Belize Transportation: How to Get Around Belize

Want to retire in Belize? It’s easy to get there from North America, both by air and by land. Transportation within the country is plentiful, with frequent buses, water taxis and two domestic airlines.

On the staying connected front however, Belize falls well behind other Central American countries. Find out why Internet options are so limited and expensive.

Getting to Belize – By Air

There is regular air service to Belize via the Phillip Goldson International Airport at Ladyville, 11 miles north of Belize City. Major U.S. airlines and Avianca offer flights to Belize. Flights originate in NYC, Chicago, Charlotte, Miami, LA, Atlanta, Newark and Houston. There is also service from El Salvador, Panama and Guatemala.

Ready to explore Belize? Use the search box below to find the best flights…

For northerners from Canada and the U.S. it’s often far less expensive to fly to Cancun and then take a bus to Belize City via Corozal and Orange Walk. Bus service is excellent, air conditioned and frequent.

As of this writing (November 2016) the best rate for a return flight from Detroit to Belize City in January 2017 is $715 USD. A return flight to Cancun in the same time period is $263 USD, and the bus to Belize City is $50 USD. Do this both ways and add the departure tax of $40 USD and you’ve saved about $315.

You can save even more by taking a bus to Chetumal and then Belize City, but it will take longer and is nowhere near as convenient.

Belize City Bus Terminal, still commonly know as Novelo’s, although the bus company doesn’t exist anymore [Image by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, via Wikimedia Commons]

Getting to Belize – By Land

If you are from North America, and want to retire in Belize, you have the option to drive there. It’s anywhere from 1500 to 2000 miles from the U.S./Mexico border, so it’s a good three days of driving. Once you get to Belize you’ll find that fuel is about $2/gal more expensive than back home.

You’ll have to purchase insurance for Belize, which you can do at the border. There is an exit fee by land as well as by air, so you won’t save anything on that score.

All in all, if you’re coming by land the bus is the best bet. There’s excellent and inexpensive transportation service inland and the country is so laid back that most people walk everywhere anyway. Let’s talk about that!

Related: Is Belize an Expensive Place to Live

Short Trips Around Belize

Most places that tourists want to go are accessible on foot, but you can also rent a bicycle for about $10 USD a day or a golf cart for $50 – $60 USD per day. Golf carts are pretty popular for getting to the beach from a rental location, and bikes are great for around towns.

Be careful with walking around Belize City. It can be dangerous in certain parts, so you’re better off taking a taxi. There’s lots available wherever you go and the rates are reasonable. Taxis are unmetered, so remember to agree the fare before you get in. Within Belize City, fares are typically between $2.50 and $5 USD.

Hitching a ride is prevalent in rural Belize but caution must be foremost in your mind. The best places to hitch are the speed bumps or “sleeping policemen” found on the roadways as traffic has to slow down for them. Offering to share the price of fuel is often a good idea.

Related: Is Belize Safe?

Getting Around When You Retire in Belize: Longer Trips

Renting a car or motorcycle costs about twice as much as renting a golf cart. A car rental costs between $60 and $90 USD per day if rented for a 4 day stint. This includes insurance, air conditioning and at the higher end, four wheel drive.

Four wheel drive pickup trucks start at around $100 USD per day. Add to this the ubiquitous 12.5% GST.

You must have a valid driver’s license from home in order to drive or rent a car in Belize, and you must be 25 years of age or more to rent a car.

Cars drive on the right hand side of the road like in all of North America. The posted speed is in mph and is 55 mph on highways and between 25 and 40 mph in towns and villages.

The very best bet for getting around Belize is the bus.

GuideToBelize.info provides a good overview over the various bus companies and the areas they service. I wouldn’t rely on the listed schedules though, as they haven’t been updated in awhile.

You can check bus schedules at a site called Horariodebuses.com (not just for Belize, but a whole bunch of Latin American countries).

The schedules are a bit haphazard and sometimes there’s breakdowns as these are the same old Bluebird School buses that you’ll see in other parts of Central America.

The major (and only paved) routes are:

  1. Phillip Goldson Highway from Belize City to Orange Walk, Corozal and finally Santa Elena at the Mexican border near Chetumal (95 miles).
  2. George Price Highway from Belize City to Belmopan, San Ignacio and Benque Viejo del Carmen at the border of Guatemala (80 miles).
  3. Hummingbird and Southern Highways from Belmopan to Dangriga and then south to Punta Gorda.

All other routes are packed dirt, often impassable in the rainy season, even for a 4 wheel drive vehicle.

Belize Boat Transportation

Water taxis in Belize City offer scheduled service to Caye Caulker and San Pedro [Image by Willamor Media from Cary, NC, USA; via Wikimedia Commons]

Water taxis at Belize City harbor will take you to Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. There are several other services available including the Thunderbird and the Hokey Pokey which service various ports on the coast. You can even go to Chetumal, Mexico with a water taxi.

