Visiting Belize During The Pandemic

Where is Belize?

Belize is a Caribbean country bordered on the north by Mexico, on the east by the Caribbean Sea, and on the South and West by Guatemala. It is the only country in Central America without a coastline on the Pacific Ocean, and the only one in the region with English as its official language.

When to visit Belize?

Most travelers visit Belize during the country’s dry season, from late November to mid-April. During this time, warm temperatures and clear sky make up for the high premium hotel prices and crowded moments you will encounter. If you are interested in avoiding the crowd and won’t mind packing some rain gear, plan to see Belize in the rainy season from May to mid November. For the most part, rain showers last for 2 hours in the early morning and afternoon. September and October tend to see more rain due to hurricane season.

Key considerations:

  • Hurricane season runs from July to October.
  • Spiny lobsters can only be harvested from June 15th to Feb 14th. Outside of these dates, lobster will not be available on the dinning menu.
  • Whale sharks sighting are best in April to June. Chances for encounter are highest 3 days before and after full moon.
  • Grouper mating season is in October and November. Expect to see thousands of these fish mate and give birth to their young
  • Flash flood can delay or cancel diving and caving adventures during rainy season. Best to check into tour cancellation policy and look into purchasing travel insurance.
What currency is used in Belize?
USD is accepted everywhere in Belize. Photo Credit: Pixabay on Pexels.com

The official currency in the country is the Belize Dollar. It is pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of BZ$2 to $1 USD. Both dollars bills are acceptable throughout the country. If you already own USD, you won’t need to exchange the money into local BZ dollars.

Visiting Belize During Global Pandemic

Belize is normally frequented by cruise ships and international flights into the Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE). During the global COVID-19 pandemic, cruise ship operations are suspended, but travelers can still opt to fly into the BZE airport. For US travelers, you can fly direct via Miami (MIA), Houston (HOU), Dallas (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), and a few others.

Once in the country, you do have to wear a mask AT ALL TIMES in public spaces, including outdoor areas, unless you are seated for eating, in water, or in golf carts. Moreover, there is a daily curfew from 10 pm – 5 am; Friday and Saturday curfew starts at midnight. Check the TravelBelize website for latest information on the topic.

Admission Into Belize

International travelers can be admitted once shown any of the following:

  1. Proof of COVID-19 immunization administered at least 2 weeks prior to travel
  2. Negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of travel
  3. Negative rapid test (Rapid Antigen, Sofia, SD Biosensor and ABBOTT taken within 48 hours of travel

For those not able to present a valid immunization card or negative test result, a COVID-19 test will be administered at the airport for BZ $100 ($50 USD) per passenger.

Once you arrive in Belize, the current regulation requires all tourists to stay in one of the Gold Standard hotels. You will need to present confirmation of reservation at a Gold Standard hotel at customs, so make sure to book in advance of your trip!

A list of Gold Standard entities can be located on TravelBelize website. Plenty of hotels offer free cancellations if you cancel 3 or more days prior to your booking. This is very helpful if you need to change your plans last minute!

Mindful Reminder: When returning to the United States, you will be required to show proof of negative COVID-19 test taken within 3 days of your travel according to this CDC order. You can arrange this test with your lodging. Some of them offer it free of charge, others may charge BZ$150 ($75 USD) or more.

Traveling around Belize
Island Hopping

Belize offers many islands you can explore, with the most famous being Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. To get to these islands, you must either take local flight or water taxi rides.

Tip: San Pedro is a major town on the Ambergris Caye island. Look for this destination name if you are interested in visiting Ambergris Caye.

By Air

Flights from or to Belize cities can be booked with Tropic Air or Maya Island Air. Maya Island Air only flies within Belize, while Tropic Air also offers flights into neighboring cities including Cancun, Mexico; Guatemala City, Guatemala; and Roatan, Honduras. Since the land border into Guatemala is currently closed from Belize, this is especially helpful for those wanting to visit the two countries.

By Water Taxi

There are two major ferry companies in the country: San Pedro Belize Express and Ocean Ferry Belize. Tickets can be purchased the day of. Both ferry company runs daily, estimated travel time as follows.

  • Belize City <-> San Pedro: ~1 hr 30 mins
  • Belize City <-> Caye Caulker: ~45 mins
  • Caye Caulker <-> San Pedro: ~30 mins

Ocean Ferry services Belize City, Caye Chapel, Caye Caulker and San Pedro. The boat is a bit smaller in size compared to Belize Express, but otherwise it offers the same services (free Wifi and luggage transportation). Tickets are BZ$50 ($25 USD) per person each way. Current schedule can be found HERE.

Note: The Ocean Ferry payment page doesn’t seem to be working. If you need to purchase tickets at the terminal, there is an ATM machine by the ticket counter. Visa, MasterCard and Discover Cards are accepted for cash withdrawals.

San Pedro Belize Express services Belize City, Caye Caulker, San Pedro, and Chetumal (Mexico – currently suspended). This is the one we ended up booking with at the terminal. There were two vessels docked when we arrived. The smaller vessel went directly to Caye Caulker, while the bigger 2-deck one ferried passengers from San Pedro to Caye Caulker, and then on to Belize City. The 2-deck was spacious and comfortable for 30+ travelers. The upper deck can sit 12 comfortably, just watch out for splashes! Tickets can be purchased at the terminal with major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, and Discover Cards) for BZ$56 ($28 USD) per person each way. There are also free WiFi and luggage transportation. Current schedule can be found HERE.

Mainland Touring

Aside for diving at the cayes, Belize is also known for Maya ruins, waterfalls, and multitudes of cave adventures located on the mainland. To visit these attractions, you can either book tours with your lodging or 3rd party operators, or rent a car and drive there yourself!

For our trip, we rented a Jeep so we can have some fun off-roading and not be bounded by the tour operator’s schedule. We rented through Crystal Auto Rental; had no issues at all; and it was a smooth pickup/ drop off. Would totally recommend them!

Comment below if you have any questions. I will be sharing more of my trip in the upcoming blog post, so stay tuned!

Cheers,

Shu Mui

Published by Shu Mui

An outdoor enthusiast whose goal is to see the world, one step at a time. This blog documents my journeys and I hope you can leverage them for your trips. Bon voyage!

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