Belize has one foot in the Central American jungle and the other in the Caribbean Sea, and is packed with islands, adventure and culture. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world, with over 100 types of coral and 500 species of tropical fish. It’s paradise for scuba divers and snorkelers. Snorkelers will see a kaleidoscope of coral, fish, whale sharks and turtles, while divers can investigate the underwater caves and walls, along with the world-renowned Blue Hole. You can spend your days kayaking, windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, fishing or lazing in a hammock ….. a perfect tropical vacation!
Belize is home to the ancient Maya. The Cayo District and Toledo’s Deep South have archaeological sites that date to the Maya heyday (AD 250–1000), where steps lead to the tops of tall stone temples, often with 360-degree jungle views. Explore excavated tombs and examine hieroglyphs, or enter natural caves to see where the Maya kings performed rituals and made sacrifices to their underworld gods.
Belize’s largest island, Ambergris Caye, attracts the most visitors. Stroll through Ambergris Caye by day and you’ll find a relaxed beachfront filled with spectacular waterfront sites; by dusk, you’ll revel in its vibrant nightlife. Just be sure to save some time on the mainland for unraveling Belize’s subtle charms. From its luxuriant Mayan sites to its sparkling waters, there’s plenty to explore in this enchanting coastal country.The best Belize vacations can include scuba diving the Blue Hole, zip lining through the jungle canopy, rappelling down waterfalls or crawling through ancient cave systems. Belize is an adventure!
The best time to visit Belize is from late November to mid-April, during the country’s dry season. Although this peak season draws thousands of tourists, dealing with crowds is an easy sacrifice to make for warm temperatures, clear skies and easy access to the country’s top attractions. You’ll probably want to pass on visiting during April and May, when humidity mists the tropical landscape and temps reach triple digits. Expect showers from June to mid-November and strong winds. If you want to beat the rush of tourists and don’t mind packing an umbrella, come during the rainy season in September and October. But keep in mind some establishments shut down during the off season.
Entry & Exit Requirements
Entering Belize is a simple, straightforward process. You must present a passport that will be valid for at least three months from the date of entry. Officially, visitors are also required to be in possession of an onward or return ticket from Belize and funds equivalent to BZ$120 per day for the duration of their stay in the country but it’s rare for tourists to be required to show these.
Getting Around Belize
The best ways to get around Belize are by car, water taxi and plane. Taxis and rental cars are the most hassle-free mode of transportation around Belize City. Cabs and cars are also the easiest way to get to and from Belize City’s Municipal Airport or Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport. Hopper planes also transport passengers to popular islands like Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. Water taxis are the best mode of transportation to access Belize’s numerous cays. Attractions on the mainland are relatively spread out, but Belize itself is a compact country, equipped with commuter buses that transport passengers to popular things to do. However, these buses are typically run-down and routes can be difficult to navigate.
You can access water taxis in Belize City, Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. Tiny atolls and cays that are not as frequently visited by tourists tend to require a smaller water taxi operation or a private boat charter. There are multiple water taxi services, including the San Pedro Belize Express, which operate daily shuttle services between Belize City, Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye. One-way tickets cost between $15 and $20 USD.
Taxis are affordable and easy to flag in Belize City and Ambergris Caye’s main city, San Pedro. Taxi fares typically range from $6 to $14 BZD ($3 to $7 USD). However, regular taxis have no fixed meter rate or consistent look. You’ll want to agree on a price before getting into the taxi. On Caye Caulker, chauffeured golf-carts replace taxis. You can rent a golf cart for daily or weekly fees.
Belize City’s four primary roads are all easy to navigate, making driving the ideal mode of transportation for visiting the outlying Mayan sites. Rental cars are easy to come by near the city’s two major airports, however, you’ll need to acquire an international driving permit to drive here. Consider renting a four-wheel-drive vehicle, as some roads leading up to the major Mayan sites are rustic, and rainy weather can make for challenging driving conditions.
Dozens of bus companies offer service along Belize’s Northern, Western, Hummingbird and Southern highways. However, there is no standard bus system in Belize City. Prices vary depending on distance, the company and the type of service. Autotransportes De Oriente (ADO) provides transport from Belize City to areas in northern Belize, such as Corozal and Orange Walk, and nearby Mexican destinations, including Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Another reliable bus service, James Bus, offers daily transportation between Belize City to Dangria and Punta Gorda, located in Southern Belize near Toledo and Placencia.
Commuter airlines make traveling throughout Belize hassle-free. Tropic Air and Maya Island Air provide daily transport from Belize City Municipal Airport (TZA) or Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (PGIA) to popular destinations. Prices vary depending on the route, the airline and the season.
