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BELIZE TRAVEL GUIDE
Hello, my name is Gwen, and here is my Belize travel guide for over 40 solo travel, including budget, safety/female and eco-travel tips, photographs and interesting posts for your Belize travel planning.
WELCOME TO BELIZE!
Belize – home to the Belize Barrier Reef, the Blue Hole, 900+ Mayan sites, approximately 450 surrounding islands (they call “cayes”), Caribbean music, Creole food and the only Jaguar preserve in the world.
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LANGUAGES IN BELIZE
The official language is English (being formerly the British Honduras), but there are many that also speak Creole (by Kriols) and Spanish.
Belize is a laid back, Caribbean country, but still has formalities that hail from being once British ruled. The Kriol (Creole) people, descendants from African slaves, are the majority of the population, but with Belize being surrounded by Latin-American countries, Latin-American influence is also very heavy. The country also home to native Mayans, the Garifuna and German-speaking Mennonites. Like the mix of people, the food is also mixed with a blend of Mayan, Latin-American, Creole and Garifuna dishes utilizing the fresh seafood and fruits available. Caribbean, reggae and calypso music are the most popular. Favorite sports are soccer and cricket.
POPULAR BELIZEAN ACTIVITIES
Belize holds many attractions for visitors: fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, boating, Mayan ruins, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife sanctuary, hiking, zip-lining, kayaking, and more.
Belize uses the Belizean dollar (BZ$) – the exchange rate is basically half that of the U.S. dollar (USD), but it’s always a good idea to double check during your planning.
Belize has all modern forms of transportation. However, there are still no ride sharing services such as Uber or Lyft. Instead, taxis or renting a car or golf cart are very popular. So, getting around and booking transportation in advance is no problem.
TIPPING IN BELIZE
Traveling in a new country is easier when you know the country’s tipping etiquette in advance as each country has its own rules. That said, country rules and norms can shift, so here is an international tipping resource for over 70 countries to use as a general guideline that I have found is constantly updated.
What’s not on there is how to tip a concierge, beauty salons or spas, travel or tour guides, etc. For these extras, it is acceptable to tip 10% at minimum. Remember, tipping is for good service only.
Additionally, you should always tip in the local currency (if tipping in cash), and do not be offended if your tip is refused as it may not be the norm. I feel it’s always better to offer a tip for good service than not, unless I know it will be considered offensive, like in Japan.
A key activity to do in your early planning stage is to know, at minimum, the national holidays. I so suggest also looking into the local holidays. It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money to take the holiday of your lifetime and when you show up at one of your key attractions, it’s closed due to a holiday. It’s also not fun trying to travel and have a hard time accessing travel or other essential resources when no one is around because, yes, it’s a local holiday. So take just a few moments to look at Belize’s holidays.
BELIZE ELECTRONIC ESSENTIALS
Besides money, required ID and your ticket, Belize’s voltage are 110 and 220 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz, so they use both Type A and Type B adapters, like the U.S. Although you don’t have to bring an adapter, check your electronics – if you have one requiring a 3-prong outlet you may want to bring a Type B adapter just in case. Remember, most smart phones, tablets and laptops don’t require a converter, but double-check your device(s) before you leave home. If you are going to another country on your trip other than Belize, you can check the global adapters list to make sure you’re prepared. I have also provided suggested global adapters below for your convenience!
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS FOR BELIZE
From the U.S., you will need a valid passport. No tourist visa is required if your stay is 30 days or less. Make sure your passport expiration date is greater than 6 months from your return to the U.S. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to to Belize. It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
VACCINATIONS FOR BELIZE
There are normally no vaccinations required for Belize. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to Belize. It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
SAFETY / FEMALE TRAVEL TIPS
BELIZE TRAVEL SAFETY
Theft or pickpocketing, which could happen in most places to be honest, could be a concern. Be careful not to wander or bike at night by yourself. If you do walk at night, make sure it’s in well-lit areas and with plenty of people. If need be, take a taxi.
Beyond that, there is nothing I can recall from Belize making it more of a “safety concern” than traveling in my own home country, so my standard tips for female and solo travelers are:
- always carry photo ID with you; if you don’t want your passport on you at all times, at least carry a copy of it.
- always be “street wise”.
- always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you feel the need to imbibe or feel the need to “let loose” – you’re on vacation so have fun!
- never leave your food or drink unattended.
- keep your belongs on your person, or at least in your view in close proximity, at all times.
- be open to meeting and talking with new people – that is where a lot of the travel experience lies – but be careful on how you divulge personal information.
- research places in advance, if possible, so you know what to expect (i.e., “have a familiar view” – I like to Google the street view of new addresses I’m going to first).
- if something, someone or someplace makes you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut – leave.
BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
BEST TIME TO VISIT BELIZE
The high season in Belize is late November to early April when it cooler but full or tourists. The rainy season in Belize is June to November, but the rains can start in May, making May to early June the lower season of less tourists and better prices. Note: check the weather – it is also a lot hotter in these months so ensure you go at a time that is right for you. Mid to late-April is slower than the high season, of course, and not as hot. If you can afford it, try going then.
Bonus: If you dive, April is also the whale shark migratory season.
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SUSTAINABILITY / ECO TRAVEL TIPS
It is very easy to do your part for the planet and implement environmental sustainability into your travel. If you would like to learn more about how you can implement environmentally sustainable, or eco-friendly, travel measures into your travel, please see my 10 Easy Eco-Travel Tips and suggested Eco Travel Resources.
To protect the coral reef and marine biodiversity, many locations in Belize are banning non reef-safe sunscreen. Unfortunately, there are no places in Belize to buy reef-safe sunscreen so it is important you get it before your trip departure. Here is a list of the Best Recommended Reef-Safe Sunscreens on the Market:
- Badger SPF 30 Unscented Sunscreen Cream
- Stream2Sea SPF 30 Mineral Sunblock
- Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen
- All Good SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen Lotion
- Coral Safe All Natural Biodegradable Sunscreen
- Sun Bum Reef Friendly Ingredients Sunscreen
- Babo Botanicals SPF 30 Clear Zinc Lotion
- Raw Elements SPF 30 Certified Natural Sunscreen
- TropicalSport Biodegradable Mineral Sunscreen
Additionally, if you are flying to, or within, Belize consider purchasing carbon offsets through your airline or through a third party, like MyClimate.org, Carbonfund.org, or terrapass. Carbon offsetting allows you to buy a certificate to reduce carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change, which in turn contribute community projects across countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There are several ways to go about this to help reduce your impact to climate change through your travel. Check it out!
Having wanted to visit Belize for many years due to hearing of the many marine activities available and being passionate about protecting the environment myself, the feeling was compounded when I started to scuba dive. The Belizean government is trying hard to protect the barrier reef that its country is home to. The Belizean Barrier Reef, second largest in the world, is key for the Belizean main exports of conch and lobster, not to mention is it critical for its tourism industry. I wanted to start volunteering around the world to participate in marine or coral reef protection work and Belize was my first experience in this arena. If you’d like to read about it you can see a link to the post below.