Belize: Everything you wish you knew before visiting
🥘 The most popular dish is rice & beans with fried plantains, chicken and salad.
🥥 Lots of food including the bread is cooked with coconut milk given its easy access.
🍌 Some crops that grow here: sugar cane, papaya, bananas, cacao, oranges, mango.
🍔 Belize does not have a single fast food franchise, so no McDonald's here.
😮 English is the primary language with Spanish being secondary.
🇯🇲 Locals also speak a dialect called Creole, a broken English that sounds Jamaican.
🇬🇧 It is the only English-speaking country in Central America.
🧑🏿🤝🧑🏻 Mix of culture including: Creole, Mestizo, Maya, Garifuna, Mennonites & Chinese.
🌴 The Caribbean influence is stronger than the Latin American influence.
💁♂️ Tipping is not required in Belize so do whatever you feel like.
🇮🇸 The population is approximately 400,000 people, similar to Iceland.
⛏️ The country was formerly a British colony known as British Honduras.
🇧🇿 It was granted independence on September 21st, 1981.
🇮🇱 Belize has an approximate area of 23,000 square kilometers, similar to Israel.
🏢 The capital is Belmopan, previously Belize City before a deadly hurricane struck.
🇧🇿 The flag is the only country to have humans depicted as a major design element.
🗺️ There are six districts: Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize, Cayo, Stann Creek, Toledo.
💰 The U.S. dollar is accepted country-wide and pegged at $1.00 US = $2.00 BZD.
🌴 Belize has two seasons only: dry season and rainy season.
🌵 Dry season is from December to May.
🌧️ Rainy season is from June to November and is also known as hurricane season.
🌊 Belize is below sea level which makes it vulnerable to flooding by the coast.
🚧 Flooding can cause roads to be become inaccessible and caves to submerge.
🍽️ Street food can cost between $2.50 USD and $5.00 USD a plate.
🚌 Public transport costs $2.50 USD roughly and run hourly, no night buses.
⛽ Gasoline is priced at $4.50 USD per gallon, which elevates prices of goods.
🚕 Taxis on average charge $2.50 USD to $3.50 per trip, even short ones.
💵 The daily ATM withdraw limit is $500 USD and only in local currency.
🌲 Over 60% of Belize's land surface is covered by forest.
🌊 The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest coral reef in the world.
🏠 Roughly 26% of Belizean land and sea is reserved within a total of 95 reserves.
⛰️ The highest mountain in Belize, Victoria Peak is 1,120m or 3,675ft.
🐆 Belize is home to the world's first jaguar preserve, Cockscomb Basin.
🐠 The country hosts the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere.
🧿 Belize hosts the largest sea hole in the world called the Belize Blue Hole.
🦜 Approximately 600 species of birds have been recorded as of January 2020.
🐒 Some animals local to Belize include: jaguar, manatee, tapir, scarlet macaw.
🦟 Mosquitos and sand flies are very common especially during rainy season.
You don't need much in Belize since it's not cold. There's no snow here, but the UV index is high and there can be rain.
Here's what I personally recommend you bring:
- Eco-friendly sunscreen - even though vitamin D is important, UV levels are high during the dry season so apply sunscreen regularly.
- Deet-free eco-friendly mosquito repellent - rainy season brings mosquitos and sand flies. If you can, buy a natural repellent made for Belize bugs.
- Basic flip flops - it's hot here, so give your toes some breathing room and let it feel the soil, the sand and salt water.
It's as simple as that! You don't need a fancy backpack or anything expensive. Just bring breathable and light-colored clothing to counter the sun and heat. Less is more.
- Use public wifi - most local banks offer complimentary wifi and water. Certain parks also offer public wifi.
- Travel during low season - most hotels/hostels have two rates: high and low season rates with low season slashing prices by 30% to 50%.
- Fly to Cancun instead - flying directly to Belize can be very expensive. Try flying to Cancun and then going down to Belize by bus to save a cash.
- Ask before paying - before entering a taxi, ask how much they charge before accepting the ride.
- Travel with a friend - renting cabins or guest houses also lower prices so travel with a friend. Tour companies give discounts for larger groups so bring hostel friends along.
- Ask locals to buy your ticket - most services and park entrances have cheaper prices for locals so ask someone to buy your ticket for half the price.
- Hitchhike around the country - the locals are friendly and the roads are friendlier which makes hitchhiking in Belize so bloody easy.
- Couchsurf with locals - after couchsurfing for four years, I can confirm that it's the cheapest and one of the most authentic ways to travel.
- Blend in and dress humbly - locals perceive flashy people as wealthy people so try not to stand out.
- Don't show too much skin - women are often catcalled, so it's best to cover up in non-touristy places.
- Ask a local for help - if you're unsure about a location, ask a local for help and make a new friend.
- Follow your instincts - if you don't feel comfortable in a situation, just say no and walk away.
- Watch out for speed bumps - unfortunately they aren't labelled properly here, so keep your eyes peeled.
- Drive with caution - being a 3rd world country means we have a lot of potholes and dirt roads.
- Avoid travelling on Sundays - public transport is not the best and even worse on Sundays.
- Watch out for Chinese supermarkets - shop owners tend to sell expired goods all the time.
Public & Bank Holidays - updated annual holidays
Belize Chocolate Festival - festival that runs yearly in May in Toledo District
Crooked Tree Cashew Festival - festival that runs yearly in May at Crooked Tree Village
Living in Rural Belize (Y0utube Link) - a look at the village life of some Belizeans
Mennonites of Belize (Y0utube Link) - the only documentary about these fascinating people living in Belize
Belize International Airport - airport travel updates
Immigration Department - visa information and immigration office locations
Ministry of Foreign Affairs - consulate and border information
- Belize Bus Guide - up to date information on transportation