You can definitely see a lot of Belize in two weeks. I was in the country for 20 days, but if you’ve only got two weeks off work Belize is the perfect size for you to make a good effort at seeing everything the island has to offer. Two weeks in Belize is also a much better idea for your budget than three…
You’ll see the same things to do in Belize advertised in every city and town; this is because Belize is so easy to get around by bus. If you want the best price and the best use of time for your activities on your two-week Belize trip though, take note from below of the closest destination possible.
Day One: arrive in Belize City
Arrive into Philip S W Goldson Airport in Belize City. There aren’t any public transport options for getting into Belize City unfortunately so you’ll need to get a taxi to Belize City. This will be $50BZD. Don’t let them charge you more, but you could offer less. If you’re a solo traveller you could try and partner up with someone to make it cheaper, although I guarantee the taxi drivers won’t like it.
Belize City is only 15-30 minutes away from the airport depending on the traffic. I’d recommend you spend two nights in Belize City to readjust and have a look around the old capital of Belize.
I stayed at the Sea Breeze Hotel in Belize City. I’d only recommend this place if you’re looking for the cheapest hotel accommodation possible. The sheets were the most threadbare I’ve ever seen any piece of fabric and the place was surrounded by barbed wire – good for security I guess. The room was fine though and had a view out onto the street off the balcony, a fan and a shared bathroom all for $50BZD per night. They did have some better rooms but I went for the cheapest.
I visited The Radisson for a beer while I was in Belize City – really nice but at around £100 per night, way above my budget, maybe not yours.
You could spend the afternoon in the Old Town in Belize, or looking round the shops in the new. Either grab some street food in town for your dinner, or try out the Smokey Mermaid Restaurant and Bar by the beach. The menu and the surroundings were cool, but sadly they don’t serve food on Sundays, the day I was there. I went to Celebrity Restaurant, thought to be one of the best in the city, my shrimp curry was pretty average though and shockingly for me, I didn’t eat it all.
Belize City was totally instagrammable. You know what I mean – a bit dark, dilapidated, colourful, interesting and kind of grimey. Take a look at my photos of Belize City here; you’ll get what I mean.
Day two: explore Belize City
Get up, get the Belizean fry jacks for breakfast – you’ll eat a lot of them in two weeks in Belize, and you might not fit in your trousers by the end but it’ll be worth it – and then go to the Belize City Zoo. There’s no need to get a taxi, don’t listen to what the taxi drivers say, you can get a bus for $3 each way and 40 minutes. Just ask the conductor to let you know when you’re about to come up to the zoo and he’ll let you off.
There’s loads to see at the zoo. It’s difficult to say how long you’ll be there – I guess it depends how into the animals you are. You can take a look at some of the animals you’ll see at Belize Zoo here.
The food there looked a bit grim, but they have the usual snacks and coffee bar you’d expect in case you’re worn out after seeing all those animals.
Get the bus back and go straight to the Tourist Village on the harbour. Here you’ll find at least four restaurants worthy of a meal. They shut down at 5ish after the cruise ships have left so make sure you’re back in time. You can enjoy a few cocktails and beers before or after looking around the many shops there. As the name suggests, the Tourist Village is pretty touristy, but it’s good for a little look around. It was built to entice all the cruise ships in and has bought millions of pounds into Belize. All good.
Before I went to Belize City I was nervous, in fact I wouldn’t have even bothered going if I didn’t need an emergency trip to the dentist, but I actually liked it. I stayed for three nights and didn’t have a problem. After two months of struggling with Spanish in Guatemala and Mexico I enjoyed the fact everyone spoke English and although you do get banter from the guys hanging out on the street I definitely wouldn’t call it hassling. Give back as good as they give and know when to move on and you’ll be fine.
Day three: get to Caye Caulker
Get up, pack your stuff and swing by the coffee shop by the Caye Caulker water taxi. They have loads of different varieties of the good stuff and you might as well try the Belizean special, the cinnamon roll, while you’re there.
There are two companies that run water taxis out to Caye Caulker. The Caye Caulker Water Taxi has two boats a day and is a lot cheaper (return $29), while the Belize Water Taxi goes more often and was $30 one way. I accidentally used both, sadly for my return ticket, and can say that the experience is exactly the same so it’s up to you whether the time or money is more important.
It takes about 40 minutes to get across. Make sure you have your camera ready for the beautiful approach into Caye Caulker.
