humble but comfortable hostels. There are even homestay options for those looking to experience a more unique and culturally immersive experience, and Airbnb offers many options too. Most of the larger resorts are found along the Caribbean Coast, providing quick and easy access to the beach and water. Wander further inland, however, and you'll discover many fun and distinctive eco-lodges tucked away in the jungle. In short, no matter what type of accommodations you're looking for, chances are you'll find something to meet your needs in Belize.
The simplest way to get to Belize is by flying there. Several major airlines—including five from the U.S. alone—fly direct to the country via Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) located in Belize City. Visitors can also reach Belize by bus from Mexico and Guatemala if they are traveling from one of those two countries as well.
Culture and Customs
Belize is a conservative culture, so travelers are encouraged to dress conservatively. Casual dress is accepted almost everywhere in the country, although visitors should avoid wearing revealing clothing when visiting local churches.
Tipping is not customary among the residents of Belize, but visitors are often expected to include a tip. Generally speaking, a 10 percent gratuity on taxi rides and meals is seen as an adequate tip for excellent service.
Money Saving Tips
- Use public transportation. Buses and taxis are cheap, plentiful, and easy to use throughout all of Belize. Travelers can save some cash by ditching the rental car and sticking to public transit instead.
- Hitchhike around the country. Hitchhiking is very common and safe throughout Belize, and travelers can use this to their advantage. If you're not in a rush and want to save some cash, stick your thumb out and wait for a ride. You'll be surprised at who you'll meet and how easy it is to get around.
- Visit during the offseason. Travelers can save a significant amount of money on airfare, accommodations, and tours if they visit during the low season, which is typically April and May. Expect savings of up to 50 percent.
- Eat street food. If you want to save some cash, skip the touristy restaurants and enjoy some tasty street food instead. The options are plentiful, delicious, and cheap!
- Fly to Cancun: Flights into Belize can be pricey. To save some cash, hop a flight to Cancun, Mexico instead, then take the bus across the border. The ride is very affordable, and it is easy to travel between the two countries.