Caribbean Travelweb


Guide To Belize

 

Description

Geographically this country is small in size (8,866 square miles), but, it's gigantic in attractions and diversity. The mainland and coastal cayes are remarkable wonders. The topography changes rapidly as do compass points. Travelers see estuaries, rivers, jungle, mountains, coral reefs, expansive underground caves, glorious waterfalls and an incredible collection of wildlife.

Every year more and more visitors are discovering Belize. Most come to dive, fish, enjoy the wildlife and explore ancient ruins. Some come to relax, some for the education, and many for the diving.

The busier time of the year for travelers to Belize is November to May, which are the winter months of the Northern Hemisphere. Still, many visitors prefer the more quiet days of the summer months from June to October for their vacation in Belize. Both times of the year have their own unique attractions and the choice of when to visit is totally up to you, your budget and the adventure you crave.

Getting There

By Air

International flights to Belize go through Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Los Angeles and Montego Bay, Jamaica. Flights arrive in Belize City, then if you are heading to the offshore cays and atolls, you will travel from here either by boat or small private charter plane, depending on location.

The major airlines servicing Belize are:

American Airlines

Delta (Saturday Service Only)

Avianca

Southwest

These airlines also service Belize via Flores, Guatemala

Maya Island Air
1-800-521-1247
501-226-2435
501-226-2192

Tropic Air
1-800-422-3435
501-226-2012
501-226-2338

Caribbean Holidays
now agents for Tikal Jets
81 Albert St.
Tel: 501-227-2583

Entry Requirements

With the exception of cruise ship passengers, all visitors to Belize must present a valid passport before entering the country. Passports must be valid up until time of departure. In cases where a visitor remains in the country for over 30 days, an extension of entry must be requested. Extensions are available for an additional fee

VISAS
United States and Canadian citizens, nationals of Caricom countries and of the European Community member nations (Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, UK, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Finland, Sweden), Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway and Venezuela do not require visas.

Entry visas should be obtained outside of Belize. For the nearest place to obtain a visa please visit: Belize Consuls and Embassies.

Visas are required for nationals of the following countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia, Brazil, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Columbia, Cuba, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, India, Japan, Korea (North and South), Libya, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, and Zaire.

Helpful Visitor Information

Getting Around
If you are short on time or would like to forego the scenic highways, flying is safe, fast and efficient in Belize.

The least expensive way to get around Belize on a day to day basis is by bus. Buses run regular schedules and by other Central American standards, Belizean buses are clean, roomy and efficient.

No reservations are required though often recommended as some bus routes fill up quickly and completely.

Taxis are available in towns and resort areas, and they are easily recognized by their green license plates. Unless specific arrangements are made prior to your arrival at Belize International Airport (P.S.W. Goldson), taxis are available at the entrance to the main terminal.

Although there are no meters on the taxis, the drivers do charge somewhat standard fares, but it is always important to understand what your fare will be, prior to hiring a taxi.

Communication
You won't find telephones on every corner of the open road in Belize. If you plan to rent a car and discover Belize at your own pace, its smart to pack your cellular phone or arrange for one through Belize Telecommunications Ltd. when you arrive. Also, some rent-a-car companies now offer cellular phones. It might spare you a headache in the event of a breakdown.

What to Wear
If you are visiting the Cayes and/or the Barrier Reef, bring your shorts, T-shirts, and bathing suits, as well as some comfortable tennis shoes or deck shoes. As the sun is probably more intense than what you are used to at home, bring a cap to protect your head from the tropical sun when you are boating and/or fishing and use sunscreen protection.

Loose fitting, light colored cotton pants and camping shirts, along with a comfortable pair of hiking shoes or boots are appropriate for exploring the Mainland or trekking through the rain forest. When visiting the Maya Ruins or traipsing through the jungle, a hat with a wide brim will provide shade from the tropical sun, as well as provide protection from a tropical shower.

Ambergris Caye, the largest of about 1000 cayes (islands) located in the northern most waters of Belize, Central America. This narrow strip of paradise surrounded by the azure Caribbean, is approximately 25 miles long and was once a part of the Yucatan Peninsula. Get there by small plane or water taxi.

Caye Caulker is located 12 miles from the mainland. It is only 5 miles long and seperated into 2 parts. The main village is on the southern portion. Get there by small plane or water taxi.

Business Hours
Banks: Monday - Thursday 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. Friday 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. and 3:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M.
Commerce & Industry: Monday - Friday 8:00 A.M. to 12:00P.M. 1:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. Some businesses are open on Saturdays

Electricity
Although most of the electricity is provided by Diesel/Generator Sets, the power is stable at 110 Volts A.C., which is the same voltage as in the United States.

