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Belize City Basics

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Scenes of Belize
Courtesy of Damian Miranda/CTO - The Belize Tourism Board  


Fast Facts: Belize

Belize is a New Hampshire-sized country with a proud Mayan heritage. It's the only country in Central America where English is the official language, as it was once controlled by the British. (Until 1981, it was a British colony known as British Honduras.)

With a population of just over 300,000, Belize boasts some of the most beautiful and accessible wilderness in the Western Hemisphere.

Tourism is by far the biggest industry in Belize. Eco-tourists flock to Belize to dive, swim, snorkel, fish, kayak and sail in the 150 mile long Belize Barrier Reef--the second longest reef formation in the world. They also come to admire the hundreds of species of birds, see the Mayan ruins, go caving and cave tubing, enjoy river trips and camp in the wild.

Belize enjoys a sub-tropical climate, with an mean annual temperature of 80° F (27° C). Trade winds blow along the coast and on the cayes most of the year, typically keeping temperatures pleasant even in the hottest months.


Belize Map


First Impressions


For travelers to Belize, your first stop is Belize City. Belize City is home to over a quarter of the country's population, and is the country's commercial capital. Belize City used to be the country's capital, but a hurricane in 1931 wreaked havoc on the city, and the capital was moved inland to Belmopan. While Belize City may possess some colonial charm, it's more often than not a place where you'll catch a bus or boat to transit to your day's destination.

Cruise ships will drop anchor a few miles outside of Belize City's harbor (it's too shallow for the draft of the cruise ships) and be taken ashore by speedy ship's tenders run by the Belize port authority. It'll take about 20 minutes to go from your ship to the Tourist Village docks in Belize City. All excursions to the interior and the offshore islands will begin at the Tourist Village.

There are basically three things to do on your visit to Belize. Scuba diving, snorkeling and swimming in the offshore reefs are what brings most folks to Belize, as these reefs are some of the most beautiful in the world. You can also check out the Mayan ruins that exist inland at Altun Ha, Lamanai, Cahal Pech and Xunantunich. And lastly, you can participate in some of the eco-tours, including cave tubing and river rafting, that make Belize a great place to visit. Plus you can also spend time exploring Belize City.

If you decide to spend some time in Belize City, just be vigilant about your surroundings and what you're doing. The cruise ship personnel will tell you that the city isn't a safe place to visit. For the more intrepid and experienced travelers, Belize City can be an interesting experience. Many of the shops, restaurants and sights of touristic interest are located in the downtown Fort George area, situated within a few blocks of the Belize City Tourism Village.

Just remember that you'll be visiting a developing country with a lot of poverty. If you're taking a bus trip to go ziplining, cave tubing or to see some of the Mayan ruins, you'll see a lot of it.


What to Do in Belize City


Tubing

Belize City On Your Own

If you're looking for what you can do On Your Own in Belize City--like Food, Shopping, Bars, Activities and Attractions, and even gettng married, click here for our Belize City On Your Own page.

The Top 10 Things to Do in Belize City

So it's your first time in Belize City? Or your fifth? Want to make the most of your visit? Well, click here for our list of the Top 10 Things to Do in Belize City.

Cruise Line Shore Excursions in Belize City

There's a lot to do in and around Belize City, from visiting the Mayan sites of Altun Ha, Cahal Pech, Lamanai and Xunantunich, to cave tubing, canopy adventures, eco tours, visiting the sights of Belize City or birding. Then there's the beautiful cayes along the Barrier Reef coastline for some snorkeling, diving or some fun in the sun.

The most popular excursions are cave tubing, canopy and adventure tours.

Click on any of the tiles below to see the Shore Excursions offered by the big 6 cruise lines.


Beach & Sailing Tours Zoo Tours Bicycling tour
Ziplining Tours Zipline & Tubing Tours Cave Tubing Tours
Belize City Tours Mayan Ruins Tours Diving Tours
Jungle Tour Horseback Riding Tours Scenic Tour

Time Zone


Belize is on Central Time, six hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time. Daylight Savings Time is not observed in Belize.

Belize flag Belize City Local Time
 


Language


English is the official language of Belize and is widely spoken. Many locals also speak English-based Creole (Kriol). Other languages spoken include Spanish (widely spoken in the west of Belize), Maya, German, Garifuna and Mandarin.


Dealing with Money in Belize


Currency



Belize Dollar

The Belize Dollar is Belize's official currency, and uses the "BZ$" sign to denote the local dollar amount. Each dollar is comprised of 100 cents. Bills come in denominations of $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 dollars. Coinage comes in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents, as well as a $1 coin.

The exchange rate is fixed at 2 Belize Dollars per 1 US dollar.

Banks and ATMs

Banks with ATM machines are to be found in downtown Belize City. All ATM transactions have you withdrawing funds using a debit or credit card. Visa cards are the most widely accepted, along with MasterCard cards. ATMs that are clearly labeled with the Plus or Cirrus logos enable non-residents to withdraw up to BZ$1,000 per day. Banks with ATM machines in the city can be found at the following locations:

  • Tourism Village. You'll find ATM machines conveniently located in the Tourism Village, where your ship's tender docks in Belize City.

