Many guests want to visit Tikal, the premier Mayan ruin in the region, immediately before they join us on the island. Tikal is located in nearby Guatemala, and in many ways it is easier to get there from Belize than from Guatemala.
To go to Tikal from Belize you will travel to Western Belize all the way to the border, cross on foot, then get on Guatemala transport to Flores or to Tikal itself. (Many people visiting Tikal actually stay in Flores.) So depending on what time of day your flight arrives, you might be able to get to western Belize the same day you fly in. On our website you can see our recommendations of places to stay in or near San Ignacio in western Belize. The next day you can then make your way to the western Belize border (just 8 miles by taxi), and on to Tikal using Guatemalan transport. When you return to Belize at the end of your Tikal visit, go all the way to Belize City and rendezvous with us at the Biltmore by 5:30 pm on Friday to meet your island group.
It’s actually easier to get back from Tikal because all hotels at Tikal and Flores use the same shuttle service. Travelers are grouped as to their destination. So, for example, travelers to the Biltmore in Belize City will be grouped with others going to destinations along the Northern Highway.
When planning for Belize trips, many people wonder about how to get around once they are there. Belize is a small country (about the size of Vermont). There are no 34-hour chicken bus rides because it’s too small; nothing is that far from everything else. Most of the locals don’t have cars, so public transport is used by all and readily available.
Belize car rentals
Many prospective guests call us asking about Belize car rentals, planning to travel the country this way. I usually urge them to reconsider this. You must return all rental cars to Belize City, and if you are going to the jungle for several days, virtually all of that time the car will be parked, because tours will you undoubtedly be taking include transport, and if you are staying at a remote lodge, the only place to eat is right at the lodge. I think there are only a very few instances where renting a car for your Belize vacation is a good idea. And if you are planning to go to Tikal, be sure to ask your car rental company if they will let you take their vehicle across the border into Guatemala. However, here are two reputable car rental firms in Belize:
Crystal Belize Car Rental www.crystal-belize.com
Belize phone: 011-501-223-1600, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are two in-country Belize airlines. Basically, you can mostly only fly north and south in Belize, not many flights go east and west, so look at a Belize map to see if there are flights to where you plan to go. 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. One sample rate: Belize International Airport to Dangriga: one way: $68. Consult these websites for other prices and schedules.
Maya-Island Air www.mayaregional.com
Belize phone: 011-501-223-1140, USA phone: 1-800-225-6732, Email: email@example.com
Tropic Air www.tropicair.com
Belize phone: 011-501-226-2012, USA phone: 1-800-422-3435, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Buses are often the best way to go, and they are inexpensive. Bus prices and schedules change too often to include here, and Belize bus websites, if they have them at all, are not up-to-date…. but remember, this is a country where most of its citizens depend on bus service. There are at least eight bus companies in the country. You need to be aware that buses 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 buses in their area. Basically ANY local will know all the bus schedules to and from their town.
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.
Belize cabs have green license plates, usually that is the only way to spot them. When you arrive at Belize International Airport, look at the wall when you are going through customs. The current rate into Belize City from the airport (set by the government) is posted there. Cab drivers at Belize International are sometimes guilty of over-charging (currently $35 U.S. per cab, but prices are in flux due to rising gasoline costs). Always remember to settle the price before you get into a cab, and establish that you are talking Belize dollars, not US dollars.
One thing that is amazing about Belize cab drivers: if you hire a Belize City cab to take you to San Ignacio, for example (probably about $125 US), the most striking thing will be that the cab driver seems to know everyone in the country. You will see him waving at many people all along the way. Belize is tiny, the whole country only has about 300,000 people. He’s not faking it, he really does know all of those people, even in entirely different towns than where he lives. He’s probably related to most of them too!
In a nutshell, when planning a Belize vacation, first decide what you want to do, and where you wish to stay, and for how long, and book your lodging or tour first (or put it on hold). Then get your international air ticket, then contact the lodge where you are staying to ask them the best way to get there. They, more than anyone else, will know the best and most economical way to get to their place.