Medical
There is a well staffed hospital and several private doctors in Belize City. Also the District Towns and larger Villages have hospitals or clinics.

Water
Potable water is available in most areas of Belize, but it is advisable to ask, and if in doubt, to drink boiled or bottled water.

Health
There are no serious epidemic diseases in Belize. No inoculations are required for entry, but anti-malaria tablets are recommended for extended stays in the jungle.

Language
Everyone in Belize speaks English.

Tipping
Tip if you find the service good. Tipping can range from 10-15%.

Telephone Service
Belize Telecommunications Limited provides telephone communication between Belize and the United States and Canada. Direct dial service is available.

Time
Time observed year round is GMT-6, which is the same as United States Central Standard Time. Daylight Savings Time is not observed in Belize

Climate
The climate is subtropical, with a brisk prevailing wind from the Caribbean Sea. The country has an annual mean temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity is nicely tempered by the Sea breezes.

Variation in weather features, emphasizes the interesting difference in elevation, geology, plant and animal life. A summer high temperature, usually never exceeds 96 degrees Fahrenheit, and winter lows are seldom below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night.

Saltwater temperature varies between 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rainfall
Annual rainfall ranges from 50 inches in the North to 170 inches in the South. Although the rainy season is usually between June and August and the dry season is between February and May, global weather changes are making historical predictions somewhat invalid. At the end of October, the weather does become cooler, and from November to February, it is pleasant with showers of rain. Average humidity is 85 percent.

Activities and Attractions

Scuba Diving
Indeed, Belize's barrier reef has been named one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World. Water visibility commonly reaches 100+ feet; water temperature hovers around 80 degrees Fahrenheit; and the barrier reef makes for calm water most of the year. SCUBA divers have three major options when deciding how to experience the underwater world of Belize.

Windsurfing
Belize is a perfect place to indulge in the fabulous sport of windsurfing. The Cayes have it all, flat water created by the reef and the constant onshore/sideshore wind provide an ideal location for the beginner to try a first lesson or take a course. For the intermediate it is fantastic for blasting and chop hopping. Runs of 10 miles plus are possible on either tack; perfect for practicing waterstarts and carve gybes.

Fishing
Belize is a mecca for those interested in fishing. All kinds of fishing - spin, fly, trolling - can be experienced all year long, and the abundance of game fish guarantees excellent sport. The estuaries, inlets and mouths to the many rivers are known for their tarpon, snook and jacks. The lagoons and flats are known for the bonefish, permit and barracuda. The coral reefs support grouper, snappper, jacks and barracuda while the deeper waters off the drop off are home to sailfish, marlin, bonito and pompano.

Bird Watching
Because of Belize's small population and lack of industry, much of Belize has remained virtually undisturbed. About 66% of the country is still forested. Birders in particular will have the opportunity to observe hundreds of different species of birds. It is not uncommon to view 50 in a single outing. Belize has recorded over 500 species of birds within its borders. Any of the national parks make excellent locations to bird.

Caving
Belize is an ideal location for the formation of caves. With abundant limestone and a wet climate, caves abound in many places throughout Belize. Caving is a dangerous sport, and it is adviseable to check with the locals before exploring any caves on your own. Because of the isolation of many caves, they have not been thoroughly explored.

Canoeing/Kayaking/Tubing
Though Belize is a relatively small country, with very low-lying land, it receives plenty of rain during the winter season, and supports 20 major river systems and smaller streams. These many waterways are potential outdoor adventures for the kayak and canoe lovers. This is an excellent way to birdwatch and view wildlife along the banks. You will also experience the flow of human life in Belize as the rivers of the country are still major gathering places for fishing, cleaning and transportation.

Archeology
Belize shares a rich Maya heritage with neighboring countries like Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras and is considered to have been the heart of Maya civilization during the classic period. Although Belize's Maya occupation began as early as 1500 BC, during the classic period of 250 AD to 900 AD the population is said to have exceeded one million people. Archaeological remains of the ancient Maya include pottery, skeletons, stellae and tall palaces and temples with ceremonial centers.
Some popular Maya sites from north to south of Belize are:
- Corozal District: Cerros and Santa Rita
- Orange Walk: Lamanai, Nobmul and Cuello
- Belize District: Altun Ha
- Stann Creek District Mayflower
- Cayo District: Xunantunich, El Pilar, Cahal Pech, Pacbitun and Caracol
- Toledo District: Nim Li Punit, Ukhenba and Lubaantun.

Belize Zoo
The Zoo is located 29 1/2 miles west of Belize City on the Western Highway, and is open daily - except on Good Friday and Christmas Day - from 9:30 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. The nominal admission fee of US$5.00 is used to support the facility and all of the associated education programs.
See http://www.belizezoo.org for more information.

 

 

 


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