When planning for Belize trips, many people wonder about how to get around once they are there. Belize is a small country (about the size of Vermont). There are no 34-hour chicken bus rides because it’s too small; nothing is that far from everything else. Most of the locals don’t have cars, so public transport is used by all and readily available.
Belize car rentals
Many prospective guests call us asking about Belize car rentals, planning to travel the country this way. I usually urge them to reconsider this. You must return all rental cars to Belize City, and if you are going to the jungle for several days, virtually all of that time the car will be parked, because tours will you undoubtedly be taking include transport, and if you are staying at a remote lodge, the only place to eat is right at the lodge. I think there are only a very few instances where renting a car for your Belize vacation is a good idea. And if you are planning to go to Tikal, be sure to ask your car rental company if they will let you take their vehicle across the border into Guatemala. However, here are two reputable car rental firms in Belize:
Buy Belize Auto Rental www.autorentalbelize.com
Belize phone: 011-501-222-4190, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Crystal Belize Car Rental www.crystal-belize.com
Belize phone: 011-501-223-1600, Email: email@example.com
There are two in-country Belize airlines. Basically, you can mostly only fly north and south in Belize, not many flights go east and west, so look at a Belize map to see if there are flights to where you plan to go. There are daily flights between Belize International Airport, Belize Municipal Airport, Dangriga, Placencia, Big Creek, Punta Gorda, Corozol, Caye Caulker, Caye Chapel, Ambergris Caye, Flores, Guatemala, and Cancun, Mexico. One sample rate: Belize International Airport to Dangriga: one way: $68. Consult these websites for other prices and schedules.
Maya-Island Air www.mayaregional.com
Belize phone: 011-501-223-1140, USA phone: 1-800-225-6732, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tropic Air www.tropicair.com
Belize phone: 011-501-226-2012, USA phone: 1-800-422-3435, Email: email@example.com
Buses are often the best way to go, and they are inexpensive. Bus prices and schedules change too often to include here, and Belize bus websites, if they have them at all, are not up-to-date…. but remember, this is a country where most of its citizens depend on bus service. There are at least eight bus companies in the country. You need to be aware that buses don’t run as often on Saturday or Sunday; for example, a route which has hourly service during the week may only have two choices on Sunday. The staff at your hotel will be familiar with buses in their area. Basically ANY local will know all the bus schedules to and from their town.
All of that said, here is a very comprehensive schedule to Belize buses… the only thing is, I can’t find a date on it and don’t know if it is updated regularly or not: http://www.guidetobelize.info/en/travel/belize-bus-timetable-route-guide.shtml
And, I have to include a link to this awesome Belize transportation map created by Anson Stewart last fall. This map is based on the London Underground map. What a cool idea! Check it out: http://ansoncfit.com/watson/belize-transportation-map-subway-style/
Taxis are available everywhere, are more expensive than the bus, but make a lot of sense under certain circumstances. If you are traveling with a group of four, taxis are a great deal. Some cab drivers also act as an impromptu guide, hoping for a tip.
Belize cabs have green license plates, usually that is the only way to spot them. When you arrive at Belize International Airport, look at the wall when you are going through customs. The current rate into Belize City from the airport (set by the government) is posted there. Cab drivers at Belize International are sometimes guilty of over-charging (currently $35 U.S. per cab, but prices are in flux due to rising gasoline costs). Always remember to settle the price before you get into a cab, and establish that you are talking Belize dollars, not US dollars.
One thing that is amazing about Belize cab drivers: if you hire a Belize City cab to take you to San Ignacio, for example (probably about $125 US), the most striking thing will be that the cab driver seems to know everyone in the country. You will see him waving at many people all along the way. Belize is tiny, the whole country only has about 300,000 people. He’s not faking it, he really does know all of those people, even in entirely different towns than where he lives. He’s probably related to most of them too!
In a nutshell, when planning a Belize vacation, first decide what you want to do, and where you wish to stay, and for how long, and book your lodging or tour first (or put it on hold). Then get your international air ticket, then contact the lodge where you are staying to ask them the best way to get there. They, more than anyone else, will know the best and most economical way to get to their place.