Belize Guide – Getting to know this tropical country.
Not too long ago, Belize was a British colony known as British Honduras. But now as it’s own independent country, it is known just as Belize; one of the most popular travel destination and one of the best countries to move to in Central America.
This Belize guide will give you details of what this electric tropical country is all about.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
life in Belize
commonly known facts about Belize
- It is the second smallest in Central America.
- It is the less populated in the region with less than 400,000 people.
- It has the largest coral reef in the Northern Hemisphere.
- English is the official language.
- Every year over 1.5 million people visit the country.
Even though Belize has one of the highest per capita income in Central America, the average income figure hides a vast income disparity between wealthy and poor. This disparity is more evident when you are in the country and get to see the reality. The poor are extremely poor, and the wealthy are extremely affluent.
On this economy, tourism is the number one earner, followed by exports of sugar, bananas, citrus, fish products, wood, and crude oil. The majority of the countries workforce works in the service industry and agriculture.
Belize is a prime destination for tourists. The vast tropical rainforest and the Caribbean Sea makes this country a fantastic eco-travel destination.
Visitors travel to Belize to see incredible wildlife in its vast rainforest, explore amazing historical archeological sites, enjoy beautiful Caribbean beaches, spend time at enchanted islands, and snorkel or dive with the plentiful marine life in its reefs.
Furthermore, a large percentage of its land and ocean are designated as protected by The Belize National Protected Areas System. Because of that, the country caters more to a boutique-style experience, often focusing on eco-tourism activities.
Safety in Belize.
If you go by statistics alone, Belize is not a safe place to visit. It has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world, and crime is common, especially in the larger cities. Criminals and Gangs use violence to resolve disputes and control territories.
When visiting Belize, you should exercise caution, particularly in larger cities and remote areas along the borders with Guatemala and Mexico.
Even though statistics show that Belize has a high crime rate and is not safe, most of these crimes are seldom targetted towards visitors.
When visiting this country, be aware of your surroundings and have common sense.
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Traveling to Belize.
Just to emphasize the obvious, you will need a valid passport to enter Belize, and with it, you can stay for up to 30 days without a visa. If you want to visit for more than 30 days as a tourist, you will need to get your passport stamp by a local immigration officer. The extensions gEven though Belize has one of the highest per capita income in Central America, the average income figure hides a vast income disparity between wealthy and poor. This disparity is more evident when you are in the country and get to see the reality. The poor are extremely poor, and the wealthy are extremely affluent.
On this economy, tourism is the number one earner, followed by exports of sugar, bananas, citrus, fish products, wood, and crude oil. The majority of the countries workforce works in the service industry and agriculture.o in increments of 30 days, and of course, you will need to pay a fee for each continuation.
All tourists and non-Belizean citizens traveling by plane must pay an exit fee, which is usually included in the airfare. Tourists traveling on a cruise line are also charged an exit fee, but it is less than if you are flying.
Flying to Belize
The Philip Goldson International airport “BZE” is the only international airport in Belize. The airport is located about 10 miles northwest of Belize City.
Most airlines fly directly to Belize from major cities in the US. For the most part, you will need to make a connection at one of these cities, if you are traveling from Europe or smaller airports in the US.
Driving or taking a bus to Belize
Drivers entering the country from either Mexico or Guatemala must do the following; Obtain a temporary permit at the border which is good for one month, show proof of vehicle ownership or rental agreement, and proof of insurance.
Where to stay
This country has a large assortment of well-established hotels and resorts.
But, the majority of accommodations are in small family-run hotels or hostels. Now, depending on your budget, you can find cabins or cabanas that are rustic and sometimes come with or without electricity.
The list of availability is just too big to list here. I recommend using a reputable website to make reservations and read reviews of the previous guests.
Here is a list of accommodations listed by the Belize tourism board. Click Here.
