Belize

This drop-dead beautiful Central American nation with a distinct Caribbean flavour has something for everyone: stunning reefs for divers, colourful wildlife for bird watchers, rare archaeological finds for history buffs and vibrant markets for culture vultures. Beautiful Belize’s natural delights and historic highlights will capture your imagination, and steal your heart.

Belize Tours & Travel

All our Belize trips

guatelmala_weaver

Best of Guatemala & Mexico

13 days from
USD $1,066.50
CAD $1,075.50
AUD $1,125.00
EUR €760.50
GBP £675.00
NZD $1,332.00
ZAR R10,242.00
CHF FR936.00

Sun, fun, creatures and culture. This intoxicating adventure through the heart of Central America covers the best of...

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guatemala markets fabrics handmade rugs blankets

Mayan Encounter

17 days from
USD $1,085.00
CAD $1,095.00
AUD $1,140.00
EUR €795.00
GBP £680.00
NZD $1,350.00
ZAR R10,675.00
CHF FR975.00

Enjoy a liberal dose of sun, fun and history on this amazing Mayan Encounter tour. Visit beautiful Belize, the...

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guatemala antigua parrot costa rica scarlet macaws sitting squark

Mayan Highlights

25 days from
USD $2,225.00
CAD $2,255.00
AUD $2,345.00
EUR €1,630.00
GBP £1,395.00
NZD $2,775.00
ZAR R21,320.00
CHF FR1,995.00

Discover the wonders of the Mayan ruins on a dramatic tour through Mexico; see the archaeological sites on the way to...

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costa rica arenal volcano mountain

Central American Adventure

32 days from
USD $2,190.00
CAD $2,330.00
AUD $2,325.00
EUR €1,685.00
GBP £1,455.00
NZD $2,870.00
ZAR R19,235.00
CHF FR2,080.00

Ruins, volcanoes and beachside playgrounds await on this awesome Central American adventure, journeying through Mexico...

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Enjoying the ruins, Mexico

Caribbean Coast Family Adventure

10 days from
USD $2,275.00
CAD $2,295.00
AUD $2,395.00
EUR €1,665.00
GBP £1,435.00
NZD $2,840.00
ZAR R21,800.00
CHF FR2,055.00

Take the kids and venture to Belize and Mexico. Laze on Caribbean beaches, cruise the coast and explore the ancient...

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mexico tulum temple beach ocean tropical reef

Ultimate Central America

58 days from
USD $4,280.00
CAD $4,340.00
AUD $4,495.00
EUR €3,135.00
GBP £2,695.00
NZD $5,340.00
ZAR R41,000.00
CHF FR3,865.00

This captivating adventure through Central America travels through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua,...

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belize family swimming diving beach locals

Best of Central America

44 days from
USD $3,145.00
CAD $3,245.00
AUD $3,135.00
EUR €2,390.00
GBP £1,990.00
NZD $4,010.00
ZAR R25,970.00
CHF FR2,945.00

Have the ultimate Central American adventure on this classic tour from Mexico to Panama. Enjoy beaches, volcanoes,...

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Colourful Toucan

Central America Encompassed

31 days from
USD $2,065.00
CAD $2,090.00
AUD $2,175.00
EUR €1,495.00
GBP £1,295.00
NZD $2,575.00
ZAR R19,775.00
CHF FR1,865.00

An adventure tour through Mexico, Belize and Guatemala reveals the captivating history of Mayan civilisation and visits...

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mexico snorkelling beach snorkels ocean sand palm trees tropical tourist

Central America Explorer

46 days from
USD $3,195.00
CAD $3,250.00
AUD $3,375.00
EUR €2,350.00
GBP £2,020.00
NZD $3,995.00
ZAR R30,725.00
CHF FR2,895.00

Escape on a Central American odyssey through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica and marvel...

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belize caye caulker beach

Land of Belize

8 days from
USD $895.00
CAD $930.00
AUD $965.00
EUR €670.00
GBP £580.00
NZD $1,145.00
ZAR R8,785.00
CHF FR830.00

Escape to Belize on an adventure from San Ignacio to Tikal. Visit breathtaking Mayan sites in Belize before reaching...

