Belize

Central America and the Caribbean

Overview

Average Costs  |  Being Vegetarian  |  Tipping Practices  |  Coffee  |  What to Wear  |  Articles & Adventures
 

I was surprised at just how different Belize was than other Central American countries. It is amazingly clean with obvious effort put into caring for their historical and natural resources. The culture is very diverse and even includes a large Mennonite and Chinese population with English being the primary language (then Kriol and Spanish/Spanglish) . There is much more of what I consider a Caribbean feel with the darker skin, dreadlocks, and the Kriol language.

It is pretty well known that Belize is more expensive than most of its neighbors. Their major export is mass tourism and travelling in this country reflects that. But you can find relatively inexpensive local transportation, accommodation, and food with some effort. If you want to visit any of the major sites however, be prepared to shell out some cash. There are many places you simply cannot visit independently.

The Chinese run almost every single mini-market which are over-priced and have a terrible selection. You will be offered marijuana everywhere.

Average Costs

The daily total includes all lodging, food, booze, transportation, sightseeing, visas, etc. I don't include the money I spend on gifts for friends and I do not include the flight price.

Being Vegetarian in Belize

With English being the main language, it's much easier to ask for and discuss options for vegetarian food. Typical meat meals come with coconut rice & beans, fried plantains, and coleslaw or maybe french fries or potato salad. So in a pinch, just get aplate without the meat. I have also had salbutes with beans instead of meat (or tostadas, etc.can all have substitutes).

Vegetarian Dishes


Fry jacks (fried dough with your choice of fillings from sweet to savory)

The local dish without the meat

Tipping Practices

General:
It's not a huge tipping culture for the locals but it does exist. Tourist are expected to tip more than locals.
Restaurants:
10-20% in more tourist areas otherwise $1 - $2. Don't tip in food stalls or "fast food". Look at your bill as some restaurants automatically add the service charge.
Taxis:
Do not tip
Tours:
Only tip if you really liked the service. Then 10% is customary or whatever you can manage.

Coffee

Don't expect to wake up and wander to your nearest coffee shop at 8am in some towns. Many places don't open until later and even then, you'll have to find a tourist restaurant that serves coffee. Then you'll be able to get anything from regular coffee to cafe lattes, but not to-go.
In towns like San Ignacio it's completely the opposite. The restaurants are open and serving coffee at around 6am since they know the tours start early.
Some guesthouses provide brewed coffee in the shared area.

What to Wear

It's not too conservative of a country but you might get some stares in short shorts and a spaghetti strap tank top. It's hot and humid so take that into account. Locals will wear jeans in the heat and will be in longer skirts, pants, and shirts that cover their shoulders more than shorts and tank tops but I felt perfectly appropriate walking around in an above-the-knee dress or capris and tank top.

Bring typical beachwear (including beach cover-up) for the cayes. For inland bring at least one set of somewhat conservative clothing (i.e. capris & t-shirt), bring a long sleeve cover for mosquitoes and sun, and any special clothing you might need for tours. For instance your clothing will apparently be completely ruined after the Crystal Cave tour.

Sport sandals and flip flops are fine unless you want to do some serious caving. You also have to be more careful in sport sandals to watch where you stand or you will get bit by some very itchy ants!

Articles & Adventures

Helpful information and fun adventures!