We recently visited the beautiful but small country of Belize in Central America! Check out this list of the interesting, weird, and funny things we learned about Belize.
Cash Conversions are Easy for Americans
The Belizean dollar is set at $2 Belizean dollars for every $1 USD (American Dollar). It does not change, making math a lot easier. American dollars are accepted almost everywhere – but American coins will be rejected.
You’ll often pay in one kind of currency and get mixed bills back!
Most Places Take Cards
We were initially worried that our hotels, vendors, and tour companies wouldn’t take cards. We successfully used both debit and credit cards at most bigger organizations and even some small street vendors, with no issues.
Speedbumps = “Sleeping Policemen”
The speedbumps in Belize are no joke – they use them in place of traffic lights in some spots. They are nicknamed sleeping policemen because they are HUGE and you are forced to slow down to go over them. You’ll see a crosswalk sign to indicate they’re there – sometimes. Other times there’s a sign but it’s facing the opposite direction. These DO sneak up on you, so drive carefully.
Street Vendors Hang at the Speedbumps
Smart street vendors hang out around the speedbumps selling everything from bags of mangoes to plastic bags of cold water. They know you have to slow down, and we frequently saw people stop to purchase a snack or two this way.
Roads Are Rough
Know that you will need an SUV if you’re driving around the country. There’s a lot of roads under construction as well as unpaved places.
Drugs are Easily Accessible
It’s hard to walk anywhere without being offered drugs. They will offer you the “green stuff or the white stuff” – marijuana or cocaine. You’ll often hear that “the pharmacy is open!”. They aren’t too pushy but VERY open about it and seem to continue to offer harder drugs like LSD even after you politely decline marijuana.
Island Time is Very Real
We took a flight from Belize City to Caye Caulker, and it was delayed by an hour. No announcements were made or anything, but one of their staff members walked over to us to tell us:
We sent a plane out a while ago but it just hasn’t come back yet, so it will probably be here in like 1-2 hours.Maya Island Air staff
Just know that “island time” (loose time schedules) is a very real thing in Belize, even if you’re not on an island. Try to roll with it and don’t pack your schedule too much.
The Heat Slows Everything Down
On the note of Island Time, remember that Belize is very HOT and HUMID most of the year. This generally slows everything down because everyone is sweaty. The locals are of course more used to it, but know that not everything will be on time.
You Will See Mennonites
Mennonites have lived in Belize for over 60 years! Read more here, but you will probably see them if you drive around the mainland.
You’ll Mostly Drink Belizean Beer
We noticed that in Belize the main type of beer available is Belikin, which is similar to Changs we had in Thailand or a Bud Light in America. Tasty and cheap! If you want another kind of beer, it may be harder to find because those companies are taxed heavily by the government.
Staple Food is Cheaper
If you’re trying to save money, stick to some of the staple foods of Belize! In San Ignacio at a local restaurant, we got coconut rice, shrimp, 1 Belikin beer, and coleslaw for around $8 USD a person. Make sure you get stewed chicken because this tends to be the cheapest and most delicious food that’s readily available.
Mayan Ruins = Leg Day
We visited Cahal Pech, a Mayan ruin that was thought to belong to an elite family. You can actually climb on these and run around. This was really cool but EXHAUSTING. Know that there are gnarly big ants running around as well as bugs flying next to your ear, and sunscreen is required.
Trash Fires Are Common
We saw a good amount of public trash cans in Belize (unlike Thailand), but we noticed that in San Ignacio many residents just set their trash on fire.
Belize Doesn’t Have Many People!
The current population of Belize is around 375,000 as of 2017. The country is about the size of Massachusetts. You can see that this means there’s quite a lot of space and not a lot of traffic!
Stray Dogs Are Common
You will see a lot of dogs wandering around. On Caye Caulker we noticed that they seemed well taken care of and fat (see above). Many appear to have owners or at least people who consistently feed them.
Gas Is Expensive
Gas was around $5.25 USD per gallon when we visited in May 2019. OUCH!
Tip Your Gas Station Attendants
At gas stations, the attendants come out and pump your gas for you! Be sure to give them a small tip, maybe $1-$2 USD. We recommend using Puma or Shell gasoline.
Be Careful Where You Park
When parking to go to a restaurant or other establishment in the city, I recommend asking an employee of that place where to park. Many areas are unmarked but they will instantly tow your car if you leave it there anyway. Typically you will want to just park directly in front of the place you’re visiting if possible.
The Belizean Sun is Intense
Remember that you are traveling close to the equator, so the sun is more intense! We met a white family from Arkansas who was burnt to a crisp and miserable during our snorkeling trip because they got so burnt on their first day of the trip. I figured out why quickly – they were using SPF 30! BRING AT LEAST SPF 50 and re-apply often or you will end up burning. Check out our sunscreen formula for pale people here.
The Islands are Windy
Much to my dismay, we found that Caye Caulker was actually very windy most of the time. I wasn’t able to wear my floppy hat at all! The mainland was calmer, but I recommend bringing a baseball hat instead.
The Weather Can Change Quickly
The weather in Belize is unpredictable, especially during the rainy season. You can go from perfectly sunny to a 10-minute rainstorm. Make sure
Everything is Colorful
Similar to Havana, Cuba; everything in Belize is very colorful! This is an awesome culture of friendly people so it all makes sense. Bring your most colorful clothes, especially to the islands.
A/C Is Not Available Everywhere
When we visited the San Ignacio Resort Hotel to play with the iguanas, we were surprised that air conditioning was not available in the lobby. It’s not available in places you might expect like the lobby of a five-star hotel! Our hotel room A/C worked pretty well in most places though!
Alternative Vehicles Are Common
While driving around Belize you will see chopped up school bus/truck hybrids among other “alternative” type vehicles. People also often ride in the back of trucks and truck-bus hybrids.
Belize Lacks Good Healthcare
One of the worst parts about Belize is that they don’t have good healthcare. There are clinics but not many hospitals. On Caye Caulker we saw a sign that said they have two cemeteries and zero hospitals on the island! Be careful, and consider getting travel insurance to protect yourself.
Belize is a stunningly beautiful country filled with friendly people. It’s a great destination for anyone who wants to stay in the Western hemisphere but get those island vibes and Mayan history all in one trip. If you have questions, shoot us an email or comment on YouTube.