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Volcano view, Guatemala

Land of the Maya

23 days from
USD $3,895.00
CAD $3,945.00
AUD $4,095.00
EUR €2,850.00
GBP £2,450.00
NZD $4,860.00
ZAR R38,455.00
CHF FR3,495.00

Travel from Mexico to Guatemala, via Belize for an essential education in Central American culture. Explore ancient...

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Colourful textiles

Mexico City to Panama City

55 days from
USD $3,850.00
CAD $3,930.00
AUD $4,015.00
EUR €2,930.00
GBP £2,400.00
NZD $4,755.00
ZAR R36,505.00
CHF FR3,440.00

Jump onboard this exciting Central American trip that takes you from the vibrancy of Mexico City through the hearts of...

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Beach, Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

Anchorage to Ushuaia

207 days from
USD $14,465.00
CAD $14,770.00
AUD $15,075.00
EUR €11,015.00
GBP £9,020.00
NZD $17,870.00
ZAR R137,205.00
CHF FR12,925.00

Travel the length of the Americas from North through Central and to the very tip of the South. From Anchorage to...

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Man walking, Guatemala

Yucatan Explorer

9 days from
USD $1,820.00
CAD $1,845.00
AUD $1,895.00
EUR €1,335.00
GBP £1,145.00
NZD $2,270.00
ZAR R17,440.00
CHF FR1,645.00

Travel to Central America. Vibrant Mexico, Belize and Guatemala make the perfect getaway.

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Articles on Belize

Beneath the surface in Belize

Posted on Fri, 02 Jan 2009 by Sue Elliot

If you are searching for a real adventure that takes you off the regular tourist trail, then join Intrepid’s Jill Petrella as she reveals that hidden beneath the forested hills [...]

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Belize Highlights

Transport

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.

Depending on which trip you're on while in Belize, you may find yourself travelling by:

Accommodation

Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.

When travelling with us in Belize, you may find yourself staying in a:

About Belize

At a glance

Trips Available:
14
Capital city:
Belmopan (population 6,000)
Population:
321,100
Language:
English
Currency:
BZD
Time zone:
(GMT-06:00) Central America
Electricity:
Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type B (American 3-pin) Type G (Irish/British 3-pin)
Dialing code:
+501

Best time to visit Belize

Belize’s subtropical climate sees high temperatures and humidity most of the year, but the fresh sea breezes generally make life more comfortable. The dry season is from December to May, and this is the best time to visit Belize if you’re looking for sunshine and warm temperatures.

The wet season is from June to November where rain is more frequent. Belize can get quite busy during the main holidays of Christmas and Easter so be prepared to share the beaches with other travellers during this time.

Belize weather chart

Culture and customs

Drawing on Caribbean, Central American, British and Rastafarian traditions, Belize has a unique culture of its own. In general, Belizean society is quite laidback, casual and friendly. The prevalence of beaches means that the dress code is relaxed, there is little pressure to get things done in a hurry and leisure time is valued – hallmarks of coastal living.

With a large percentage of the population being Christian, Easter and Christmas are important times for Belizeans. Drawing on many different cultural influences, Christmas is celebrated with a range of multi-racial rituals including old European traditions like decorating a Christmas tree and baking fruitcake, as well as other traditions like Creole cooking and Garifuna dancing. Due to a high level of racial harmony and tolerance, the people of Belize are free to celebrate various religious and ethnic holidays in relative peace.

Eating and drinking

Fresh crabs

Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.

Things to try in Belize

1. Seafood

Belize’s seafood is undisputedly among the best in the world. A steady supply of lobster, crab, mussels and Creole-style fish stew should keep seafood-aficionados happy.

2. Hot Sauces

Marie Sharp's famous habanero sauces, jams and condiments are served almost everywhere - and with everything - in Belize. You can also visit this local success story’s factory in Dangriga if you’re nearby.

3. Fry Jacks & Johnny Cakes

Served at breakfast instead of toast, these doughy delights often accompany bacon and eggs. While not good for the diet, they are delicious and you’ll soon get used to a side of fry jacks instead of bread.

4. Fruit Shakes

Street carts and cafes make use of the wide variety of tropical fruits that grow in Belize. Ingredients range from the usual suspects (papaya, lime, bananas), to sweet additions (cinnamon), to the darn right weird (seaweed shake anyone?). Either way, choose what you want in your shake for a quick and healthy refreshment.

