Are you looking for a vacation that has…
- Bright teal waters?
- Scuba diving and snorkeling adventures in one of the worlds best reefs?
- English speaking locals?
- A warm tropical climate?
- Caribbean culture with punta music and dance?
- Easy currency exchange and where USD is accepted?
- Hashtags that include: #unbelizeable #belizeitornot and #dontstopbelizin?
You better belize it’s BELIZE!
My best friend Iris and I went for two weeks over my 30th birthday (May 2016) and explored the mainland and island life. Two weeks was more than enough time to make the most out of the adventures and activities offered with also enough time built in for relaxation. Belize is a small country after all so if you have limited time you could probably do it all in a week. It seemed like most travelers we met (Americans, and more specifically Texans) stayed for about that long. Backpackers on budgets who were traveling through Latin America don’t allot a ton of time in Belize as it is one of the more expensive countries in Central America (along with Costa Rica & Panama). That said, the majority of tourism seems to come from those interested in scuba diving or gaining their diving certification in the second largest reef in the world. Even though we didn’t dive, we still had a great time and I would recommend a visit to all. So, if you’re planning a trip, below are some quick tips and the word on the street regarding popular destinations.
tips for a first time belizer
- When? May and June = HUMID HOT and then after that starts rainy season. We lucked out quite a bit on weather towards the end, but when we first arrived it felt like 100 degrees Fahrenheit! We were dripping. According to locals, the best time to visit Belize is between December and April.
- How to get around? I’ve read a few blogs coming here and have heard differing viewpoints on transportation.
- To/From Cayes: Some swear by Maya Island Air, which we found is better than Tropic Air in terms of cost and duration of flight. Though, unless you have very limited time in Belize, I would recommend the ferry over the flight. The ferry is 1.5 hours from Belize City to Ambergris Caye and only $25 USD RT. In comparison to a 15-20 minute flight at $100 USD RT. The planes to/from the cayes are also extremely tiny and if you’re prone to motion sickness, bring Dramamine!
- Mainland Transit: On the mainland, you can coordinate shuttles with AC (necessary in summer) or take the public bus ($1.50) which can be super crowded depending on when you take them.
- Where to stay? My recommendation on this is specifically for the budget backpackers! Hands down the best hostel in all of Belize is in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye called Sandbar. For only $15 USD a night in a dorm style setting you get a great location, nice bar, and free wifi.
belize destinations – word on the street
- Belize City: Assuming you’re not on a cruise ship, you will fly into BZE since it’s the largest airport in the country. Once you arrive you’ll see how tiny it is! There is nothing to do in the city. In fact, it can be really sketchy at night so most people say to avoid it altogether. My friend and I stayed here only one night in order to get up early and go on a day trip to Altun Ha (a nearby Mayan ruin) and to go cave tubing (near Belmopan, capital city). Once you arrive in BZE, most go to one of the following destinations:
- Ambergris Caye: “Last night I dreamt of San Pedro…”, Madonna called it! This is where everything is at. I definitely recommend starting your Belizean adventure here. Ferry directly into San Pedro and you’ll see what I mean. It’s a bit cheaper to stay here versus Caye Caulker and you can book all of your excursions once you arrive (scuba, snorkel, parasail, golf carts, etc.) so no need to do any of that in advance. Definitely go here!
- San Ignacio: We did not make time to go out to San Ignacio, only because we fell in love with the Cayes so much we didn’t want to leave! So I don’t have personal input on this but we heard quite a bit about it. The travelers who like mountains more than beaches said it was their favorite. I heard the excursions are expensive to get to the mayan ruins, or to go ziplining and cave tubing ATM. It’s said to be beautiful given it’s location in the middle of the rain forest.
- Placencia: Placencia is said to offer the best beaches in Belize (seriously, it shows up on numerous Google searches!), but we went and discovered Belize isn’t really a “beachy” place. It’s more known for the second best reef in the world to scuba and snorkel and it has some pockets of sand. We left a bit disappointed. It is on its way to becoming developed, so as of now you have to go and search for the beaches by boat to one of the islands off the coast (which are epic but you gotta get there!). It’s a sleepy village with not a ton to do that would be unique from what you can find in Ambergris. Save your money and skip it.
- Caye Caulker: The “Go Slow” island, this was our favorite place we visited! We took a ferry from San Pedro ($15 usd roundtrip) as a day trip and ended up going back another day because we loved it so much. The best part was hanging out at The Split given the Caribbean colors of the water. You can jump off and snorkel, swim, kayak, go on a sunset cruise, etc. Hands down a must go to island!! It’s VERY chill and relaxing, there are no cars on the island, only golf carts and bikes. I think we loved it here so much because it was a touch more removed from all the tourists and felt very relaxing and peaceful.
Photo Gallery – Proof belize is unbelizeable