Hello Sirenian Bay friends!
So you’ve had your vacation time approved, and you’ve got Belize in your sights. Here’s what you need to know before you touch down and get ready to kick back by the water.
Passports, money and the local lingo
While Americans won’t need a visa to enter Belize, you will need a valid passport with at least 6 months left on it. Upon arrival you’ll receive an entry card that allows you to stay as a tourist for 30 days. To renew it, head to the immigration office and pay for another 30 days. You can stay as a tourist for up to 6 months.
Money-wise, things couldn’t be easier! The Belize dollar is pegged 2-to-1 to the USD, so conversion is simple. US dollars are pretty widely accepted but carry small denominations with you. Don’t expect to get by on travelers checks or credit cards, as many places won’t accept them. There is a $15USD “exit tax” – but it’s typically built into your airfare, so no worries there.
What about speaking with the locals? Belize is the only Central American country where English is the official language. You can expect to hear different dialects, Creole, and a lot of Spanish as well. But you’ll find it pretty easy to communicate with the local population.
Driving’s fine, but take care
While the roads here are generally pretty good, they can occasionally be bumpy. Some of the highways are less built-up than US roads, so keep that in mind when putting that pedal to the metal. Speed bumps exist (frequently and sometimes unexpectedly), and so do police checkpoints, which are there to check for proof of license and insurance.
If you’re driving a rental, don’t worry, as all rentals are required to have both. Avoid driving during the evening glare – the sun sets at about 6pm here – and try not to drive at night if you’re not used to the roads. If you’re not quite up to highway driving, try renting a golf cart and go exploring your neighborhood instead.
Navigational signs are not what we’re used to in the States, either, so you’ll want to be sure you have clear directions before heading out.
The sunburn is real, so cover up!
We know, you’re here for the sunshine and the incredible tropical vibes. After all, temperatures in Belize average between 75-81° year round. But though you might be on vacation, those “sun smart” rules still apply.
The sun is always out, even when it’s cloudy, so wear sunblock and cover up if you’re going to be outdoors for a long time. This is especially true when swimming or snorkeling. The water won’t protect your skin – and sunblock washes off. Stay smart in the sun, and you won’t resemble your lobster dinner!
Remember to bring your appetite
Belize is a culturally diverse country, and our foodie scene reflects that. Here you’ll find an incredible variety of cuisines influenced by Garifuna, Mayan and Creole traditions. Rice and beans is a flavorful staple, and you’ll also find fragrant tamales, fresh-caught ceviche, meat-stuffed panadas and rich stews. With the ocean so close, seafood is everywhere, so order up!
Desserts include rum-rich fruit cakes, soursop ice cream, chocolate everything and an incredible pick of tropical fruits. For drinks, try a smoothie, a local Belikan beer, or a sip of traditional cashew wine.
There’s an activity for everyone
Whether you’re an amateur archaeologist, a hobby diver or a bird enthusiast, Belize has something for you.
Belize is home to dozens of Mayan ruins, including Caracol and Xunantunich. You can visit these and on the way participate in activities like kayaking, hiking and even ziplining. The jungles are full of incredible creatures, including monkeys, toucans and even jaguars, so hire a guide and go animal spotting!
Outdoorsy types will love the riches of the reefs, cayes and atolls, which are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and diving. Keep an eye out for turtles, whale sharks and even manatees.
And if you want to experience local culture, you can try your hand at traditional drumming, chocolate making and cooking. Many activities can be easily tailored to suit kids and families, so there really is something for everyone.
So there you have it – Belize in a (coco)nutshell! If you’re planning a visit and have some questions, feel free to drop us a line! We’d love to help make your vacation to Belize a truly memorable one.