Transportation in Belize
So, you’re planning to travel around Belize? Well, you are in for a treat! Enjoy the winding hills driving south, the warm breeze with the windows down on the bus, or the gorgeous views from the puddle jumper flights. The following article goes over the different options for transportation in Belize. From ways to enter the country, travel around Belize, to how to get to Ambergris Caye. The article goes over prices, time, and convenience.
Last Updated: January 2023.
Transportation to Belize from Abroad
Fly into Belize
In 2023, several airlines are flying into Belize’s international airport including: Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, American Airlines, Copa Airlines, Delta, Southwest, Sun Country Airlines, TAG Airlines, United Airlines, and Westjet. If you have a travel card with one of these companies – you are in luck! If not, time to look for your next card.
Sail into Belize (and Ambergris Caye)
Belize has four ports of entry. San Pedro, Belize is one of them. You must make a direct trip within 24 hours of hitting local waters if you receive clearance to sail your yacht. A customs official needs four copies of all of your documents for everyone on board. You can sail to the anchorage site and enjoy Belize’s waters for up to 90 days after receiving permission.
Drive to Belize
There are only two entry points to enter the country by road into Belize. The Northern Highway coming from Mexico or the Western Highway coming in from Guatemala. At both entry points the process is as follows. You will have to get your vehicle fumigated prior to proceeding to immigration and customs. The cost is $11.00 Belize and takes about 5 minutes. You will take the receipt with you showing this has been done to your vehicle into the Immigration office. At the immigration office, you will get your passport stamped and asked if you have a vehicle. Next, you will then need to provide your original title and registration.
Then, you will be given a stamp in your passport stating that you have brought a vehicle into the county. This stamp basically says that you will not hire out your vehicle or sell it. Also, that if you leave the country you must take it with you. Additionally, if you have this stamp in your passport and try to fly out of the country you will not be allowed. There are workarounds – but that isn’t the focus of this article. Either way you will have to account for your vehicle if you try to leave the country without it.
Also you will get a Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit, which is good for 30 days. You can extend this permit every time you extend you passport for up to 90 days. After 90 days you will be asked to pay duty on the vehicle and then you can purchase a Belize license plate.
Take a Caribbean Cruise
Cruises are a common way to see what the Caribbean has to offer, however you will only get a small taste of Belize during a cruise stop. Cruises will either dock in Belize City or on a private cruise island near Placencia. When you are off the boat, you can either venture out to Maya sites, go cave tubing, or explore the Belize Barrier Reef through diving or snorkeling tours before returning to the boat.
Transportation Around the Mainland
The mainland of Belize is full of lush landscapes, from the untouched tropical jungles to the rolling hills of citrus trees and farmland. From the gentle waves of the Caribbean Sea to the rushing waters of local rivers, you will have plenty to take in during your journey around Belize. Here’s your guide on what methods of travel you can use during your trip.
Both local airlines service most districts in Belize and have daily or weekly flights around the country. If you’re wanting to get to your next destination in a hurry, and have the budget for it, flying is the best option. Example: Flight between Belize City and Dangriga is around $100 USD ($200 BZD).
Local and Express Buses
Using buses to get between areas in Belize are an extremely economical way to travel. For as little as $10 USD ($20 BZD) you can traverse across the small country. From the water taxi or municipal airport to the bus station – you’ll want a taxi (in Belize City at least) which is about $12 BZD per person.
Buses are the primary mode of transportation in Belize for Belizeans and routes run on regular schedules throughout the country, with most buses stopping to pick up and drop off passengers at most any location along the way. The bus system equipment in Belize is based on derelict American school buses with the most popular brand being the Blue Bird Bus. Every bus has a driver and a “conductor” who collects fares and sometimes assists passengers load their baggage. On workdays, buses start runs at 5am and run until 8pm.
Rent a car for your trip around Belize (and by car, I mean 4×4 SUV). Lead your own path as you decide which highway to take. Belize only has a handful of highways, so navigation around the country is quite simple. However, navigating in the towns (Belize City or San Ignacio, for example) is a little more difficult, with many one-way roads and large ditches on the side of the roads. I suggest having data and your phone map available.
The more days you rent a car, the cheaper it gets. We typically rent with AQ Rental. We recommend you opt in for the additional windshield and tire coverage. Although Belize’s highways have improved with each year, you are better safe than sorry when dealing with insurance and vehicle damages.
Taxis, Tours, and Excursions
If you are not renting a vehicle, you’ll be walking and ordering taxis often (depending on your hotel and proximity to restaurants, grocery stores, and activities). Taxis can run you around the region you are in. For example, in San Pedro plan to pay between $5-40 USD ($10-80 BZD) to get around the island depending on how far north or south your accommodations are.
If you want to book a taxi/private driver to drive you from Belize City to your destination you’re looking at around $100 USD ($200 BZD). For mainland taxis to go out to restaurants or around town, expect it to be around $5 USD ($10 BZD).
Next, you can use tours as your transportation. Your hotel can help recommend tour operators which pick-up and drop-off to your hotel for adventures such as zip-lining over the jungle canopy, wading through rivers while cave tubing, or trekking up trails to see gorgeous views and waterfalls in the tropical oasis that is Belize. Prices for tours are typically between $50-150USD ($100-300 BZD), depending on the distance you are from the tour site, the price it is to get into reserves and protected areas, and the equipment and food included in your tour.