  • Belize Bank. They've got three branches with ATMs in Belize City: 21 Regent Street (the main branch), 10 North Front Street, and 60 Market Square. They also have ATMs in the Radisson and the Princess Hotels.

  • First Caribbean Bank. They've got two branches with ATMs in Belize City: 21 Albert Street, and at the San Cas Plaza at the Belcan Bridge.

  • Scotiabank. They've got a branch with an ATM at 4A Albert Street.

  • Atlantic Bank. Atlantic Bank has a branch with an ATM at the corner of Cleghorn St. and Freetown Road, in Belize City.

Belize City ATM Map


Map icon

See our Belize City ATM map for the locations of the above ATMs in Belize City.


Using US Dollars in Belize

Since US dollars are widely accepted in Belize, you don't have to change your US dollars into Belize dollars. If you're using US dollars alone, make sure to bring smaller denominations to pay for incidentals and taxi rides. And if you're using US Dollars, your change more than likely will be made in Belize currency. Make sure to spend all your Belize dollars before you leave, as they are worthless outside of Belize.

Using Credit Cards in Belize

Credit cards--mainly Visa, MasterCard and American Express--are widely accepted in most hotels, restaurants and tourism-related businesses. Smaller shops and restaurants do not generally accept credit cards, so ask before you run up a bill. Some local businesses add on their own fee for credit card payments, so if in doubt, ask in advance.


Weather


Beach
Courtesy of The Belize Tourism Board

Belize enjoys a sub-tropical climate, with an mean annual temperature of 80° F (27° C). Trade winds blow along the coast and on the cayes most of the year, typically keeping temperatures pleasant even in the hottest months.

There are two seasons in Belize: dry season and rainy season. The dry season lasts from mid-November through May, while the rainy season runs from June to November. Annual rainfall averages ranges from 60 inches in the north to 160 inches in the south. Most of the rainfall takes place during the rainy season.

Hurricanes occasionally blow in from the Caribbean, occurring most often in August and September.

The water temperatures are pretty consistent throughout the year, averaging between 79° and 83° F.


Belize City Avg Temps

Avg Precipitation

Keeping In Touch


Internet Access in Belize City

Finding free Wi-Fi access points in Belize City is somewhat difficult, and because the Belize government taxes broadband highly, there's usually a charge; purchases are generally required to get it free.

Internet Cafe

You can find several internet cafes in downtown Belize City; their rates are fairly reasonable (about BZ$5 to $10 per half hour), but the speed of your internet connection can be quite variable. Here's the easiest cyber cafe to find in Belize City:

  • Click & Sip is an internet cafe that can be found at the Tourism Village; it's where the ships' transfers dock in Belize City. Phone: (501) 223-1305

Wi-Fi Hotspots

Here are a few suggestions for those seeking Wi-Fi in Belize City:

  • Click & Sip, located at the Belize City Tourism Village, offers Wi-Fi. Phone: (501) 223-1305

  • Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina, located adjacent to the Belize City Tourism Village at 2 Marine Parade Street, offers Wi-Fi in their public areas; non-guests pay when logging in. Phone: (501) 223-3333

  • Wet Lizard Restaurant & Bar, located in the Belize City Tourism Village, between Terminals 3 and 4, offers Wi-Fi at their restaurant/bar. The bar offers patrons an ocean front view and pleasant afternoon breezes. Phone: (501) 223-5973.

  • Bearded Clam Sports Bar & Grill, located at the southern end of the Belize City Tourism Village in Terminal 1, offers Wi-Fi at their restaurant/bar. Phone: (501) 605-4521.

  • Ramada Princess Hotel & Casino, located at 1758 Newtown Barracks, offers free Wi-Fi in their public areas. They also have a Business Center with internet access. Phone: (501) 223-2670.

  • The Great House Inn, located at 13 Cork Street (2 blocks from the Tourism Village), offers Wi-Fi in their public areas. The Smoky Mermaid Restaurant is located on the first floor. Phone: (501) 223-3400.

Belize City Internet Access Map


Map icon

See our Belize City Internet Map for the locations of the above internet access points in Belize City.


Internet Cafe

Cellular Phone & Data Services

Customers of U.S. wireless carriers can expect the following levels of service in Belize:

Verizon

Cell service: Verizon users must use a quad-band GSM phone when calling from Belize City.
Data services: Through its partner, Verizon offers 3G coverage in Belize City when using a UMTS-capable device with an active SIM card and global plan.
See details on Verizon's cell and data services pricing and coverage maps.

ATT Wireless

Cell service: AT&T's GSM service in Belize City is provided by Belize Telemedia.
Data services: AT&T offers 2G EDGE service in Belize City through its partner Belize Telemedia.
See details on AT&T's cell and data services coverage maps.

Sprint

Cell service: Sprint's users must use a quad-band GSM phone when calling from Belize City.
Data services: Through its partner Belize Telemedia, Sprint offers 2G GPRS coverage in Belize City when using a UMTS-capable device with an active SIM card and global plan.
See details on Sprint's cell and data services coverage maps.

