How to Be Smart Using Public Transportation in Belize

Public Transportation in Belize

People may think using public transportation abroad is dangerous. Well, I have to tell you that is wrong if we are talking about Belize. If you are travelling to Belize on a budget: public transportation in Belize is a must for you! Get where you are going on the cheap. Pick up your kindle or e-reader and let someone else do the driving! Here in Belize, there are several public transportation companies and options: the bus, the water taxi, the shuttle, and flights. 

Here are some of the public transportation options in Belize and some tips and tricks to getting around.

Updated January 2023.

Table of Contents

Buses: Cheapest Public Transportation in Belize

This is the best option to travel around the mainland because it is cheap, reasonably reliable, and found across the country. One disclaimer: the bus schedule is not well documented, but you can surely get from one place to another if you start early. Some buses quit running at around 5 PM others will run their course till 8 PM. They start as early at 4 AM. TIP: Always “splurge” for the express bus when it is available, but don’t wait 30 minutes for an express bus if there’s a regular one in front of you.

For the bus from Belize City to San Ignacio, you’ll want to head to the bus terminal in Belize City. You’ll want to grab a bus with “Benque” in the front window to catch the right bus from Belize City to San Ignacio.

Bus Times

At the bus station, here are two ways to figure out when your bus is arriving: One, you can ask around to the teller or people sitting around. Let them know your destination and they’ll likely tell you which bus to look for and an approximate time it’ll be showing up (or that you just missed one). Two, you can also see final destinations and whether the bus is express or not from the front window of the bus. However, this can mess you up if you don’t know that Benque is the endpoint but enroute for Santa Elena and for San Ignacio.

Depending on where you’re going, Facebook pages are the most reliable source to find schedules for any transportation company. Buses typically run though a stop/terminal every hour to every 30 minutes.

Bus Quality

We do not have grey-hound style buses. The ones you will find in Belize are old American buses with no air conditioning. Sit next to the window and let the nice, cool breeze blow through. Make small talk with your seat-mate or listen to headphones as you cruise down the highways of Belize.

The prices to travel on a bus are much cheaper than renting a car in Belize. Expect fares to be between $5USD and $20USD ($10-40BZD). Travel times may take up to 8 hours, depending on the destination. The country is small though – so you can travel from San Ignacio to Belize City within 3 hours.

Travelling by bus you find as a great experience and adventure. If you are parched or find yourself peckish, don’t be afraid to try new things. Try watermelon juice, johnny cakes, or savory meat pies when street vendors come on the bus. Treat yourself to local delicacies or wait for the bus stations which also have wrapped sandwiches, packaged chips and cookies, and sodas.

Belize Travel Tips: Bus

  • Have enough cash on hand, USD or BZD, to do anything you need for the day. ATMs are not frequent or conveniently located at travel hubs.
  • Use taxi service between airport/water taxi/taxi in Belize City, don’t walk between them.
  • The bus driver or passengers will likely have music playing with locals singing along on the bus
  • Belize buses only travel through major highways.
  • When catching the bus, try to start from a terminal instead of a bus stop. You’re more likely to get a seat.
  • If you need to use the bathroom or get some snacks the bus makes a different stop for a 5 min break so that will help.
  • Our staff preference is to sit near the front, easier to get on and get off.
  • Keep your belongings with you or under the bus, the conductor will help you with bags if you need.
  • Belmopan is the capital city and Belize, and a transfer point for most bus trips.
  • Expect to pay $1 BZD for toilet/restroom use.

Water Taxis / Belize Ferry Service

Water Taxi from Belize City to San Pedro or Caye Caulker

Most travelers visit popular destinations, such as Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. The water taxi from Belize City to San Pedro and Caye Caulker is the most economical way to get to the northern islands. Also, we suggest traveling with Belize Express. Their water taxi from Belize City to San Pedro runs 5-6 times a day, starting as early as 6 AM with the last one running at 5:30 PM. The price is approximately $50 USD round trip.

Water Taxis Around Belize

You might want a water taxi/shuttle options moving from the mainland to other Cayes around the country like Placencia or Tobacco Caye. These options would start further south. There are also water taxis from San Pedro or Caye Caulker to Corozal, Belize (northern part of Belize) and Chetumal, Mexico. These run twice per day at 7 am and 3 pm and do not operate every day of the week – so can be easier to take the bus from/to Belize City if your travel times do not match their schedule.

Belize Travel Tips: Water Taxis

  • Try find a good place near the back, where you have a view of the ocean and get a nice breeze. 
  • Sometimes it might be a little rough because of the weather so get some nauseous pills if you’re prone to seasickness.
  • Make sure not lose your luggage ticket, as you will need it to pick up your luggage at arrival.
  • Roundtrip tickets are cheaper, book upon arrival, and show up around 30 minutes earlier.

Belize Taxis / Belize Shuttles

Taxis in Belize

Taxis are higher priced, but necessary to get off the main highway to your actual destination. You may also utilize a taxi to go out for dinner or to get to a tourist site. To find a taxi, look for the taxi sign on a vehicle, find a taxi parking area in town to ask for a ride. If you start walking down a road, you’re sure to hear a honk eventually which will be a taxi driver offering a ride.

You can even use taxis for transportation between cities and districts. Depending on how much moving around you plan to do, renting a car may be cheaper than taxis and shuttles. Expect a taxi on the mainland to run around $7-15 USD ($15-30 BZD) for short trips around town and $100 USD ($200 BZD) for longer distances.

Belize Shuttle Services

Although this is not really public transportation in Belize, a shuttle is a shared ride. Many resorts, tour companies, and Belize shuttle businesses offer shuttle services around the country. This will be more comfortable than the public bus in Belize and probably even more comfortable than a taxi. Typically, the shuttles in Belize are air-conditioned 15-seater vans. Rates typically depend on number of passengers and destinations.

Some sample prices: Shuttle from Belize City to San Ignacio is $120 USD for two people. Shuttle from San Ignacio to Placencia is $190 USD for two people.
Belize Travel Tips: Taxis
  • Make sure to ask locals what the price range is for rides before speaking with a driver, because some taxis might charge more than what you should have to pay.
  • Make sure to ask what the fare is before you board, so you and the driver are on the same page on the price.
  • There are no meters and sharing rides is common. 
  • If you want a taxi, just stand by the road and a taxi will eventually stop or honk. Wave them down if you see them. 
  • If you like the ride make sure to get their card and phone number to call on them for your next ride!

Riding a taxi might be one of the best ways to learn about an area, since taxi drivers are very social people and take on the role of tour guide when driving you around small villages or between districts. 

*Caye Caulker has taxis, but they are golf carts instead of regular cars or vans.

Public Transportation in Belize

Now that you know what to expect, get out there and travel cheaply around Belize! Experience the country like a local, getting around by bus from Belize City to the furthermost points of the country.

If you are interested in renting a car or taking flights, check out this blog.

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!

Contact us to book your stay and start planning out your Belizean dream adventure.