Belize-How to drive and where to stay
Read about roads and driving in Belize, some roadtripper recommended hotels/camp spots, gas prices, and other useful information if you are traveling by car in Belize.
- Population: 320,000, International Monetary Fund. Retrieved on 2008-10-09.
- Capital: Belmopan
- Fun Fact: Belize is home to one of the top-ten scuba diving locations in the world (according to Jacques Cousteau), the Blue Hole.
Roads and Driving
Road signs are in English but generally speaking highway numbers and signs are non-existent. There are not too many roads in Belize but be prepared to ask around for directions.
Speed bumps are present in Belize but they are nowhere near as often or as huge as other Central American countries. They are found close to communities.
There is supposedly a checkpoint just before Burrel Boom where you will have to present your car documents. If you pass through there on the weekend, there may not be anyone working there, but it is always a good idea to make sure your papers are in order.
Other Road Hazards
Donkeys, cattle, horses, dogs, pedestrians, and bicyclists will be a common site on and along the roads. Many roads lack shoulders or sidewalks, so there are few places for pedestrians to walk except on the roadbed itself.
It's possible to drive from the Chetumal border to Placencia in about six hours – you can skip Belize City via Burrell Boom, turn off the Northern Highway to your right at around mile 13, this skirts Belize City and puts you on the western highway. Good road information can be found at ambergriscaye The 56 mile Hummingbird Highway is in great condition and takes you some beautiful Belizean scenery and definitely worth driving if you have the chance.
Visiting the Cayes with a car
If you are going to head out to the Cayes (islands), you will need to leave your car behind. Belize City has a high crime rate, buy you may be able to leave your car at one of the nicer hotels in the area. Spend a night and/or give a nice tip to the security guard. You could also leave your car at a surrounding town and bus into Belize City.
Driving at Night
Just like most Latin American countries, Belize has a very high car accident rate and it would seem that this number would increase at night. Avoid any night driving.
Belize is a small country, unleaded and diesel gas stations are easily found.
Gas prices are expressed in the units of the specific country.
10/8/08: Price is in Belize dollar ($) per gallon
Conversion: 1L = 0.26 gallons
Camping and Hotels
Near San Ignacio
Barton Creek Outpost has hosted many roadtrippers and if you're in Belize, don't pass it up. It is nestled in the foothills of Belize's Mountain Pine Ridge and on the outskirts of an Old World Mennonite community in western Belize and was named by Lonely Planet as one of the top five places to visit in Belize. Detailed directions are available on their website as well. Owners Jim & Jacquelyn Britt also blog at BelizeBritts.wordpress.com
Inglewood Camping. N 17°08'20.2" W089°05'14.4". $B25 (extra if you want power). Several kilometers west of town. Little shade, some palapas, a cooking shelter, power and water to all sites, a spot to dump waste water near toilet block, some highway noise (main road to Guatemala), simple clean bathrooms with electric warm showers, and free WIFI (but only available certain hours as it is on a timer).
Trek Stop is a little closer to the border. Good for tent campers, just watch out for the tarantula holes. $11 BZ per person. Cold showers, self-compostng bathrooms, restrauant and wifi. Photos and more info here.
Way out on the northeast corner of Belize is Sarteneja. There's a few hand crank ferry crossings and a lot of dirt roads, but it's worth the trouble.
Backpacker's Paradise is the best place to stay. $7BZ per person. Has showers, bathrooms, restaurant, wifi and a huge mosquito screened common area with a good kitchen. The owners are amazing. You can park your car here and take a boat out to the cayes. The ferry costs a little more than if you go from Belize city, but this is a good secure place to park. More info here.
Near Altun ha ruinS
Mayan Wells has camping, mostly hot showers, bathrooms, and internet if you ask the owners nicely. Cost $10BZ per person. Watchout for botlas files. Photos and directions here.
NEAR Belize Zoo
The Tropical Education Center is not more than a kilometer from the Belize Zoo entrance. Great place for tent campers. Has a huge field, and covered areas for cooking. Cost $10BZ per person. Gigantic showers, clean bathrooms and an office/library area with electricity and internet (and lots of books about bugs). Photos, GPS and other info here.
Located behind the soccer field in Placencia, the Garden Cabanas are cute little cottages raised off the ground which can accommodate two to three people. A small but pretty well equipped kitchen, private bathroom (with hot water) and stereo system are found inside. Prices vary depending on the season and the cabinas start at $30 USD per night and go upwards of $50 USD per night in the high season. You may be able to negotiate a discount for a longer stay. Vehicles can be parked along the side of the road, it is pretty quiet and safe though leaving valables in the car is not recommended.
Cucumber Beach Marina. Mile 5, Western Highway. N 17°28'20.2" W088°14'54.3". $10 + $5 for power. Marina with good restaurant, artificial beach, and Old Belize tourist attraction. Good (sometimes too strong) breeze, quiet, security & night guard, hot showers, laundry facilities, free WiFi. We stayed three nights here to catch up on internet stuff. Need to go over to restaurant area for best signal, and use “British Honduras Room”, as it’s more consistent. If you have any 2-
peso Mexican coins, they work in the washer and dryer, because that’s what they gave me for one of the tokens! Breeze was a saviour, because it was hot and there’s no shade.
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (Jaguar Reserve). US$2.50 per person for camping plus US$5 per person for park entry. Camping area is east of Maya Centre about 6 miles on a good dirt track. Parking is in Sanctuary’s parking lot. Toilets and cold showers. Lots of good walking trails.
Sea Front Inn (TC’s By the Sea - listed in other camping info - was nowhere to be found). $B25. Take the left fork as you reach the north edge of town and the hotel is on the right, right across from a small dock. We had access to the staff bathroom and free WIFI, but no shower.
Blue Hole National Park. Entry is US$2.50 per person, were allowed to park overnight in small parking lot for no extra charge. Pit toilets, but no shower, and quite hot, sticky, and buggy when we were there. Enjoyed it anyway, because the birds were great. There’s also a cave you can explore and what could be a great swimming hole - muddy when we were there due to rain.
--Thanks to Anne for much of the great camping information in Belize (from Belize City to San Ignacio)
Belize and Mexico are not always on the same time. In the summer months Belize is an hour earlier than Mexico so check the current local time as soon as you cross from country to country.
--Thanks to Karen and Eric
Postcard stamps to the US and the UK are much cheaper in Belize than they are in Mexico (.30 US cents in Belize vs. .80 US cents in Mexico) so mail your postcards in Belize.
--Thanks to Karen and Eric
Duty Free Deals
There is an enormous duty-free area in the no-mans’ land between Mexico and Belize. The usual suspects (cigarettes, booze) are cheaper here than in Mexico or in Belize. Fuel (which is extremely expensive in Belize) is also available here. Prices per liter where .86 cents for regular and .89 cents for super and diesel. At the time of our crossing that worked out to about .50 more than the price of fuel in Chetumal, Mexico but less expensive than in Belize. However, the fuel sold in the duty free gas station comes from Venezuela and some claim its cleaner than the fuel sold in Mexico.
--Thanks to Karen and Eric
Read about dealing with Belize borders when driving in the Belize Border Crossing article.