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Belize

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Belizean Shores Resort
Belizean Shores Resort - dream vacation

P O Box 1 San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye

SunBreeze Suites
SunBreeze Suites - dream vacation

Barrier Reef Drive, San Pedro

Caribbean Villas Hotel
Caribbean Villas Hotel - dream vacation

PO Box 71, Seagrape Drive, San Pedro

Belize, formerly British Honduras, is the only country in Central America without a coastline on the Pacific Ocean (only the Caribbean Sea to its east) and the only one in the region with English as its official language. Belize is located between Guatemala to the west and south and Mexico to the north.

Regions

Cities

  • Belmopan - Inland capital
  • Belize City - Belize's largest city, on the Caribbean Sea
  • Corozal Town
  • Crooked Tree
  • Dangriga - Large Garifuna town in the south, formerly known as Stann Creek Town
  • Hopkins - Garifuna village
  • Orange Walk Town
  • Punta Gorda - Beautiful, quiet port town in the South; home to a complex and diverse Amerindian market on the weekends
  • San Ignacio - Known as Cayo to locals, Maya and Hispanic influence near the Guatemala border

Other destinations

  • Ambergris Caye - large barrier island in the north
  • Caye Caulker - smaller barrier island in the north
  • Placencia peninsula - long peninsula (almost an island) off Stann Creek
  • Tobacco Caye
  • Lighthouse Reef Atoll

Maya ruins

  • Altun Ha
  • Caracol
  • Lamanai
  • Lubaantun
  • Xunantunich

Understand

With its British colonial history and a long Caribbean coast, Belize is culturally similar to many of Britain's former West Indian island colonies, with a majority creole or Afro-Caribbean population. But it also includes a large native Mayan population, especially in the north and northwest of the country. As a result, although English is the official language, Spanish is also often spoken. In the south east along the Caribbean coast live the Garifuna (Black Caribs), an Afro-Amerindian culture.

After long journeys starting in what is now the Netherlands in 1790, via Germany, South Russia, Canada, the United States, and Mexico several thousand German speaking Mennonite Christians arrived in Belize in 1958 after long and detailed discussions with the government regarding specific exemptions and privileges, they are easily recognizable by their speech (somewhat distinctive from modern standard German) and "quaint" dress.

World class attractions include exploring the lush jungles with exotic plants and animals, deep sea fishing, swimming, snorkeling and diving in the Caribbean sea with its attractive reefs, and visiting the Mayan ruins. Income levels are still very low and the infrastructure is very basic. The Belizeans are very proud and friendly to visitors and the tourist industry grew greatly in the last decade.

History

Like the neighbouring parts of Guatemala and Mexico, this area was settled for thousands of years by the Maya people. They are still here, an important part of Belize's people and culture. While the Spanish Empire claimed the area in the 16th century, the Spanish made little progress in settling here. The British settled first on the coast and offshore islands for logging. In 1798 British Belizean forces defeated a Spanish attempt to drive them out in the Battle of St. George's Caye, an anniversary still celebrated as a holiday each 10 September.

The colony of British Honduras grew in the 19th century. At first Africans were brought in as slaves, but slavery was abolished here in 1838. Many refugees from the 19th century Caste War of Yucatán escaped the conflict to settle in Belize, especially the northern section.

The government of Guatemala has long claimed to have inherited the original 15th century Spanish claim to Belize. Although the British were willing to grant independence to British Honduras as early as the mid 1960s, this ongoing dispute played a major role in delaying full Belizean independence until 1981, long after London granted independence to other former colonies in the region. Guatemala refused to recognize an independent Belize at all until 1991, and to this day lays claim to virtually all Belizean territory south of Belize City. The topic remains a sensitive one, particularly in the southern half of Belize.

Belize escaped the bloody civil conflicts of the 1980s that engulfed much of Central America, and refugees from the conflict in Guatemala arrived, mostly settling in the west. While Belize has not been immune to the rampant drug crime and grinding poverty of its neighbours it is a comparatively safe destination in a conflict-prone part of the world. Belize shares particularly close diplomatic and economic ties with both the United Kingdom and the United States.

