Basic Belize Vacation Planning Hints
Following are issues to consider when planning your Belize vacation:
- How far ahead should you plan your Belize vacation? If you're interested in a Belize vacation during the Christmas/New Year's/Easter holidays, 8-12 months advance planning isn't too long unless you're only interested in very budget lodging. For Belize vacations during spring break, US Thanksgiving or President's Day weekend (US), starting to plan your vacation 8-10 months ahead of time is a good idea and you should start planning "high season" Belize vacations (mid December through the end of April) 6-8 months in advance to ensure a good array of lodging options. A month or two should be sufficient for the rest of the year, although some local events, such as Cacaofest (Toledo District) and Costa Maya (San Pedro) can fill up area hotels months ahead of time.
- What do you want to do on your Belize vacation? Sometimes what you want to do can dictate the best location for at least a part of your Belize vacation. For example, if cave tubing is a high priority, then you'll need to stay in the Cayo District if you plan to spend some time in the jungle, or in San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Hopkins/Sittee or Placencia if you want to take a day cave tubing trip from the beach. Same for snorkeling or diving Shark Ray Alley and Hol Chan Marine Reserve - you'll need to stay on Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker - Placencia and Hopkins/Sittee are just too far away. Mayan ruins are also generally location-specific - Xunantunich, Cahal Pech and Caracol in the Cayo District, Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit most easily accessible from the Stann Creek and the Toledo Districts, Lamanai from the Orange Walk and Belize Districts and Altun Ha from the Belize District.
- How old are your children? Children 4 years old and younger won't be able to participate in most Belize tours. Six years old may even be too young for most activities - 8 years is generally old enough for most activities, although possibily not for ziplining or cave tubing depending on the size and maturity of the child. Also, don't expect to find special children's programs at local resorts. With the exception of Chaa Creek which does sponsor special educational activities for children during the summer, Belize resorts don't offer planned kids-only activities.
- Handicapped accessibility important? If it is, Belize may not be the best destination for your vacation. Belize only has a few hotels with one or two handicapped accessible rooms, and buildings generally do not have ramps, roads are bad (often not paved, or heavily potholed), coastal buildings are usually built at least a few feet off the ground as protection from coastal flooding, and jungle trails just aren't easily navigated by people with physical handicaps.
- Can Belize be combined with vacations to other Central or South American countries? Yes, to some extent, but you either need a lot of time or a lot of money. For example, you can inexpensively combine Antigua or Lake Aitilan in Guatemala with a stay in Placencia or Punta Gorda, Belize, by taking a water taxi between Belize and Guatemala and a bus between Guatemala City and the Guatemala coast. (Cost of about US$50 per person, including meals.) But, the trip will take a full day each way - at least. You can also quickly fly between Guatemala City and Belize International, but the airfare is around US$465 per person, round-trip. Direct flights are also available between Belize International and San Pedro Sula, Honduras (Tropic), San Salvador, El Salvador (Taca) and Flores, Guatemala (Maya, Tropic). You can also take an overnight bus between Cancun and Belize City at a cost of about US$75, round-trip. (No flights to or from Mexico.)
- How expensive is a Belize vacation? Of course, the answer to this question depends on the level of lodging and services you want or need -- and can afford. Two people sharing a room or cabana in Placencia for one week can spend from US$600 to US$4,000 for 7 nights lodging, domestic transfers and taxes/service charges. (Not including meals, alcoholic beverages or tours.) A couple spending 3 nights in the jungle and 4 nights in a beach apartment or condo will generally spend US$3000-US$5500 for moderately priced lodging, domestic transfers, meals and tours in the jungle, one or two tours at the beach, taxes and service charges. (No meals at the beach and no alcoholic beverages included.) Our sample vacation packages will give you an idea of costs for several different types of Belize vacations.