Country of Belize Tourism and Central America Travel Guide - Hotels in Belize
Country of Belize Tourism and Central America Travel Guide - Hotels in Belize
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Still undiscovered, often mis-located and usually misspelled... this is a fantastic country, and you DON'T want to miss it. This page will tell you everything about Belize that you want to know.
Tucked into a forgotten corner of the Caribbean, Belize has remained apart from the growth of the rest of the region. Belize is in Central America, and it harbors the region’s last unspoiled marine and rainforest environments and offers some of the most exciting adventure travel anywhere. Belize is also inexpensive to get to and easy to travel in. English is the official language, and US dollars are accepted throughout the country. There are enough incredible places to explore to keep you coming back for years to come!
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The first thing we'd like to remind you is DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY!! Belize travel can be wonderful, relaxing, frustrating, exciting, or dilatory. Much of what happens is out of your control, but your reaction to events can make a world of difference. Remember that everything always works out fine in the end; take a deep breath, slow down, and keep smiling! We have to remind ourselves of this all the time. It's a different latitude with different attitudes.
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Have questions about our island or about Belize?
Don't hesitate to give us a call: (800) 390-5715, or send us an email: email@example.com. We've been working in Belize since 1986 and would love to hear from you.
Belize is a fantastic country. Not only is it a fascinating place to visit, but it is also easy and inexpensive to get to, English is the official language, and it is a great winter destination as it enjoys a warm winter climate. The population (330,000) is about the same as Tampa, Florida, and the country itself is about the size of New Hampshire. The society is multicultural, consisting of African-European Creoles, Spanish-Indian Mestizos, African-Indian Garinagus, Mayan Indians, and a few Europeans, North Americans, and Asians. Outside of the "troublemakers" in Belize City, Belizeans are, for the most part, genuinely friendly people, who lead a laid-back Caribbean lifestyle.
Related blog post: Belize People and Their Culture-video
The city so central to their country, they named it twice. Although the capital city is Belmopan, the largest city in the country is Belize City, with a population of about 65,000. Belize was known as British Honduras until 1981 when they gained their independence from Britain; at that time they named the country after their largest city. Even today, when locals say they are "going to Belize", they mean the city, not the country.
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Belize enjoys a subtropical climate, somewhat similar to that of South Florida.The temperature in Belize is typically in the 70s to mid-90s. There is a "wet" and a "dry" season, with the dry season lasting approximately from late November through May. Rainstorms can occur during the dry season, but they are usually brief. Over the past few years, changes in global weather patterns have made the dry and wet seasons less predictable. Hurricanes are a potential threat from July to late October. The worst in recent memory was Hurricane Iris, which struck Placencia in southern Belize in October 2002. Visit our Belize weather page for a month-by-month weather description.
The Belize Weather Bureau has a comprehensive website dedicated to all-things-Belize-weather.
Related blog post: More before/after hurricane images
Request complete information on our Belize adventure packages!
Despite what you may have heard, Belize remains a little-visited country; the number of international visitors to Belize is about one-half the number that visits Costa Rica. Cancun alone gets four times the annual number of visitors to all of Belize. Only about 35% of Belizean visitors are from the United States and well over half of the tourists go to either Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker. The next most-popular destination is the Cayo District, the area around San Ignacio. The smartest thing the Belize tourist can do is avoid the crowded locations and avoid holiday travel if you can. If you cannot, go to a place with strict guest maximums rather than a place that takes as many people as they can possibly hold, without being able to adequately provide for everyone.
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The exchange rate is two Belize dollars to one U.S. dollar, but there is no need to change your money to Belize dollars from U.S. dollars; U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere. You will want small bills and it is best to have cash for cabs and isolated areas.
You need to continually use the Belize change you receive, because you will lose on the exchange if you have any left at the end. Traveler’s Checks are more of a problem than an asset because on our trips you are only in “civilization” when banks are closed.
Traveler’s Checks take six weeks to clear, so small businesses such as taxis, restaurants, or hotels in rural areas would be giving you a six-week loan by accepting them; consequently, few of them do. Getting cash is also difficult for our staff, so we cannot cash them for you; tipping your guides with Traveler’s Checks causes a problem for locals as personal checking accounts are not common in the country.
