information & tips
Belize is sub-tropical, which means the weather is fickle. It can rain buckets all night then clear up during the day, or you may get rained on intermittently all day, so take the info below with a grain of salt. Generally hot temperatures and humidity year round means it’ll be sticky and you’ll be surrounded by them darn mosquitoes, so bring the repellent and anti-itch cream! Temperatures can vary between the coast and the jungle. Average rainfall and Fahrenheit temperatures below from weather-and-climate.com.
DEC – APR: Driest = busiest = priciest season (Feb – Apr generally the driest). Might still get rained on, but should also get quite a bit of sunshine.
MAY: Beginning of the rainy season, but perhaps not yet full blown. Prices get better with less tourists visiting.
JUN – NOV: Rainy season. Lowest prices, but likely a lot of rain.
APR – SEP: Average highs in the mid 80s – 90˚F (27 – 32˚C). Average lows in the 70s˚F (low-mid 20s˚C).
OCT – MAR: Average highs in the mid 70s˚F (low-mid 20s˚C). Average lows in the mid 60s˚F (mid 18s˚C).
The terrain is extremely varied ranging from cayes (islands) to coastal beaches to jungle inland. There are numerous cayes (pronounced “keys”) to be explored in the Caribbean waters with the most popular being Ambergris and Caulker. To the south are some groomed beaches in towns like Placencia and Hopkins. And finally, not to be outdone by the coast, the jungle offers exploration of the incredible Maya heritage by way of ancestral temples and caves that house archaeological artifacts untouched for thousands of years. The mountainous jungle terrain also means many activities are available from hiking to river/cave kayaking to ziplining.
Choose a region for suggested points of interest.
Due to its Central American location in the Yucatan Peninsula and proximity to the Caribbean islands, Belize is home to a number of cultures and people, including the modern day Maya, Creoles, Mestizos, Garifuna, and settlers from nearby Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. There is also a small Mennonite population sprinkled throughout the country, and more recently a growing population of expats from countries such as the US, Canada, China, and Lebanon.
With the wide variety of cultures in Belize, you can bet that the food is just as diverse. You can find Belizean street food, Caribbean stews and seafood, and even good ol’ Chinese take-out.
The main staple is rice and beans. Some common dishes include stewed chicken, cochinita pibil (slow cooked pork), tamales, and salbutes (think little tacos but with the tortilla deep fried). Breakfast is often accompanied by fry jacks (deep fried dough).
Unfortunately, many of the common dishes are deep fried and therefore not the healthiest, but stews and grilled/boiled seafoods will definitely help if you’re looking to stick to healthy eating habits while on vacation.
Those who prefer the upscale experience can find a growing number of hip and hoity-toity restaurants serving classic and experimental fusion dishes, particularly in the popular tourist spots of San Pedro, Placencia, Hopkins, and San Ignacio.
While English is the official language, you will also frequently hear Spanish and Creole – an unofficial language that sounds (to my untrained ears) similar to Hawaiian Pidgin – in flow if not in vocabulary. Mayan languages are also still alive and spoken by the local Maya.
Currency: Belizean Dollar $
Payment: Most lodgings and many businesses accept credit cards, but small vendors (such as street food and souvenir) will likely only accept cash, so good to have some on hand (also for tipping purposes). ATMs are sprinkled around throughout the country, but may not be the most reliable.
Time Zone: Central Standard Time (UTC -6)
- Rental cars: An easy way for visitors to get around the country but they don’t come cheap, particularly during the busy season. Belize is a tiny country with just a few interlocking highways, and can be driven from top to bottom in less than a day, but note that once you leave the highways, much of the driving will be on dirt/gravel roads that are often muddy and pitted with potholes. Another side note: If you are planning on driving yourself across the border to Guatemala to visit Tikal, Crystal Auto is the only rental car company that will allow this. Detailed info on their site.
- Public buses: Available along the main highway routes to get you from town to town. You can stand around and wait at the stops or ask locals about the schedule.
- Hitchhiking: Some visitors and locals are known to hitchhike (at their own risk)! The Gassy Squirrel doesn’t condone this practice, but if you insist on doing it, at least be smart about it. Perhaps travel with others, and do not hitchhike at night when the highways are pitch black.
- Tour companies and resorts: Because the country is so small, tour companies will often drive a couple hours away to pick people up for paid tours. Resorts will often pick their customers up at the airports.
- Airplane: A number of small airports dotted around the country in the main towns mean that if you can afford it, you can fly your way around Belize. This includes the two main cayes: Ambergris and Caulker.
- Water taxis: While flying to Ambergris and Caulker is possible, water taxis are the main way to get across for most folks, and are much more affordable options. You can also find water taxis to nearby Chetumal, Mexico.
- Bicycles: You can rent bikes in towns, but it’s probably best to stay in town with them and not try to ride them on the highways, and definitely not at night given that the highways are generally pitch black.
- Golf carts: No personal cars are allowed on Ambergris and Caulker, so if you want something more than a bicycle or your own feet, you can rent a golf cart to zip around the islands.