This travel wiki page for the country of Belize will help guide travelers with quick and relevant information to consider when planning and visiting the country. It is difficult to find all the relevant information you need on culture, safety, travel restrictions, and things to do, so we summarize it all here. If anything is stale or outdated, please reach out and let us know! Let’s dive in and explore more high-level information as a Belize trip planner!
Last updated September 20th of 2022.
Table of contents
National Information & Culture
Belize is a Caribbean country on the northeast coast of Central America. Mexico borders to the north, Guatemala to the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. The Belizean culture has a unique blend of influences, including that of the British, Spanish, and Africa. It makes it a country home to many ethnic groups with their unique culture, and this blend of cultures gives the people of Belize the ability to make anyone feel welcome and at home. Hence, making the country one of the top retirement destinations in the world.
The Creole (or “Kriol”) culture had mixed influence from the British settlers and enslaved Africans. Nevertheless, they compose the majority of the Belizean population.
Mestizo is a vibrant culture originating from the combination of Maya and Spanish. The majority of Mestizo descendants currently populate districts in Northern Belize.
The Garifuna culture is a descendant of the Carib, Arawak, and West African people. Known to be the creators of popular hypnotic drumbeat music called punta, the rhythm of drums will make you feel, hear, and be moved by the Garifuna culture. No wonder UNESCO proclaimed the Garifuna language, music, and dance among the masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001.
Maya culture is in the country as early as 1500 BC. When visiting a Mayan Village, announce yourself to the village chief before exploring the vicinity. It is to pay respect to their culture and privacy. When visiting a house, it is disrespectful not to seek out the man of the house first.
The Belize official tourism web page is worth checking when planning your trip.
Special Travel Considerations
Effective July 12, 2022, the Government of Belize removed all public health measures at the points of entry in Belize (land and sea). Showing proof of vaccination for entry into the country is no longer necessary. Upon arrival, unvaccinated travelers no longer need to show evidence of a negative PCR or a negative Antigen Rapid. Wearing masks is no longer required for indoor and outdoor spaces.
The Covid-19 policy of each country can vary over time, and it is best to check the latest information on Belize’s entry requirements before your trip.
The Government of Belize lifted the requirement of mandatory travel insurance for all arriving visitors in the country, effective July 12, 2022. However, while not required, getting one with coverage for Covid-19 and emergency repatriation is still advisable.
Belize does not require a visa to select countries for up to a 30-day stay. However, if you wish to stay longer, you must visit the Immigration Office to apply for a Visitor’s Permit Extension for an additional 30 days at BZ$200.
In general, visitors to Belize must possess a passport, valid for at least three (3) months after the date of arrival, and a return ticket with sufficient funds to cover their stay. However, it is always highly recommended to have a six months valid passport every time you travel anywhere in the world.
Children under 18 who wish to travel to Belize must have valid passports and a parental consent letter. In addition, if traveling with one parent, the other parent’s notarized letter of authority indicating travel consent is required.
Belize Barrier Reef
The Belize Barrier Reef is the number one attraction in the country. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the second-largest barrier reef in the world. This site is best for fishing, diving, snorkeling, and sailing.
Great Blue Hole
The Great Blue Hole is a giant circular marine sinkhole near the center of the Lighthouse Reef Atoll and forms part of the more extensive Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. It is a popular spot for scuba divers because of its crystal-clear water. In addition, several fish species, including midnight parrot fish, Caribbean reef shark, and other juvenile fish species, are what divers can encounter here. Aside from being a great diving spot, the Great Blue Hole is also Belize’s top tourist site for a scenic flyover/helicopter tour.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve offers one of the best snorkeling experiences in Belize. It is where you can see pristine coral gardens and swim with marine wildlife like sea turtles, nurse sharks, and stingrays. Hol Chan is a Mayan word for “little channel.”
Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize and is located in its northern waters. It has a Caribbean feel, with a relaxing and laid-back atmosphere. It is also a popular destination for snorkeling, diving, and fishing. San Pedro is the most significant settlement known for its luxury beach resorts, restaurants, and fun nightlife.
Caye Caulker is a small coral island in the Caribbean Sea, accessible by high-speed water taxi or small plane. The island has become a popular Belize attraction for backpackers and other tourists for its relatively lower prices, laid-back vibe, and abundance of restaurants and bars. The primary mode of transport on Caye Caulker is simply walking, bicycle, and golf cart rentals.
The island is also semi-famous as a ferocious hurricane ripped through and split the island. Years after, the split is now a tourist attraction and a local area to enjoy a nice beverage under the Caribbean sunshine.
Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve offers cool temperatures and reveals splendid natural monuments in the southern central Belize Cayo District. Within its over 100,000 acres of protected pine forests, you will find great sites, including Thousand-Foot Falls, the most significant falls in Belize and the Central American region, and the cave Rio Frio, a quarter-mile cave, to name a few. When you venture among the pines, you will see lush vegetation, various bird species, and other animal life, such as tapir, cougar, jaguar, and ocelot. Explorations can be done by mountain bike, on foot, or on horseback for on-site hire.
Rio Frio Caves
The Rio Frio Cave is one of the best-caving systems throughout Belize. It is one of the top attractions within the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve and is easily accessible at the entry point. Standing at 65 feet tall with a length of around a quarter mile, there will be no shortage of natural wonders along the way, including fresh-water pools, waterfalls, and stalactite formations.