Furthermore, there are other accommodations such as camping or VRBO “Vacation rentals by owner” places. Just do your research, I am sure you will find the right lodging for you.
Per travelers recommendations who have used these airlines in the past, is better to make reservations ahead of time.
Taxi or Bus
Taxis are common in cities but not as common in rural areas. These taxis are identified by green license plates.
Buses are used mostly to travel between cities and are not typical for short commutes.
I recommend you to get in touch with the hotel that you are staying at. They should, in theory, be able to give you the best way for you to get around Belize.
Top Things to do in Belize.
For such a small country, Belize has plenty of things to do or see, here are a few of them.
Go Scuba Diving or Snorkeling
With over 200 islands and the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere, there is no surprise that diving or snorkeling is at the top of the list of most people visiting.
The water at the reef is crystal clear with visibility reaching hundreds of feet. No matter what month of the year you decide to visit, you will always get the best diving or snorkeling experience.
Surround yourself with warm water and experience all the marine life around you that includes corals, sharks, turtles, and much more.
Additionally, the Belize Barrier Reef is home to the Great Blue Hole. One of the most significant geological wonders of the planet. It is located just about 43 miles off the mainland. This wonder can easily be experienced on a day trip.
The great blue hole is about 400 feet deep. However, this site is for more experienced divers. Nonetheless, a deep dive into the Great Blue Hole will reveal a whole new world full of unique fish not found in other sites near the water’s surface.
Explore Archeological Sites
In Belize, only a small percentage of ancient Maya sites have been uncovered. Just remember that this area is known as the epicenter of the old Maya world. Belize was home to more than two million Mayas. Sacred temples, pyramids, agriculture, and impressive structures are their legacy.
If you want to explore for one day or a week, they are well worth your time. Xunantunich, Altun Ha, Caracol, Lamanai, and Cerro Maya are just some of the most visited Archeological sites in the country.
This civilization permanently marked the landscape of Belize, as these sites show. In this county, pretty much anywhere you go, you will find ancient Maya temples.
Spend time at one of the Cayes
Whether you want an action-packed agenda in the water, or just spend some quality time in a hammock by the beach, Belize’s Cayes have something to offer to every single traveler.Whether you want an action-packed agenda in the water, or just spend some quality time in a hammock by the beach, Belize’s Cayes have something to offer to every single traveler.
Ambergris Caye is by far the largest island at approximately 36 miles. This Caye is located next to the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere. And just because of that, it is reliable to say that Ambergris Caye has amazing attractions. However, if diving or snorkeling is not your thing, there are plenty of other things for you to do.
At Ambergris Caye, there are plenty of restaurants, bars, shops, and all types of tours that will suit your needs. Be as active as you want to be, spend time napping at the beach or make small talk with the locals or other tourists. In Ambergris Caye, go big or small is entirely up to you.
Caye Caulker, a small island off the coast of Belize. The island is divided by a narrow channel called the Split.
Now to the south is the island’s only settlement, known as Caye Caulker Village. And to the north of the island is home to the dense mangrove forest and diverse birdlife, protected by the forest reserve.
Caye Caulker has it all, with everything from bird watching, checking out local shops, getting fresh seafood in the restaurants, hanging out at the beach, etc. There is a lot is going on, and that’s just on land.
Additionally, Caye Caulker is home to some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in the area. Not to mention that you can spend time windsurfing, taking a manatee tour, or going fishing. With all these things to do at Caye Caulker, you may just need a day to relax at the beach.
Explore the Rainforest
Much of Belize is still unexploited forest. With more than half of the country consisting of subtropical jungles. Belize leaders have concluded that preserving the nation’s large natural resources is a priority and now over 70% of the rainforest is under government protection. If you are someone who likes rainforest and jungles, this country is perfect for you.
Visit the St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park
Do not confuse it with the Great Blue Hole, St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park has a natural turquoise pool that is part of a river system. It is excellent for swimming, the area is surrounded by dense vegetation.
