Belize is a great destination for first-time travelers and well-seasoned adventure seekers alike. Whether you are an advanced scuba diver or just getting your fins fitted, you'll find a tour for every member of the family. The most popular tours let you explore Mayan Ruins, world-famous coral reefs, and wildlife reserves. These tours, and traveling in Belize in general, are relatively inexpensive, especially if you travel in the off season.
Regardless of your itinerary, you'll surely experience delicious fresh fruit, beautiful scenery, handmade pottery and jewelry, and the contagious happiness of local people. Situated between Mexico and Guatemala, the culture offers a unique blend of Caribbean and Central American life. English is the official language, but you'll find opportunities to practice Spanish as well.
Belize is home to several sites of ancient Mayan ruins including Xunantunich, Altun Ha, and Lamanai. To get the full experience, be prepared to climb the stone steps to see the view from the tops of the pyramids.
The Garifuna Culture is an important part of Belizean past and present. Tours and activities can include cooking classes, dance lessons, and musical performances, which are all good choices for a rainy day or a relaxing evening.
Adventure abounds in Belize. Cave tubing, snorkeling, and zip lining are some of the most popular highlights of adventure tours.
One of the most stunning natural features in Belize is the Blue Hole, which brings scuba divers from around the world. Belize is known for having several excellent scuba locations up and down the coast. Most snorkeling or diving tours will include excursions to these world-class spots.
Cave tubing is a highly popular inland water activity. Ride the river current into a cave via tube or kayak and a guide will show you around the cave using headlamps for light. You can see the remnants of Mayan culture, get some relief from the heat, and some tours even include a cave picnic.
You'll find plenty of tours that show off the incredible biodiversity of Belize, both at the beach and in the rainforests. Interact with animals during Shark Ray snorkeling tours or horseback riding. Visit nature and wildlife reserves for guided tours of Belizean birds, reptiles, and MANY monkeys.
If you have professional experience working with animals and want to expand your knowledge, you can also find volunteer tours that let you work with marine or rainforest animals that you might not find in the United States.
Best Time to Visit Belize
Although prices and tourist activity increases, November to April is the best time of year to visit Belize based on weather and tour options available. By May, the humidity mixed with high temperatures can put a damper on the good times. Temperatures (and prices) drop by September and crowds will be thinner, but the rain and potential for hurricanes keep many popular spots closed for the season.
What to Look for in a Tour to Belize
One of the benefits of touring in a smaller country like Belize is that you can cover a lot of ground in a shorter amount of time. If you are short on time, or you're not sure where to start, opt for a tour that includes a little bit of everything.
Many tours include rigorous or potentially dangerous activities, but you shouldn't have any trouble finding tours that are family-friendly, as well. The details of the tour should list the requirements and skills needed to complete the trip.
Typical Tour Cost
One week tours cost around $2,500 to $3,000 on average, but it's certainly possible to find cheaper trips. Be aware that if the cost seems unbelievably low, it might be because some excursion costs are not included in the advertised total. If the excursion is listed on the itinerary as "optional," you'll probably have to pay extra to participate.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
It's highly recommended that you bring bug spray and sunblock when you travel to Belize. You'll also want cool, fast-drying clothes and a rain jacket. One warmer outfit is not a bad idea as well.
The majority of tours in Belize will provide gear specific to the activity as part of the cost of the tour. However, there are a few items you might want to bring along just in case:
- goggles, especially if you have a favorite brand or type
- a snorkel
- closed toe and heel swim shoes or hiking sandals
- tennis shoes
If you plan to scuba dive, definitely bring your diver certification card. If you have your own gear, you can bring everything with you except your air tank and weights. However, most tours that include diving or snorkeling activities will provide the requisite gear. Just be sure to check whether this is included or offered for an additional fee.
Other Tips for Travel in Belize
While there are many people who speak Spanish or other local dialects in Belize, you will get around just fine speaking English. Belizeans are genuinely kind and friendly. They are known for their laid-back attitude, particularly when it comes to schedules. Arrive on time for your tours just in case, but don't be surprised if the guide is running a bit behind. You'll enjoy your experience in Belize more if you go into each tour with "Belize Time" in mind.
In-country travel is inexpensive in Belize, so be wary of prices for tour add-ons like meals and transportation that seem too pricey. Here are a few additional tips and tricks for traveling in Belize that will help make your trip a success.
No vaccinations are required, but bug spray and sunscreen are recommended. Drink plenty of water and make sure you are prepared for the activity level required from the types of tours you book. For example, some of the Mayan Ruins Tours require a decent amount of walking over uneven ground and steps, so be sure you're comfortable with that.
There is a noticeable difference between the tourist areas of Belize and the Belize beyond the sites and popular attractions. As long as you use common sense, most of Belize is safe enough for any visitor. There is some crime in Belize City, but most of the tours are offered in other areas. If you want to venture out in the evenings, especially if you're traveling solo, stick to places that have been recommended by trusted local sources (like your tour guides).
Other good practices include: not carrying valuables in an obvious way, familiarizing yourself with local laws, not drinking too much, and following instructions carefully while on adventurous tours that could be considered dangerous.