Lastly, shuttles are another option. Hotels can often schedule shuttle services or private cars to carry you back to the international airport as well.
Travel Time Between Belizean Villages (driving)
Belize is a small country, with the stretch of road from the northernmost district capital to the southernmost district capital taking about 6-7 hours by SUV. Check out the time it takes to get between towns in Belize.
Corozal (Corozal District) – 3 hours
Orange Walk (Orange Walk District) – 1.5 hours
San Ignacio (Cayo District) – 2-2.5 hours
Placencia (Stann Creek) – 3 hours
Other Trips in Belize
San Ignacio to Placencia – 3 hours
Corozal to Punta Gorda – 6 hours
Orange Walk to San Ignacio – 3 hours
Belmopan to Hopkins – 1.5 hours
Transportation to Ambergris Caye
Ambergris Caye is Belize’s tourism crown jewel. San Pedro/Ambergris Caye is one of Belize’s most beautiful islands with just a puddle jumper or a water taxi ride, you can make it from the mainland of Belize or Mexico to this pristine little Island.
Fly to Ambergris Caye
First, and our favorite, is the absolute best way to reach the island. Flying is easiet and fastest; the flight only takes about 15-minutes from Belize city. If you’re at the international airport – this saves you the taxi fee to get to the water taxi. They are two companies operating these flights: Tropic air and Maya Island air. You’ll find prices between $40-100 USD ($80-200 BZD) typically. (We suggest Tropic Air based on our experience flying in-country.) Flights from municipal and international airport both have Caye Caulker stops as well.
If traveling from Mexico to San Pedro, Belize crossing the land border and then flying from Corozal, Belize to San Pedro is an excellent option.
Take the Water Taxi / Ferry to Ambergris Caye
Next, if you’re on a budget or traveling around Belize mainland before coming to the island, the water taxi is an excellent option. From the international airport, you can hop into a taxi for $30 USD ($60 BZD) and ride for 30 minutes to the water taxi (ferry) terminal. If you’re not starting at the airport – just get to the water taxi.
Once at the Belize Express water taxi you will have a 1.5-hour trip to Ambergris Caye. Now, there’s one stop in Caye Caulker at the 1-hour mark, so be sure to not get off too early. If you are headed to San Pedro from Mexico or northern Belize, there are water taxis and flights available there as well.
Water Taxi Companies and Rate Samples (Jan 2023)
If traveling from Mexico to San Pedro or the northern region of Belize, it may save time to grab a water taxi or flight from either Corozal, Belize or Chetumal, Mexico. Since they are only offered on some days and times, it isn’t always suitable for your travel. In some cases, it is better to take a bus down to Belize City and ride the Belize Express water taxi. These water taxis also travel to Caye Caulker.
Belize Express Water Taxi $50-60
Round-trip from Belize City to San Pedro. Whatsapp: 662-7723. Several runs per day 6:30 AM to 5:30 PM.
Thunderbolt Water Taxi $55
Round-trip from Corozal to San Pedro. Whatsapp: +501-628-8590. 7 AM and 3 PM daily runs.
Water Jets International $70
One-way from Chetumal, Mexico to San Pedro. Whatsapp: +501-633-3416 / +52-983-835-9736. Only travels Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Sail to San Pedro
Then, if you want a real adventure and a slower mode of transportation, consider sailing. From different destinations in Belize, you can join multi-day sailing trips which have stayovers on different islands. This experience puts you on more scarcely populated islands that are much more primitive than San Pedro. Contact us to help coordinate a trip for you!
Make the Most of Your Belizean Vacation
Although you may be warry to drive in a foreign country, transportation in Belize is readily available for any budget. Don’t stick to one location! Make the most of your trip by exploring the different regions of Belize. Whether you book flights between cities like Placencia and Ambergris Caye, or take buses from Belize City to San Ignacio, you are certain to have a lovely experience in Belize. Belizeans are the sweetest people and make you feel at home wherever you go.
If you’ve traveled around Belize, please comment your favorite methods of transportation in Belize and getting around. What tricks do you have for making the most of your trip?
One of mine is to tack the mainland portion to the beginning or end of a trip to Ambergris Caye, that way our guests are not making multiple trips on the water taxi or flights between mainland and the island. It saves travel time and money on transportation.
Visiting Belize? Stay in San Pedro with Drift Inn
While taking advantage of all the stunning sites and activities Belize has to offer, you need accommodations that provide comfort, convenience, and a community to enjoy it with. This is why Drift Inn is where you need to stay. Our affordable, comfortable rooms all come with handmade Belizean furniture and premium mattresses, private bathrooms, A/C, hot water, and WIFI. Spend your time chilling in our courtyard or wandering the small streets of San Pedro, Belize. The convenience of our location is unparalleled for our prices. Stay 100 feet from the beach and walking distance to restaurants, grocery stores, fruit stands, and street food.
Drift Inn is an affordable hotel / hostel with a community of travelers who live to travel and enjoy finding themselves interacting with new people and trying new things. Stay with us as a solo traveler, digital nomad, a friend group looking for a Caribbean adventure, or for a fun getaway with your SO. Drift Inn offers opportunities to meet other guests including tours for snorkeling trips, day trips to Secret Beach, the Iguana Sanctuary, dinners, and to see live music. Any tours and excursions can easily be organized by Drift Inn staff, this includes trips to the Blue Hole, golf cart rental, and more!