Solo Travel in Belize
Being the only English-speaking country on the continent, Belize is easy to navigate your way around. The country is still developing but its authenticity is making it popular with more and more women travelling solo.
The country has a Caribbean feel and is so multi-cultural that you’ll find Rastas, Indians and Chinese amongst the African descendants.
There is a gang culture in Belize City so steer clear of Southside and head to the rest of the mainland or the Cayes which are perfectly safe. Travelling on local buses is really safe and no one bothers you. If you solo travel in Belize and are looking for company, San Ignacio or San Pedro are the places to find it.
Belize lies between Mexico and Guatemala and is one of the least discovered countries in the Americas and also one of the most diverse with half of the country protected. Belize is divided into six districts: Cayo, Corozal (north), Orange Walk, Belize City/District (east), Stan Creek (east), Torlido in the south.
Having only a small population means that there is plenty of space to lose yourself completely but you won’t be alone as the country is brimming with nature, and Toucans and howler monkeys can be found amongst the jungle wildlife. The rule of the Mayans is also evident here and the ancient ruins rival sites such as Tikal in Guatemala and are far less touristy. The Orange Walk District is where the spectacular Lamanai temple can be found and this is easily reached on a leisurely boat ride along the New River and is a unique way to enter an ancient site. Other sites are Caracol, the largest Mayan city in the country that sits in west-central Belize, Xunan Tunich and also Calh Pech which is the smallest Mayan site.
Many visitors head straight for the Cayes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. Choose from laid-back Caye Caulker, the smallest island with a ‘no worries’ vibe or the more developed San Pedro voted the Top Island in the World by TripAdvisor 2013, with lots more restaurants and nightlife. The south end of San Pedro has the larger hotels and is quieter than the main town. The surrounding waters are a mecca for divers who come to dive the iconic Blue Hole but if you’re not a water baby you can take a helicopter ride over it instead. Because of the clear visibility you can just snorkel in one of the popular dive spots; Shark Ray Alley, Hol Chan and Mexico Rocks where you can see sharks, manta rays and turtles. Swim with manatees (although not always guaranteed) or visit Placencia between April to June for the whale sharks.
Avoid Belize City (the old capital) if you can although most main bus routes come through here as well as water taxis from the Cayes. Be careful at night here and don’t go Southside which is notorious for gangs. Belmopan is the new capital and is the smallest capital city in the world. It has more of a neighbourhood feel and is a good place to reach other parts of the country and as a base for the adventure activities. Although not much here, there is a weekly market on Fridays and it’s a good place for observing the locals’ way of life.
For culture, San Jose is a typical Mayan village close to the Guatemala border and reachable by bus from Punta Gorda. You can take part in Mayan Immersion programme to learn how the Mayans have held onto their traditions. Hopkins has a large Garifuna population and is very un-touristy. Being tucked out of the way and located on the beach it is a great place to interact with the large population of Garifuna people who live here. Further west from Hopkins is Placencia which boasts the best beach in Belize. Walk along the sidewalk of this funky peninsular village for local arts and crafts and colourful houses – it definitely shouldn’t be missed. There’s live music here on the weekends or dance until the early hours at The Eclipse or The Good Vibes Club.
San Ignacio is a small riverside town with the nearby ruins of Xunan Tunich reachable by local bus or you can walk to the smaller Mayan site of Calh Pech. There’s a great market here on saturdays where you can sample local Armish produce amongst other local delights. Check out the iguana sanctuary at San Ignacio Hotel & Resort.
Mountain Pine is considered one of the oldest places in Belize and this is where you’ll find the Rio Frio cave – a cave with two entrances. This is also where the Mayan city of Caracol lies where you can climb the ancient pyramids and marvel at the ancient ruins without the crowds.
If you love cats, Belize is a cat-lover’s haven. Belize is home to five species of wild cats: the jaguar, puma, ocelot, margay and the jaguarundi and has the only jaguar reserve in the world in the north. Belize zoo is a great little place to see the indigenous animals up close but if you want to spot birds in the wild, Caracol and Hidden Valley are the best places for bird watching.
Adventure enthusiasts are in for a treat. As well as zip-lining through forests, repelling off waterfalls and trekking through jungles; Belize actually has the largest cave system in all of Central America. The ATM tour is the most popular and showcases the Mayan sacrifices or for something more extreme, put your limits to the test in the waterfall or crystal caves.
Belize is known as ‘the best of both worlds’ and each corner of the country brings diversity and surprises. With reefs, jungle, Mayan ruins and extreme adventure, Belize should not be missed on your itinerary.
Visit Caye Caulker in July for the Lobsterfest.
If you are staying more than 30 days without planning to leave – you need to visit the immigration office and pay BZ$50 for another 30 days.
How long do I need?
