The Best Time to Visit Belize

Belize beach

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With its lush rainforests and pristine beaches, Belize is a hidden gem nestled along the Caribbean Sea. This tropical paradise is less and less undiscovered every day, however, and is already a popular destination for snowbirds heading south in the winter months. So, when to visit this gorgeous nation and discover its myriad charms for yourself?

The best time to visit Belize is during the months of April and May, after the tourists have left and before the summer rains begin. Read on for your ultimate guide to visiting Belize, and start planning your next trip to this underrated getaway in Central America. After just one visit, you, too, will want to return year after year. Belize it.

Weather in Belize

Due to its tropical location, the weather in Belize remains warm year-round—though the chance of rainfall varies on a monthly basis. The nation’s climate is primarily split between two seasons: wet and dry. The average monthly rainfall is heavier in spring and fall, as the wet season begins in June and ends in November.

Hurricane season runs from July to October—with the most active period for tropical storms starting in late August, after a momentary pause in the country’s rainfall known as the “Little Dry” season. February through April are the driest months of the year, though it’s important to note that—even during the rainy season—it’s unlikely for storms to occupy the entire day. Oftentimes, these showers will pass quickly in the afternoons or early evening—leaving you free to go about your activities, and leaving behind (if you’re lucky) a rainbow in its wake. 

Peak Tourist Season in Belize

Belize combines the rugged beauty of the jungles of Central America with the pristine coastline of the Caribbean islands. Yet, unlike its neighbors to the north (Tulum, Cancun) and east (the Cayman Islands, Jamaica), Belize is not on every traveler’s radar, at least not yet. Though many regions of the country remain gloriously untouched—the Maya mountains, the Cayo jungle, and numerous of the nation’s off-shore islands—destinations such as San Pedro become incrementally more popular in the wintertime.

The peak season arrives in November, starting with Thanksgiving, and ends in mid-April, after the last of the revelers enjoying spring break boards their return flight home. The heaviest rush of visitors descends upon its tropical soil from mid-December to mid-January. During this time, the cost of travel—hotel rates, airline tickets, regional activities—rises accordingly, as there is a higher demand.

Cost-conscious visitors should consider holding off on booking their stay until early spring when the prices drop, but temperatures do not. Aside from the often-fleeting afternoon shower (to be expected in a land known for its rainforest), the weather remains warm and sunny in Belize year-round.

Key Holidays & Festivals in Belize

Steeped in Mayan history (and boasting many of its ancient ruins), Belize is a treasure-trove of heritage sites and annual festivals that showcase the nation’s fascinating culture and heritage. This cultural heritage is not just limited to the Mayans—Belize boasts a diverse array of national cultures within its borders, notably including the Garifuna tribe, who arrived in Belize in 1835. Garifuna Settlement Day, on Nov. 19, is a public holiday commemorating this event, while the Garifuna Music Festival: (which occurs the weekend prior) celebrates the distinct tradition of song and dance—not to mention delicious food. Another important public holiday is the Belize Independence Day, on Sept. 21, when there are flag-raising ceremonies and street parades. Additional annual festivities include the Holiday Boat Parade in San Pedro, and Belize Lobsterfest, a delicious tradition that takes place in June and July every summer.

Geographic Diversity in Belize

For a country that’s roughly the same size as Massachusetts, Belize boasts a fantastically diverse ecosystem—from the famous Belize Barrier Reef (the second-largest in the world, right after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia), to its old-growth rainforests, and tropical jungles (a native homeland for jaguars). Since the country is relatively small, however, there isn’t a tremendous variance in the monthly climate for each region. As is to be expected, the hottest average temperatures are found inland, where the land’s atmosphere isn’t cooled by the breeze rolling off the Caribbean Sea.

The average annual maximum temperature in the Cayo District is 88 degrees F (31 degrees C), and the lowest is 69 degrees F (21 degrees C). As for the aforementioned coast, the average annual high is slightly lower at 86 degrees F (30 degrees C), with the low at 73 degrees F (23 degrees C). Thanks to its elevation, the Maya Mountains represent the coldest annual temperatures, with average highs of 78 degrees F (25 C), and the average low being 64 degrees F (18 degrees C). These changes in latitude don’t necessarily signify changes in attitude, however, as the warmth of the nation’s climate (and the kindness of its people) ensures travelers will remain in a vacation mindset wherever they may roam. 

January

January falls during the peak tourist season in Belize, as travelers descend on the Central American country for the winter holidays. The first month of the New Year also heralds the start of the dry season and is also the coldest month of the year—though the tropical climate ensures temperatures will remain optimal for sun-worshippers. The average high is 80 degrees F (27 degrees C) and the average low is 70 degrees F (21 degrees C). January also has the coldest water temperature for the year, though, with a monthly average of 79 degrees F (26 degrees C), it’s still appealing for swimmers.

Events to check out:

  • New Year’s Day is an official holiday throughout the country, and travelers should look into restaurants offering brunch or dinner specials
  • Kwanzaa concludes on Jan. 1 (after starting Dec. 26) and many Belizeans celebrate their African heritage during this holiday

February

February continues to be peak season for Belize, though the prices are less inflated than the previous month, as the height of the tourist crowds arrives in mid-December to mid-January. February kicks off the driest months of the year (a spell that will last through April). The average monthly rainfall drops from six inches in January to three inches in February.

Events to check out:

  • Fiesta de Carnaval is an annual celebration held during the week before Lent, in the bustling city of San Pedro, on Ambergris Caye. In anticipation of the upcoming 40 days of self-denial, revelers are encouraged to let loose with group dancing, street parades, and other activities.
  • Travelers visiting during Valentine's Day should monitor for dinner deals or romantic specials to capitalize on during their trip.