Want to make a trip to the reef or the outlying islands? Rent a launch! Costs are about $50 USD per 10 miles. And if you want to go inland to see the Mayan ruins, you can take a river boat.

Related: How to Immigrate to Belize

Getting Around by Airplane

Insider Tip

Flying within Belize? Depart from Belize City Municipal Airport. It’s much cheaper than from Philip Goldson International Airport.

Airstrips are everywhere in Belize, with about 20 of them in this tiny country. Planes can be hired for a quick trip to any location with a landing strip.

Belize has two domestic airlines: Tropic Air and Maya Island Air. Both serve all major mainland destinations and Cayes in Belize. Tropic Air also offers international flights to destinations in Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras.

Although prices are similar it’s worth comparing, as you might get different discounts for kids and luggage depending on your destination.

Belize Transportation FAQ’s

Traveling to Belize? Get ready for a tropical adventure with lots of local charm! Once there, you’ll want to get around and see all this destination has to offer. But what are the best modes of transportation? Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about transportation in Belize.

Can I take an Uber in Belize?

Unfortunately, there are no larger-name ride-sharing services available on Belize, and that includes Uber. 

There are a few local ride-sharing services in Belize that operate in the major centers of Belize City or Belmopan City. These operators have a set route that they know well, and are handy for getting around inside the city limits, but don’t offer airport transportation.

Luckily, there are many choices for getting around in Belize. Taxis and shuttles are the best ways to get from the airport to your destination, and there are many options for local travel in and between cities or for sightseeing.

Note that you should always check with local travel authorities for restrictions or policies that may be in place at the time of your arrival. Proof of transportation reservations for approved carriers may be required at the airport. These include airport taxis, airport rental cars, hotel transfers, private shuttles, golf cart rentals, or domestic flights within the country.

Do I Need A Car While in Belize?

It’s your choice if you want to drive a car while in Belize or not. Most places in Belize are within walking or biking distance, so it’s often not necessary to have a car. If you choose to drive a car, keep in mind that many roadways are not paved or in good condition. Watch out for numerous speed bumps, crosswalks, potholes, and roundabouts.

Foreign driver’s licenses are permitted in Belize for up to three months, and you must drive on the right side of the road. Take extreme care if driving at night. Road signage and lighting are poor, and only a few traffic controls (lights) exist in Belize.

Bicycles, motorcycles, and golf carts are good alternatives to driving a car and are readily available to rent throughout the county.

How Much Does It Cost to Rent Cars in Belize?

Like many services, it’s best to shop around. The cost depends on the type of car you want and how long you rent it for. Airport taxis and airport car rental kiosks are the most expensive, but very convenient. Rates start at around $100 per day, excluding insurance.

There are many local and international car rental companies operating in Belize. Choosing a non-airport provider will save you some money. Rates start at around $50 per day, a significant saving over airport rentals. These operators will often meet you at the airport with your vehicle so you can bypass the airport services.

It’s recommended to book car rentals online and well in advance. There may also be price promotions offered when booking online.

How much does it cost to take the bus in Belize?

Public transit is a good option for getting around in Belize. They have regular and express buses running daily. The cost depends on which type of bus, how far you are going, and whether you’re traveling on a weekday or weekend.

The base fare is 2 Belizean dollars, or about $1 US, and goes up depending on the route and distance you’re traveling. Bus destinations are displayed in the front window of the bus.

How much do water taxis cost in Belize?

You will likely be taking a water taxi for travel between the mainland and Belize’s many islands. Base fares start at around $18 and like the city buses, will vary according to your destination, number of travelers, and day of the week. They also have different prices for adult and child passengers.

There are two main water taxi companies in Belize—Ocean Ferry, and Belize Water Taxi—as well as a few smaller local operators. All have comparable schedules and prices.

Are There Shuttles And Transfer Companies From The Airport to My Destination In Belize?

Yes, you can book either private or shared shuttles. Shuttle buses are 8-passenger vehicles that pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel. A private shuttle costs more, but is scheduled according to your arrival time and is quite reasonable with 3 or more in your party.

Shared shuttles run on a set schedule and carry multiple passengers from the airport to popular hotels. Prices are typically per person, one way. Always check with local travel authorities for restrictions or conditions that may be in place at the time of your arrival.

Hotel shuttles run between the airport terminals and the hotels about every 10 -15 minutes. 

What Car Rental Companies Are In Belize?

You will find most of the international car rental companies in Belize, including Budget, Hertz, Avis, National, Dollar, Thrifty, and Alamo. You can book with any of these companies online and choose your preferred vehicle and dates.

You should also consider some very good local rental companies, like Crystal Auto Rental, Car One Rental Belize, AQ Belize Car Rental, Jabiru Auto Rental, and Varela’s Auto Rental.

Related: What to Pack for a January Belize Vacation