I live in a small tourist town (Moab, Utah) that, for some odd reason, seems to be extremely well-endowed when it comes to free, open WiFi access. It’s easy to take it for granted. Then, whenever I travel away from Moab I’m always surprised at how difficult it can be to find WiFi access in other cities and towns.
So, with that in mind I thought it would be useful for our guests and others planning a trip to Belize, to know more about WiFi Hotspots in Belize City. Belize City is where our guests begin their trip, whether heading out to our private island for a 5, 6, or 9 night stay, or joining one of our 8-day Adventure Week packages, that includes half a week on the island at the end of the trip. In either case, many guests spend time before or after their trip with us touring the island on their own. And if you have never traveled in Central America, the infrastructure there can be a bit different than what you’re used to.
WiFi Hotspots in Belize City
One of the best maps I found when searching online comes from Boingo, a company that provides global Wi-Fi services at more than 400,000 hotspots worldwide. Their map shows 27 hotspots in Belize City.
The WiFi Story Outside of Belize City
Jessica, a traveler in Belize last year posted this sage advise on travel blog Life Remotely.
The wifi story in Belize starts with one very important company, BTL. Belize Telemedia Limited owns everything. The phone lines, internet, the cell phone networks, VOIP connections. You name it, they own it. In 2009 the company was nationalized, it’s now about 70% owned by the Belize government, for better or worse. This giant company is doing pretty much everything possible to make non-BTL communications impossible.
The BTL problem
BTL’s monopoly causes some rather annoying problems for travelers.
Skype is (sort-of) blocked. The story here is a bit complicated. Skype.com is certainly blocked. The app (if you already have it installed) will work, but you will need to find internet fast enough to support it. In the past BTL completely blocked skype in attempt to push their own (more expensive)VOIP service. It used to be necessary to setup up a private VPN connection to use Skype, but this is no longer the case. (Thanks to Holder Heinze for correcting our info.)
Kindles won’t connect. For those of you with a 3G kindle, it won’t do you any good in Belize. That won’t be a surprise if you you’ve checked out thecoverage map. Apparently BTL doesn’t have any interest in giving Amazon a piece of their pie. The exceptions to this are areas near the Guatemala and Mexico borders, like San Ignacio, where you can connect to those country’s wireless networks.
Internet is expensive. All internet access here is expensive. So is setting up a cell phone and calling internationally. Compared to Guatemala and Mexico, costs here are slightly ridiculous. The Belize government also taxes high-speed internet somewhere between 19-24%. It’s not surprising that many cheaper hotels don’t bother to install it.
If you are heading to Belize in early March, your trip coincides with Baron Bliss Day which has developed into a national festival. So if you are going to be in the neighborhood, why not plan to spend an extra day or two taking in BBD!
In recent years the festivities have included a multi-day canoe race, the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge. The route runs west to east along the Macal and Belize Rivers, once the only link between beautiful San Ignacio, in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, and the bustling port of Belize City. This is a race for everyone (not just professional racers)!
The canoes will leave San Ignacio on March 8 and arrive in Belize City on March 11. The teams, which race for station prizes along the way, battle for the major cash prizes awarded at the end of the race.
When you own an island 35 miles offshore in the middle of the Caribbean and you take guests out and back each week, it is a good thing to own your own boat. Many island resorts in Belize do not own a boat but rather use charters or rentals. By owning our own boat, we make certain it is maintained properly and therefore we minimize potential problems with transport to the island.
Another thing that sets us apart from other resorts in the region: our boat leaves directly from Belize City. All other boats that service Glover’s Reef where our island is located depart from the Dangriga area, which requires their clients to book an additional flight from Belize City to Dangriga, or submit to a long, unwanted drive from Belize City to the boat dock.
Batfish, Slickrock’s 41′ power boat, runs the 130-mile round trip to and from our island each Saturday and Wednesday. Powered by three 200 hp engines, and fully covered for our guests’ protection when crossing the open sea section of the run, Batfish makes the shuttle comfortable in all weather conditions. You arrive in Belize City and are on the island less than 24 hours later!
One cannot over-emphasize the importance of this aspect of our operation. Our captains are among the best in Belize. Bathrooms are available on board.
Check out this short 1 min video of the trip back from the island:
Anyone visiting Belize in early March will be surprised when the entire country shuts down for days for a mysterious holiday called Baron Bliss Day. The country goes wild, it is a huge party.
Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, commonly known as Baron Bliss (16 February 1869 – 9 March 1926), was a British-born traveler who willed two million U.S. dollars to a trust fund for the benefit of the citizens of what was then the colony of British Honduras, now Belize.
The Bliss Institute (a performing arts center that was previously a museum, research facility and library in Belize City) was part of the benefits from this endowment, as were the city’s Bliss Lighthouse (where Bliss’s tomb is located), the Bliss School of Nursing and various other medical facilities around the country.
Belize celebrates Baron Bliss Day each March 9 in his honor.
Bliss’s early personal history as well as the origin of his “Baron” title is uncertain. He styled himself “Fourth Baron Bliss of the Kingdom of Portugal”; there is some speculation that the original Portuguese title was Barão de Barreto. He was born into a wealthy Suffolk family and was rumored to have been disinherited for keeping a hansom cab waiting. He subsequently made a substantial fortune speculating in petroleum shares. Unfortunately, he contracted polio and decided to travel the world in a luxury yacht. After spells in the Bahamas, Trinidad and Jamaica, he arrived in Belize harbor, where he found a climate which suited him. He was extremely fond of the local people, and despite the fact that because of his physical infirmity he never set foot on Belizean soil, he bequeathed the bulk of his fortune for the benefit of the people of British Honduras. He died in the harbor of Belize City.