Dive Into Belize
Some of Belize’s ancient ruins offer a way to experience both the beauty of the rain forest and the protected history of the ancient Mayans. However, if you crave a beach vacation, then you’re also in for a treat. A visit to the Cays offers an untamed beach in a get-away-from-it-all oasis. On Ambergris and the other Cays, you’ll find plenty of peace, quiet and exceptional beauty. And running across the entire coastline of the country is the Western Hemisphere’s largest barrier reef (with the Famous “Great Blue Hole”). It’s second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia and is a scuba haven for divers. Whatever the reason you decide to visit Belize, do it soon before the crowds catch on! It’s a true Caribbean gem.
Splash at Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Snorkel through this amazing natural preserve and discover an underwater world filled with fish, coral, manta-rays and reef sharks! Known to the Mayans as, “the little channel,” Hol Chan Marine Reserve is located off the southern tip of Ambergris Caye and spans approximately three miles. Hol Chan Marine is a popular destination because it’s so close to San Pedro and is home to stunning sorts of marine life. The reserve is easily accessible to both snorkelers and beginning divers, so you don't need experience to start, and there's lots for experienced divers to see. Accessible diving and snorkeling with amazing views - what are you waiting for? Dive in!
For a Good Time, Get to the Reef
The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest reef system in the world. From air, the Belize reefs appear to be unbroken chains of white surf running along the Caribbean-side of the Yucatan Peninsula. One of the highlights of the reef is the Great Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef. Thousands of years in the making, this spot once stood above the water. Now it’s one of the top ten scuba diving sites in the world. This 480 ft. deep underwater sinkhole is an amazing combination of limestone walls full of hammerhead sharks, neon gobies and many other colorful fish. There’s plenty to see in rest of the reef. We recommend visiting one of the many cays and atolls that surround the area.
Go Barefoot at the Barefoot Bar
If you’re looking for a good time, check out the best bar in Belize! At Barefoot Bar, you can get down with live music, great drinks and the best fish nachos around. With a large selection of specialty drinks and food, the atmosphere of the bar is welcoming, fun and all about living the island life. Don’t worry about bringing a lot of cash with you, the specials are plentiful in portion, but lean on price. Many of the locals stop by for lunch, but dinner is a perfect time to enjoy a sunset before dancing the night away during one of the bar’s famous “Full Moon Beach Parties.”
Mayan Roots Grow Deep in Belize
The Mayan civilization established itself in Belize around 1500 BC and thrived until 800 AD. During that time, the Mayans built impressive temples and created a rich heritage from stone and jade artwork, while making astonishing discoveries in mathematics and astronomy. Today, you can explore the rich history contained in what was once the heartland of the Mayan civilization by touring sites like the ceremonial Xunantunich pyramid and the Great City. Other sites to see include Caracol and El Pilar. They’re a hike, but they‘ll give you a first-hand account of how astonishing these ancient peoples once were.
Belize Quick Facts
Language: The major languages spoken in Belize include English, Kriol and Spanish.
Currency: The official currency is the Belize Dollar, but USD is widely accepted.
Electricity: Belize shares the same 110 volt, 60 cycle electricity as the US.
Passport/Immigration: All U.S. citizens must have a valid passport when traveling to and from Belize.
Drinking Water: Drink only bottled or boiled water. For your health, please avoid drinking tap water, fountain drinks and ice cubes.
Time Zone: Central Standard Time (UTC/GMT -5 hours)
Peak Season: The peak travel season in Belize extends from mid-December through mid-April.
Tips & Transportation
Best Key Lime Pie in Belize: Ahi
This small, open-air restaurant is intimate and unassuming With only six tables, you'll get focused service and an effortlessly cozy vibe. Make sure you save room for dessert, Ahi is famous for its Key Lime Pie. Having opened three short years ago, Ahi has grown from being a local favorite to a top pick for travelers in the know. It's located about two and a half miles north of San Pedro, but make the trip. You won't regret it when you're sitting amidst a beautiful Belizean day, enjoying some tasty cuisine. Stop by Ahi, and you know that from the first bite of an appetizer to the last bite Key Lime Pie, you're in for a delicious experience.
