Belize - Abbey Travel, Ireland



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Welcome to Belize


About the same size as Wales, Belize rests on the Caribbean coast between Mexico and Guatemala: an exotic, English-speaking, adventurer's paradise, just a couple of hours away from three major United States cities. Almost half the country has been preserved as nature parks and reserves, including tropical forests teeming with wildlife and hiding mysterious Mayan ruins, and 174 miles (280km) of coastline featuring the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere.

The reef and the country's numerous offshore cayes, or atolls, have made this one of the world's most desirable destinations for scuba divers and marine researchers. They come to explore unique features like the famous 'Blue Hole', a collapsed submerged cave 1,000 feet (305m) in diameter and 412 feet (126m) deep.

Archaeologically Belize is fascinating too, having been the site of mighty Mayan cities from around 1,000 BC until the inexplicable disintegration of that great civilisation around 900 AD. There are believed to be thousands of Mayan ruins in Belize, of which about 600 have been discovered and excavated, many now open to tourists.

Like most Caribbean countries Belize was occupied by British and Spanish colonialists over the centuries before gaining independence (only lately recognised by neighbouring Guatemala which laid claim to the territory) in 1981. Today it is a happy-go-lucky multi-ethnic nation of warm, friendly people, very welcoming of the tourists on whom the country's economy relies heavily.

The main urban city (although not the capital) is Belize City, which offers some attractions like a world-class zoo, a new museum, historic buildings and the Maya site of Altun Ha. Basically, though, Belize is a destination for the outdoor enthusiast and adventure traveller. There are not many nightclubs, expensive shopping venues or fancy restaurants, but there is plenty of scope for diving, snorkelling, fishing, hiking, birdwatching, kayaking and exploring.

Information & Facts


Belize has a fairly informal business style, although punctuality and politeness are appreciated. Handshaking, the exchanging of business cards and some small talk is expected before getting down to business. Dress is usually casual, but neat, with men in short-sleeved, collared shirts without a tie; however government-related business is more formal. Business hours are usually 8am to 12pm and 1pm to 5pm Monday to Friday.


Belize weather features a temperate climate marked by two distinct seasons, the rainy and the dry. There is a notable transition from the one to the next. Rainfall during the rainy season occurs between June and November with rainfall averages ranging between 60 inches (1,524mm) in the north to 160 inches (4,064mm) in the south. Except for the southern regions, the rainfall is variable from year to year. Average temperatures range from 81°F (27°C) along the coast to 69°F (21°C) in the hills. The coldest month is January and the warmest temperatures are experienced in May.


The international dialling code for Belize is +501. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). The area code for Belize City is (0)2. International Direct Dialling is available. Mobile telephone coverage is available throughout most of the country with the Belize Telemedia Ltd GSM 1900 network, and cellphone rental is available. There are two Internet service providers in Belize, with Internet cafes in urban centres and tourist areas. Postal services are reliable.


Homosexuality is illegal and considered to be socially unacceptable.

Duty Free

Travellers over 18 years do no have to pay customs duty on 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g tobacco; wines or spirits not exceeding one litre and personal goods or souvenirs to the value of BZ$200. Restricted items include plants, meat and meat products, live animals and processed food items.

Electrical current is 110/220 volts, 60Hz. Flat blades with round grounding pin or rectangular blade plugs are used. Most of the electricity is provided by Diesel/Generator Sets.

No vaccinations are required for entry to Belize. Travellers arriving from a yellow-fever infected area require a vaccination certificate. Cases of dengue fever have occurred, and seem to be on the increase, so insect repellent is strongly advised. Malaria prevention is recommended for those travelling outside Belize City. Potable water is available in most areas of Belize but it is advisable, if in doubt, to drink bottled or boiled water. Medical facilities are poor in the city, and almost non-existent elsewhere. Cases of severe illness or injury usually require expensive medical evacuation. Adequate medical insurance is therefore vital. For divers there is a hyperbaric chamber at Ambergris Caye.

English is the official language and the one most commonly spoken, but you will hear Creole, Spanish, Garifuna and Mayan as well.

The unit of currency is the Belize Dollar (BZD), which is fixed against the US$ as BZ$2 = US$1. Most tourist resorts, hotels, restaurants and tour operators accept US currency and travellers cheques. Credit cards are also accepted, and most banks in Belize City and Belmopan will advance cash against Visa or MasterCard. When using credit cards most establishments will add a 5% service charge to the bill. First Caribbean International Bank has several ATMs in Belize City. Always make sure you understand which dollar rate is being quoted, either Belize Dollars or US Dollars.

Passport Visa

All visitors to Belize (except cruise ship passengers) must produce a passport valid for at least the period of their intended stay. All visitors should also have return tickets and documents for onward travel, and funds amounting to US$50 per person per day.


Although most visits to Belize are trouble-free, there have been incidents of tourists falling victim to violent crime. Muggings have been reported in San Pedro, Caye Caulker and Placencia and in parts of Belize City. Visitors should take sensible precautions to minimise the risks. These would include not wearing expensive jewellery, keeping valuables out of sight, staying in groups, avoiding dark alleys and not walking alone on the beach at night. It is also advisable to use qualified guides for exploratory trips off the beaten track. The country is prone to hurricanes between June and November; on 21 August 2007 Hurricane Dean caused severe damage to the northern Belize coast, particularly the regions of Corozal and OrangeWalk.

Local time is GMT -6.

Tipping in Belize is voluntary but as in any country, good services should be rewarded with a 10% tip. Upscale hotels and resorts may add a 10% service charge to guests' bills and this usually goes to the porter and maid who assisted you. Tour guides should be tipped a few extra dollars for their effort and taxi drivers should be tipped only if they help carry your bags or take you on a guided tour.

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