Belize is the textbook definition of paradise. Its tropical beaches, exotic wildlife, winding coral reefs, and Latin-Caribbean atmosphere make it one of the top destinations in Latin America. Belize is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world, as well as ancient temple ruins scattered throughout magnificent jungles. As one of the last unspoiled places on Earth, Belize is the perfect country for anyone looking to explore lush rainforests, climb Mayan ruins, deep-sea dive, or lounge upon white sandy beaches. Whether you're an adventurer, archeology buff, or simply want to step outside of your comfort zone, Belize will not disappoint.

Volunteering

The majority of gap year programs are volunteer-based programs. Belize is a great country to volunteer in, as there are many different fields in which volunteers are needed. One of the most popular is conservation, including marine/Caribbean reef conservation and rainforest conservation. There are also volunteer programs that work with animals, underprivileged children, the healthcare system, and community development, to name a few. Volunteer programs are great for gap year students because they allow students to really interact with the Belizean culture and learn outside of a classroom, as well as make a difference in someone's life.

Studying

Another popular type of gap year program is a study program. These can range from traditional education in a classroom to outdoor/specialized education. While many gap year students pick language immersion programs, others may be interested in the expedition leader study programs or diving school programs to gain a PADI certificate. Because Belize is such a diverse country, many types of education are non-traditional and allow students to really get outside of their comfort zones.

Traveling

There are many gap year programs in Belize that are travel-based. These are typically multi-country tours usually including Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico. Many gap year students pick travel programs because they can experience several countries and cultures at once without having to figure out travel arrangements. Travel programs are great for adventurous and flexible students who want to experience as many cultures as possible.

Cost of Living in Belize

Belize is more expensive than most of its neighbors, but still less expensive than the United States. Rent can range anywhere from $250 - $700 per month, depending on if you're living in a city or on an island. Islands such as San Pedro and Caye Caulker are at least 20% more expensive than the mainland. Food expenses are low, as most food can be purchased at markets or roadside stands, and you can typically purchase everything you need for the week for about $15. “Luxuries” such as internet can be more costly than in the U.S., but others such as having a maid can cost as little as $2 per hour. Most foreigners find the cost of living in Belize to be fairly reasonable.

Culture and Etiquette in Belize

Belizeans are generally very laidback, fun-loving, and rarely punctual. Meetings will often start between 30 minutes to an hour after they were supposed to, and public transportation always runs late. Clothing, dining, and tipping are very similar to North American customs and are easy to adapt to. The primary meal in Belize is a combination of beans, rice, and chicken. Fresh fruit is abundant in Belize and typically sold in roadside markets. Foreigners should be careful about food intake at first, as some of the Belizean food can easily make foreigners sick.

While much of the culture in Belize is similar to that of North America, there are a few main differences. Homosexuality is illegal in Belize, but the laws are weakly enforced. There is a discreet gay community in Belize, and locals typically have a “don't ask, don't tell” view about homosexuality. However, views on homosexuality and gender issues are modernizing with the times, and the Belizean youth are fairly open-minded. Taking pictures of official buildings and inside of churches are forbidden, and when photographing locals, it is polite to ask their permission and tip them after.

Health and Safety in Belize

Belize is a relatively healthy country. The water is not always trustworthy, so it is better to stick to bottled water. Malaria and dengue fever are prevalent in Belize, so make sure you have the proper drugs and shots before arriving. Also, most foreigners catch food poisoning at least once while in Belize, so be prepared with over-the-counter medication. Prevent bug bites with appropriate clothing and repellents, as well as a bed net if sleeping in an unscreened room. The sun is very intense in Belize and it is hot and humid, so wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

While most parts of Belize are very safe, minor criminal activity is a problem. Robberies and muggings are common in parts and the crime rate increases in Belize City, but violent crimes are rare. Keep your personal belongings and travel documents safe and out of sight, and avoid unwanted attention by not showing signs of wealth. In unfamiliar areas, avoid using your debit or credit card, as copying cards is common. Crimes against foreigners are taken very seriously in Belize and are dealt with quicker and more severely than for locals. Because of the newly developed Tourist Police Force, travelers have more assistance and protection than in previous years.

Why Take a Gap Year in Belize?

With forty percent of the country nature preserves and protected parks, Belize truly is a modern-day Garden of Eden. Belize's world-class attractions and intriguing mixture of culture and natural history bring students from all over the world. With stunning natural beauty and picturesque towns, it's no wonder foreigners flock to Belize. Take your gap year in Belize and study in the gem of Central America!

Contributed by Rebecca Murphy

Gap Year Programs in Belize

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 programs
ARCC Programs
ARCC Gap: Centro-Caribbean - Cuba, Panama, Costa Rica & Belize
Multiple Countries
4 reviews1 interview

ARCC’s Centro-Caribbean Spring Gap Program explores some of the most...

