Belize City has something to offer to the traveller, but these days it is most often used as a Transition Destination or, to put it another way, a jumping off point for going somewhere else.
You should know something about it because it could play an important part in your Belizean vacation/adventure.
You can make Belize City the place where you want to go to get somewhere else or you can spend some time in Belize City and explore it as you would any other place in Belize. Or both.
BELIZE CITY: Gotta Go There To Get Where I Wanna Go
Belize City is by far the largest and perhaps by Canadian standards the only city in the country of Belize. It used to be but no longer is the capital of Belize.
Thrusting into the Caribbean Sea at near to sea level, Belize City has a history of being razed to the ground by hurricanes every 20 years or so. After Hurricane Hattie in 1961, the capital was moved inland to a newly created centre called Belmopan.
Today, though Belmopan has certainly become the administrative centre of Belize, Belize City remains the focal point, as it always has been.
Some say that Belize City has as many as 85,000 inhabitants, and so it might, though recent census figures peg it at 75,000. No matter. In a country of only 300,000 +, that’s a high percent of the total Belizean population.
The Goldson International Airport is about 15 miles inland from Belize City. As you travel by taxi from the airport to the city, you can see symptons of the 3rd World with tumble-down shacks with corrugated tin roofs sprawled next to upper-class enclaves with Caribbean-style mansions and expensive SUV’s.
In the daytime, at the south end of Belize City, the downtown is bustling, exhuberant, loud and conjested, about 8 streets by 2 streets of shops and services, squawk and squalor. It is also where the old colonial Supreme Court sits at the edge of the Caribbean Sea and dispenses justice based on the English system, just like Canada.
Headed for Caye Caulker or San Pedro?
If you are on foot in the City, head for Albert or Regent Street, cross the Swingbridge and head toward the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Terminal or keep going down the street to the Tourist Village where you will find the San Pedro Water Taxi Terminal. They are both reliable, differing mainly by schedule.
If you are taking an Airport Taxi from the International Airport to BC ($25 usd), tell your driver where you are going and ask him which Water Taxi he recommends.
Taking a water taxi is one way to get out of Belize City, especially if you are headed for San Pedro on the Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker, where we spend most of our vacation.
We’ve always enjoyed the 45 minute from BC to CC. Even on a hot, hot day when the boat is packed and sweaty all you have to do is look to the back of the boat and watch the three 200 h.p. motors cutting a swath across the sea, white foam frothing over the turquoise-blue water to realize you are somewhere special and you are about to have a good time.
(Recently it has become more and more popular to land at the International Airport and take either Tropic Air or the Mayan Airline directly from the International to Caye Caulker or San Pedro. It is more costly but it does save time and allows you to skip Belize City entirely. Check out both airlines on-line)
If you are going to Orange Walk Town, Corozal Town, San Ignacio, Dangriga or Punta Gorda, your best bet might be to take an Airport Taxi ($25.00 usd) to the main bus terminal in the City and hop on a bus. Bing or Google Belize Bus Schedules and ask your destination- hosts to confirm. The bus is by far the least expensive mode of transportation and can be part of any traveller’s adventure.
Depending on when you arrive in the City, of course, there is a chance you can get to your destination before nightfall.
An increasingly popular option is to arrange a pick-up at the Airport through your destination- hosts.
If you can’t make a connection to get where you want to go in Belize, don’t worry. You can find a safe and comfortable hotel on the outskirts or in the city limits and commence your journey in the morning.
With that in mind, I am going to suggest the following mid-priced or budget hotels that you can investigate on-line. These hotels were identified by friends of mine in the hotel business. I cannot recommend them because I never stayed at them:
D’Nest Inn in Belama, a quiet residential area 3 miles out of the City, $82-92 usd, double occupancy
Easy Inn on the Northern Highway, a few mile out of the City, $65-75 usd, double occupancy
Bakadeer Inn, in the City near the Belize museum. 15 minutes from the Water-Taxi Terminals and the Main Bus Station
Conningsby Inn on Regent Street in the City, a well-established 12 room hotel by the water front, 15 minutes from the Water-Taxi Terminals and the Main Bus Station
Belcove Hotel, “in the heart” of the City by the Swing Bridge, minutes away from the Water-Taxi Terminals, 15 minutes from the Main Bus Station.
In my next blog at the end of the month, for those of you who want explore Belize City as part of your Belizean Adventure, I will suggest places you can visit and where you can eat, i.e. where you can have a good time.