Belize Area Attractions
With its plentiful outdoor activities, this 25-mile-long island off the coast of northern Belize caters to the snorkeling and diving set. The island was originally inhabited by the Mayans to serve as a far-extending trade route, spanning from present-day Mexico to as far south as Honduras. Today, Ambergris Caye welcomes thousands of visitors seeking easy access to the barrier reef that surrounds the island. Snorkelers and divers will want to explore Hol Chan Marine Reserve. When you’re not underwater, explore San Pedro, Ambergris’ main town. Here you’ll find beach side restaurants, lounges, shops and luxury hotels. It’s easy to get around Ambergris Caye by golf cart. There are multiple rental companies in San Pedro and rates range from $65 USD per day to about $200 USD for a week.
Plunge into this deep blue hole and you’ll discover imposing ancient stalactites (calcium deposits resembling icicles) and coral fringe. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 — along with six other areas surrounding Belize’s barrier reef — the Great Blue Hole remains one of the world’s most distinguished scuba sites. Created approximately 10,000 years ago after a cave roof crumbled in, this blue channel contains underwater tunnels, caverns and rock formations. You’ll likely spot marine life lining the coral wall at the surface of the hole. As you descend about 410 feet below sea level, you’ll discover the stalactites, but it’s unlikely you’ll encounter many underwater creatures.
Facing the southern edge of Ambergris Caye, Hol Chan Marine Reserve is the oldest reserve in Belize. Encompassing 3 square miles, this densely populated aquatic zone is a sanctuary for stingrays, eels and sharks, among other creatures. The reserve is separated into four parts: the mangroves, the reef, the sea-grass beds and the most recently added Shark Ray Alley.
Just about 20 miles north of Belize City sits Caye Caulker, a 4-mile-long, is an island that boasts superb diving and snorkeling spots and a relaxed tropical ambiance. Though the island is mostly uninhabited by locals, visitors flock to the restaurants, shops and hotels perched at the northern tip near the Split. This remote island offers a broad range of snorkeling, scuba, sailing, kayaking and fishing services to nearby sites located along the surrounding barrier reef. There are also some unique attractions like the manatee preservation site, Swallow Caye.
Set on a leveled hilltop, Xunantunich (shoo-nahn-too-neech) is one of Belize’s most easily accessible and impressive Maya archaeological sites. Getting here is half the fun with a free hand-cranked cable ferry taking you (and vehicles) across the Mopan River. Xunantunich may have been occupied as early as 1000 BC but it was little more than a village. The large architecture that we see today began to be built in the 7th century AD.
Things to Do in Belize
They offer Snorkeling Cruises, Sunset Cruises & Private Boat Charters. Board the YOLO, our 40′ X 20′ custom powered catamaran built right in San Pedro as you cruise along the beautiful reef off the coast of Ambergris Caye. Their skilled and trained staff will help create a once in a lifetime experience for you during your visit to beautiful Ambergris Caye. For more information call 501 615-9656, or visit them on the web at Island Dream Tours.
Book your customize Tours with tours to include Altun Ha, Cave Tubing , Zipline, Howler Monkey Sanctuary, Belize Zoo, Lamanai, Xunantunich , Tikal , and ATM Cave . They offer a wide Range of local tours in Belize. They have over 13 years of guiding experience and offer alternative tours with your own private Guide(s) in Belize. For more information call 501 667-2741, or visit them on the web at Altournative Belize Services.
Nautical Adventures Belize in Placencia offers Full Day Sailing, Sunset Sailing, snorkeling at Laughing Bird Caye, Monkey River Tour and Private Charters. Join them on one of our two luxury sailing catamarans and be prepared to be treated like royalty. For more information call 501 635-6247, or visit them on the web at Nautical Adventures Belize.
Experience the culture and history of Belize! They offer tours for every adventure level ranging from zip lining to exploring the Mayan Ruins or touring a working chocolate farm. Locally owned and operated. They love showing off our beautiful Belize. For more information call 501 615-8059, or visit them on the web at Truly Wild Belize.
Half Day Tour Caye Caulker Marine Reserve $50 USD. Guided snorkel tour to Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, North Channel, the shipwreck, the Shark and Ray Alley, Coral Gardens, manatees, tarpons pool and seahorses viewing. What they provide: A fully guided tour, all park fees, fruits, water, and snorkel gear. For more information call 501 624-6064, or visit them on the web at Stressless Eco Friendly Tours.