Tourism has become the mainstay of the economy as the old agricultural products — sugar, banana, and oranges — have lost ground. The country remains plagued by high unemployment, growing involvement in the South American drug trade, and increased urban crime. In 2006 commercial quantities of oil were discovered in the Spanish Lookout area.

Climate

Tropical, very hot and humid. The dry season typically lasts from February to May and then the rainy season typically lasts through to November. Hurricanes that bring coastal flooding, especially in the south, are prevalent in June to November.

Terrain

The flat coastal plain is swampy with low mountains in the south. The highest point is Victoria Peak at 1,160 m.

Talk

As a former British colony, the official language of Belize is standard English with UK spelling rules, which makes Belize stand out from its Spanish-speaking neighbours.

Spanish, Garifuna (Carib) and the Maya languages/dialects of Kekchi, Mopan and Yucatec are spoken in various parts of the country. Spanish is widely used as the first language in northern and western parts of the country. So-called "kitchen Spanish," an amalgam of Spanish and English, is common on Ambergris Caye. Belizean Creole, which has a certain degree of mutual intelligibility with standard English, is widely spoken as well. Most Belizeans are proficient in English and at least one of these other languages.

Many Belizeans speak a mix of Creole and English among friends, and standard English to foreigners. The strong Caribbean accent may take some getting used to.

Get in

US, Mexican, Canadian, Singaporean, Jamaican, Australian, Malaysian and EU passport holders do not need a visa, but need valid passports. Cruise ship visitors do not even need a passport! The Belize Tourism Board maintains up-to-date information . When leaving country by land, prepare to pay border tax (around BZ$38) in cash.

By plane

The Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (IATA: BZE) is in Ladyville, to the northwest of Belize City (roughly 30 minute's drive) where it receives international direct flights from Atlanta, Charlotte, Newark, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Flores, San Salvador, Roatan and San Pedro Sula.

By car

From Mexico via Chetumal, or on a much rougher road from Guatemala via Melchor de Mencos.

By bus

Buses from Belize City and Belmopan operate to Flores in Guatemala, and to Chetumal in Mexico.

By boat

Several cruise lines call on Belize City. Unfortunately they usually stay only one day, which doesn't allow the opportunity to really see Belize. You can visit one of the Maya ruins, ride an airboat in the salt marshes just outside the city, shop, go to the museum, go to the zoo or take either a short cave rafting trip or go snorkelling, but that's about it. That means about 70% of the things most tourists would like aren't available, not mention the eco-tourism points of interest.

To Puerto Cortés, Honduras, the Gulf Cruza, a small, rickety speed boat (20 people) leaves Placencia each Friday at around 09:30 (4 hr US$50), going first to Big Creek. It returns to Placencia on Monday. Tickets are sold in the tourist office next to the gas station. Stop by immigration first.

Small speedboats operate on a daily basis between Puerto Barrios in Guatemala to Punta Gorda, cost is around US$20 one way. On Tuesday and Fridays, boats operate from Livingston in Guatemala to Punta Gorda. The ride takes no more than one hour. It's BZ$50.

There's also a BZ$30 departure tax plus BZ$7.50 marine park fee. Foreigners are required to pay departure taxes and a conservation upkeep fee when leaving Belize via land, air, or water. These fees are only applicable to locals when flying.

San Pedro Belize Express has over 25 daily departures, 14 first class boats.

Get around

Belize is a fairly small country, and transportation between most destinations is rarely long or tedious.

By plane

Tropic Air and Maya Island Air both have multiple flights daily to various towns around the country and to Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. They fly out of both of Belize City's airports, but flights from Belize City Airport (IATA: TZA) are often significantly cheaper than those out of Phillip Goldson International (IATA: BZE). Domestic flights are generally pretty reasonable, and thus popular if your time is limited and budget is not. Flights are operated with planes ranging from 8 to 68 seats. Because of the limited capacity, booking in advance is advisable. For bookings from outside Belize, there is only one airviva internet agent, who can make bookings, take payment (credit/debit cards/PayPal) and then send e-tickets. Some hotels do also offer to make the flight reservation on your behalf.

By bus

Several competing bus lines operate on the main road in the north-south direction from Punta Gorda to Belmopan and Belize City. There are bus stations in the main towns, or simply stand on the side of the highway and wave at an approaching bus. Most buses have a conductor in addition to the driver, who stands by the door and will come to your seat to collect the fare at some point during the trip. Fares run anywhere from BZ$2–25 depending on distance travelled.

