Country: Belize
Currency: Dollar (BZD)
Peak Season: December-April
Shoulder Season: May-August
Median Temperature: 25.80 C / 78.44 F
Main Languages: English, Kriol
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, taxi, car/jeep rental
Recommended Duration of Stay: 0 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $100.00/day
Tourist Passes: Belize Tourist Card
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Coastal Belize (or the British Honduras) has always been the penchant of Americans wanting a slice of the Caribbean without departing from the mainland. The once-British colony is capturing the hearts of those who want the best of both worlds: Mayan ruin and cave spelunking and the much-popular ecotourism. Yet despite its strained relationship with Guatemala, present-day Belize maintains the same tactfulness the British upheld during their stint. Visitors can expect a wide range of activities, including explorations inside the Belize rain forest, where mahogany trees, orchids, toucans and tapirs proliferate. With its array of affordable beach resorts, Belize draws a sizeable amount of tourists annually. The government’s promotion of small businesses and agriculture makes Belize devoid of unfair wealth disparities, leading to more opportunities for low-income families.

Belmopan, the country’s capital, deviates from the normative metropolis Central American cities are known for. Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Hatti in 1961 and other succeeding hurricanes during the past four decades, the capital has curbed its plans for rapid, large-scale developments due to the impending effects of hurricanes on the country’s coastal location. And while your hunch is correct that the unadulterated rain forests in southbound Toledo are the best places to go in Belize, pleasant towns like San Ignacio and Punta Gorda also boast Mayan ruins and nature reserves. Granted, your stay in Belize will be worthwhile and exciting, because, really: with 4000 species of flowers and 500 species of birds, how many places are there in the Americas like the British Honduras?

Packing List

  • Local currency and extra duffel bags/trolleys for handicraft and textile purchases; traveler’s checks are honored in parts of the island, but it’s advisable to present cash instead of other modes of payment
  • Snorkeling, parasailing, surfing and essential gear for various water sports—you can also choose to rent from the local beach shacks; bring zip-locked bags for your wet clothes, and also to keep electronics dry
  • Comfortable, cotton vestments for the tropical climate—those that can shield you from heat and insect bites; bring walking shoes/slippers, sunglasses, sunscreen, and bottled water for day-long explorations
  • Essential medication and toiletries, including insect repellant, anti-diarrheic pills and first aid kits—Belize doesn’t isn’t the “Mosquito Coast” for nothing; the jungles are endemic with disease-carrying insects
  • A decent (waterproof) camera, plenty of film and batteries; if staying outside of the main islands, bring some books or portable electronics to keep you company—there might be little to nightlife there

Things to Do

  • Local currency and extra duffel bags/trolleys for handicraft and textile purchases; traveler’s checks are honored in parts of the island, but it’s advisable to present cash instead of other modes of payment
  • Snorkeling, parasailing, surfing and essential gear for various water sports—you can also choose to rent from the local beach shacks; bring zip-locked bags for your wet clothes, and also to keep electronics dry
  • Comfortable, cotton vestments for the tropical climate—those that can shield you from heat and insect bites; bring walking shoes/slippers, sunglasses, sunscreen, and bottled water for day-long explorations
  • Essential medication and toiletries, including insect repellant, anti-diarrheic pills and first aid kits—Belize doesn’t isn’t the “Mosquito Coast” for nothing; the jungles are endemic with disease-carrying insects
  • A decent (waterproof) camera, plenty of film and batteries; if staying outside of the main islands, bring some books or portable electronics to keep you company—there might be little to nightlife there

DON'T

  • Be clueless about the country’s basic facts: English and the US dollar are the primary language and currency, respectively; in terms of sanitation, Belize is relatively safer compared to Guatemala
  • Venture out into the jungles and forests without first informing hotel concierge; Belize has 20 types of poisonous snakes, non-venomous (but otherwise stinging) scorpions and malaria-carrying mosquitoes
  • Be quixotic to go into the forests unless otherwise vaccinated in the nearest clinic/hospital; apply insect repellants and first aid kits wherever you are, or get some suggested medicine from the local pharmacy
  • Taint or destroy the plants and corals, and, more importantly, don’t feed and disrupt the wildlife—they’re a far cry from domesticated animals; rule: take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints
  • Lose your financial and travel documents—remember that you’re in Central America; be sure to set aside the mandatory $39.25 departure tax in your wallet—or better, slip it inside your passport