I stayed at two different places on Caye Caulker, which I’d only recommend to budget backpackers: Dirty McNasty Hostel ($32BZD pppn) and Blue Wave Hotel ($22BZD pppn). A lot of people I met had booked one night at a hostel and then moved to some cheaper accommodation on the island once they were there as there was plenty about, it just wasn’t advertised.
Spend the day in Caye Caulker wandering around and getting to know the place. There’s some great food on Caye Caulker, my favourite restaurant was definitely Enjoy, or try Sobre las Olas right on the waterfront. Tip for you; go in the afternoon rather than the evening. The sandflies are buggers.
Down at The Split you’ll find the perfect spot for lying in the sun with a beer. The guy from the crazy boat you’ll see there will probably try to get you to buy him rum. He’s funny. Humour him, and if you’re feeling generous, treat him too.
My favourite place at night was the Sports Bar and Grill followed by I&I Bar. They’ve got swings at the bar, what more could you want? Be careful of Voodoo Bar though, it’s pretty sketchy in there.
Have a look around and work out what tours you want to do while you’re in Caye Caulker. If you want to check out the Blue Hole you’ll need to book on and check what days the tours go before you start making any grand travel plans. I’d recommend to do any diving with Frenchie’s Diving School, they’re awesome. If you’ve got more than two weeks in Belize consider doing your Open Water PADI with them, or your Advanced, depending on what level you’re at.
Day four: have fun in Caye Caulker
Today’s the day for diving. If you’ve managed to afford and seek out a dive trip to the Blue Hole, well done. Other options include Esmerelda and anywhere on Goff’s Caye. There are lots of companies offering the same kind of trips, and the only one I can personally vouch for is Frenchie’s, who I did my PADI course with, but ask around to find the right one for you.
If diving’s not your thing then instead you could:
- Explore the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve
- Go paddle boarding
- Try wind surfing
- Rent out a kayak
There are no cars on Caye Caulker, just a few business vans that had to apply for a special licence. People get around on bikes ($5 an hour, definitely worth a go) or golf carts if they have further to go. You can rent them out if you’re lazy or if just want to put the pedal to the metal at 5mph. Speed demon.
Hmm where to go for food today hey?
Sometimes I tried to be cheap and eat from the shop, but everything, and I mean everything, that I bought in the whole of Belize that comes in a packet tasted dry and stale. Raisin bran, cornflakes, chocolate bars, crisps, sweets, all included. My most successful attempt was bread rolls and tuna, but then a dog came and attacked me for the tuna and I came home a bit tipsy and ate the other two dry bread rolls, meaning I’d scoffed four in a day. Not my proudest moment.
The barbecues by Frenchie’s Diving School are a good shout. Huge lobster, or “ghetto lobster” as my friend called it, for cheap as chips and you can scoff the lot on the picnic bench by the water.
Day five: off to Ambergris Caye
Time to holiday like the rich people do. Hop on a water taxi and get a lift over to Ambergris Caye for two nights. Here you can get a cheap deal to go to the Ho Chal Marine Reserve – it’s just at the bottom of the island less than five miles away. I’m gutted that the bad weather while I was there meant I didn’t get the opportunity to do this, as it’s one of the number one things to do when you’re in Belize, hopefully another time.
Stay at San Pedro Backpackers if you’re on a budget, or check out one of the fancier places if you can. If they have private beaches, food included and activities at the hotel they can actually work out to be better value. Shop around.
Day six: another day to chill on Ambergris Caye
Go shopping, enjoy the bars, check out the beach at the top, do yoga, go kitesurfing, pamper yourself, cycle around, do nothing – there’s loads to see and do on Ambergris Caye. Choose wisely: today is your last day on an island before getting back to the mainland.
Some people would spend all of their two weeks in Belize on Ambergris Caye, from what I experienced it’s definitely a top destination for honeymooning Americans. But if you want to avoid an issue with your bank manager I’d recommend you pop in for two days and leave just as quickly as you arrived.
Now we move onto part two, which all goes on recommendation from what I wanted to do if the weather was better, and from talking to other travellers along the way. I can’t personally recommend the following. I wish I could. One day I’ll be back.
I went through Placencia and Dangriga, I spoke to a lot of people, but I never actually stayed in either. So Day Seven to Twelve are based on what I’ve read, researched and been recommended by other travellers.
Day seven: get to Placencia
Time to get back to the mainland I’m afraid. Catch the water taxi in your own time and head back to Belize City. Remember to stand at the right jetty to get the water taxi you bought the return to, not like me who ended up having to buy another ticket.