Express buses can save up to an hour and a half (depending on the distance of your trip); they do not stop for passengers waiting on the roadside, making only scheduled pick-ups and drop-offs in towns.

Most buses in Belize are retired US school buses (Bluebirds), that have been given a slight makeover, a luggage rack installed, and sometimes a new paint job. They generally aren't too crowded, but you may have to stand occasionally.

Children selling snacks and soft drinks often board the buses at stops, and this is an inexpensive way to have a snack if you've exhausted what you've brought along or just want to try some home-made travel foods.

By taxi

Taxis are common and relatively cheap in Belize. Most taxis do not use meters, so be sure to negotiate the price beforehand.

By water taxi

For those wanting a truly Belizean experience, take the water taxis from city to city. The San Pedro Belize Express has the most daily runs and departs from the Brown Sugar Terminal in Belize City at 09:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:30 to San Pedro and Caye Caulker.

Departure from San Pedro Town pier on Black Coral Street next to Wahoo's Bar and Grill and leaves at 07:00, 08:30, 10:00, 11:30, 12:30, 14:30, 16:30 to Caye Caulker and Belize City as well as a last boat to Caye Caulker only at 18:00.

There are boats departing from Caye Caulker to Belize City and San Pedro Town and they leave from the pier in front of the Basket Ball Court. Caye Caulker to Belize City: 07:30, 09:00, 10:30, 12:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00 and Caye Caulker to San Pedro: 07:00 (connection to Chetumal), 09:45, 11:45, 12:45, 13:45, 15:45, 16:45 and last boat 18:15.

Chetumal Runs are available from Caye Caulker at 07:00 and from San Pedro at 07:30.

Travelling from Chetumal to Belize, the boat leaves the Municipal Pier at 15:30 en route to San Pedro (90 min) and Caye Caulker (120 min).

Rates: Belize City to San Pedro or return: BZ$30 Belize or US$15 (one way), BZ$55 or US$27.50 (round trip). Caye Caulker to San PedroBelize City to Caye Caulker: BZ$20 or US$10 (one way), BZ$35 or US$17.50 (round trip).

Car rental

Compared to most Central American countries, driving in Belize is relatively safe with little crime (except in the San Pedro area), there is not much traffic, and the four major highways are all in good condition. Unfortunately, almost every road off the four major highways is unpaved so a 4-wheel drive vehicle is advisable. It is best not to drive late at night because there is almost no lighting, road signs are poor, and the last stretch is almost certain to be on an unpaved road (you risk breaking an axle on an unseen, but immense, pothole!) You won't need a map because there are few roads and it is hard to get lost.

Rental rates often include insurance so you usually don't need to buy insurance separately. If you plan on using a rental car to visit Tikal in Guatemala, you should plan ahead and you must rent from Crystal Auto Rental because no other company will let you take your car out of Belize. Belize insurance is not valid in Guatemala so check with your credit card or car insurance company to see if they'll cover you for a trip into Guatemala.

Highways

  • The Northern Highway (aka Phillip Goldson Highway) goes from Corozal on the Belize-Mexico border to Belize City via Orange Walk. This is the highway you'll use for the international airport, Altun Ha, and the Lamanai.
  • Western Highway (aka George Price Highway) stretches from Belize City, via Belmopan and the Cayo District, to the border with the Guatemalan state of Peten at Benque. Along the way are the Belize Zoo (mile 29), the Hummingbird Highway (mile 47), Belmopan, and San Ignacio (mile 68). Major sights along this route include the adventure itineraries in the Cayo District, Mayan ruins at Xunantunich and access to the road to Caracol, and, from the Guatemalan border, the ruins at TIkal. To get to the Western Highway from the airport, go north on the Northern Highway, make a left at Burrell Boom, and follow the road for 19 km to the Western Highway at Hattieville.
  • Hummingbird Highway goes from Belmopan to Dangriga connecting the Western Highway to the Southern Highway. You'll use this highway to get from CayoBelize City or the North to the Southern part of Belize. An alternative, slightly shorter, Coastal Highway takes you from Belize City to the Southern Highway but is a mess that is best avoided!
  • Southern Highway runs from Dangriga (the Hummingbird Highway) to Punta Gorda, with a recently built section heading to the southern border with Guatemala. Along the way are the coastal towns of Hopkins and Placencia.