Frontier
Belize Manatee Conservation Project
Belize

Your primary focus on this project will be surveying the population...

Pacific Discovery
Central America Semester – Cultural Immersion, Service Learning, Adventure
Multiple Countries

How do you want to experience our world? Join us for a life-changing...

Global Public Service Academy for Health
Gap Year Medical Fellows: Pre-Med/Global Health Program in Belize
Belize

The Medical Fellows program gives recent graduates the opportunity to...

Global Public Service Academy for Health
Global Medical Fellows (Global Health Gap-Year Program)
Multiple Countries

The Global Medical Fellows program gives college graduates the...

Experience Mission
Gap Year Africa and Caribbean Immersion
Multiple Countries

If you’re looking for a broader understanding of ministry and culture...

Experience Mission
Gap Year Immersion at The Holy Land and The Caribbean
Multiple Countries

Look beyond the stories you see on the news in this Gap Year mission...

Gap Year Volunteering in Belize

Volunteering is a great way to experience Belize on your gap year
  • International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
    Affordable & Trusted Volunteer Programs in Belize
    Belize
    12 reviews1 interview

    You can now join IVHQ volunteering in Belize! The IVHQ Belize program...

  • Village Book Builders
    Become a local HERO!-Build a LIBRARY in LATIN AMERICA!
    Multiple Countries
    25 reviews2 interviews

    Share your love of books! You will join a group of book lovers on this...

  • Projects Abroad
    Projects Abroad Volunteer Programs in Belize
    Belize
    7 reviews

    Projects Abroad offers volunteer projects in Placencia or San Pedro...

  • Richmond Vale Academy
    Fighting With the Poor in South America and Caribbean
    Multiple Countries
    12 reviews2 interviews

    Study & Action Program: With this 10-month program, we join hands with...

  • Frontier
    Marine Conservation and Scuba Diving in Belize from $255
    Belize
    7 reviews1 interview

    Nestled in Central America on the Caribbean coast between Mexico and...

  • 7 Elements
    Eco-Health and Service with the Mayans in Belize
    Belize
    2 reviews2 interviews

    Increased migration to Belize has increased tensions between Belizean...

  • International Service Learning
    International Service Learning in Belize
    Belize
    6 reviews2 interviews

    Join a Global Health, Nursing, or Community Enrichment program with...

  • Toucan Education Programs
    Service Learning in Belize with Toucan Education
    Belize
    3 reviews1 interview

    Looking to make a make a difference in our world? Our NEW Service...

  • SEE Turtles
    Belize Ocean Wildlife Expedition with SEE Turtles
    Belize
    4 reviews

    Join us for a unique volunteer trip to Belize. Spend 4 nights at St...

Other Gap Year Programs in Central America

Not enough options in Belize? Check out these other programs in Central America!
  • GVI
    GVI: Volunteer in Costa Rica
    Costa Rica
    42 reviews5 interviews

    With almost six percent of the world's biodiversity in Costa Rica, it...

  • Operation Groundswell
    Experiential Education & Community Service in Guatemala
    Guatemala
    27 reviews4 interviews

    Nestled in Central America, Guatemala has one of the most interesting...

  • Thinking Beyond Borders
    Gap Year Semester in Latin America with Thinking Beyond Borders
    Multiple Countries
    22 reviews4 interviews

    Explore solutions to critical global issues in communities throughout...

  • Kalu Yala
    The Kalu Yala Institute: Environment & Community Internships in Panama
    Panama
    29 reviews9 interviews

    At Kalu Yala, we are in the process of building the world's most...

  • GapForce
    Expedition Leader Training with Gapforce
    Multiple Countries
    39 reviews4 interviews

    Follow in the footsteps of past Trekforce Leaders including Bruce...

  • Global Works
    Costa Rica Summer Service Adventures
    Costa Rica
    26 reviews5 interviews

    Are you a high school student looking for volunteer opportunities in...

  • Carpe Diem Education
    Carpe Diem Education | Central America Semester: Sustainability & Spanish Immersion
    Multiple Countries
    18 reviews6 interviews

    Learn about Sustainability and immerse yourself in Spanish language...

  • Winterline Global Education
    Explore the World & Learn New Skills on a Winterline Global Gap Year Program
    Multiple Countries
    15 reviews8 interviews

    Are you prepared for life? Are you not sure what you want to do after...

  • EF Gap Year
    EF Gap Year: Custom 12 and 25-week Program in Multi-Destinations
    Multiple Countries
    12 reviews

    EF Gap Year is a 12 to 25-week program that enables students to...

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