The few ATMs in Belize City are often out of order, and if you arrive right before your trip meeting you have no time to take a cab to an ATM anyway, so to rely on that system would be a mistake. US checks are not accepted in Belize.
For these reasons, it is best to bring cash only. You can carry some of your cash in a money belt, and the rest of it worn under your clothing when moving to and from the country. We use this system ourselves with great success.
Valuables are safe on our island, in our van, and in the hotels we use on our trips. However, we cannot guarantee the safety of your property. We cannot be held liable for any losses of property or cash while on a trip.
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Our all inclusive Belize trips cover everything except alcoholic beverages, Belize exit tax, scuba diving, tips, and taxis to and from the airport. All prices on this page are listed in US dollars.
On all of our trips we are far from medical care. Guests should bring all medications for chronic or recurring ailments. Recent medical and dental exams should be completed to ensure that you are fit for travel, and you should carry health insurance documents. If you purchase a travel insurance policy it will cover medical costs in the country, as well as your last-minute trip cancellation and other risks of travel. Travel insurance is available from many providers. Our recommendation is Travelex, although they only offer insurance policies to US residents. Call Travelex at 800-228-9792 and tell them you are traveling with Slickrock. Slickrock's location number is 44-0013. You can also visit Travelex's website.
Our trips are not overly-strenuous, but good general physical condition is a must. You don’t need to be an athlete, but you must be capable of moderate to vigorous exercise for a few hours each day. We are not qualified to evaluate your fitness, so you must determine if your own fitness is appropriate. If you are overweight, in poor physical condition, or have special medical considerations you should call us first and consult with your physician before signing up for a trip. We recommend that all participants have a medical checkup.
Out on our island we are somewhat isolated from the typical medical risks of the tropics. Everyone should be vaccinated within the past five years for tetanus. You should also talk to your doctor about allergic reactions to marine life, and bring appropriate medications that your physician recommends. Those who travel inland should consult a doctor about malaria, dengue fever, and hepatitis, and remember that a course of malaria medication needs to be started two weeks prior to departure. There is no threat of malaria, dengue fever, or hepatitis on our island.
We are not able to advise you beyond "ask your doctor" about the threat of malaria inland because the region of infected mosquitoes changes monthly. Although present, cases of malaria in Belize are rare. The prevention drug for malaria in this area is the prescription drug Chloroquine. Most travel clinics and many Internet sites will recommend malaria protection for all parts of Belize, but mosquito control in larger metropolitan areas has eliminated mosquito habitats close to human population settlements. Less dangerous than malaria, dengue fever can also be contracted from infected mosquitoes. There is no medication for dengue fever. Please don’t ask us to tell you whether to get protection for malaria, even doctors do not agree; it is a personal choice. Malaria pills are bad for you, but getting malaria is worse. The only true protection against both malaria and dengue fever is to not get bitten by a disease-infested mosquito. The best prevention for bites is to wear a bug repellent that contains at least 30% DEET. One site on the Internet with information on malaria and dengue prevention is //wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/belize.
Hepatitis A is contracted through infected water; our drinking water is safe. If you plan to travel extensively in remote areas before or after our trip you should consider the Hepatitis A vaccination. The biggest health hazard on our trips is the threat of sunburn. Be careful the first few days, a bad sunburn can ruin the rest of your trip. Also, seasickness can occur on travel days out to the island.
Our guides are trained in First Aid, but cannot be expected to serve as doctors. All participants should be sure their own medical coverage is adequate. We assume no responsibility regarding provision of medical care. Before your adventure, the best precautions are don’t get hurt and make sure you are in good health the week before the trip. For more details on avoidable problems, please refer to our page: Our Hints for a Better Vacation
Remember you will be in an isolated area 35 miles off shore with no medical helicopter available in the country; there is no emergency room and you can’t call 911, although we do have emergency contact with the mainland.
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Rental cars allow you to stop along the way without having to deal with storing your luggage. If planning to go to Tikal, be sure to ask if they will let you take their vehicle across the border. Check out their websites for specific rates.
The downside to renting a car in Belize City is you are probably taking it to some remote lodge where it will remain parked the whole time you are there, since you will probably be taking tours that provide transportation. We recommend flying or taking a bus or taxi to your destination to avoid paying several days for the car to just sit there, waiting for you to drive back to Belize City.
Belize has two airports. The international airport call Philip Goldson International Airport (airport code BZE) and Belize Municipal which you use when flying in country (airport code TZA).