T Mobile

Cell service: T-Mobile's GSM service in Belize City is provided by Belize Telemedia.
Data services: T-Mobile offers 2G service in Belize City through Belize Telemedia.
See details on T-Mobile's cell and data services pricing.


Samsung Galaxy S III

Belize City Telephone Information

Travelers with American and Canadian cell phones and wireless devices should be aware that their carriers will add a variety of international roaming charges when their phones or data devices are used in Belize. Check with your carrier for the precise details. Roaming charges for calls back home and data usage are really expensive in Belize.

Country Code: 501

Local Phone Numbers have seven digits: XXX-XXXX

Area Codes in Belize: The first digit in a Belize phone number is the district area code (2 for the Belize District, 3 Orange Walk, 4 Corozal, 5 Stann Creek, 6 for mobile phones, 7 Toledo, and 8 Cayo). The second digit indicates the type of service (0 for prepaid services, 1 for mobile, 2 for regular landline).

To call Belize from the US or Canada: dial 011-501-XXX-XXXX

Using your US or Canadian Cell phone when in Belize City

To make a call from:

Belize City to the US or Canada: Dial 001-(area code) XXX-XXXX

Belize City to a Belize City number: Dial the local number: 2XX-XXXX

Cell phone user

Local Holidays & Festivals in Belize


Look for the following local festivals and events taking place in and around Belize City in 2017:

  • New Year's Day, Monday, January 1. An official public holiday.

  • Belize Carnival
  • Fiesta de Carnaval (the Belize Carnival), Saturday, February 25 to Tuesday, February 28. An annual event celebrated nationwide, but primarily in Belize City and Ambergris Cay. Groups compete in comparsas (dances that parody local individuals, officials or historical events).

  • Baron Bliss Day, Thursday, March 9. Also known as National Heroes and Benefactors Holiday. Celebrates Baron Bliss, an eccentric English-Portuguese adventurer who became Belize's greatest benefactor. A harbor regatta is held in front of the lighthouse, and horse and cycle races are also held.

  • Good Friday, Friday, April 14. On Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, beginning at 3:00 p.m., most villagers participate in the procession carrying the cross through the town.

  • Holy Saturday, Saturday, April 15. An official public holiday.

  • Easter Monday, Monday, April 17. An official public holiday.

  • Kite
    ©2009 Jonathunder, under cc-by-sa license 3.0

  • Labour Day, Monday, May 1. Kicked off by an address by the Minister of Labour, followed by parades and rallies held throughout the country. Other activities include a kite contest, cycle races, harbor regatta and horse race.

  • Crooked Tree Cashew Festival, Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30. Celebrates the cashew harvest season. Includes live punta music, cashew wine, Caribbean-style dishes, games and folklore stories.

  • Commonwealth Day, Wednesday, May 24. Celebrated nationwide. Activities include horse races in Belize City, as well as cycle races between Cayo and Belmopan.

  • National Day, Sunday, September 10. Also known as St. George's Caye Day. Commemorates a battle in 1798, in which the Spanish were defeated by slaves, Baymen and British soldiers. Activities include official ceremonies and parades; carnivals, sporting activities and pop concerts are held several days prior to this event.

  • Independence Day, Thursday, September 21. Marked by flag-raising ceremonies, parades, music, dance and food festivals held throughout the country.

  • Columbus Day/Pan American Day, Thursday, October 12. Celebrated with regatta racing in Belize City.

  • Drum
  • Garifuna Settlement Day, Sunday, November 19. Festivals are held, mainly in the southern areas of the country, to mark the first arrival of the Garifuna in 1832 in Dangriga.

  • Christmas Day, Monday, December 25. Public holiday.

  • Boxing Day, Tuesday, December 26. Activities include parties, dances, horse races, and some Garifuna dances are performed.

Belize City Cruise Port Schedules


Cruise ship in Belize
©2009 Roger Wollstadt under cc-by-sa 2.0 license

Belize City is a very popular port on Western Caribbean cruise ship itineraries.

As a general rule, ships arrive at the city's cruise ship pier between 6:00 am and 8:00 am, and depart between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm.

In 2017, cruise ship passengers will spend an average of around 9¼ hours in port.

In 2017, Belize City is slated to host 675,000 passengers sailing on 236 ships. For further information, see our Belize City Cruise Ship Schedule - 2017.

In 2018, Belize City is slated to host 729,100 passengers sailing on 255 ships. For further information, see our Belize City Cruise Ship Schedule - 2018.


Cruise Lines Making Port in Belize City


The following cruise lines will make port in Belize City in 2017:

Carnival icon Carnival Royal Caribbean icon Royal Caribbean
Celebrity icon
Celebrity Cruises
Princess icon
Princess
NCL icon
NCL
HAL icon
Holland America
Oceania icon
Oceania
Regent icon
Regent Cruises
AIDA Cruises
MSC
F. Olsen
TUI
Hapag-Lloyd
C & M
Phoenix Reisen
Thompson Cruises
Cruise Ship


       
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