Planning a trip to Belize? The country is a popular vacation destination for anyone looking to get away and enjoy some relaxing time on some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Here’s a checklist of everything you need to think about as you plan your trip, whether you’re going to be enjoying time on the mainland or on some of Belize’s gorgeous islands.
Check to See if You Need a Visa
You will need a passport to enter Belize that is valid for at least six months after your stay. Belize offers visa-free travel for up to thirty days to citizens from many countries:
- EU Citizens
- Citizens from Caribbean Community Member States (CARICOM) with the exception of Haiti
- US Citizens and passport holders from the territories
- Citizens of Costa Rica, Chile, Guatemala, Iceland, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, Tunisia, Switzerland, & Uruguay
- UK Citizens and Citizens from the Commonwealth, with the exception of Bangladesh, Cameroon, Chad, India, Nauru, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, and West African Countries
To check up-to-date visa-free travel information and information on how to apply for a travel visa if you need one, you can visit the website for the Belize High Commission.
Book Your Tickets
Getting off the plane in Belize City, I started beaming as soon as the tropical air hit my face. We selected Belize as our getaway because of the cheap flight deals available from the USA, which is one reason that the country is so popular with American and Canadian tourists.
Belize has many airports, but all flights from the US land at Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City. From there, you can get flights on Maya Air or Tropic Air to many small airports across the country, including San Pedro and Caye Caulker. Otherwise, you can fly into Belize City and use ground transportation and water taxis to get to your first destination.
To find the cheapest flights, use Skyscanner and Google Flights to check the various options. If you’re planning on flying into a regional airport, price flights to that airport and what flights cost if you fly into Belize City and book the regional flight separately. You may find the prices to be different if booked separately, but they will sometimes be lower and sometimes be higher.
Plan Your Itinerary
Belize has many popular vacation destinations, so you’ll want to decide which ones you will be visiting. Add in the transportation time and costs to determine if a destination is worth adding to your trip. I personally prefer going to one or two destinations per week of travel so that I get enough time to settle in and relax.
There’s no perfect Belize itinerary, but here are some of the most popular places to visit:
Probably the place in Belize most synonymous with a luxury vacation, Ambergris Caye is popular with vacationers and honeymooners looking to enjoy the best of everything. Most visitors stay in San Pedro and use this as a base to explore the island. While it is possible to do Ambergris Caye on a budget, most people coming here aren’t backpackers or budget travelers.
Caye Caulker is popular with backpackers and young tourists, and it has more of a party atmosphere than Ambergris Caye. While here, you can relax at the Split, enjoy the street food, or even rent kayaks and explore further out.
Make sure to check out snorkeling at Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley.
For those who want a taste of Caribbean life while also having access to Belize’s jungles, Placencia offers the perfect combination of both. Popular activities here include diving the White Hole, snorkeling at the Silk Cayes, and hiking through the nearby jungle.
Corazol might be one of the least touristed spots in Belize, but that means you can have Mayan ruins all to yourself. Make sure to visit Cerros, the country’s only Mayan ruin that’s right on the coast. You can also visit Belize’s largest fishing villiage, Sarteneja, which was originally founded by the Mayans before the Spanish invasion.
Many travelers wanting to explore Belize’s Mayan ruins will use San Ignacio as a base to explore the Cayo District. This is also a great way to see inland Belize, including visits to the local markets, tubing or canoeing on the river, and you can even visit an Iguana sanctuary.
Plan Your Activities
Many travelers in Belize come wanting to do specific activities, like scuba dive in the Blue Hole or snorkel at Hol Chan. There are also amazing Mayan ruins and options for day trips out to uninhabited islands.
I use GetYourGuide to book my day tours and activities while on the road. I had an absolutely abysmal tour in Dresden, and I had to rely on GetYourGuide’s customer service since the local company refused to help and were actively rude. I love the certainty that I have an extra layer of customer service to go to in case of problems on the ground.
Check for Belize tour reviews and prices here.
Budget Your Trip
Once you decide how long your trip will be, where you want to go, and what activities you want to do, you can start to put together a trip budget. The largest pieces of your budget will be transportation and accommodations, so decide how much you want to spend on lodging per night.
While on your trip, track your daily expenditures to help you stay within your budget.
The best way to save money in Belize is to cook some meals and make some of your drinks at home if you have the option. Restaurant prices in touristy locations can be pricey.
Book Your Accommodations
Once you determine your travel budget, it’s time to book your accommodations. I use Booking.com to make travel arrangments since most properties have an option to cancel a booking ahead of time if you decide to make other arrangments. They also offer a wide variety of accommodation types, from luxury to hostels and everything in between.
Once you’ve found the accommodations you want, make sure to book in advance since rooms in Belize tend to sell out during the high travel season.