Caracol is the largest ancient archaeological site in the Cayo District of Belize, stretching over 70 sq miles at its peak around 650 AD. It is one of the most famous Maya sites in Mesoamerica and one of the most influential cities in the entire Maya world.
Xunantunich is the most easily accessible and impressive Maya archaeological site in Belize. It is near San Ignacio and sits atop a ridge above the Mopan River. The site is an ancient settlement and has a range of various structures of different sizes and ages. The most prominent structure (El Castillo) dates to the seventh century and is the second-tallest structure in Belize, next to Caracol.
Lamanai is a former Mayan settlement in Orange Walk, which can be visited as ruins. It’s not fully uncovered yet, but archeologists are working to restore larger structures such as temples and dwellings. A trip to Lamanai is a fascinating look at the history of ancient people who dominated Central America. Lamanai is a Mayan translation for submerged crocodiles.
Actun Tunichil Muknal
Actun Tunichil Muknal is an impressive Maya ceremonial Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve cave. It tops the list of Belize’s cave tours that contain artifacts of the ancient civilization, including what is believed to be bloodletting altars and sacrificial human remains.
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
If you want to travel somewhere bizarre, this Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is for you. It has been one of Belize’s largest protected areas since 1990 and is known as the world’s first wilderness sanctuary for the jaguar. Although rarely seen, this refuge is home to many jaguars, rare bird species, and plant types.
Primary Spoken Language(s)
English is Belize’s official language, and the only English-speaking country in Central America. It is also the primary language in public education at all levels. While English is the official language, Kriol is the common language all Belizeans speak. Spanish is also widely used, while the northern towns such as Corozal and San Pedro speak Spanglish, a combination of Spanish and English. Other languages spoken include Garifuna, Mandarin, Spanish, and Maya.
Safety is always our main concern when visiting a foreign country. Therefore, checking travel advisories from your government plays a vital role. Visitors can also consider the US Travel Advisory to Belize when planning their trip.
Belize has a history of criminal activities, sexual assault, and robbery. These problems are common in heavily populated areas, especially on the south side of Belize City. Hence, tourists should be observant, practice common sense, and keep safe habits. Do not trust too fast, and never give any money in advance. Keep valuables safe, be discreet, and pay close attention to your surroundings.
But despite these safety concerns, Belize has been granted the “Safe Travels Stamp” by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) – the world’s first global safety and hygiene mark that indicates the destination has adopted globally standardized health protocols.
Belize is not as cheap as the neighboring Caribbean countries. Traveling here on a budget will still cost you around $35 per night for a 2-star hostel, $5 for a meal, and $30 for transportation for a day. A 3-star hotel costs around $60 per night, and an average restaurant meal is $10. Given the figures, a solo budget traveler will need at least $1120 for a two-week stay and around $2100 for a mid-range tourist, excluding airfare from your home country.
Of course, your visit to Belize will not be complete if you don’t visit the top attractions. Thus, expect to spend and allocate more budget for this.
Although major credit cards are accepted in large establishments, resorts, and hotels, Belize is mainly considered a “cash society.” Hence, it is advisable always to have access to emergency cash.
Customs And Import Restrictions
The Government of Belize currently prohibits the importation of drones for recreational/personal usage. The country is still developing requirements and regulations for recreational drone travelers to Belize that will allow all travelers to operate their devices after meeting the needs of the Laws of Belize. However, special exemptions are given to those commissioned for work/services for a registered local business or organization in Belize. They only need to apply for authorization to operate drones. For detailed requirements on drone applications, please visit Civil Aviation’s web page.
Meat and its products, processed food items, and live animals are restricted from entry into Belize. For the complete list of customs and import restrictions, consider checking the Belize Customs & Excise web page.
Belize is a tropical country with wet and dry seasons, although there are significant variations in weather patterns by region. The dry season typically lasts from February to May, and then the rainy season lasts through to November. Therefore, the best time to travel is from November to April, and reconsider your trip from June to November as hurricane season can bring coastal flooding, especially in the south.
Primary Transportation Options
Travelers can navigate the country by air, land, and sea. Whatever you choose, remember to pack your sense of adventure, whether going to the beach, a dive site, Maya temples, or any combination. Be ready for a journey, and capture everything you see.
Philip S.W. Gold International Airport in Belize City is the primary entry point to the country by air. It is a modern airport with over a hundred daily flights, catering to local and international flights. In addition, small airports are strategically located around points of interest in the country. Thus, making it easier for tourists to visit multiple destinations in a shorter time.
Boats, or water taxis, are the primary transportation between the islands and the mainland and barrier reef attractions. Regularly scheduled water taxis operate between Belize City, Caye Caulker, and San Pedro.
Public buses are the primary mode of transportation for the locals and a more affordable way to travel around. Routes run regularly and will stop to pick up or drop off passengers at almost any location.
If you don’t mind paying more, taxis could become your favorite mode of transportation when navigating around Belize. Just look for green license plates, and when you flag one down, ask how much your driver charges
to transport you to your destination before getting into the car.
If you opt for privacy, then car rentals are best for you. They drive to the right and become familiar with the roads and map reading.
Lastly, you can explore the Mayan temples and villages by horse. Horseback is an exciting way to discover the jungles and ancient Mayan city of Xunantunich.
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