See

  • The world heritage listed Belize Barrier Reef stretching along the whole coast of Belize.

Do

Zip-lining

Soar over Belize's rain forest by taking a zip-line tour. These tours usually begin with a short hike up to the first base where a tutorial is given on how to safely use your equipment.

  • Prices range US$65-100 and tours are run by two companies, Jaguar Paw, and Back-A-Bush tours.

Sport fishing

Sport fishing in Belize is second to none. The bonefish is the premier fly fishing game fish in the world and it can be found in the grass shallows through Belize. It's pound for pound perhaps the strongest animal in salt water.

Scuba Diving and snorkelling

The snorkelling and scuba diving is world-class and there are many exceptional dive sites to be found in Belize. One of the best ways to explore Belize waters is by chartering a yacht to make the most of your available dive time.

For those with a smaller budget, snorkelling and driving excursions can be found along the beaches of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. The most common excursions will take you to both Hol Chan marine reserve and Shark Ray Alley. These trips usually cost about US$35 and include snorkel gear. Be mindful of an additional BZ$10 charged to foreigners as a park tax. This money goes toward the upkeep, and protection of the reef. Diving excursions are also offered to the Blue Hole, but expect to pay a lot more for the privilege.

Cave exploration

The Cayo district is characterised by limestone hills underlain by a network of underground rivers, caves and sink holes. The caves are magnificent, with huge caverns and tight passages, underground waterfalls and dazzling arrays of mineral-encrusted stalactites and stalagmites. This underground world was sacred to the ancient Maya and many artefacts from decorated pots to human remains are still intact in the caves. It is dangerous (and illegal) to enter the caves without a licensed guide. Most guides are trained in the geology and mythology of the caves and in modern first aid and cave rescue techniques.

  • Ian Anderson's Caves Branch Adventure Company and Jungle Lodge, Caves Branch (Hummingbird Highway south from Belmopan). Anderson organized the initial guiding training programs in the country, out of which grew the Belize Disaster And Rescue Response Team locally called BDARRT (now an independent NGO).

The Sleeping Giant and Caves Branch are operated by the same owner. There are up to 16 different tours they operate everyday. The Actun Tunichil Muknal or ATM caves have the highest number of tourists visiting a tourist destination in Central America. Also knows as the Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre this river cave has pristine remnants of some Mayan human sacrifices. It is a surreal experience complete with beautiful cave formations an underground river and Mayan collectibles. No wonder the Mayans called it the Xibalba or the dark underworld.

Buy

The currency of Belize is the dollar (ISO code BZD), divided into 100 cents.

The Belizean dollar – sometimes written as "BZ$" or just as a dollar sign: "$" – has been officially pegged to the US dollar (USD) at a 2:1 ratio since 1978 (i.e. BZ$2 = US$1). Since this is by statute, there is no floating currency exchange rate as there is between the US dollar and the Mexican peso. However, those exchanging other currencies for Belizean dollars such as British pounds or euros should be mindful of this.

Because of this simple and consistent exchange rate between these two dollar currencies, US dollars are widely accepted, but this means you should be careful to clarify which "dollars" you're talking about when negotiating prices. It's often better to assume Belize dollars because many merchants will jump on your uncertainty and attempt to double their price by saying, "No, in US dollars". Belize dollars come in denominations of BZ$2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100. B$1 and smaller amounts are coins. The 25-cent coin is often called a "shilling."

Eat

  • The primary meal found virtually everywhere is red beans, clean rice, and chicken.
  • Most chicken in the country is prepared and served on the bone.
  • Rice and beans is a mixed dish with some spices and usually coconut milk added to make a sweet and hot staple of the Belizean diet. Beans and rice is white cooked rice with a side of stewed pinto beans.
  • Citrus plantations are numerous, so fresh oranges and grapefruits are abundant. Pineapples, papayas, bananas and plantains are also grown and sold in roadside markets.
  • A famous hot sauce in Belize is Marie Sharp's made from the very potent local habanero pepper. It comes in a variety of flavours (mild, hot, extremely hot).
  • That odd looking salsa on your table is really ceviche. Ceviche -also spelled as cebiche or seviche- is a citrus-marinated seafood dish. The Belizeans use fresh raw conch and vegetables.
  • Papusas are maize pancakes with different toppings sold in stalls on the streets in San Pedro town. It is the cheapest option if you want to eat on a budget.

