9 Things You Should Know Before Going To Belize (Local Tips)

Updated 3 min read
man bringing bike in canoe to caye
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Belize is a unique country compared to its Central American Neighbors.

While most blogs will shy away from being honest for the sake of keeping things pretty, I'll give you the local inside scoop.

1. The Country Isn't Dangerous

Don't fall for the clickbait headlines claiming Belize is super dangerous. Because tourism accounts for 40% of the total GDP, almost everyone has a family member working in the tourism industry. That means we don't bite the mouth that feeds us.

Sure, the south side of Belize City is hostile after dark but that's only between gang members. If safety is a high on your priority list, visit the more touristy areas. You'll be welcomed with open arms.

2. Speed Bumps Rarely Have Signs

Unfortunately we don't seem to be good at labeling speed bumps. And I can't explain why...

If you're planning on renting a car, I recommend driving slowly when exiting town and when arriving small villages. That's where the speed bumps catch you by surprise.

3. Belize Can Be Expensive

With fuel prices 50% higher than Mexico, things can be expensive in Belize. To add insult to injury, the bulk of the tourism comes from U.S. Americans so that means that everything is priced in U.S. American Dollars.

belize fifty dollar note
Photo of Belize fifty dollar note by Priscilla

But don't let that keep you away from visiting. If locals can live on the cheap, you can too.

Money-saving tips & tricks
  1. Eat what the locals eat - street food is cheap, tasty and found in every city/town center.
  2. Use public transportation - buses are very economical compared to shuttles and flights.
  3. Stay at airbnbs or hostels - resorts and hotels can be expensive.
  4. Limit number of tours - compared to neighboring countries, tours can be twice the price.
  5. Buy inland to take to islands - get your groceries inland to save a big chunk of money.
  6. Travel during low season - rates are cheaper for low season slashing prices as much as 30%.
Cost of common products & services
Product/ServiceCost
Street Food$2.50 to $5.00 USD
Public Transport$2.50 USD per hour of transport
Gasoline$4.50 USD per gallon
Mainland Taxis$3.00 to $5.00 USD
Island Taxis$10.00 to $20.00 USD
Mainland AccommodationStarts at $20 USD
Island AccommodationStarts at $40.00 USD
Car RentalStarts at $75.00 USD
Gold Cart RentalStarts at $30.00 USD
Half day tour$45.00 USD
Full day tour$90.00 USD

4. Mosquitos Aren't Really A Big Deal

Unless you're spending all your time in the rainforest during rainy season, mosquitos shouldn't be on your worry list. Sandflies are a real problem though. They live anywhere around and are vicious little blood-suckers. They are also referred as horse flies.

How to keep sandflies away
  1. Avoid sandy areas during after sunset
  2. Leave sandy slippers outside your accommodation
  3. Buy a local natural bug repellant

5. Weather Apps Are Not Accurate

You've probably looked at your weather app and seen rain the entire week. But rain normally come as short rain showers. As a local, I normally don't bother about rain because it's normally followed by a sunny day.

coconut hanging from brown weather sign
Photo of Belize weather forecast by Jerry Stauffacher

The best way to predict the weather is by looking at the sky and seeing dark clouds forming. You can also listen to the local daily forecast. Pay attention to thunderstorms and cold fronts which normally brings unusual rainfall.

6. Sundays Are Extremely Slow

The Belizean people move life at a slow pace. It gets even slower on Sundays. Given Sundays are rest days for the locals, there are limited restaurants available. On Mondays, expect most restaurants to be closed.

How to compensate for slow Sundays
  • Take public transport early in the morning if traveling on Sunday.
  • Dine out on Saturdays to avoid closed restaurants
  • Book a tour on Sunday if you want to maximize your days
  • Visit a very touristy area if you want an action-packed Sunday

If you can't beat the slow vibe, join the locals and chill by the beach and do absolutely nothing!

7. Chinese Stores Sometimes Sell Expired Goods

Belize has immigrants from handful of countries. The chinese are a huge community and they are owners of most grocery stores and also owners of fast food restaurants.

There's a big problem though.

They sell expired goods so double check before you buy.

8. Catcalling Is Common Sadly

Some Belizean men may find it normal to whistle and call women beautiful. I feel like this is part of the Caribbean culture — which doesn't make it right — but it is a part of the local culture.

My female travel friends countered this by dressing more casually and merely smiling when whistled at.

I apologize on behalf of all my chauvinistic male counterparts.

9. Tipping Is Not A Custom

Belize doesn't have a tipping culture. So please, I beg you... don't bring the custom into the country. This might be a subjective opinion but tipping encourages worker exploitation. In the long term, it also makes interactions transactional and less genuine.

If you feel a deep obligation to tip, only do so for exceptional service — as it should be.

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