Belize, a tiny little country in Central America, sandwiched between Mexico and Guatemala. It was on my bucket list for years after watching Steve Irwin’s TV shows where he’d explore the Belize Barrier Reef, the 2nd largest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. I finally made it there and now I’m here to share my tips!
A huge draw for me, especially as a solo female traveller, is that Belize’s first language is English. Everyone speaks English, all the signs are in English, which makes travelling that little bit easier! I often heard the locals speaking to each other in another language, it wasn’t Spanish as I couldn’t pick out any words, I later found out from my guest house owner that a lot of people speak Creole amongst themselves. This is strange considering the rest of Central America speak Spanish!
Another aspect that makes it an easy place to travel to (especially now I live in the USA), is everywhere accepts US Dollars. The majority of things will be priced in Belizean Dollar but the conversion is easy peasy.
$2 Belizean Dollar = $1 US Dollar
Just cut everything in half and hand over the dollars. They don’t accept US dollar coins, so I made sure I carried a lot of low value bills with me…$1, $5, $10. The change I was given varied, sometimes I would pay in US and get just Belizean back, sometimes I’d get a mixture of both! In return, there were even a few times where I paid with a mixture and it was absolutely fine.
The Belizean Dollars actually have the Queen on them! Belize was once a British colony (it was formally called British Honduras!) but has since gained independence, however they kept the currency the same.
I mentioned in my post Getting to Caye Caulker From Belize International Airport that the flat rate to and from Belize City to the airport is $25 US dollar (this rate is set by the airport). The water taxis were also priced in USD.
Belize City airport (Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport) has good connections to a few USA airports. I flew into Belize via Miami and left via Dallas Fortworth. American Airlines, Delta and United are a couple of airlines to check. Flying with American, in June, they had a few flights to choose from on a daily basis.
People say Belize is expensive. It is, compared to other Central American countries, BUT I found it to be cheaper/or on a par with the USA. It’s also more expensive on the Cayes as they have to bring the goods onto the islands. Here’s an example, in the USA (Miami Airport) I paid $3 for a bottle of water, at the Belize City water taxi dock a litre bottle was $1, the same size bottle on Caye Caulker was $2. A bottle of beer in the USA is around $3, a bottle on Caye Caulker was $2.
Low season in Belize is between June – September. Being on the Caribbean coast, puts Belize in the firing line for hurricanes (they have been hit several times, the most recent being Hurricane Earl in 2016 *correct at the time of writing*) and they experience a rainy season. I visited in early June, during 1 week, it only rained twice…at night. The day time temperatures hit 41c/105f. It was humid, I sweated like a pig constantly but when staying on a Caye, there was a sea breeze the majority of the time.
Low season = MANATEE SEASON!
When it came to on land excursions, it did make it hard to arrange one being out of season as a solo traveller. A lot of the companies shut for the season and the tours won’t always run 7 days a week, unless they meet a minimum of 2 people…fine if you are travelling as a couple/group. I managed to jump on a tour with a couple I had met, we went cave tubing (one of the most popular excursions after snorkelling) and to Altun Ha Mayan Ruins. Now I imagine the larger Mayan ruins in Mexico, Chichen Itza to be busy for the majority of the year…in June, we had Altun Ha to OURSELVES. 3 people + our guide (great for photographers 😉 )
The majority of tourism in peak season is from cruise ships. Belize City has a port with an area especially aimed at cruise ship passengers. This area was shut during my visit.
Now on to health and safety. To be honest, I’m not sure of how safe the tap water is to drink, I tend not to chance it because I’d rather not be stuck on a toilet. My accommodation on Caye Caulker provided a filtered water dispenser in each room so I kept re-filling my bottle from that.
I was eaten ALIVE by bugs, I was like one giant itch and one even blew up into a giant blister. I used bug spray and they just ate through it. Belize is at a risk of Zika so it’s worth being aware with the whole pregnancy thing if you are a female.
I felt safe as a solo female traveller while in Belize. I stayed in Belize City for 2 nights in a neighbourhood I felt safe in and the rest of the time I was on the Island of Caye Caulker. My guest house in Belize City said the unsafe areas of Belize City are usually because of gangs, they attack each other, not the tourists, but obviously it’s nice to be well away from the chance of being caught up in the cross fire.
Like most places in the caribbean, wacky baccy is around. Like anywhere, don’t be stupid, just stay away from it. The neighbourhood I stayed in, in Belize City was a big no drug zone and it was something I was never offered. That was just me, obviously I can’t speak for everyone or the different areas.
As a solo female, of course I got hit on. BUT it wasn’t as unbearable as some places I’ve been. If you said no to someone trying to sell you a souvenir, or encouraging you to go into a restaurant, 90% of the time they’d be like ‘OK! Have a good night!’, they wouldn’t follow you or pressure you. If anything, they’d just ask you how you were, if you’d been on any trips, were you enjoying your time in Belize.
As for fellow tourists, the people I met while staying on Caye Caulker were some of the friendliest I’ve ever met while travelling. The majority were ‘older’ English or American backpackers…older meaning 30’s…not people fresh out of Uni. Being travellers mainly travelling long term in Central and South America, they had their head screwed on. Everyone just wanted to know each others stories, who they were, where are they from, where they have been, Everyone was full of recommendations. I can’t speak for San Pedro or the other islands, some of those are more resorts and attract honeymooners and package holidays so those places could have a different audience of people.
(Disclosure: Some links below are affiliates)
Go cave tubing and to the Altun Ha ruins with www.cave-tubing.net
Go on a full day snorkelling tour from Caye Caulker with www.cavemansnorkelingtours.com
Take part in sunset yoga with www.randomyoga.com. There’s not a set charge, it’s pay by donation.
Where to drink in Caye Caulker: The Best Bars in Caye Caulker, Belize
Eat: Belizean Fry Jacks! Fried dough filled with whatever you want! Eggs, ham, cheese etc etc. From $3.50BZD/$1.75USD
Where to stay in Caye Caulker: Colinda’s Cabanas
Where to stay in Belize City: D’Nest Inn
What to wear: If you make one exception for a piece of luggage, TAKE A RASH VEST! Especially if you plan on snorkelling, you will get burnt, especially on a full day tour. Rash vests are light weight, quick drying and I never travel without mine. Someone on my snorkel tour saw mine and wished she’d taken one. I have several, O’Neill make good ones: O’Neill Wetsuits UV Sun Protection Womens Short Sleeve Rash Guard
Have you been to Belize? I’d love to hear what your thoughts are!
Disclosure: Please note some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking. It comes at no extra cost to you but it helps me with the running of this site! As always, opinions are my own.