Research Any Health Information and Vaccinations You May Need
Belize is a very safe destination to travel, but there are a few pieces of information travelers need to stay healthy.
Is the Water Safe to Drink?
Note that you shouldn’t drink tap water in Belize. Bottled water only. If drinks are being made from water, like coffee or tea, that should be made from bottled water as well.
Is there a Risk of Zika in Belize?
Belize, like many countries, has a risk of Zika. For most people, Zika poses no threat. However, you can read about Zika facts and prevention here. This is especially important if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
What Vaccines Do I Need for Belize?
The CDC recommends that you be up to date on routine vaccinations and Hepatitis A shots before heading to Belize. They also recommend being vaccinated against Typhoid if you are doing extensive travel in rural areas.
Anyone going to Belize for a little “coed” fun should be vaccinated against Hepatitis B. Rabies vaccines are recommended for anyone camping or who will be spending time around wild animals.
Belize requires anyone coming from a country with a risk of yellow fever to be vaccinated against yellow fever to protect local Belizeans. Note that there is no risk of getting yellow fever in Belize. You can check if your country is on this list here.
Pregnant women might need to take anti-malaria medication. You will need to check with your doctor.
Check the up-to-date CDC recommendations for Belize vaccinations and health updates here.
Learn a Few Common Spanish Words and Phrases
As part of its legacy of being a British colony, the official language of Belize is English. In many of the most touristed spots in Belize, you won’t run into many situations where you need Spanish. However, only about 60% of the population speaks English, and over 50% are native Spanish speakers. Bilingualism is common, but it never hurts to have a few Spanish phrases handy.
Hello = Hola
Good Morning = Buenos días
Good Evening = Buena noches
Goodbye = Adiós
Please = Por favor
Thank You = Gracias
Excuse Me = Perdóneme
Okay or Good = Bueno
Yes = Sí
No = No
I Don’t Understand = No entiendo
Do You Speak English? = ¿Habla usted Inglés?
I don’t speak Spanish =Yo no hablo español
Pack Your Bags
I have an entire post on what to pack for Belize, but if you don’t read it, make sure to have these five things with you before you leave for your trip:
- Lonely Planet Belize which is available as a paper copy or in a Kindle edition.
- Mosquito Repellant is the single most important thing you’ll want on you as soon as dusk hits. Have enough to at least get through the first night. However, if you’re traveling with a checked bag, bring enough for your trip since it’s way more expensive in Belize.
- After Bite for mosquito bites even being extremely careful, you may end up with some bites if you have to go somewhere at dusk.
- Full Sized Travel Towel This is the best travel towel in the world. It’s pretty enough for the beach, large enough that you forget it’s a microfibre towel, and quick-drying, which is crucial in super humid Belize.
- A GoPro for underwater and action photography. Why go all the way to Belize and not be able to capture some of the most exciting parts of your trip?
Prepare For Your Arrival
It’s important to know exactly how you’ll get from your arrival point in Belize to your accommodations. For those headed straight to Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker, I have guides for how to get from Belize City to Caye Caulker and to Ambergris Caye. These include costs and how much the taxis should be.
If you’re going to be headed elsewhere, then work with your accommodations to find out the best route from the airport to your hotel or hostel. Things to ask:
- Best transportation route
- Hours of operations (some options like water taxis may not be available in the evenings)
- Acceptable payment methods (USD, local currency, Visa, Mastercard…)
- Do you need to book ahead or can you arrange once you’re on the ground
Your accommodations should have this information readily available, but make sure you know ahead of time since you will probably not have a sim card right away.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
During your trip, what would happen if you got in a boating accident, had your camera stolen, or got sick and had to be rushed to the hospital? For anyone who knows that these scenarios would cause serious financial and logistical hardship, travel insurance is the best answer.
Even though it’s not fun, I always buy a Travel Insurance Policy because things happen on the road. I pay for World Nomads, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’re going to be doing any snorkeling or scuba diving while in Belize. And the policies are pretty affordable. You can check policy prices for your trip dates here.
Pro Tip: I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for travel insurance for two years, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’re going to be doing any water sports, like scuba diving, sailing, or snorkeling, or if you’re going to do anything in the jungle or visit any ancient ruins. Check policy prices for your trip dates here.
More Resources to Help with Planning a Trip to Belize
Headed to Belize? Start with my complete Belize packing list so you can arrive on vacation completely prepared.
If you’ll be headed to Caye Caulker, check out my guide on how to get there from BZE and Belize City.
Finally, here’s my guide to snorkeling at Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley. Even if you plan to go snorkeling in a different part of the country, this guide goes over what generally to expect and what to bring with you.
Are you planning a trip to Belize or have you already returned from your trip? Leave Your Best Travel Tips and Questions below!
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