Eating in San Pedro can be expensive if you eat at the tourist restaurants; however if you find the local places, meals can be very inexpensive and very tasty.

Drink

Belikin is the national beer and comes in four varieties: Premium, Beer, Stout, and Lighthouse Lager. Guinness Stout is also available in Belize but it's also brewed by the Belikin Brewing Co. All are sold in returnable bottles, so make sure you are aware of the deposit if you are taking your beverages to go.

One Barrel Rum is the locally-distilled molasses-tasting rum and Traveller's Liquors' distillery is on the Northern Highway about 6 miles from Belize City with a gift shop and hospitality bar. You can purchase rum in a variety of colours and sizes, up to a 70 gallon cask.

Both are widely available around the country. But if you also like wine there is cashew wine (which is very popular in Belize), ginger wine, sorrel wine and blackberry wine.

Learn

There are great opportunities for scuba diving off of Belize atolls. Check out reefci for some very interesting 1 week adventures that are both informative conservation education as well as great scuba diving. If you want to learn about Belize's history the Museum of Belize, House of Culture, and of course, travelling and discovering are recommended.

Stay safe

Belize City is the most dangerous area in Belize, although it's very easy to be safe there. Remain in the tourist zone that runs just north of the marina to the southern extension to the east of the main canal. There are plenty of khaki tourist police monitoring the area and, should you have a problem, feel free to approach them. Just exercise common sense and do not go wandering around alone after dark. Stay near tourist areas or other commercial zones. The south side of Belize City is beautiful as well as dangerous. Otherwise, Belize City is a great place to go if you want to eat, learn, or shop.

Other areas of Belize are generally safe, but like any other place in the world, one should always have some skepticism when dealing with strangers. Most are genuinely helpful, but it never hurts to be cautious.

Under Section 5(1) of the Immigration Act, the government is entitled to deny LGBT travellers entrance to Belize. There are also no legal protections in place for victims of anti-gay discrimination in Belize.

Stay healthy

Belize is a relatively healthy country. Bottled water is a must in most areas. And, unless you eat only at ultra-touristic restaurants, dysentery will probably strike at some point; be prepared with over-the-counter medication and prescription antibiotics.

The US Centers for Disease Control list all of Belize except Belize City as a malaria risk area, and recommends the antimalarial drug chloroquine. Dengue fever is also a risk in Belize. Other drugs may also be recommended in certain circumstances - consult a qualified professional specialist.

Insect/mosquito bites should be prevented with appropriate clothing, repellents and insecticides, and bed nets if sleeping in non-air-con/unscreened rooms.

The sun, as anywhere else in the tropics, is very intense. A hat, high-SPF sunscreen, and sunglasses should do you fine.

Many places in Belize are very hot and humid, and dehydration is a risk. An expat suggests to drink as much water as you want, and then drink that much again.

The adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is 2.5% or one in every forty adults, this is notably higher than in most of Europe or Anglo-America and also quite a bit higher than in other parts of Central America like Nicaragua or Costa Rica.

Respect

Belizeans are some of the most socially relaxed people in the world, especially if you venture inland away from the tourist islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. The pace of life is generally slower in Belize, so it's good practice to begin any social interaction, even to ask a quick question, with eye contact and a genuinely pleasant greeting. Most rural Belizeans enjoy casual conversation and you could easily find yourself chatting it up for a few hours. Hey, it's part of the charm!

The Maya communities can be a little more reserved at times. As always, a little respect and politeness will carry you through.

Connect

Payphones are the most common public phones and accept pre-purchased phone cards.

Internet cafés can be found in larger tourist areas, but are infrequent in rural areas.

The government used to prohibit allow Skype and forced tourists to call out of the country using the government-owned phone company. In a recent change the main telephone company, Belize Telemedia Limited, has removed blocks from all voice over internet protocol services. Applications such as Skype and Vonage are now able to work within the country and may prove to be a cheaper medium of communication when calling back home.

