One of the reasons Belize has become so popular with expats and retirees is the proximity to the United States. Traveling in Belize and to Belize is quick and easy.
You may have heard that Belize is an undiscovered paradise hidden away in the Caribbean. If so, you’ll be happy to know that the stories are true! In fact, many people find that Belize is the ideal place to retire because of the beautiful weather, the cost of living, and the fact that English is widely spoken there.
Before you dive deeply into the pros and cons of retiring in Belize, take a trip there to get a feel for the country and be sure it’s a place you will love living. Following is an overview of what it’s like to travel in Belize and how to get around once you’ve entered the country.
Getting To Belize
By boat: You can catch a ferry to Belize from Honduras or Guatemala, but the most common way to arrive in Belize via water is on a cruise ship. Although your cruise ship may stop for a visit to Belize City, it’s not a good way of getting to Belize for an extended stay.
By car or bus: Some people drive into Belize by way of Mexico, but for short visits, most tourists choose to fly. If you plan to drive into Belize, you will be coming through either Mexico or Guatemala.
If you arrive by bus, expect to get off with your luggage, walk through customs and across the border, and get back on the bus on the other side. When you arrive at the border in a personal vehicle, you will have to show proof that you own (or have legally rented) the vehicle and that you have proper insurance, along with your standard travel documents.
By air: You can fly into Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport near Belize City (BZE) from the U.S., Mexico, Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Some routes are seasonal; winter is the busy season in Honduras because it is the dry season and many North American and European tourists are looking to get away to somewhere warm and sunny for the winter.
Fares Between Major US Airports And Belize
Depending on the time of year, you can fly into Belize from the following U.S. airports:
- Denver (DEN)
- Miami (MIA)
- Charlotte (CLT)
- Dallas Love Field (DAL)
- Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)
- Houston Hobby (HOU)
- Houston George Bush (IAH)
- Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
- Atlanta (ATL)
- Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
- Chicago Midway (MDW)
Finding the best airfare is easiest to do when you have some time to shop around. The cost of a plane ticket goes up and down based on the time of year, how quickly seats are selling, how many stops or layovers are planned, and so on.
You may think that the shortest flight by mileage would be the cheapest, but that isn’t always the case. In fact, flying out of Los Angeles to get on a Houston flight to Belize often costs significantly less than starting directly from Houston, even though the total distance is much greater. Wherever you are starting from, it’s best to shop around.
Round-trip fares to and from Belize can be as low as $300 when they are on sale. However, you can expect to pay at least $500, and often much more, depending on your travel dates. If you are flexible and don’t mind traveling on two, one-way tickets, you may be able to find a lower price than a typical round-trip fare.
Traveling From The Airport By Shuttle Or Public Bus
Belize has an abundance of shuttles to take you between the airport and all of the major towns. However, to take a shuttle from the airport, you’ll need a confirmed advance reservation. This is because the taxis have priority when it comes to walk-up passengers at the airport.
Private shuttle services are inexpensive in Belize, and the exchange rate is favorable to U.S. dollars. Therefore, a $10 BZ fare is even lower in U.S. dollars. Because you will have booked ahead, there will be no surprise shuttle charges. If your hotel offers a shuttle service for an extra charge, shop around before committing.
Bus Stations And Getting Around Belize
Taking a public bus or private shuttle is a great way to get from town to town in Belize. In the major cities and towns of Belize, you’ll find bus depots. In rural areas, you’ll find bus stops or you can just flag down the driver as the bus approaches. If you plan to get around Belize by bus, you may want to hire a taxi to take you from the airport to the nearest bus depot first.
Although the taxi ride seems expensive at first, keep in mind that it includes all the people in your group, whereas the bus charges per person. Gas is expensive in Belize, and that is reflected in the price of transportation. Once you get to the bus depot, you may be able to pay in U.S. dollars if you have them, but you may get a better exchange rate if you change your money first.
Expect to pay less than $5 U.S. for most bus routes, most being significantly less. One or two routes, for example, between Belize City and Dangriga to the south, which is about a three-hour ride, may cost $7.50 U.S. or more per person. By contrast, a similar route by taxi could cost as much as $40 U.S. per carload.
