Best Time to Go to Belize
Weather In BelizeVisitors will enjoy the best weather during the dry season from December through May (though occasionally winter storms called “northers” will hit the coast between December and February). The rainy season, which corresponds with hurricane season, runs from June through November. If you’re willing to chance a few showers, you can often get cheaper lodging rates during the rainy season; you’ll also find smaller crowds on the beaches and at the most popular Mayan ruins. Temperatures are balmy year-round, but warmest during the spring and summer. high season: November to December, February to May low season: June to October shoulder season: January
Crowd InformationEvents throughout the year such as Carnival in September, La Ruta Maya Canoe River Challenge in March, and the International Costa Maya Festival in August attract large crowds.
Closure InformationHotels are open throughout the year except during renovations, which generally take place from June through October. Shops and other venues are also open throughout the year but close for major holidays such as Commonwealth Day at the end of May and Independence Day on September 21.
When to SaveSpecials are usually available during the off season (June through October), when businesses try to attract visitors and boost sales. Specials are often posted on BelizeSpecials.com.
Belize on a Budget
When to BookFor most of the high season, make reservations up to six months in advance, especially at popular hotels. For travel in December and January, make reservations up to a year in advance, particularly on the island of Ambergris Caye. During the off season, rooms are usually readily available and can be booked about a month in advance, although you can book at the last minute. Information provided by the Belize Tourism Board
What to Do in Belize
Meet a Monkey
Despite the name, you won’t actually see baboons at the Community Baboon Sanctuary — “baboon” is the local Creole word for the black howler monkey, an endangered species that lives only in select parts of Belize, Guatemala and Mexico. More than 2,000 of the monkeys are protected at this wildlife sanctuary in Bermudian Landing (about an hour west of Belize City).
You’ll probably hear the monkeys before you see them overhead; their distinctive rough call sounds like a cross between a bark and a growl, and can be heard more than a mile away. Also living in the sanctuary are hundreds of other species, including parrots, river turtles, crocodiles, iguanas and jaguars.
You can spot wildlife on a day- or nighttime walking tour or a guided canoe ride on the Belize River. The sanctuary can also arrange lodging at nearby Creole bed and breakfasts or in cabanas adjacent to the sanctuary’s nature museum.
Advice from a Traveler Who’s Been There
Baboon Sanctuary in Belize by tanyanubin “We stood quietly while [our guide] called, and soon two young monkeys came through the trees and down right to Shane! He fed them small pieces of banana. Then (thrill of my life!!!) he let me hold a piece of banana and a 1-year-old howler named Happy came to me, held my hand gently in his warm, soft little hands, and took the banana. He was trusting and adorable! That was the highlight of my trip.” Read more!
Relax on a Car-Free IslandCaye Caulker is the laid-back little sister of the more developed Ambergris Caye (located about 11 miles to the north). Measuring just four miles from end to end, the island is small enough that locals and visitors get around either on foot or by riding a bike or golf cart. Wander along Front Street to browse small local shops, book a snorkeling excursion or enjoy an easygoing lunch on a dock over the Caribbean Sea. This is the perfect spot to lie back in a hammock for a few days, but there are also plenty of local activities to keep you busy. Just about every dive shop in town can take you out to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve for snorkeling, and many companies (including Tsunami Adventures and Anda De Wata Tours) also offer excursions to see the manatees at nearby Swallow Caye. You can rent canoes and kayaks from various waterfront outfits, or go swimming with the locals at the Split (a waterway where Hurricane Hattie blasted right through the island back in the 1960s). You can reach Caye Caulker by air or water taxi from Belize City. Advice from a Traveler Who’s Been There Belize and Guatemala: Ruins, Rain Forests and Reefs by soliteyah “The beachfront area is colorful and fun, though there’s very little ‘beach’ to speak of — just a narrow strip of sand with piers stretching out into the water. Because there’s so much sea grass right off the beach, most people either swim off the end of one of the piers or go up to the Split, where Hurricane Hattie cut the island in two, and swim in the crystal-clear waters there.” Read more!
Discover Remote RuinsCaracol is the largest Mayan ruin in Belize, but it’s also one of the least visited, thanks to its out-of-the-way location in the Cayo jungle. In its heyday Caracol was home to an estimated population of 140,000 and even defeated the nearby city of Tikal, Guatemala, in a battle in the year 562 A.D. Scholars believe that the site was abandoned around 1050. The site is still being excavated, but visitors can wander among the ruins of houses and ball courts, and even climb the impressive Caana, or Sky Palace; this 136-foot pyramid is the tallest Mayan building in the country. You can drive yourself to Caracol (a 4WD vehicle is recommended) or join an organized tour. Pacz Tours and Cayo Adventure Tours both offer excursions from San Ignacio.
Learn the Art of DrummingBelize’s Garifuna people have a rich culture rooted in the traditions of their ancestors, a mix of Arawak and Carib Indians and African slaves who escaped a 17th-century shipwreck off the coast. Most Garifuna communities are located in the southern part of Belize in towns such as Hopkins, Dangriga and Punta Gorda. Music is one of the most distinctive parts of the Garifuna culture, and visitors can get a hands-on taste of it by learning how to make or play a traditional drum. At the Warasa Garifuna Drum School in Punta Gorda, you can book a one- to two-hour drumming lesson in which you learn some common traditional rhythms. You can also discover how to make the drum itself (in a workshop that can last anywhere from an hour to two days, depending on which steps of the process you want to try). Dance lessons are available too. Lebeha Drumming Center in Hopkins also offers private and group drumming lessons, as well as affordable overnight accommodations right on the beach. Another option is Studio Gallery Cayetano in Dangriga, which offers a 45-minute drum and dance workshop in the studio of a Garifuna artist and musician.
Take a Bite Out of Belize
Swim in the Other Blue Hole
Explore an Untouched Cave
Hide Out in a Jungle Lodge
Snorkel Without the Crowds
Advice from a Traveler Who’s Been There
Diving in Belize by Kathy R. “Our stay at Isla Marisol Resort was delightful. Though we missed whale shark season by two months, we often saw many large beasties on Glover’s Reef. There were daily sightings of spotted eagle rays, hawksbill turtles and nurse sharks. The reefs were healthy and full of fish. There were several sites we referred to as The Aquarium because of the numbers of schools of fish around.” Read more!