Where to stay in Belize?


#1

Anyone know the best part of the country to stay? I’m traveling there over the winter holidays. Ideally it’s near nice beaches, and easily accessible from Belize City, where we’re flying into. I heard Ambergris Caye is beautiful. Any other advice? (We’re only staying 4 nights.)

Thanks!


#2

In my personal opinion , the nicest area of Belize that I encountered was in Belmopan. There is quite a lot in that area in terms of wildlife and Mayan ruins to see. From there you can also take day trips to Guatemala too where there is much more to see in terms of culture , wildlife and archeology.

I really don’t recommend at all Placencia or Caye Kaulker or Ambergis Caye because from what I saw these areas are extremely touristy and have lost a great deal of their local culture and character. There is also an undercurrent of hatred for foreigners from local people which is not unjustified in some ways as due to the gentrification of those areas that has come from expat communities moving in locals have been squeezed out , lost traditions , have been discriminated against etc. But Belizeans are not at all confrontational people so only voice these things when they let their guard down. There is a real stink of both old British colonialism and neo-colonialism on those islands which I just couldn’t ignore. In those areas there is also a very visible sex trade which can be unpleasant to see.

But I am probably deeply biased because my time in Belize was not very pleasant and as a result it wasn’t a country or culture that I felt that I liked very much at all which sharply contrasts with my love of Mexico and Guatemala.


#3

Hi! I studied abroad in Belize in 2016, and could recommend places near where I stayed. I wasn’t near the beach at all-- I lived in Orange Walk Town, which is in Northern Belize. The north isn’t particularly well known for tourism (its main industry is sugar cane), but Orange Walk Town has several good and affordable hotels to stay in. I stayed at the D*Victoria Hotel, which had lovely accommodations, and is right downtown, so you’ll feel like you’re in the center of town life. Orange Walk might be a good home base to explore parts of the North and Central Belize!
Here are my recommendations/thoughts for Orange Walk Town:

  • There’s all sorts of good food in Orange Walk-- you’ll find the best authentic Belizean tacos at any taco stand along Queen Victoria Ave, which is the main drag. For somewhat upscale dining, try Nahil Mayab. For the most authentic taste of Orange Walk, visit Luigi’s. The Lamanai Riverside Retreat also has a restaurant right on the New River, which provides great wildlife watching-- especially alligators!

  • You’ll find that Orange Walk is surprisingly multicultural. There’s Mayans, Mestizos, Garifunas, and even German-Speaking Mennonites! You’ll also find lots of stores and restaurants owned and run by Chinese and Indian immigrants.

  • The Banquitas House of Culture is small, but worth the visit!

  • Belikin Beer is truly the Beer of Belize. You can find it nearly anywhere-- be sure to try the chocolate-flavored beer at least once!

  • The people of Orange Walk are very kind and curious about visitors. You’ll get lots of “Welcome to Belize!” and “How do you like Belize?” from random people on the street.

There are several places near Orange Walk that you could visit, including:

  • The Cuello Rum Distillery, which is just outside town. If you coordinate with the distillery beforehand, you might could get a tour of the distillery as well as the Cuello Mayan ruins on the distillery’s property! (I am writing a forthcoming AO article about these ruins.)

  • My absolute main suggestion is for you to visit the Lamanai Mayan Ruins, which can easily be accessed from Orange Walk via car or boat down the New River. Via boat is an experience you’ll never forget!

  • The Belize Zoo, which is actually an animal sanctuary, is a fantastic place to see Belizean wildlife up close. It’s in the Cayo District (Central Belize), which is about a two hour drive from Orange Walk.

  • If you love outdoor adventures, you’ll love the Nohoch Che’en Cave Tubing. I’m not an outdoors-y person and totally expected the experience to be campy, but it was so beautiful and memorable. The caves are also in the mountains of the Cayo District, and is very near the Belize Zoo.

If you do use Orange Walk as your base, I highly recommend using Jungle River Tours to get you to any of the places I listed here. It’s three brothers, Antonio, Wilfrido, and Herminio Novelo, who are all very kind and knowledgeable.

Three additional places that I haven’t been to that might be interesting:

I know this has been awfully long-winded, but I sure hope this helps! Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions.


#4

Thank you for the amazing tips, Allison!


#5

Wow, thanks @allisonkc! We ended up booking a hotel in Ambergris Caye, but we’ll definitely check out Orange Walk if we venture into the mainland. Sounds incredible.


#6

Great! Well I hope that you have the loveliest time, Belize is a beautiful country no matter where you go.
All the best!


#7

We had a good time, but you were definitely right about Ambergis and Kaulker Cayes and how they’ve lost the local character due to tourism @Monsieur_Mictlan.


#8

Glad to hear you had a good time igdaloff :slight_smile: Yes, it’s an unfortunate reality in those parts of the country and particularly in Placencia.


#9

Am headed to Belize next month! I opted to split my time between Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye. I decided on Caye because it’s a smaller island, smaller population, and more quiet of a stay (great for a tired New Yorker seeking peace!) and then I chose Ambergris for the latter half of the trip as it’s more populous and offers more activities.


#10

Caye Caulker has its charms for sure , if you go there check out the graveyard on the beach , its quite unique or at least I haven’t seen one like that anywhere else.

But my advice is to be prepared for all the tourists and a very touristy atmosphere (No idea when the tourist season is , I was there in July a couple of years ago) which has eroded a lot of the local culture , Caye Caulker is also a destination for partying so it can have the ambience of a Belizean Ibiza.

Second piece of advice is to seek out a guy called Noel who owns his own nightclub and hostel, the splitting image of the singer Prince. He is a really cool chilled out guy and is definitely someone to talk to about Belizean culture (he has a very interesting take on things / unique experiences )and to hang out with ( drink or smoke with).


#11

Seconding what @Monsieur_Mictlan said re: being touristy, on both Caye Caulker and Ambergris. Note that if you’re staying outside of San Pedro on Ambergris (which I recommend, to avoid the tourists), it can be challenging traveling up and down the caye. The only road has tons of mega potholes and the water taxi wasn’t always reliable (despite the schedule posted online, it doesn’t run after 9pm unless they have enough interested passengers).

If I go back, I think I’ll explore the jungle inland, which I heard is incredible. And try to find that ^ Prince doppelganger.

Oh, and definitely go snorkeling. Some of the best in the world.


#12

Definitely reccomend the jungle, it is breathtakingly beautiful , especially around the Belmopan area , but I think it’s very hard to beat the Lacandon in neighbouring Mexico and Tikal National park and its Mayan ruins so I would probably recomend those more I guess.

Regarding the Prince of Caye Caulker he is definitely a remarkable character and worth looking for , although he is pretty easy to find on the island ( pretty sure he’s still there).

Come to think of it , I guess those would probably be my fondest memories , the last couple of days of a pretty disheartening and unpleasant time in Belize , hanging out with the Prince of Caye Caulker smoking… ahem… a local culturally significant herb and being on a boat under thousands of stars in the Caribbean sea contemplating and feeling the scales of a young American crocodile, a really cute little sea dragon with a toothy grin, captured for purely scientific and conservation related purposes.