Geography and environment

Tropical shoreline
Belize is a land of incredible biological diversity, with natural environments rich in plant and animal life. With such impressive jungles, preserves and national parks, it’s no wonder more than 500 bird species choose to call this place home.

Boasting one of the most impressive reef systems in the world, Belize also has an abundance of marine life - including nimble reef sharks, colourful clownfish, gentle manatees and giant whale sharks.

It's estimated that more than 60% of Belize is covered in forest, and with a recent increase in conservation consciousness, hopefully Belize will retain much of this precious vegetation that is full of rare and protected flora and fauna.

Bordered by Mexico and Guatemala (and the Caribbean Sea), this small nation has the lowest population density in Central America, and therefore people live with freedom and space. The major cities are quite slow paced, low-density housing is common and much of the colonial heritage has been preserved in the buildings, churches and the streets.

History and government

Local mayan

Recent History

Belize enjoyed relative economic prosperity up until the Great Depression of the 1930s, which caused wide-scale unemployment and hardship due to falling timber prices, and subsequent collapse of the industry. Further to this, a damaging hurricane hit the colony in 1931 causing loss of life and infrastructure.

In 1964, Belize was granted the right to self-govern, with George Price becoming the country’s first Prime Minster. Nine years later, British Honduras was officially renamed Belize and in 1981, Belize was granted its independence. More recently, Belize elected its first black Prime Minister when Dean Barrow was sworn in to office in 2008.

Early History

Once part of the great Mayan Empire, Belize was occupied for centuries before the Spanish arrived. The Spanish colonists were largely unsuccessful when first trying to colonise Belize as they were repelled by local inhabitants.

However, the British arrived in the 17th century and Belize soon became a part of the British Empire under the name of British Honduras (after many battles with Spanish settlers).

Prior to the abolition of the slave trade in 1838, many African slaves were sent to Belize to work in the timber industry, namely mahogany extraction. Conditions were tough and fraught with danger, but many slaves chose to stay in this line of work after their emancipation due to their inability to receive work elsewhere or own land. Belize’s current population reflects the rich African culture that the slaves brought to the area centuries ago.

Top Picks

Swimming

Top 10 Outdoor Experiences in Belize

1. Scuba Diving

Experienced divers will jump at the chance to explore Belize’s epic Great Blue Hole. Declared one of the top ten scuba diving spots in the world by scuba-legend Jacques Cousteau, this sinkhole has enough groupers, grey nurses and reef sharks to astound diving veterans.

2. Sea Kayaking

Caye Caulker is one of the best places in the world to explore the sea in a kayak. Glide over the clear Caribbean waters and spot graceful marine life, stop and rest at sandy beaches, and experience the quiet and beauty of uninhabited islands.

3. Zip Lining

Make like Tarzan and speed through the Belizean jungle with the wind rushing through your hair on a zip line. This exhilarating ride gives you a different perspective of the jungle while you fly freely across the canopy way, from tree to tree, above the forest floor.

4. Cycling

Whether you’re seeking fast mountain biking thrills or prefer slow cycling past sleepy villages, farmland and cornfields, seeing this charismatic country by bike might just be one of the best ways to get to know the brilliance of Belize.

5. Tubing

There’s no better way to travel the rivers of San Ignacio than in a tube. For a fun and relaxing ride, just hop in a tube and float through caves, past cascading waterfalls and over gentle rapids - taking in the surrounding jungle landscapes along the way.

6. Birdwatching

With more than 500 species of birds present in the tree-filled jungles of Belize, this is a paradise for ‘bird nerds’ and nature enthusiasts. Have fun spotting magnificent toucans, tiny hummingbirds, glorious eagles and curious woodpeckers.

7. Swimming

Floating in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea is a sure fire way to forget your troubles. Cheaper than therapy, daily ocean dips should be mandatory on all holidays. Luckily Belize has enough coastline to ensure that both locals and tourists can share the beaches without it getting too crowded. Phew!

8. Hiking

Enjoy brief encounters with some of the world’s most elusive animals while hiking in Belize. Apart from world-famous birds, you can also find howler monkeys, jaguars, ocelots and tree frogs lurking in Belize’s jungles, forests and national reserves.

9. Snorkelling

Cool, clear water, golden sunshine and reefs full of colour and life combine to create the perfect conditions for some pretty sensational snorkelling.

