Backpacking Belize: The BEST Guide For Travelers 2024

Come find out all you need to know about backpacking Belize on a budget. From money matters, where to go, eating, drinking, sleeping, and more in one of Central America’s most expensive countries!


Belize is known for its stunning beaches, majestic Mayan ruins, and vibrant local culture, but is it much of a backpacker’s paradise? Honestly traveling on a budget in this Central American gem can be challenging, but it is possible.

Despite its reputation as a high-cost tourist destination, savvy travelers can still explore Belize without breaking the bank.

I have been lucky enough to explore and backpack around Belize multiple times, as well as many other spots in Central America so I know the struggle of traveling Belize on a budget.

From finding affordable accommodation, splurging on things worthwhile, and learning how to make every dollar count. Now, I want to share my knowledge with you.

This comprehensive guide on Backpacking Belize offers essential tips and tricks to help you backpack Belize on a budget, ensuring a memorable, adventurous, and wallet-friendly journey.


nurse sharks thrashing around at shark ray alley in belize
nurse sharks thrashing around at shark ray alley in belize
hanging out and appreciating the views at one of the piers in san pedro ambergris caye over the blue waters
hanging out and appreciating the views at one of the piers in san pedro ambergris caye over the blue waters

🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


What Is The Currency In Belize

Before you embark on your Belizean adventure, it’s important to get to know the local currency, the Belizean Dollar (BZD).

While USD is widely accepted, having some local currency will come in handy, especially when exploring those hidden gems off the beaten path.

Check online exchange rates.


Entry Requirements For Backpacking Belize

To ensure a smooth and seamless entry into the beautiful country of Belize, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the entry requirements beforehand.

First of all, you need to check if you need a visa to enter Belize. Most people entering Belize do not need a visa and will receive a 30-day entrance stamp upon arrival. However, some nationalities may require a visa, so it is best to check with your nearest Belizean embassy or consulate before you travel.

If you are required to obtain a visa, it is recommended to apply well in advance and provide all necessary documents to avoid any delays or complications.

For those who are eligible for visa-free entry, it is still important to have all necessary travel documents ready for immigration officers upon arrival. These may include a return or onward ticket, proof of accommodation, and sufficient funds to cover your stay in Belize.

Arriving by air it is likely you will be asked to show proof of departure. This is because many people travel here and end up overstaying. If you do not have proof of onward travel many travelers use such services as Onward Ticket.

The company books a legitimate ticket in your name and cancels it after a certain period. You just need to pay a small service charge. This provides you with an actual ticket for proof of onward travel.

clear blue waters in san pedro belize a must visit
clear blue waters in san pedro belize a must visit
iguanas crossing sign in belize
iguanas crossing sign in belize

Travel Budget For Backpacking Belize

Before my life of travel took over I actually spent many years studying to become an accountant. Therefore usually I keep a tight track of my budget and costs on the road, especially so in Belize.

By carefully planning your expenses, you can ensure a well-prepared and enjoyable experience. This is especially so in a country like Belize where it is notoriously expensive.

Personally, I ended up spending $53.00 per day backpacking Belize. Overall I spent about the same on the mainland as I did on the islands as I did the quite pricey ATM Cave Tour. Though in saying this I also did a snorkeling tour on both Caye Caulker and San Pedro, just because it was so epic!

Honestly, I do think you could backpack Belize cheaper than I did, though you would be forfeiting activities.

Overall the cost of backpacking Belize depends on your travel style, preferences, and activities. However, a general estimate is that you can backpack Belize for $40.00 – $60.00 per day.

This will cover your accommodation, food, transportation, and some tours. A mix of spending time on the mainland, and on the islands.


🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Best Time To Travel Belize

The best time to be backpacking Belize is during the dry season, which typically runs from November to April.

This period has pleasant weather with less rainfall, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as exploring the stunning coral reefs and ancient Mayan ruins shrouded in fascinating history.

However, if you’re looking to avoid crowds and enjoy lower prices, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of May-June and September-October.

During these months, you can still experience favorable weather conditions while immersing yourself in the vibrant local culture, attending lively festivals, and indulging in delicious Belizean cuisine bursting with flavors influenced by the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Whether you’re exploring the lush rainforests, encountering diverse wildlife, or simply relaxing on the picturesque beaches, Belize offers a captivating experience that will leave you with unforgettable memories.