Best Place to Kill a Few Hours: Belikin Brewery
As the official brewery of Belize’s favorite beer, Belikin, the Belikin Brewery Tour is a great way to kill a couple hours. You'll get a brief tour of the brewing operation, and then it's to the Belikin bar where you start sampling. You're free to sample all the beer and shrimp you could want for $15 a person. Belikin brews a regular lager, light lager, ale and stout, and the brewery is even licensed with the Irish brewery Guinness to brew Guinness stout. The informative tour, plus the selection and the generous sampling policy, make this brewery a great way to spend a few hours in Belize City.
Best Place to Start a Fire: Marie Sharp’s Hot Sauce Factory
If you have a taste for all things hot, take a short van ride through a field of habanero plants for the best scorching tour in Belize! Known for creating Belize’s most popular condiment, this Marie Sharp's Hot Sauce Factory offers tours and plenty of tastings of their famous habanero hot sauce. If you are lucky, you may even get to chat with Marie Sharp herself! If you really love the sauce, buy some to take home and test your friends. Show them that you've earned your Caribbean hot sauce cred.
Best Place for a Night on the Town: El Divino
Located in San Pedro, this Banana Beach restaurant features an intimate and romantic vibe with a split-level indoor/outdoor seating area, high ceilings, local artwork and comfortable lounge area. El Divino also features the largest selection of drinks around. From martinis to wine to a whole menu dedicated to tequila, you'll find a spirit to suit your tastes. Be sure to try the ceviche, wood-fired pizzas and ice-cold Blue Dolphin martinis. If you're in the mood for a delicious meal in a restaurant with a special ambiance that matches the cuisine, El Divino is divine.
Best Fine Dining and Smiling Faces: The Smoky Mermaid
Located inside the Great House in the heart of Belize City, The Smoky Mermaid is the finest restaurant on the island. The Great House is a large, colonial-era mansion that's painted white and features verandas on two floors. The setting alone would set the Mermaid apart, but the food takes it to a whole new world. Although it’s a little more expensive than other eateries, after one bite of the Mermaid’s famous coconut shrimp and banana chimichangas, price will be an afterthought. For a truly memorable evening in Belize, The Smoky Mermaid is the clear choice.
Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) is Belize’s major international airport. It’s about 30 minutes from Belize City.
Immigration & Customs
Once you leave your gate, proceed to the Immigration desk, which is a “Red Line/Green Line” system. If you have no declared goods or money, then you’re welcome to proceed to the green line system so that you may pass through customs. If you do have declarations, then you’ll follow the red line to speak with an immigrations officer in order to identify your declared items in order to receive a receipt. Regarding customs, before arriving at the airport, you’re issued a Passenger Arrival Form to be filled out (one per family) to indicate if you have any plants, fruits, vegetables, meats, live animals, firearms, or that you’re carrying more than $10,000 in Belize currency.
Getting to Your Hotel
CheapCaribbean.com has partnered with Captain Morgan’s as our premier transportation company in Belize. They’ll provide you with safe, comfortable and professional transportation, from the airport to your hotel and back. They’ll also provide transportation to any excursions booked through our site that you’d like to take while you’re in your destination.
It’s easy to find your Captain Morgan’s team when you arrive at the airport. They’ll be standing in the ground transportation waiting area, holding a CheapCaribbean welcome sign. They wear white shirts and khaki pants. All drivers are fluent in English, friendly and knowledgeable about the culture, history and things to do while you’re there. By the end of your ride, you’ll have made a new friend. Vehicles are all clean, modern and reliable.
Getting Around Belize
Tourists may choose to rent a car at the airport to make traveling around the island as easy as possible, however, taxis are available as well. Boats and water taxis are the primary mode of transportation between the islands and are necessary to visit barrier reef attractions and other coastal hot spots.