Best Belize Restaurants
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$$ – $$$ Guava Limb Cafe – San Ignacio
One of San Ignacio’s slickest restaurants, boutique Guava Limb is set in an adorable turquoise two-story building with a serene outdoor garden area. Fresh organic ingredients are sourced from the owners’ farm or local providers to create an eclectic international menu that might include Indonesian gado gado, a Middle Eastern platter or conch ceviche. Gourmet pizzas, burgers and quesadilla make for a filling lunch, and vegetarians will enjoy the wide range of fresh salads. There’s a full bar and the garden is a fine place for a cold beer or cocktail. For more information call 501 824-4837, or visit them on the web at Guava Limb Cafe.
$$$$ Hidden Treasure – San Pedro
Living up to its name, Hidden Treasure is a gorgeous open-air restaurant in an out-of-the-way residential neighborhood (follow the signs from Coconut Dr). Lit by candles, the beautiful bamboo and hardwood dining room is the perfect setting for a romantic dinner, which might feature almond-crusted grouper, blackened snapper with bacon-wrapped shrimp, or pork ribs with a ginger pineapple BBQ glaze. For more information call 501 226-4111, or visit them on the web at Hidden Treasure.
$$$ – $$$$ Chef Rob’s – Sittee Point
Well-known locally for his sublime seafood creations and steaks cooked over hot rocks, Chef Rob’s changing menu here might include sauteed red snapper, grilled jumbo shrimp kebabs or rib-eye in rum sauce. Put together a four-course meal from BZ$59. The waterfront dining area at Parrot Cove is suitably romantic. Fro more information call 501 523-7225, or visit them on the web at Chef Rob’s.
$$ – $$$ Elvi’s Kitchen – San Pedro
This iconic San Pedro restaurant has been filling stomachs of happy patrons for 20 years when it began as a burger aisle. It is a must visit restaurant in San Pedro town. The interior sand floor is built around the large flamboyant tree that has watched people eat under its branches since the founding. It’s often accompanied by live music, decorated remnant artifacts of San Pedro’s fishing village roots and artwork. The famous Grand Mayan Buffet held every Friday is a crowd favorite, for its assortment of Maya-Mestizo food highlighting the heritage of the ethnic group. For more information call 501 226-2404, or visit them on the web at Elvi’s Kitchen.
$$ – $$$ Crabby’s – Sarteneja
Crabby’s is in a welcoming thatched, open-sided restaurant and bar that ranks as Sarteneja’s best, with a fine waterfront location and convivial vibe. The specialty is local seafood (try the lionfish burger with onion rings) but you’ll also find Belizean classics, burgers, wings and fajitas. Saturday is barbecue day. Cocktails and ice-cold beers, with sunset happy hour from 5:30pm. For more information call 501 620-8358, or visit them on the web at Crabby’s.
Best Belize Bars
Stella’s Sunset Wine Bar & Restaurant – Ambergris Caye
Stella’s is a classy but unpretentious wine bar set in a lovely garden on the edge of the San Pedro Lagoon that affords fine sunset views. Sit on lounge chairs under the trees or at a table in the palapa (open-air shelter with a thatched roof) and work your way around two dozen different whites and reds. There are also wine specials for those who don’t have to drive their golf cart home. For eats there is a rotating menu of pizza, hamburgers and Caribbean-style fare, with appetizers available every night. On Sunday morning it’s all about the crepes and the eggs Benedict. For more information call 501 602-5284, or visit them on the web at Stella’s Sunset Wine Bar & Restaurant.
Blue Bayou – San Pedro
Tucked away from the louder bars and restaurants, this is the locals’ favorite at Secret Beach, mainly for the picnic tables partially submerged in the waist-deep, turquoise cove. It’s easy to spend an entire day here, throwing back Belikins and feasting on delicious ceviche, whole jerk fish or curry venison. Cash only. For more information call 501 623-8051, or visit them on the web at Blue Bayou.
I & I Reggae Bar – Caye Caulker
I&I is the island’s most hip, happening spot after dark, when its healthy sound system belts out a reggae beat. Its three levels each offer a different scene, with a dance floor on one and swings hanging from the rafters on another. The top floor is the ‘chill-out zone,’ complete with hammocks and panoramic views. A great place for a sunset drink. For more information call 501 668-8169, or visit them on the web at I & I Reggae Bar.
Driftwood Beach Bar – Hopkins
Ever-popular Driftwood has moved closer to the center of the village but still has a great beachfront location, Hopkins’ best drumming nights and pizza (from BZ$16) and tacos (BZ$10). This is a popular social hub and party place: Tuesday is the big night with Garifuna drumming, but there are also weekend events and beach BBQs. For more information call 501 664-6611, or visit them on the web at Driftwood Beach Bar.