I visited Belize in March and in July and we always had beautiful weather, though the sargassum situation was something else…

standing on the end of a pier at san pedro looking back towards ambergris caye
standing on the end of a pier at san pedro looking back towards ambergris caye

Dealing with Sargassum in Belize

Sargassum, a brown seaweed that floats in from the ocean, has been a recurrent issue in Belize and the Caribbean in recent years.

While it might not make for the most insta-worthy beach snaps, it’s important to remember that Sargassum plays a crucial role in the ocean ecosystem. It acts as a mobile habitat for a variety of marine life, including tiny shrimps and crabs, baby sea turtles, and hundreds of fish species.

In Belize, measures are taken to manage the Sargassum situation. You’ll often see crews hard at work early in the morning, cleaning up the beaches for you to enjoy.

Some resorts are even innovating ways to use Sargassum, turning it into compost for local farms or using it to create building materials! So, while it might be a bit of an eyesore, know that it’s all part of the natural cycle.

If you are determined to avoid the sargassum, you may want to plan your trip during a different season. Sargassum blooms are most common from May to August, but can occur throughout the year.

The good news is that even during peak bloom season, some beaches and cayes might be less affected than others.

sargassum washing up on one of the beaches in ambergris caye belize
sargassum washing up on one of the beaches in ambergris caye belize
locals cleaning up the sargassum along the beachfront at the san pedro sign
locals cleaning up the sargassum along the beachfront at the san pedro sign

Sleeping In Belize On A Budget

Finding affordable accommodations is crucial when backpacking Belize. Luckily you will find a range of budget-friendly options, including hostels, guesthouses, and budget hotels.

Hostels are a popular choice among backpackers and solo travelers, offering dorm-style accommodations at affordable rates averaging around $15.00- $ 20.00 per night.

Guesthouses are another great option, offering a more authentic experience with local hosts and the opportunity to interact with other travelers. Prices can vary, but on average you can expect to pay around $30.00- $40.00 per night for a private room in a guesthouse.

If you’re willing to rough it a bit, camping is also an option in Belize. Some national parks and private campgrounds offer campsites with basic facilities such as restrooms and showers. Just make sure to pack all necessary camping gear and be prepared for the elements.

The best way to save on accommodations is by booking in advance or during the low season.

Many hotels and hostels offer discounted rates for early bookings or during slower months when tourism is less busy. Plus, you’ll also have more options to choose from since popular accommodations tend to fill up quickly during peak travel

my hostel in san ignacio belize that i had all to myself
my hostel in san ignacio belize that i had all to myself
enjoying the pool at our guesthouse in san pedro
enjoying the pool at our guesthouse in san pedro

🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Getting Around Belize On A Budget

Navigating local transportation can be a thrilling yet challenging adventure.

When it comes to traveling between cities and towns, buses emerge as the most affordable and reliable option, allowing you to soak in the essence of each place you visit. However many tourists prefer to take shared shuttles, which offer comfortable transportation at a slightly higher cost.

For shorter distances consider the convenience of shared taxis, providing you with a unique and picturesque experience. The only time I used a taxi in the country was the day I was traveling from San Ignacio to Flores, just from the city to the border.

Also to travel around the islands and beaches of Belize, water taxis and ferries are readily available at reasonable prices. These rides not only offer spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea but also allow you to explore different cayes (islands) and their unique cultures.

the ferry timetable in belize with ocean ferry
the ferry timetable in belize with ocean ferry
enjoying backpacking san pedro belize on a budget
enjoying backpacking san pedro belize on a budget

Food & Drink In Belize

Belize offers an exciting and diverse culinary experience, blending flavors from the Mayan, Garifuna, Mestizo, and Creole cultures.

Local markets and street food stalls are budget-friendly options where you can savor Belizean classics like ‘rice and beans’ paired with ‘stew chicken’, ‘salbutes’ (deep-fried tortillas topped with veggies and chicken), or ‘fry jacks’ (fried dough pieces).

Wash it all down with freshly squeezed juices or a refreshing glass of ‘Belikin’, Belize’s national beer.

For seafood lovers, the coastal areas and islands offer mouth-watering fresh catches of the day. Lobster, conch, and the famed lionfish are turned into tantalizing dishes that won’t break the bank.

Be sure to also try ‘ceviche’—a Belizean favorite made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices and spiced with habanero peppers.