10. Caving

Explore a mysterious, subterranean world while caving in some of Belize’s spectacular caves. Some feature underground rivers, sinkholes and waterfalls, others have mystical Mayan artefacts held within – either way, Belize’s caves are not to be missed!

Shopping

Traditional drums

The nature-lovers playground of Belize is not well known for its shopping – the best action definitely happens on the beaches and in the jungles. Despite this, there are still enough markets and shops to keep most entertained – look hard and you’ll find some genuine finds among the standard (overpriced) touristy trinkets.

It's also a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.

Things to buy in Belize

1. Traditional Drums

Hand-made by the Garifuna, drums are an excellent musical memento. Made from natural materials without the use of machinery, this is a great item to buy if you want to support and celebrate local culture.

2. Hot Sauces and Condiments

Locally made hot sauces, jams and seasonings are a great way to take a taste of Belize home with you. Marie Sharp’s Fine Food Store is a one-stop shop for hot condiment lovers.

3. Art

Vibrant art by local artists can be found in city galleries, shops and some markets. From traditional ethnic art to more modern pieces, there’s a wide range to choose from.

4. Rum

One of the most popular items bought by visitors to Belize. Before buying, check with customs officials to see how much rum you can legally bring home with you.

Festivals and Events in Belize

Lobster Festivals

Lobster Festivals

Lobster lovers will be in heaven during lobster season! Several ‘Lobsterfests’ are held at the start of lobster season with the biggest being in San Pedro, Placencia and Caye Caulker. Featuring music, dance, block parties, rum and lobster cooked in hundreds of different ways, this is a chance to savour lobster omelettes, tacos, kebabs and cocktails.

Belize National Day

Belize National Day

Starting in the first week of September, Belize National Day kicks off a three-week period of raucous festivities featuring parades, parties, fireworks and feasts in celebration of Belize’s independence. All night beach parties and dancing all round!

FAQs on Belize

Tipping isn’t expected of you in Belize; however, if you feel the service is good, feel free to round up the bill. Service workers like maids, drivers and wait staff will appreciate the generosity. Some restaurants may include a 10% surcharge in bills, so tipping here isn’t necessary.
Internet cafes and Wi-Fi hotspots are becoming more prevalent in Belize. Be aware that accessing the internet can be quite costly in Belize and probably slower than what you’re used to.
Belize has a reliable mobile phone network so using your mobile phone while travelling in most areas of Belize shouldn’t be problematic. Ensure you have global roaming enabled before leaving your home country.
Most tourist sites and restaurants have modern flushable toilets. It’s a good idea to carry your own toilet paper and soap as these aren’t always provided.
Beer = 5 BZD
Glass of rum at a bar = 6 BZD
Simple meal at a local restaurant = 10 BZD
Lobster meal at a high-end restaurant = 50 BZD
Drinking tap water is not recommended in Belize. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Credit cards can be used at most top-end hotels, restaurants, shops and other tourist establishments. Expect to pay cash when dealing with smaller vendors, family-run restaurants and market stalls.
Internationally compatible ATMs can be found in most of Belize’s major cities. ATMs are far less common in rural areas, islands and small villages so have enough cash to cover purchases when travelling away from the larger cities.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1 New Year’s Day
Mar 9 Baron Bliss Day
May 11 Commonwealth Day
Mar 29 Good Friday*
Mar 30 Holy Saturday
Apr 1 Easter Monday
May 1 Labour Day
Sep 10 St George’s Caye Day (National Day)
Sep 21 Independence Day
Oct 12 Columbus Day
Nov 19 Garifuna Settlement Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day *
Dec 26 Boxing Day
* These holidays usually last a week

Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Belize/public-holidays
BELIZE:
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Not required
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
USA: Not required

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Belize Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Responsible traveller

Top responsible travel tips for Belize

1. Be considerate of Belize’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.

3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

4. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

5. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

6. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

7. The precious reefs of Belize need to be preserved and protected. By all means, admire the coral, but never touch or remove coral from reefs. Also, avoid buying souvenirs that have been illegally removed from the reef.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
The Last Flight of the Scarlet MacawBruce Barcott
Belize Survivor: A Darker Side of ParadiseNancy R Koerner
In the HeatIan Vasquez
Lonesome PointIan Vasquez
Understanding Belize: A Historical GuideAlan Twigg