Lazy Lizard – Caye Caulker
The Lazy Lizard is described as a ‘sunny place for shady people,’ though most folks here tend to be attractive, young travelers, swimming about and sunbathing as they are plied with booze and cocktails. The bar’s second-story balcony offers spectacular views of the Split, and its corn hole tournaments, beach rugby games and full-moon parties are delightful. For more information call 501 226-0636, or visit them on the web at Lazy Lizard.
Best Belize Hotels
Make your dream a reality at Coco Plum Island Resort. Dotted with beach beds, lounge chairs, and swaying hammocks, our Belize all inclusive resort is the perfect place to cast your worries away. We’ve thought of just about everything to make your Belize vacation as easy and seamless as possible. Hosting no more than 42 guests at a time on this private island resort, you will enjoy the entirety of this mangrove-fringed nirvana practically to yourself. Each of the 18 stand-alone private cabanas, all steps from the beach, offer awe-inspiring views of the Caribbean Sea. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room visit Coco Plum All-Inclusive Resort.
This private island resort is located off the coast of Belize, just 30 miles from the world-famous Great Blue Hole. Spend your days with fins or fishing rod in hand, and live the life of a castaway. The white-uniformed staff all lined up for your boat’s arrival, the preserved colonial-era buildings, and the oxidized anchor of an 18th-century British warship all set the tone at this upscale, legend-filled resort. This was Turneffe Atoll’s first dive lodge, and it bagged the best spot a few hundred yards from the legendary Elbow. If you came to Belize for the diving, this is an ideal base, though fishing, snorkeling, beach combing, and in-room massages are also top-notch. The rooms, in palm-shaded, lemon cottages with sea views, have been refurbished without spoiling the cozy feeling created by the varnished hardwood fittings, which envelop you on all sides. Even buildings that are not colonial carry the aesthetic, giving the island a unified feel. The staff to guest ratio is among the most impressive in Belize. Meals, served family-style, are quite delicious. Transportation to the island from Belize City is included, but not airfare to Belize. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Turneffe Island Resort.
Belizean Dreams is an intimate, locally owned and managed all inclusive resort nestled on the coast of Hopkins Village, in southern Belize. Accommodations and packages are tailored to providing vacations to discerning travelers who crave relaxation, romance and adventure. All packages include three Belizean meals daily (breakfast, lunch & dinner), unlimited local drinks (not included in the Dive Package), accommodations (One Bedroom Standard Unit), local Belize airfare to and from the Belize City airport. Their all inclusive resort is comprised of nine standalone villas. The villas are positioned in the shape of a horseshoe, or “U” shape, all are only footsteps away from the Caribbean Sea and beach. Accommodations are ideal for families, solos or couples traveling together who want the convenience and comfort of a home away from home, with the extra touches of personalized service and hospitality. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your villa, visit Belizean Dreams.
Xanadu Island Resort, in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, is Belize’s top eco-friendly beach resort with a touch of luxury in harmony with nature. They respect the beautiful destination of Belize and continue to do their best to preserve the environment, in every way possible. Set among tropical, indigenous gardens, their twenty suites offer privacy and tranquility with an authentic Belizean ambiance. Enjoy panoramic views of the ocean, garden or pool while staying in one of our unique dome units. Take in sweeping sea views from spacious treetop suites, or relax on a deck lounger in one of the ocean front suites just steps away from the turquoise Caribbean Sea surrounding San Pedro, Ambergris Caye Belize. With a variety of options including studio, one bedroom, loft, two bedroom and three bedroom suites – all units are designed for convenience and comfort. Featuring air-conditioning, ceiling fans, fully equipped kitchens, in-room safes, hair dryers, cable television as well as private furnished decks. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Xanadu Island Resort.
Located in Placencia, Caribbean Beach Cabanas is a Adults Only Property, offers a private beach area and free bikes. This self-catering accommodations features free WiFi and free parking. This villa will provide you with a TV, air conditioning and a terrace. Most units have a full kitchenette, with a microwave and a refrigerator, and private bathrooms with a shower. You can enjoy a beautiful view of the sea from the property’s private veranda and palapa. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Caribbean Beach Cabanas.
Athens Gate is a small Belize boutique beach resort in a discreet locations 2.5 miles south of San Pedro offering beautiful private beaches and convenience to shopping and dining. With only twelve accommodations, Athens Gate remains small and exclusive allowing for personalized time with each of their guests. They do not have a restaurant on-site, but there are several within a short walk (2-3 minutes). For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Athens Gate.
Click here for our list of Beach Travel Essentials you will want to take with you to Belize.