When you get done taking a swim, you can go directly into the St. Herman’s cave and explore. This cave is not for the beginners, and a guide must accompany you at all time.
As frightening as some of the trails may look, don’t worry. Most of the trails are designed in circles so you can easily return to your starting point. Some trails are self-guided, but some require the expertise of a tour guide who can point out birds, wildlife and plants.
Whatever level of hiker you consider yourself to be, I am sure Belize will have the trail to match what you’re looking for. Either take a day tour or spend several days camping, you will have the chance to encounter exotic tropical plants and birds, or to see wildlife, including howler monkeys, crocodile, or the tracks of the elusive jaguar.
Go Caving! Explore the mysteries of the underworld
There are thousands of caves in this tropical country. They range from easy walks to challenging ones that can turn into tight squeezes, crawls, climbs, rappels and swims. Choose your cave carefully and accordingly to your expertise.
In these Caves you may find, stalactite and stalagmite formations, ancient intact pottery, intact skeletons, like in Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, and other natural formation such as underground waterfalls. Go Caving, the only thing you probably won’t find is boredom.
Spend Time Canoeing
If you are a beginner or advance at canoeing, Belize has the waterways for you to venture and enjoy.
There are tour companies and jungle lodges that cater to canoe travelers. Some of the best areas for canoeing are located in the Mopan and Macal Rivers in the Cayo District.
At either Mopan River or Macal River, you can navigate through the jungle and see wildlife. There are points along the river where you can anchor your boat, take a jungle hike, and stop and say hi to the locals.
Living in Belize.
It sounds just so perfect, a tropical Caribbean country with astonishing islands where the principle mode of transportation is a golf cart. Crystal clear waters, amazing natural spaces, and gently swaying palm trees that surrounds you everywhere.
But is that really what living in Belize is like?
Remember, at the end of the day, this nation is a fantastic third world country. You get the good with the bad.
The lifestyle that you want or are willing to settle for will depends mainly on what your monthly budget is. As an example, imported items in Belize are expensive; therefore it will have a significant effect on your overall budget.
If money is not an issue and you have plenty to spend. Then, things that other people worry about might seem trivial to you. On the other hand, just because money is not an issue it doesn’t mean that you will like living in this country.
On the other side, if you are on a lower budget, then things are different. The high cost of food will have a more significant impact, and not to mention that your living accommodations might be less desirable to usual standards.
Living in Belize can be a challenge for some people. Things seem different when you are just vacationing that when you are actually residing in.
Some of the main challenges are; shortage of high-tech medical care, the high crime rate in some areas, the high cost of imported goods, political corruption, and overall third world country life.
For those willing to put up with these challenges, this country can be a beautiful place to reside.
This country has a remarkably diverse society. It is made up of a multiplicity of cultures and speaking languages. Of course, English is the official language; however, it is not surprising to hear a lot of spoken Spanish as Latinos are a significant ethnic group in this country.
Additionally, most people in this multicultural nation are bilingual. English, Spanish, and Kriol are the predominant languages; however, other languages are being spoken besides the above mention three.
Belize is home to different ethnic groups, including Chinese, Creole, East Indian, European, Garifuna, Lebanese, Mayan, Mennonite, and Mestizo.
Each group brings its own customs and traditions to the mix. And the result is a fantastic culture.
From the moment you arrive in Belize. Whether you are an adventure traveler, part of a family trip or in the country for a relaxing beach vacation. Belize people and culture make you feel as welcome and comfortable, like nowhere you’ve ever visited.
More About Belize
One of the best things about Belize is its tropical weather. It has an astonishing subtropical climate. The temperature is typically in the 70s to mid-90s. But the yearly average temperature is 84° F (29°C). It’s always warm, yet comfortable.
Coastal sea breezes, as well as jungles and rainforests, keep visitors cool even in the hottest summer months.
Take the chance and visit or move to Belize.