Routes to Relaxation and Pathways to Adventure
It is a country where a hike can be a walk in the woods—or a whole lot more. There are lowlands jungles where the big cats still roam free, mountain ridges covered in tropical pine forests and river valleys where azure waters surge up from holes in the ground, only to be swallowed again by the dark entrance of a cave. Belize rewards the adventurous trekker with a range of bucket-list experiences, but also offers easier routes for those who just want to escape civilization for a while. And best of all, these adventures can be enjoyed as day trips from many of the country's beachfront resorts.
- Best for: Everyone, from relaxing and beach travelers, to soft and rugged adventurers
- Best season to visit: Year round, drier from January to June
- Weather: Belize enjoys a sub-tropical climate moderated by Caribbean sea breezes. Winter temperatures occasionally dip below 70 during northerlies, while summers may reach into the 90s, with increased humidity and rain showers after June
Hiking in Belize Overview
More than 80 percent of Belize remains covered in forests and jungles, and the country has the lowest population density of any nation in Central America. These factors combine to provide hikers with miles of uncrowded trails, and pristine jungle and mountain landscapes to explore.
Hiking in Belize Tips
On many tours, a hike in Belize isn't a journey unto itself, but a means of getting to and back from an adventure such as a cave tour or river swim. When this is the case, you will want to include a towel for drying off and a change of clothes for the return walk.
Best Places for Hiking in Belize
A walk into the heart of the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve leads across a jungle river to the Cave of the Stone Sepulcher. Trekkers can test their nerves with a descent into the Black Hole to explore passages that hold ancient Mayan artifacts. Journey to the source of the Blue Hole River and learn about indigenous medicinal plants along the way. Venture into the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the largest concentration of jungle cats in the world. Ascend into the only true pine forest in all of Central America, the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve.
What to Pack for Hiking in Belize
Comfortable light-weight long pants for protection from the brush, and a loose-fitting shirt that will provide cooling and allow ample freedom of movement. Moisture wicking and fast-drying fabrics are best. Shoes with a reasonably aggressive tread pattern for traction on muddy trails. Bring plenty of water and bug repellent.
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Passport and/or Visa Requirements
A current passport, valid through your departure date, is required for entry into Belize. Your passport needs to have at least 1 blank page for the entry stamp. Proof of onward or return flights may be required at entry as well. No visa is required for stays less than 30 days. Upon departure from Belize, there is a departure tax of approximately $40.00 U.S. which should be included on your international ticket.
Check the entry/exit requirements here.
There are no required immunizations for entry into Belize, although you should check with your doctor and reference the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations.
Culture and Customs
Belize is a true melting pot of cultures, stretching back to the stone cities of the ancient Maya, and the Arawak roots of the Garfunkel dialect that are still heard through the country. British settlers arrived in the 1600s, and English remains the nation's official language. But Spanish influences are equally prevalent, and Mennonite, Creole, Lebanese, Chinese, and East Indian immigrants have all left their mark on the collective consciousness. Today, they are all just Belizeans, and everyone gets along in a society that places a high value on civility and inclusion. This is a country that doesn't need an excuse to dance and throw a party. Weekends are reason enough for celebration, and dozens of festivals, carnivals and concerts are staged throughout the year. Head up to the country into the rainforest and wooded mountains of the interior and you are in the land of Indiana Jones where thatch-roofed eco lodges serve as base camps for jungle hikes and inner tube drifts through river caves. Head offshore and island times takes over when you land on the offshore cayes. On Ambergris Caye a flipflop and tank top vibe permeates the beach town of San Pedro, where beach bikes are the preferred mode of transportation, and packed-sand streets are fronted by colorfully painted wooden shops and taverns.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Belize electricity is 110 Volt/60 cycles and uses the same plug types as the U.S., so no converters are required.
Belize has a standardized seven-digit phone numbering system and a country code of 501.
Many hotels offer WiFi. Be sure to check with your mobile provider to see if International plans are available for phone and data usage while in Belize.
Bottled water is recommended in Belize and readily available for purchase and also supplied by some resorts.
Language & Currency
English is the official language, but Spanish is widely spoken. Other languages spoken are Maya, Garifuna, and Creole.
The BelizeDdollar (BZD) is pegged to the US dollar at 2:1 - always verify whether you are paying U.S. or Belize Dollars. It's easy to change U.S. dollars just about anywhere.
ATMs are available in many cities and accept major cards such as Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, although cash will be dispensed in Belize Dollars.
Most businesses will accept U.S. cash without question. They usually give change in Belizean Dollars, though they may return U.S. change if you ask.
Belize is on Central Standard Time, 6 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-6 GMT). Belize does not observe daylight saving time.
Location, Size and Population
Belize is located on the Eastern coast of Central America, along the Caribbean Coast. Its capital city is Belmopan.
Belize is bounded on the North by Mexico, South, and West by Guatemala, and the beautiful Caribbean Sea washes its 174-mile coastline to the East.
Belize has an area of 8,866 sq. miles including 266 sq. miles of islands.
The population of Belize is 367,177 (2016), while the island of Ambergris caye has an estimated 22,000, the area of Placencia approximately 1,500 and the area of Dangriga close to 10,000.