Renting A Car In Belize
For the most convenience when traveling in Belize, you can rent a car. Most of the car rental agencies near Belize City will pick you up and drop you off at the International Airport, which is a huge plus. There are several car rental options in Belize, including these:
- Crystal Auto Rental – Belize City and Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport – phone 501 223-1600 (Belize) or 936-307-1325 (USA)
- AQ Belize Car Rental – Belize City – phone 501-635-6200 (Belize) or 305-712-5122 (USA)
- Car One Belize – Belize City – phone 501-223-2271 (Belize) or 1-800-418-3084 (USA)
- Flames Auto Rental – San Ignacio – phone 501-620-6640 (Belize)
When you call to make a reservation, be sure you know what you need and what you are getting. For example, many places in Belize require four-wheel drive. The reservation agent can help you decide what you need based on where you plan to go. You should also realize that the cars may not be shiny and new, as you would expect in the U.S.
Are Ride-Hailing Apps, Such As Uber, Available In Belize?
Uber and Lyft are not yet available in Belize. In November of 2019, though, a Belize-focused taxi-hailing app, Midriva, was in testing in San Ignacio, Santiago, Benque, Santa Elena, Succutz, and Bullet Tree. Until ride-hailing apps in Belize are perfected, the best way to get around Belize, if you don’t want to ride the bus, rent a car, or walk, is by taxi.
Are Taxis Safe In Belize?
Belize is full of taxis. To be sure you’re getting in an actual, official taxi, and not just some random car, look for the green license plate. Also, because the taxis in Belize don’t have meters, be sure to agree on the price before you get in. Don’t be alarmed if the driver stops to pick up other people on the way; that’s how taxicabs work in Belize.
If you arrive at the airport without reservations on one of the shuttle buses, you’ll need to hail a taxi to get to your hotel. However, once you’re in the town you want to visit, you can probably just walk from place to place. Note: Be sure to carry cash if you plan to use taxis in Belize.
Regional Airports in Belize
The International Airport is not the only airport in Belize; once you arrive, you have options all over the country for quick flights in small planes or helicopters. Travelling in Belize by domestic airlines is often the best way to get around.
- Belize City Municipal Airport – Belize City, Belize
- Caye Chapel Airport – Caye Chapel, Belize
- Caye Caulker Airport – Caye Caulker, Belize
- Northern Two Cayes Airstrip – Northern Caye, Belize
- John Greif II Airport – San Pedro, Belize
- Blackbird Caye Airstrip – Turneffe Atoll, Belize
- Hector Silva Airport – Belmopan, Cayo
- Matthew Spain Airport – San Ignacio, Cayo
- San Ignacio Town Airstrip – San Ignacio, Cayo
- Manatee Airport – Spanish Lookout, Cayo
- Sarteneja Airport – Sarteneja, Corozal
- Johnny Chan Chen Airstrip – Chan Chen, Corozal
- Corozal Airport/Ranchito Airstrip – Corozal, Corozal
- Orange Walk Airstrip – Orange Walk, Orange Walk
- Chan Chich Airstrip – Gallon Jug, Orange Walk
- Melinda Airport – Hope Creek, Stann Creek
- Placencia Airport – Placencia, Stann Creek
- Big Creek Airstrip – Big Creek, Stann Creek
- Silver Creek Airport – Silver Creek, Stann Creek
- Dangriga Airport – Dangriga, Stann Creek
- Independence Airport – Independence, Stann Creek
- Punta Gorda Airport – Punta Gorda, Toledo
Flying Around Belize
Tropic Air and Maya Island Air are the major local carriers for flying around Belize. Be prepared to take a small plane when you fly within Belize. Because each flight can only hold a few passengers, it’s also important to have advance reservations.
- Tropic Air – phone 501-226-2012 (Belize) 1-800-422-3435 (US and Canada) – email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Maya Island Air – phone 501-223-1140 – email email@example.com
Can I Drive In Belize With an International Driving License?
You can drive in Belize with an international driving license. However, if you are coming from the U.S., Canada, or another English-speaking country, you probably will not need one. Belize is an English-speaking country, so any official, including police, who asks to see your driving license should be able to decipher your regular license if it is in English.
Keep in mind that the international driving license is only for people who are at least 18 years old. Also, each driver is required to carry their state or provincial license along with the international license.
Can I Drive In Belize With an American Driver’s License?
You can drive in Belize with an American driver’s license for up to 90 days before you are required to obtain a local license to drive. If you are an American visiting Belize on a tourist visa, your visa is only valid for 30 days. Therefore, your American driver’s license should be adequate for driving in Belize during your visit.