Friday, September 10, 2021

How To Travel Around Belize

North AmericaBelizeHow To Travel Around Belize

Belize is a relatively small country and transport between most destinations is rarely long or arduous.

By air

Tropic Air and Maya Island Air both offer several daily flights to various cities in the country, as well as to Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. They serve both airports in Belize City, but flights from Belize City Airport (IATA: TZA) are often much cheaper than those from Phillip Goldson International Airport (IATA: BZE). Domestic flights are usually quite cheap and therefore popular if your time is limited and your budget is not. Flights are operated with aircraft ranging from 8 to 68 seats. Due to limited capacity, it is advisable to book in advance. For bookings from outside Belize, there is only one airviva internet agent who can make the reservations, take payment (credit/debit cards/PayPal) and then send the electronic tickets. Some hotels also offer to make the flight reservation on your behalf.

By bus

Several competing bus routes run north-south on the main road from Punta Gorda to Belmopan and Belize City. There are bus stations in the main towns, or you can simply stand on the side of the road and wave to an approaching bus. Most buses have both a driver and a conductor who stands at the door and comes to your seat at some point during the journey to collect the fare. Fares vary between BZD 2 and BZD 25, depending on the distance.

Express buses can save you up to an hour and a half (depending on the distance of your journey); they do not stop for passengers waiting at the side of the road and only depart on schedule in cities.

Most of the buses in Belize are decommissioned American school buses (Bluebirds) that have been slightly modified, with the addition of a luggage rack and sometimes a new paint job. They are usually not too crowded, but you may have to stand from time to time.

Kids selling snacks and soft drinks often board the buses at the stops, and it’s an inexpensive way to get a snack if you’ve run out of things to bring or just want to try some homemade travel food.

By taxi

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

By water taxi

For those who want a truly Belizean experience, take the water taxis from town to town. The San Pedro Belize Express has the most daily trips and departs from the Brown Sugar Terminal in Belize City at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm and 5:30 pm to San Pedro and Caye Caulker.

Departure from the pier in San Pedro Town on Black Coral Street next to Wahoo’s Bar and Grill and departures at 07:00, 08:30, 10:00, 11:30, 12:30, 14:30, 16:30 to Caye Caulker and Belize City and a final boat to Caye Caulker only at 18:00.

Boats depart from Caye Caulker to Belize City and San Pedro Town. They depart from the pier in front of the basketball court. From Caye Caulker to Belize City: 07:30, 09:00, 10:30, 12:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00 and from Caye Caulker to San Pedro: 07:00 (connection with Chetumal), 09:45, 11:45, 12:45, 13:45, 15:45, 16:45 and last boat 18:15.

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

From Chetumal to Belize, the boat departs at 3:30 pm from the city pier to San Pedro (90 min) and Caye Caulker (120 min).

Fares: Belize City to San Pedro or return: BZD30 Belize or $15 USD (one way), BZD55 or $27.50 USD (round trip). Caye Caulker to San Pedro, Belize City to Caye Caulker: BZD20 or $10 USD one way, BZD35 or $17.50 round trip.

Rent a car

Compared to most Central American countries, driving in Belize is relatively safe, there is little crime (except in the San Pedro area), there is not much traffic and the four main highways are all in good condition. Unfortunately, almost all roads outside the four main highways are unpaved, so a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. It is best not to drive late at night as there is almost no lighting, road signage is poor and the last stretch is almost certainly on a dirt road (you could break an axle on an invisible, but huge pothole!

Insurance is often included in the rental prices so you don’t have to buy it separately. If you plan to use a rental car to visit Tikal in Guatemala, you must plan ahead and 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. Check with your credit card or car insurance company to see if you are covered for travel to Guatemala.

Belize Highways

  • The Northern Highway (also called the Phillip Goldson Highway) runs from Corozal, on the border between Belize and Mexico, to Belize City via Orange Walk. This is the highway you will use to get to the international airport, Altun Ha and Lamanai.
  • The Western Highway (also called the George Price Highway) runs from Belize City through Belmopan and the Cayo District to the border with the Guatemalan state of Peten in Benque. Along this route are the Belize Zoo (Mile 29), the Hummingbird Route (Mile 47), Belmopan and San Ignacio (Mile 68). The main tourist attractions along this route are the adventure routes in the Cayo District, the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich and access to the Caracol Strait and, from the Guatemalan border, the ruins of TIkal. To reach the Western Highway from the airport, head north on the Northern Highway, turn left at Burrell Boom and follow the road for 19 km to the Western Highway at Hattieville.
  • The Hummingbird Highway runs from Belmopan to Dangriga and connects the Western Highway with the Southern Highway. You will use this highway to travel from Cayo, Belize City or the north to the southern part of Belize. A slightly shorter route, the Coastal Highway, runs from Belize City to the Southern Highway, but is a real mess and better avoided!
  • The Southern Highway runs from Dangriga (the Hummingbird Highway) to Punta Gorda, with a recently built section leading to the southern border of Guatemala. Along the highway are the coastal towns of Hopkins and Placencia.