Most people visit for 10 days to 2 weeks and combine the jungle with the ruins and the reef. Belize has fantastic diving. You could easily spend a week here exploring the caves on the mainland and the islands of San Pedro and Caye Caulker.
Accommodation in Belize
Whether you prefer to stay in a guest house, Inn, lodge or resort, Booking.com has a wide variety of styles of accommodation for every solo budget including apartments for those who prefer to be more self-sufficient. Find a hostel in Belize with HostelWorld or stay overnight with a local on Airbnb and save $20 off your first stay with this link.
GatG Favourite – Midas Resort, San Ignacio
A great value resort in San Ignacio just a short walk from the centre. The rooms are bright and clean and there’s a pool for cooling off in the heat. Prices from £59 p/n. Find out more…
GatG Favourite – SunBreeze Suites, Ambergris Caye
Book your very own suite in walking distance of everything you need on the island of Ambergris Caye. You’re just steps away from a sandy beach too! Prices from £99 p/n. Find out more…
GatG Favourite – Black Orchid Resort, Burrell Boom
Treat yourself in this gorgeous eco-friendly resort and fall asleep listening to the sound of the river at night. We love it! Prices from £76 p/n. Find out more…
If you feel more comfortable in a group for either part of your trip or the whole duration, G Adventures is a responsible tour company which mainly caters towards budget travellers. Most tours have an average of 10 people and there is no upper age limit. Once you book your trip you pay extra for any excursions you want to do when you’re there.
Adventures start from a 9 day Classic Belize & Tikal adventure, to a 33 day Best of Central America including Belize, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them as a solo female friendly company.
Intrepid Travel is similar to G Adventures with an average of 12 people on each tour. Over 50% of people using their trips are solo travellers. They tend to use hotels instead of hostels and have a more comfortable style of accommodation hence the trips can appear a bit more costly than G Adventures.
Trips start from an 8 day Land of Belize tour including San Ignacio and Tikal, to an epic 65 day Complete Central America trip travelling through the continent down to Panama. With both tour companies you share a room with someone of the same gender or you can pay extra for your own room.
Travelling Around Belize
There are only 4 highways in the country which aren’t well lit at night: the Northern Highway, Phillip Golson Highway, Western Highway and George Price Highway to Guatemala. It is safe to hitchhike or hire a car but we recommend using local buses which are all privately owned. Fares are reasonable for long distances and if there is no designated ticket booth for your particular bus in the terminal then you can just pay on the bus. Get there early if you have to be at your next destination for a specific time as buses can get busy and overcrowded and you may have to wait for the next one. Tropic Air operate internally there are lots of small airports if you prefer to fly around the country.
To hire a car we recommend pre-booking car hire with Avis so you can collect your car when you arrive at the airport.
From the Airport
There are many domestic airports in Belize but Belize City is the international airport.
Belize City – A bus runs into the city every 30 minutes or take a 25 minute taxi ride for US$25.
Corozal – By taxi is US$4 for the 1km ride into town.
Placencia – 2kms into town.
Dangriga – 1.5kms into town.
San Pedro – 500 metres to the airport.
Punta Gorda – 500 metres to the airport.
Travelling onwards (check visas before you travel)
Departure tax is BZ $37.50 to leave Belize.
To Mexico: Tropic Air fly directly to Cancun. Buses depart Belize City to Corozal where you can either get a bus Chetumal (only during the day) or a taxi for BZ $50.
Jorge Gonzalez is a recommended taxi driver who will take you from Corozal to Cheutmal and help you across the border. Email: [email protected] Call: 6336031
To Honduras: The Pride of Belize operates a boat from Belize City once a week and reaches Dangriga at 10am. If departing from Dangriga be at the main Don Pier at 9.30am. The boat arrives at 3pm in Puerto Cortes, Honduras and costs BZ $110 one way or BZ $200 for the round trip (from there walk across the bridge and catch a collectivo (bus) from the corner of the road into the city). Tropic Air flies to Honduras on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
To Guatemala: San Ignacio is the closest town to the Benque Viejo border crossing. Take a bus to Benque then a short 10 minute taxi ride to the border for BZ $7. Entrance to Guatemala is $5.
Where can I go from here?
Texas – USA 2 hours 45 minutes
Mexico – 1 hour
Honduras – 1 hour
Guatemala – 45 minutes
- Can I drink the water? No as it’s very high in calcium and even the locals don't drink the water.
- Is tipping expected? Yes, 10 – 15%.
- Fixed price or barter? Generally fixed price.
- Any ATMs? In the main cities and towns yes.
- Which side of the road do they drive? Used to be left but now on the right.
- Good for vegetarians? Yes if you like beans.
- Any seven wonders of the world? No.
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Capital – Belmopan
Population – 322,100
Language spoken – English, Kriol, Spanish
Did you know? Belize used to be called ‘British Honduras'.
Snorkeling / Diving
Mind Body & Soul