Tipping and Carrying Cash
Belize is a Cash Society
Belize exchange rate: 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 always receive Belize dollars in change after paying in US dollars.
Use Up Your Belize Dollars: 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.
Don’t Bring Traveler’s Checks: 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.
Bring Small Bills and Lots of Cash: You will want small bills and it is best to have cash for cabs and isolated areas.
Don’t Count on Getting Cash in Belize, Bring it With You: The few ATMs in Belize City are often out of order, and even when working they have a severe limit on the amount of cash you can get. 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 all of 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.
Why do we need to bring money if your trips are all-inclusive?
We cover everything except alcoholic beverages, Belize exit tax, scuba diving, advanced kitesurfing lessons, tips, and taxis to and from the airport, which can add up to several hundred dollars. If you or your luggage were delayed, an already difficult situation would be greatly compounded if you were relying on credit cards or unreliable ATM machines. It can cost up to $795 for one person to catch up with the trip. Please see our best Belize packing list for further information; request this document by email or phone.
Here is an example of the breakdown of how much cash one should bring for a family of four. You will likely bring most of it home, but we recommend $2500 in US dollars to cover all extra costs and possible emergencies. It can be extremely difficult to get cash in Belize, you definitely want to bring it with you. All prices on this page are listed in US dollars.
-Possible boat evacuation for emergency – $700
-Flight to international airport if evacuating – $95 per person (can use credit card)
-Taxi to and from airport at beginning and end of trip – $60 total
-Rum and wine, if desired – $100
-Airport exit tax – $25 per person
-Dinner last night in Belize City – $25 per person
-Breakfast last morning in Belize – $15 per person
-Tips for staff at end of trip (standard amount is 10-15% of trip cost) $235 per person
-Presents for the poor people back home who didn’t get to come with you $100
How do people store valuables such as cash and passports while on the island?
We have no safes on the island, as they would rust shut in a matter of months. We keep cash ourselves on the island, we simply hide it somewhere in our luggage. We completely trust all of our staff and guests. All visitors to the island (there are not many) are met and escorted the entire time they are there. However, if we miss someone they are the only potential problem, they could be wandering un-escorted. That’s why we don’t leave our money sitting out in plain sight in our cabana.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.
Does it cost extra to start on a different date than you list?
Guests who wish to arrive late for some reason, or who miss a flight and must arrive late, will be responsible for chartering their own boat from Dangriga, Belize (not Belize City) out to the island. The cost is currently $700 for the boat and $95/person for the flight between Dangriga and Belize City, (June 2017 rate, can increase without notice). When guests charter a boat, we will arrange it for the guest, but the ride itself is outside of our responsibility and is at the risk of the guest, we cannot be responsible for it. We only arrange with captains we have had good results from in the past, but these individuals are not our employees and it is not an official part of the trip package. Guests must carry $700 US in cash to pay for this boat ride on site. Do not wait until you get to Belize to try to procure cash!
Is it customary to tip the staff?
Tips should reflect your satisfaction with crew performance and are not required. Tipping is often organized as a group tip (one guest collects the entire tip from all members of the group and presents it to the trip leader at the end of the trip). The trip leader then splits the tip between all staff members. Staff members include trip managers, guides, cooks, and island caretakers; company owners are excluded. Tips may not be put on guest credit cards, cash is required as Belize is a cash-based society. The standard in the industry for each guest is 10-15% of the trip price.