An angling Grand Slam entails catching the coveted bonefish, permit and tarpon in the same fishery on the same day or trip. This is one attempt.

Lonely Planet Belize (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

#1 best-selling guide to Belize *

Lonely Planet Belize is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Explore the ancient Maya site of Caracol, dive the world-renowned Blue Hole, or spot toucans in the wild; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Belize and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Belize:

Color maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - music, cuisine, Ancient Maya, history, wildlife, land & environment, weddings & honeymoons, diving & snorkeling, politics, travel with children Over 40 maps Covers Belize District, Northern Cayes, Northern Belize, Cayo  District, Southern Belize, Tikal, Flores, Guatemala and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Belize, our most comprehensive guide to Belize, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less traveled.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet Central America on a Shoestring.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveler community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travelers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

*Best-selling guide to Belize. Source: Nielsen BookScan. Australia, UK and USA

Fodor's Belize: with a Side Trip to Guatemala (Travel Guide)

Fodor's Travel Guides

Written by locals, Fodor's travel guides have been offering expert advice for all tastes and budgets for more than 80 years. Belize might just have the greatest variety of flora and fauna of any country of its size in the world. Offshore the Belize Barrier Reef, a great wall of coral, stretches the entire 200-mile-length of the coast. And archaeologists have identified more than 600 significant Mayan sites in Belize. Fodor's guide gives you all the information you need to plan the perfect trip, whether you want a scuba adventure, a getaway to a secluded jungle lodge, or barefoot luxury in a peaceful beach town. This travel guide includes:· Dozens of maps· An 8-page color insert with a brief introduction and spectacular photos that capture the top experiences and attractions throughout Belize· Hundreds of hotel and restaurant recommendations, with Fodor's Choice designating our top picks· Multiple itineraries to explore the top attractions and what’s off the beaten path· Major sights such as Mayan Ruins, Hummingbird Highway, and Actun Tunichil Muknal · Side Trip from Belize including Guatemala· Coverage of Belize City, The Cayes and Atolls, Northern Belize, The Cayo, The Southern Coast, and The Deep South

The Rough Guide to Belize

Rough Guides

The Rough Guide to Belize is the ultimate travel guide to this unique country, with clear maps and detailed coverage of all the best attractions, from the sun-washed cayes to soaring Mayan pyramids.

Discover Belize's highlights with stunning photography and in-depth information on everything from the country's magnificent Barrier Reef, the longest in the Western Hemisphere, to its mist-shrouded jungles. Find detailed practical advice on what to see and do in Belize, relying on up-to-date descriptions of the best resorts, hotels, spas, restaurants and activities for all budgets. Explore every corner of Belize with clear, user-friendly maps.

Make the Most of Your Time on Earth with The Rough Guide to Belize.

About Rough Guides: For thirty years, adventurous travelers have turned to Rough Guides for up-to-date and intuitive information from expert authors. With opinionated and lively writing, honest reviews, and a strong cultural background, Rough Guides travel books bring more than two hundred destinations to life.

Moon Belize (Moon Handbooks)

Lebawit Lily Girma

This full-color guide includes vibrant photos and easy-to-use maps to help with trip planning.Travel writer, photographer, and Belize expert Lebawit Lily Girma knows the best ways to experience Belize—from the gorgeous beaches of the Northern Cayes to the lush countryside of Belmopan and Cayo. Girma offers a range of interesting activities for every traveler—such as waterfall rappelling at Bocawina National Park or attending the annual Chocolate Festival—as well as unique trip ideas such as the "Rhythms of Belize." Packed with information on dining, transportation, and accommodations, Moon Belize gives travelers the tools they need to create a more personal and memorable experience.

Belize (National Geographic Adventure Map)

National Geographic Maps - Adventure

• Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Travel Map

National Geographic's Belize Adventure Map, created in cooperation with Biodiversity & Environmental Resource Data System (BERDS) of Belize and Academex Digital Publishing, is a complete travel guide to this coastal Central American country. Hundreds of points of interest, a road network and topographic features and combined in one expertly researched map showing the country in its entirety along with neighboring areas in Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras. Also provided is background information of the country's various districts, highlighting each area's unique features. While the reverse side of the map provides valuable information of such popular destinations as the Belize Barrier Reef, The Blue Hole and Tikal, illustrated with stunning photographs. Inset maps of Belize CitySan Pedro and Tikal provide extra detail of these hotspots.