Two airlines service in-country flights in Belize, using both airports. There are daily flights between Belize International Airport, Belize Municipal Airport, Dangriga, Placencia, Big Creek, Punta Gorda, Corozol, Caye Caulker, Caye Chapel, Ambergris Caye, Flores, Guatemala, and Cancun, Mexico. Sample rates: Belize International Airport to Dangriga: one way: $63 US. Consult their excellent websites (at left) for exact prices and schedules.For a list of airlines to Belize, visit our Flying to Belize page.
Busses are often the best way to go, and they are inexpensive. Bus prices and schedules change too often to include here, but remember, this is a country where most of its citizens depend on bus service. There are at least four bus companies in the country. Also be aware that busses don't run as often on Saturday or Sunday, for example, a route which has hourly service during the week may only have two choices on Sunday. The staff at your hotel will be familiar with busses in their area.
Taxis are available everywhere, are more expensive than the bus, but make a lot of sense under certain circumstances. If you are traveling with a group of four, taxis are a great deal. Some cab drivers also act as an impromptu guide, hoping for a tip.
I've heard bad things about Belize City, are they true?
Belize City has an unsavory reputation, which is somewhat deserved. You should not walk alone at night, but it is safe to walk around during the day provided you adopt a confident attitude. If you’re worried, stay at one of the better hotels and take cabs within the city. If approached by street people, ignore them or say, “Thanks, I’m all set.” They are rarely dangerous, but once you acknowledge them, they’re hard to get rid of. Act like you know where you are going, and watch out for scams like “fund-raisers.” When taking a cab in Belize, always settle the price before getting in (make clear it is per cab, not per person.) Surprises are common in this region and one should be prepared to accept canceled reservations, closed businesses, or broken commitments from locals. Our staff makes every effort to insulate you from these problems, but we too must live with their system.
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View our Belize City map to locate recommended hotels in Belize.
Where to stay in Belize City? It is impossible to completely avoid Belize City because you fly in and out of the city before and after your trip. We make all accommodation arrangements for your trip. If you arrive early or stay late, you’ll need to make your own reservations for the additional nights. These are our favorite hotels in Belize City. The Great House is downtown, the other three are near our dock and closer to the airport. There are taxes in Belize that are not included in room rates, and most lodges also tack on a 10% service charge. So expect a 15%-25% tax on top of the rates below. All rates can change without notice.
The Biltmore is where you will stay with us while in Belize City. It is a full-service hotel located on the outskirts of Belize City, three miles from downtown. Single or double rates are $97 for registered Slickrock guests only (regular rates start at $125.) If you are staying additional days and want to stay at the Biltmore make your reservations in advance and directly with the Biltmore for the special rate to apply. Note: Do not try to use the Best Western on-line reservation system. You will not get the special Slickrock deal if you do; make reservations by email or phone. The Biltmore has a business center, swimming pool, gym, restaurant, bar, gift shop, and a tour desk. Their in-house tour company is the easiest place to arrange for day tours out of Belize City before or after your stay. 3-1/2 miles on the Northern Highway from Belize, Phone, ask for Maria: 011-501-223-2302, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is our favorite bed & breakfast in Belize City, and is located in a safe, quiet residential area about a mile from our dock and just a block from the ocean. A lush tropical garden surrounds the inn and gives it a real sense of privacy. Rates are approximately $79-95 a night for the standard room and $89-107 for the deluxe. All rooms have air conditioning, private bath, fan, desk, hair-drier, cable TV, wireless internet, telephone. They include a hot breakfast which varies daily. A typical breakfast menu is scrambled eggs, sausage, toast, fruits, coffee and fresh squeezed juice; 3-1/2 miles Northern Highway, Phone: 011-501-223-1691, e-mail: email@example.com. Website: www.villaboscardi.com.
Located only a few blocks from the Biltmore, this private home is a great alternative if you are arriving a day early, but still nearby our meeting place when you need to transfer over. This two-story private home with tropical gardens is richly decorated in a Caribbean style. They have only four rooms, and the rates are quite reasonable: from $82 US per night. The host couple is much praised on Trip Advisor, this is a hidden gem! 475 Cedar Street, Belama Extension, Phase 2, Phone: 011-501-223-5416, e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org, website:dnestinn.com.
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