Monthly Archives: June 2012

Belize by Bus (And other means)

Once you arrive at the International Airport in Belize, you can fly local airlines (Tropic Air and Maya Island Air) to most of the major towns and to the two most popular islands, or cayes, pronounced ‘keys’, Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye. It’s pricey but for sure you save time.

But if time is not of the essence, why fly? If you are going to one of the cayes mentioned above, take a cab from the airport to one of the two water-taxi terminals (Caye Caulker Water-Taxi or the San Pedro Water -Taxi. They are competitive and equally good.) The water -taxi trip to the cayes is an exciting experience. Just make sure you can get the last water-taxi out of Belize City at about 5:30 p.m.

Want to get there by Bus?

belize 33

If you are travelling in-land to San Ignacio or Orange Walk, or to Dangriga (or Hopkins Village) or Placencia on the coast,  when you land at the airport, take a Airport Taxi to the main Bus Station in Belize City. If you get there before dark (around 6 p.m.) you should be able to get a bus without much trouble. If you want to get to Punta Gorda, you might have to wait till the morning, in which case you might have to overnight in Belize City.

What’s bus travel like in Belize?

Keep in mind, Belize was a British colony before independence in 1983. When you think of the Brits as colonizers you must have thoughts of  ‘time-tables’, ‘schedules’, ‘queues’ and the absolute importance of a bus or train to leave and arrive on time. I can’t hold the bus lines in Belize to such a high standard; they are privately not publicly owned and compete for business driving hand-me-down Blue Bird school buses, but based on personal experience the Brits passed on their DNA to their Belizean successors when it comes to travel by bus and you can expect reliable, on-time transportation. And, anyway, what’s life if it isn’t an adventure.

Let me give you a ‘for example’ scenario: one of our favourite bus rides is from Belize City to Dangriga. You have to dis-embark in Belmopan, the capital of Belize, but you won’t have to wait long for a bus to Dangriga.


Then you are headed for the Caribbean Coast  down the Hummingbird Highway, a paved road that winds  up and over the foothills of the Mayan Mountains, lush rain-forests punctuated by small towns and villages and acres of orange plantations. Sit back and let the air through the window sing you lullabies.

( I should mention that there are toilet facilities in all main bus stations but you have to pay the attendant a nominal sum. But once you have paid the piper you can call your own tune. Make sure you have some small change with you.

You can also buy food at most stations, from potato chips to hot dogs, and you can replenish your bottled water supply if need be.

When you reach Dangriga, if you plan  to make a connection to some of the well-known cayes such as Tobacco Caye and Glover’s Caye, take a taxi (3-4 $ usd) from the bus station  to the departure dock for these destinations and wait for your boat to arrive. If you want to get to Hopkins Village from Dangriga either pre-arrange with your host for a pick-up at the bus station or take your chances getting the last local bus from Dangriga to Hopkins. If you miss the last bus, you will have to stay overnight but that’s okay as long as you can get a room at the Chaleanor Hotel, my favourite hotel in Dangriga. Ask for Chad, Eleanor or Chad Jr. and tell them Brian from Canada sent you.

This bus gets you to Hopkins Village from Dangriga

This bus gets you to Hopkins Village from Dangriga

One last thought, if you prefer to be picked up right at the airport, contact Tosh and Danielia, a dynamic mother/daughter combo operating out of San Ignacio at and one of them will be at the airport  take you down the Humming Bird highway to Dangriga at about $120 usd for two, $25 extra each for more than two.

You have an equally enjoyable bus ride to all the other destinations I have mentioned

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy it. And come back to the Chez Belize any time you wish.

Getting to Belize by Plane

Arrangement by Luciana - photo by Senneker

Arrangement by Luciana – photo by Senneker


How do you get to Belize by plane and how much does it cost? That’s what I want to talk about in this blog.

My frame of reference is south-west Ontario, Canada, so if you are not looking at Belize from this perspective you will have to make some adjustments.

I am always looking at a better and cheaper way to fly to Belize and will keep you up to-date on my findings. If you have discovered  other ways to fly to Belize than the ones presented in this post, please let me know and I’ll pass the info on. For example, I keep hearing that there is a direct flight from T.O. to Belize City and that it is much cheaper than the regular airlines. I can’t find any trace of it but the rumour persists.