A user-friendly index of protected areas, including national parks, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, natural monuments and archeological, forest, marine, public and private reserves, will help you find your adventure site. Then, plan your route with the mapped road network which includes major roads as well as dirt and gravel roads, for those wishing to travel off the beaten path. Additional transportation features mapped include airstrips, ferry routes and harbors. Along the way, find cultural, historical, ecological and adventure points of interest, such as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Maya sites, ruins, lighthouses, caves, beaches, museums and areas for wildlife viewing, sailing, snorkeling, diving and fishing.

Every Adventure Map is printed on durable synthetic paper, making them waterproof, tear-resistant and tough — capable of withstanding the rigors of international travel.

Map Scale = 1:400,000Sheet Size = 25.5" x 37.75"Folded Size = 4.25" x 9.25"

Fodor's Belize: with a Side Trip to Guatemala (Travel Guide)

Lan Sluder

Fodor’s correspondents highlight the best of Belize, with spectacular diving and snorkeling sites, exotic wildlife, and fascinating Mayan ruins, as well as a side trip to Guatemala's Tikal. Our local experts vet every recommendation to ensure you make the most of your time, whether it’s your first trip or your fifth. MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS from Ambergris Caye to Placencia PERFECT HOTELS for every budget BEST RESTAURANTS to satisfy a range of tastes Useful FEATURES on cuisine and ecotrips VALUABLE TIPS on when to go and ways to save INSIDER PERSPECTIVE from local experts Maps and COLOR PHOTOS to guide and inspire your trip

Easy Belize: How to Live, Retire, Work and Buy Property in Belize, the English Sp

Lan Sluder

EASY BELIZE How to Live, Retire, Work and Buy Property in Belize, the English Speaking, Frost Free Paradise on the Caribbean Coast by Lan Sluder is the complete guide for anyone considering relocating or retiring to Belize, and for anyone thinking of buying property or building a home in Belize. This is the fully updated, revised and expanded Second Edition for 2016-2017. In 40 chapters, 460 pages and 170,000 words, with dozens of photographs and maps, it covers everything you need to know: Where are the best areas of Belize to live? Can you still find affordable beachfront land in Belize? What do things cost in Belize? How to find the best values on real estate Facts on health care in Belize Truth about safety and security What pitfalls and problems should you avoid? Options for residency How much per month do you need to live in Belize? Tax savings in Belize Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) program How to stretch your dollars in Belize. While this books is primarily a guide for those thinking about retiring, relocating or buying property in Belize, it also includes comprehensive information on hotels and restaurants. It also covers what to do and see in Belize, including diving, snorkeling, boating, fishing, caving, visiting Maya sites and other adventures. This makes Easy Belize handy for your "check-it-out" scouting trip to Belize. Easy Belize provides detailed information on all the major areas of Belize, whether inland or on the coast and cayes: Corozal Town and Corozal District; the islands of Belize including Ambergris Caye (San Pedro) and Caye Caulker and the small offshore cayes; Belmopan City, San Ignacio/Santa Elena and Benque Viejo in Cayo District; DangrigaHopkins and Placencia in Stann Creek District; the Punta Gorda and Maya villages areas in Toledo District; and Belize City and rural Belize District. Lan Sluder has been reporting on Belize for 25 years. He is the author of more than a dozen books and ebooks on the country, including Fodor's Belize, Living Abroad in Belize and San Pedro Cool.

