Belize- Caribbean Destination For Backpackers

IMG_5155Want to go somewhere sunny, warm, beautiful? Hoping to avoid crowds and big tourism money? Want to see culture, wildlife, open markets and ancient ruins? How about cloud laced, lush mountain peaks with ancient caves and waterfalls? What I am describing exists in a place you never would have expected, because may have never heard about it! Belize has kept a low profile in the tourism world as compared to its neighbors, Costa Rica and Guatemala. A small country at the base of Mexico, Belize is an absolute gem for backpackers looking to have an authentic Central American experience, from food, to culture and adventures!


Start off by flying into the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport, just outside of Belize City. The taxis all charge a flat rate of $25 BZE/per to drive you to the terminal in Belize City. The BZE Currency is half the value of American, 1BZE= 50c. If you are more adventurous, drive in from Cancun, Mexico via Guatemala (be aware of border fees and rental company policy). From Belize City, the public transportation is good. You can get anywhere you need to go by bus, usually for less than $10 BZE. We opted for the “chicken bus” to take us across Belize’s’ Northern Highway to the border of Guatemala in the Cayo district. Take a few days to explore the inland rain-forests and ancient ruins and caves that the border has to offer. The border towns are often less crowed, and filled with culture, excellent food, and fun adventure companies that can take you to ancient Mayan Ruins, caves, zip-lines and waterfalls. San Ignacio and Orange Walk are popular inland towns set in the rainforest.

Cave tubing

Cave tubing

Take advantage of small, local adventure companies to take you on trips like the Black Hole Drop, a 300-foot rapel into jungle canopy in a crater in the middle of a rainforest! Also, be sure to see the ATM(Actun Tunichil Muknal) Cave, a partially underwater cave with Mayan artifacts, boulder squeezes and actual Mayan sacrificial remains! Companies based out of San Ignacio and closer to Belize’s’ capital, Belmopan, will offer trips to the Caves District, a limited access park of sorts that offers a host of activities from rope swings into rivers, zip-lines, cave tubing, and hiking. Belmopan will have more to offer in the way of industry, and trade goods, while San Ignacio will provide a more cultured experience. We stayed outside of San Ignacio, and rented bicycles to commute the 4 miles to town in the morning and night. Despite what we were told, the roads were safe at night, and we were not hassled.


After several days spent inland, you will have had your fill of adventure and want to relax. There is no place better than the Belizian coastline and Cayes. Home to the worlds second largest coral reef, Belize’s network of Cayes and Islands are in calm, clear Blue protected waters. When staying on the islands, make sure to take a snorkel or scuba trip out to the reef and swim with Nurse Sharks, Sea Rays, Turtles and Eels. The most popular destinations along the Belize coast are Ambergris Caye, Dangriga, and Placencia, but if you are looking for something more authentic and off beat, stay on Caye Caulker! Caye Caulker has become a popular destination for backpackers and travelers and is generally a center for young culture and relaxed living. Caulker was split by Hurricane Hattie in 1961, and is now divided by a small channel. Amongst the mangrove trees on the other side are secluded homes that can be rented for those seeking the more removed, island experience. For those looking for nightlife and beach time, I recommend staying at one of the many hotels and hostels available on the island.


The food on the island ranges from island food to Pan-American cuisine. Belize’s Lobster season is July thru early February, so line up your trip with this culinary event. During the day, rent a boat or go with one of the many outfits on the island to visit the reef. We toured the reef with Raggamuffin Tours and could not have been happier with our experience!

IMGP1036Scuba certifications are cheaper in Belize than in most domestic locations, so take advantage of the opportunity to get a certification for cheap. Honduras also offers cheaper rates, and is an optional destination for multi-day trip. Multi-day sailing options also exist through several charter companies from Dangriga to the Cayes as well as to Antigua. The Caribbean sea shimmers a vivid blue, but don’t worry, this trip doesn’t even cost a lot of green.

We found round trip tickets to Belize City for less than $800, lodging at hostels for ~$25/night and saved money by traveling with the same company on our inland adventures. Public transportation is reasonably cheap, though gas is expensive if renting a car. Treat yourself to awesome, fresh seafood and inventive street food for cheap, and grill fish for dinner! Kick back and consider Belize for your next trip, you wont be disappointed!

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