We once flew Air Canada from T.O. to Cancun, Mexico. That was good. But we couldn’t make a plane or bus connection till the next day, had to stay overnight in Cancun and arrived in Belize a day later and most of our savings eaten up with hotel, bus (5 the border + another 2 to Belize City)) and food costs. If I could find a way to land in Cancun and get a flight out the same day to Belize, if the price was right I would grab it. But I haven’t found it yet.

Getting to and from Belize is easy once you realize that the major international airlines fly there after a stop-over somewhere in the U.S.A. We have flown Continental Airlines, American Airlines and Delta  to fly us in and out, but you can check on USAir as well. Whatever the case, you’ll end up in Houston, Miami, Atlanta or Charlotte where you will catch a flight to Belize’s Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE).

We have friends who say they have saved $200-300 by flying out of Buffalo, but mind you, they live in Hamilton which is very near by. (Check out and )

Depending when you can fly will dictate how long it will take and how many stops you will have to make en-route.  There being no direct flight to Belize out of Toronto International (YYZ ) , you can fly to their hub on an 8-8:30 morning flight and with about an hour and a half stay-over fly out of the hub, arriving in Belize at the Belize International Airport  around 3:30- 4:00 p.m.

Lately we have flown Delta, flying out of Toronto at around 6. We have stayed at the Alt Boutique Hotel mere metres or yards from the Pearson International Airport rail link which will quickly take you to the Departure area where your adventure begins. There we caught a 6 or 6:30 flight to Belize, arriving around 2 p.m.

Outside the Belize International Airport

Outside the Belize International Airport

When you arrive in Belize is important. It gets dark around 6 p.m. If you wanted to take the last water-taxi to Caye Caulker or San Pedro, for example, to get the last water-taxi (5:30) out of Belize City  you’d have to get through Customs, grab a cab, cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Whereas, if you left T.O. earlier, you would arrive in Belize earlier and easily make the water-taxi to the cayes.

It all depends on where you want to go after you land in Belize. Comprende?

Coming back, there are afternoon flights out of Belize with a stop over at the hub and a flight back to Toronto, landing about 11:00-12:00 p.m.

For the flight part of the trip, you can accumulate a lot of information by going on-line to get a frame of reference, but you are well advised to book through a travel agent of your choice. Of course, if you want to use air-miles you will have to follow the terms of the plan.

If your schedule doesn’t allow you much flexibility, you may have to spend a night in Houston or Miami or Atlanta. We’ve stayed over on our return a couple times in Houston, flying with Continental.  It gives you time to catch your breath and get ready for re-entry.  (There are dozens of hotels nearby any airport but you’ll have to grab a cab.  Try

This year, we deliberately planned our return to arrive in Atlanta in the evening, stay overnight in a hotel, and arrive back home in Toronto in the late morning. Reason? So our friends or family don’t have to pick us up at midnight as they have year after year.

The fares usually run from $700.00 to $900.U.S. per person return, Toronto-Belize in the high season from Dec. to April. Expect lower fares from May to November. This year we booked in October with Delta and got flights at $630 each.

After you’ve landed at the Belize International and cleared customs (as a Canadian you do not need a visa), you’ll have several options to take you to your next destination.

Travellers arriving in Belize City

Travellers arriving in Belize City

If you plan to use Belize City as a home base or a one or two-night stand before moving on, make sure you have reservations at a reputable hotel.  The cab fare will be $25.00 U.S. or more for this seven-mile trip, but suck it up, no one’s trying to rip you off.  Gas is very expensive in Belize and the fare is regulated.
If your time is precious, and if you are only visiting for a week/10 days, you can book a flight with a local airline to get you to San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Dangriga (Hopkins Village), Placencia and Punta Gorda. Your host will make arrangements or contact Tropic Air or Maya Island Air yourself. Fares range from $65 to 120 usd one way, depending where you are going. It’s a 15 minute flight from the International Airport to Caye Caulker. But remember it starts getting dark around 6 pm and there are no night flights.
The least expensive way to travel from town to town is by bus. The bus stations are relatively well kept up and running pretty much on schedule. The bus costs about 20 cents a mile compared to the price of flying or taking a cab from town to town at about $3.00 a mile. But it takes longer to get there. You pays your money and you makes your choice.
Car Rental is an option. It’s expensive but it puts you in control without reference to bus stations and schedules. The main roads are pretty good but the side roads can be dodgy. Check with your hotel host or check out or
If you are still hungry after this full-course meal, check out the A La Carte Menu and order the Things To Do appetizer.
Somewhere a magical place like this awaits

Somewhere a magical place like this awaits

Thinking Adventure?