March

March is the driest month of the year (with an average rainfall of only two inches), The temperature, alternately, is on the rise, as is the average water temperature: the average high is 83 degrees F (27 degrees C) and the average water temperature is 81 degrees F (27 degrees C). March is the last month of peak season for tourism.

Events to check out:

  • On March 9, Baron Bliss Day is observed in tribute to the fourth Baron Bliss of Portugal, who was a financial benefactor for Belize and died just off-shore. Horseracing and sailing events are held in his honor.

April

April is a great time for travelers to visit, as the weather remains dry and warm, but the prices drop after the tourist influx that occurs over the course of spring break. The weather in April has an average high of 85 degrees F (29 degrees C) and an average low of 80 degrees F (27 degrees C), with roughly two inches of average monthly rainfall.

Events to check out:

May

The last month of the year before the rainy season begins, this is also a wonderful month to visit Belize. May is also the warmest month of the year, with an average high of 87 degrees F (31 degrees C), and water temperatures rising from 79 degrees F (26 degrees C) to 83 degrees F (28 degrees C). Though the average monthly rainfall triples from last month, coming to nearly six inches, the showers are often fleeting and quick to pass. Nevertheless, pack a raincoat in your beach bag, just in case.

Events to check out:

  • Labour Day occurs May 1, when Belizeans are given the day off from work, to honor those who have. The public holiday is sometimes called the International Workers Day.
  • On May 24, Commonwealth Day is celebrated across the country in honor of the Queen's Birthday; featuring horse races in Belize City.

June

June is the start of the rainy season, and the average monthly rainfall increases to nine inches, It's not yet hurricane season, however, so would-be travelers should not be too deterred—and should, in fact, be enticed by the annual Lobsterfest festivities that announce the beginning of summer in Belize.

Events to check out:

  • The annual summer tradition of Lobsterfest in Belize begins with San Pedro Lobsterfest in mid-June, before moving to Placencia, and finally Caye Caulker in early July. Revelers enjoy fresh lobster, live music, and even livelier dancing.

July

This month is the beginning of the most active period in the year for hurricanes, though the rainfall is still lower than it will be in September and October (averaging around eight inches).

Events to check out:

  • The Benque Fiesta occurs in the border town of Benque Viejo Del Carmen, next to Guatemala. The fiesta features a historic pageant, the Flor de la Feria Pageant, as part of the annual fiesta in homage of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the town's patron saint.
  • Hopkins Mango Festival is held on the beach in Stann Creek; visitors can enjoy mango in all its iterations.

August

Though situated in the hurricane time period, August is actually a wonderful time to visit, as the weather begins to clear, before the more unpredictable climate patterns in the fall. The first part of the month offers an annual respite from the tropical showers, and these weeks in August are known as the “Little Dry” season.

Events to check out:

  • The nine-day Deer Dance Festival is a traditional cultural event that occurs every August in the tiny Mayan village of San Antonio. The event features a dancing ritual that replicates the hunting of deer.
  • The Costa Maya Festival may not last as long in duration as the Deer Dance Festival (five days versus nine), but it also features music and dancing. in Ambergris Caye. The event includes the five countries represented by Mayan civilization: Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and, of course, Belize.

September

September boasts the warmest water for swimming, with an average high of 84 degrees F (29 degrees C) and a plethora of cultural activities. This is a wonderful time to visit for travelers looking to experience Belizean culture and celebrate its history. St. George’s Caye Day on Sept. 10 is the start of a season of patriotic celebration commemorating the country’s independence, with the prolonged period of festivities concluding on Sept. 10, Belize Independence Day. 

Events to check out:

  • On Sept. 10, St. George's Caye Day memorializes the 1798 battle between the Spanish and British forces at St. George's Caye and begins September's month of festivities.
  • Belize Independence Day on Sept. 21 closes the celebratory season with flag-raising ceremonies and parades.

October

October is the wettest month of the year, with an average rainfall of 11 inches. Though this month is still within hurricane season for Belize, the weather patterns are less unpredictable than in November, and it remains balmy and warm, with an average high of 84 degrees F (29 degrees C).

Events to check out:

  • Oct. 12 marks the country's annual Columbus Day/Pan-American Day. Beauty pageants, music festivals, and parades abound throughout various cities in Belize.
  • The TIDE Conservation Festival is an annual weekend event held in mid-October to raise awareness of the importance of Belize's natural environment; festivities include the Seafood Gala, the Youth Conservation Competition and the Fish Festival.

November

November boasts the most variable weather of the year and heralds both the end of the wet season and the beginning of the tourist season. The prices of hotel rooms and fees for activities and airline flights will increase once the first visitors begin to arrive in Belize for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Events to check out:

  • From Nov. 6-10, the Belize International Film Festival showcases talent from Belize and Central America to promote international tolerance.
  • On Nov. 16 and Nov. 17, (prior to Settlement Day), the Garifuna Music Festival celebrates the Garifuna culture with dancing, music, and food.
  • Garifuna Settlement Day, on Nov. 19, commemorates when the Garifuna people first arrived in Belize in 1832. Features a reenactment, as well as musical festivities.
  • On Nov. 27, San Pedro’s Township Day is celebrated on Ambergris Caye with boat races, fishing tournaments, and parades

December

It's not hard to realize why December is so popular for traveling in Belize, as the plethora of cultural events and festivities, combined with the arrival of the dry season makes this month endlessly appealing. The one drawback is the increased prices, however, though, compared with other Caribbean nations, Belize remains reasonably priced.

Events to check out:

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