Understanding Belize: A Historical Guide

Alan Twigg

Tiny, island-dotted Belize, perched on the Caribbean, south of Mexico and east of Guatemala, is a fascinating blend of Creole, Mestizo, Maya, Garifuna, English, East Indian, Mennonite, Lebanese and Chinese cultures. With its colonial background (English remains the official language) and a history of fending off its Latin neighbours, Belize has emerged as a relatively stable democracy that is as much Caribbean as it is Central American.In Understanding Belize, Alan Twigg tells the story of the country, from its bizarre early days as a haven for pirates, through its colonial period as British Honduras, to its new status as an ecotourism mecca and a hotspot for Mayan archaeology. This lively history includes original photos, a comprehensive timeline and a feature on nation founder George Price, the longest serving democratically elected leader in history.Understanding Belize is an eye-opening alternative to the glossy tourist brochures. Lobster-and-orchid-rich Belize looks great from a hammock on Ambergris Caye, the place that inspired Madonna's song "La Isla Bonita," but don't go buying that seaside lot until you learn more about this beautiful--but problematic--paradise from the author of Cuba: A Concise History for Travellers.

Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Crime

Criminal activity, including robbery and mugging, is a significant problem in Belize City and has recently increased in and near Belmopan. It is also occasionally reported in resort areas. Crime increases seasonally around Christmas and New Year. Occasional violent crimes against tourists have occurred. Travel in groups and ensure that personal belongings and travel documents are secure at all times. Do not show signs of affluence. Use taxis after dark instead of walking.

Armed robberies occasionally occur near the western border with Guatemala, including near and around Caracol. You should only travel to these areas during daylight hours. Be cautious when visiting Mayan archaeological sites in that region. Only use official border crossings to enter Guatemala.

Cases of sexual assault against female travellers have been reported. Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault.

Road travel

Roads are often poorly maintained and lit. Avoid driving after dark, especially on rural roads. Traffic accidents occur regularly. Belize has four paved highways: the Western Highway from Belize City to Benque Viejo del Carmen and on to the Guatemalan border; the Northern Highway from Belize City to Corozal and on to the Mexican border; the Hummingbird Highway from Belmopan to Dangriga; and the Southern Highway from Dangriga to the resort area of Placencia and on to the southernmost town of Punta Gorda.

Be careful crossing bridges on the Hummingbird and Southern Highways, since bridges are usually only one lane. Most other roads are unpaved; they can be very dusty in the dry season, whereas major puddles and mud can be a problem in the rainy season. Bicycles and livestock constitute a traffic hazard, especially in urban areas.

Service stations are available on the three main highways connecting Belize City with Mexico, Guatemala and southern Belize. Always keep your tank full when in remote areas, as service stations are scarce and they usually close for holidays. There are no emergency road services. A few public telephones can be found in larger villages only. You should not stop to offer assistance to others whose vehicles appear to have broken down.

Marine travel

Passenger boats may be unsafe.

Air travel

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Public transportation

Public buses and taxis are often unsafe due to poor vehicle maintenance. You should only use registered taxis with green licence plates.

Trekking

If you intend to trek:

a) never trek alone;
b) always hire an experienced guide and ensure that the trekking company is reputable;
c) buy travel health insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation;
d) ensure that you are in top physical condition;
e) advise a family member or friend of your itinerary;
f) know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal;
g) register with the Consulate of Canada in Belize; and
h) obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out.

General safety information

Ensure the recreational activities you choose are covered by your travel insurance, and that rental sporting and aquatic equipment is safe and in good condition, especially for diving and snorkelling.

Avoid insect bites when on the southern coast or in the jungles and avoid being stung by jellyfish when snorkelling.

Emergency services

Dial 911 for police.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Central America and Mexico, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central America and Mexico. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Central America and Mexico, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.

Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Central America and Mexico, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical facilities are limited, and severe emergency cases require evacuation to another country at the expense of the patient.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Laws

Individuals and organizations must obtain a permit to possess pre-Columbian artifacts. A Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora permit is needed to collect, possess and/or export certain plants, animals and/or plant and animal products.

You must be over 25 to rent a vehicle. Remember to purchase sufficient car insurance. An International Driving Permit is recommended.

Penalties for possession of unlicensed firearms or unlicensed ammunition are strict, including large fines and mandatory jail sentences for repeat offenders.

Some homosexual acts are illegal.

Money

The currency is the Belizean dollar (BZD). Cash advances can be obtained at local banks with major international credit cards.

Climate

The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.

The low-lying coastal islands of Belize are particularly vulnerable to direct hits by hurricanes and tropical storms. The islands have been cut off from communications and outside assistance during hurricanes. Extensive flooding as a result of storm activity is common both on the islands and in areas of the country not directly affected by hurricanes.