In the meantime, let’s look at what you could do in Belize for a week, 10 day or two week vacation. (I’m lucky enough to be able to stay longer so I’m not too pressed for time.) If you want white-water rafting, tubing, caving, kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, you are probably going to find what you want in the twin towns of San Ignacio/Santa Elena in the Cayo District. Check out the Aguada Hotel in Santa Elena. Shalue  runs the hotel, twenty minute walk from San Ignacio, a beautiful family-owned hotel a little away from the hustle of San Ignacio with a refreshing pool to dive into when you come back from a day-trip into the rain forest and a pleasant restaurant to satisfy your huner. Shalue will assist you make arrangements for whatever activity you want. You can also day-trip to several Belizean Mayan architectural sites from here and even arrange for a trip across the border to Guatamala to the best known Mayan site on both sides of the border, Tikal.

If you are looking for water sports like swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, wind-surfing, hang-gliding, fishing, you will probably want to concentrate on a coastal adventure (remember, Belize is not an island, but the Caribbean Sea laps its entire east coast and its national boundaries include two major cayes or islands and hundreds of smaller cayes that are entirely surrounded by the Caribbean). I’m going to go into some detail about these places as we get closer to vacation time, but while you wait you can google Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye, Tobacco Caye, Hopkins Village and Placencia  to get an idea of what they offer.

Travelling is like eating. You want to whet your appetite with a few nibbles before you order the main course.

Belizean Weather

It could be pretty hot in Belize City in mid February, around 85F,30C, with forecasts calling for highs of 89F,32C and 88F,31C. Temperatures will vary from region to region, of course, and on the islands or cayes as they are often called,  and on the coastline you can expect to be refreshed by sea breezes. Inland, especially in the rain forest areas, expect high temperatures to be accompanied by high humidity. (By the way, Belizeans use farenheit to measure temperature, and I am going to switch to farenheit, too.)

There are two main seasons, wet and dry. The wet season runs from June to November and the dry season from December to April but in the months in between, expect weather in transition. And, as in Ontario and everywhere else, expect the unexpected.

The hurricane season coincides with the wet season, officially ending in November but most hurricanes don’t know that.

Many Europeans travel to Belize in what I would call the off- or low-season, May to December, but from my perspective in south-west Ontario, Canada, there is no place I would rather be than home. You can, however, get some good deals on accommodation.

High season is pretty much from Christmas to Easter, and the weather most likely to appeal to tourists and travellers alike is from February to April. You can get less expensive airfares if you can avoid  the march-break from mid-March to Easter.

Hold onto your hat

Hold onto your hat

On a personal note, when we first visited Belize 16 years ago, we arrived for our three week adventure in January and spent a little time inland in San Ignacio, south in Punta Gorda, and in Belize City, Dangriga and Hopkins Village on the Caribbean Coast. Though it was hot and humid in the twin towns of San Ignacio/Santa Elena which sit amidst the rain forests, I remember being cold at night and having to cover ourselves with extra blankets; it rained every  morning in Punta Gorda and it was cool until the sun burnt off the morning mist; and on the coast, I recollect that even though it was hot by our standards in Ontario at that time of year, we frequently went out wearing jeans and long-sleeved shirts. Once in our early years when we spent 5 days at Gale’s Point on the coast, again in early January; it was cold (low to mid 70s F), so cold that we had to wear long pants and the coats we had worn when leaving Toronto.

As the years passed, the length of our visits increased and the date of our departures got later in the new year because we had noticed that February and March suited us better, weather-wise. Now we visit for 2 months at a time, leaving early in February and returning home in the first week of April. There is nothing scientific about this, just personal observations. And because we are retired, we have the luxury to pick and choose, which you might not have.

Too soon to be making plans? Better learn what you can now and plan later, just don’t let your chances to travel slip away.