When you touch down in Belize City there’s no need to get a taxi to the bus station. If the drivers say any different they’re just playing you. It’s less than a ten-minute walk up Orange Street and to the left when you get to the top. You’ll definitely see it, or feel free to ask anyone. I walked this route twice, once with backpack and once without, and was fine.
If you need the toilet go buy something in the café I told you about for Day Two. You do not want to go in the bus stations, trust me.
At the bus terminal ask one of the guys in the yellow tshirts when and where the next bus to Placencia is. It’s not a big station, you’ll be fine.
When you get on the bus, you can either put your bag at the front, in the back, or sit with it uncomfortably near you. This was the option I went for and althought I suffered numb bum, pindles and needles and stiff back trying to sit with it under me so I could share the seat, it was worth it not to worry. Just because I like to imagine the worst case scenario about these things.The conductor will come round and take your money, no need to faff at the driver. Now you can just sit back and enjoy the ride through the beautiful Belizean countryside. You can find out more about travelling by bus in Belize here.
Placencia is 230km away from Belize City and will take around 5 hours on the bus. Put some effort into your people watching and landscape admiration and the time will fly by, seriously.
The best recommended budget hotel in Placencia is Lydia’s Guesthouse where you can get a twin room for around £12 per night. You’ve arrived in Placencia, home of some of the best beaches in the world, so now’s the time to just chill out and enjoy.
Day eight: relax in Placencia
You could spend another day relaxing on the beautiful beaches, or you could head over to the Cockscomb Wildlife Reserve. It’s globally recognised as the world’s first jaguar preserve and as well as the beautiful big cats, you’ll also find cascading waterfalls, panoramic mountain views, nature trails, furry mammals, colourful insects, scaly reptiles and a whole load of different types of birds. You can also climb one of Belize’s highest points, if you feel the need, Victoria Peak. You can easily book through your hotelier.
Day nine: relax in Dangriga
Get the bus back up the country again, to Dangriga. It will take about 90 minutes, but leave early so the journey is done and out of your mind and you’ve got the rest of the day to look forward to.
After nearly two weeks of travelling around Belize you’ll have noticed the obsession with Marie Sharp’s hot sauce, surely? Well in Dangriga you can take a tour around the actual factory where it’s made and if you’re lucky, you might even be led by Marie Sharp herself. Gutted I didn’t get to do this!
The Garifuna culture is alive and loud in Dangriga. Make sure you visit the Gulisi Garifuna Museum to find out more about the history of the Garifuna people and the big statue of the drums in the centre will all start to make sense.
Day ten: Dangriga
Have a mooch around. Dangriga isn’t a big place but you’ll find lots of interesting spots if you take the time to explore. If you fancy taking part in one of Belize’s biggest industries this could be the day to charter out a fishing boat so you can go and explore the waters and cook up your gains at the end of it. The fishing charters here will take you out to some of the most beautiful cayes in the world.
Day eleven: head to San Ignacio
After the likes of Caye Caulker and Placencia you’re going to love the prices in San Ignacio. I couldn’t find a solo accommodation I liked enough to spend the money so ended up staying at the Benque Resort and Spa in Benque (it definitely wasn’t what I’d class as a spa, but it was only $27BZD per night (£8.60), and I ended up with a private room). If you’re travelling in a two or more you’ll be fine with the hotels of San Ignacio, but I actually ended up enjoying Benque. More on that on Day Thirteen. I reckon I spent about £920 on my first two weeks in Belize, and about £80 in the final week in Benque. It’s cheap as chips, or rice, which you’re more likely to find here.
In San Ignacio there’s loads to do. I’ll bullet point to make things easier, with a list of approximate prices and links. Just to reiterate, I can’t personally recommend these activities and companies but the links I give are from the number one providers on Trip Advisor.
- Horse riding
- Green Iguana Conservation Project
- Maya sites
- Canoeing the Macal River
- Botanical Gardens
Day Twelve: San Ignacio
Time to do whatever activity you couldn’t fit in yesterday. And to stuff your face with more of the cheap food and drink available in this part of Belize. The number one recommended place to eat here is Roots Wraps and Smoothies – great for veggies, health freaks, vegans and others.
Day Thirteen: San Ignacio but go to Benque
Take the bus from the centre of town to Benque 10 minutes away. It will be about $1/2. I spent 6 days in Benque, just chilling out after spending a small fortune in Caye Caulker. It’s a cool place, ridiculously cheap as you can see in my article on How much will I spend in Belize and is a centre of things to do in the area, but there’s not much to do in Benque itself. If you’re looking for a quiet time to work, chill, be with your loved one / whatever I’d recommend you substitute my San Ignacio recommendation for a stay in Benque instead.
Anyway, back to the two-week Belize itinerary. Take a walk around Benque – you’ll find cute houses, real people, and that they speak Spanish here. Go to the main Constitution Square at the right time and you’ll find an awesome brass band made up of about 30 kids playing chart tunes. I thoroughly enjoyed Firework by Katy Perry, Amazing by Bruno Mars and Like to Move by Maroon 5 at 4pm on a Monday. I could hear them from my room every night.
Natty’s Kitchen serves amazing rice, beans and chicken for $6 and if you’re lucky she’ll have the papaya shake on for $3, an absolute taste sensation. Unfortunately she only had it once out of the four times I ate there.
Another option is to eat at Benny’s Kitchen. You’ll see it advertised everywhere. This was my last meal in Belize and the fried fish and rice washed back with a Belikin beer was delicious. It was quite a bit more expensive than Natty’s at $15 for the food, but there was a lot more choice, more buzz, and if you’re a Brit you might find the restaurant more pleasing. Nattys was more like a front room.
Or get a picnic from one of the little stores and sit by the riverbed. You might even manage to persuade one of the locals to give you a go on their tube.
Opposite Benny’s Kitchen the Xanantunich Ruins are the tourist highlight of the actual town of Benque. Locate the sign and you’ll see the hand motored ferry. Jump on, give them a tip, and jump off again on the other side. The Xanantunich Ruins are about a mile up the road. I was glad my hotelier recommended I swap the flip flops for trainers as the terrain can be pretty rough and it’s up and down. If you don’t fancy walking it – shame, there are beautiful views – then you can pay one of the taxi drivers to get you there.
The ruins are as you’d expect, but the USP of the Xanantunich ones is the preserved frieze at the top. And the huge iguana running around the grounds. I had a look around, stayed about an hour and then began my descent.
Tikal in Guatemala is only 1 hour 20 mins from Benque, if your budget and time allow. I didn’t go but it’s one of the most important Mayan sites in the world.
You can easily get the bus back to San Ignacio from the main square, where the tarpaulin bus stop is.
Day Fourteen: Belize City
Head back to Belize City in good time to get your flight. The bus from San Ignacio to Belize City takes around 2 hours, but of course give yourself a little extra for traffic. I left at 6:30am on the workers bus ($5), changed at Belmopan to the express service ($5), and was in Belize City for 8:30am. I bought myself a tasty pie from the street seller ($1), because I only had exactly $50 left and didn’t want to take more money out. I’d read that the taxi from Belize City to Philip Airport cost $50 and I wanted to be able to say $49 is all I have sir. That kind of thing.
In the end I offered the taxi driver $40 and he happily accepted. Lovely guy, Jason. He told me all about his wife working on border control and how proud they are of their rum here. And he guessed my age at 22, what a guy. Great chat to finish my time in Belize.
The journey to the airport is around 15-30 minutes depending on traffic. You might want to stop at the world famous rum store on the way – they make the best two barrel rum in the world. Proven by all their awards.
I arrived at the airport at just past 9am for my 1pm flight. That sleepless night worrying was pointless, just like most worrying is. It’s a small airport with a café, a bar, shops selling more Marie Sharp’s hot sauce than you could eat in a lifetime and an exceptional amount of staff doing very little. You can use US dollars and Belize Dollars here and I recommend the cheese croissant at Le Petit Café ($2). In fact when this is done I might go and get another one – I’ve got $9 to get rid of after all.
Optional other things to consider
One of the things I really wanted to do in my three weeks in Belize was to do the Ragamuffin Boat Tour, but along with a trip to the Blue Hole I decided not to. Again, it came down to the price – it would be 700BZD – and the weather. Every night I was on Caye Caulker it stormed at night (in late November / December). Sailing down the islands, spearfishing, snorkelling and camping is all fun when the sun shines but the thought of camping out on a little island while it pissed it down did not appeal. I can do that in England. If the weather is better for you when you’re there I’d definitely recommend checking it out. Have a look at the Trip Advisor reviews if you want to know more.
One thing to note about your flight to Belize are that it can be a lot cheaper to fly into Cancun and then either get the bus down to Belize City or get the ferry from Chetumal. If you do need to do this and take some time off the itinerary here, I’d say to drop the time on Ambergris Caye. Remember you will need to factor in the exit fee from Mexico and from Belize if you choose to do this.