I actually found myself buying food at supermarkets and cooking in the communal kitchens in hostels the majority of the time. However I would allow myself to eat out once per day.

a delicious typical breakfast in belize consisting of fry jacks, beans, and eggs
a delicious typical breakfast in belize consisting of fry jacks, beans, and eggs
delicious street food of bbq corn covered in delicious spices and sauces in belize
delicious street food of bbq corn covered in delicious spices and sauces in belize

Internet Access In Belize

Now, you might be wondering about internet access in Belize – can you stay connected in this beautiful tropical paradise? Well, absolutely yes!

Belize has made significant strides in increasing connectivity over the years, and most hotels, restaurants, and even some public spaces offer free Wi-Fi. If you’re staying in a larger town or city, you’ll have no issue staying connected.

However, if you’re venturing into more remote areas or smaller islands, you might experience slower speeds or intermittent service.

I had no issues whatsoever with poor Wi-Fi in the country, and as I didn’t actually purchase a SIM card this was the only way I could access the internet.

tasha amy diving in ambergris caye belize
diving in ambergris caye belize

Buying A SIM Card In Belize

If you’re someone who likes to stay super connected, or perhaps your trip involves some remote work, you might consider buying a local SIM card in Belize. It’s a straightforward and reasonably priced process, really!

There are two main providers to choose from: DigiCell and Smart. Both offer similar services and competitive costs, so it ultimately comes down to your specific needs and the coverage area.

You can purchase these SIM cards and data packages in numerous locations, whether you’re in a bustling city or a quaint little town.

I personally didn’t buy a SIM card during my time there. But travelers I met commented on how easy it was to set up and how reliable the connection was, even in some more remote areas. Just remember – don’t forget to bring an unlocked phone!

I think if I were to go back I would just buy an eSIM instead as I wouldn’t need much data and would only be staying for about 1 week in Belize.

swimming with turtles while on a snorkeling tour, a must when backpacking belize on a budget
swimming with turtles while on a snorkeling tour, a must when backpacking belize on a budget

🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Best Places To Visit While Backpacking Belize On A Budget

While Belize is relatively small, it packs a punch when it comes to diverse landscapes and cultural experiences.

Let’s check out some must visit destinations.


Caye Caulker

This enchanting laid-back island, located off the coast of Belize, welcomes visitors with its serene and easygoing vibe, also known as the backpacker island. With its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, it offers a picturesque setting for budget travelers seeking relaxation and adventure.

Snorkeling enthusiasts will be captivated by the vibrant underwater world, while those in search of tranquility can bask in the warm Caribbean atmosphere.

And let’s not forget the famous “split,” a unique spot where the island is divided, providing a delightful place to swim, sunbathe, and socialize with fellow travelers.

Caye Caulker truly embodies the essence of a tropical paradise, offering an unforgettable experience for all who venture there

Snorkeling in the Great Blue Hole: A sinkhole off the coast, the Great Blue Hole is a must-visit for snorkeling enthusiasts. Dive in and marvel at the diverse marine life and stunning corals the underwater world has to offer.

Feed the stingrays at Iguana Reef Inn: Another fun and unique thing to do in Caye Caulker is to feed the stingrays at Iguana Reef Inn, a hotel that has its own private beach and pier. Every evening around 5 p.m., the hotel staff feeds the stingrays that gather near the shore, and you can join them for free.

Relaxing at The Split: Lounge around at The Split, a unique spot where the island is divided. Soak in the sun, take a refreshing dip in the water, or socialize with fellow travelers.

Biking Around the Island: Explore the island on a bicycle. It’s a great way to get around, plus you’ll get to see the sights at your own pace.

Swim With Manatees: One of the most amazing experiences you can have in Caye Caulker is swimming with manatees. Manatees are gentle and curious marine mammals that live in the warm waters of Belize. You can book a tour with a local operator and enjoy the chance to see these majestic creatures up close.

Going on a Sunset Boat Cruise: Take a boat tour at sunset for some truly breathtaking views. It’s the perfect way to end a day in paradise.

Bellas Backpackers Caye Caulker

Bellas Backpackers Caye Caulker

The most popular hostel on the islands. Rooms start from $14.00 for a dorm and make sure to upgrade if you want air-con.

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Go Slow Guesthouse

Go Slow Guesthouse

The best hostel in Caye Caulker, and a popular choice for travelers. Dorms start from $21.00 per night.

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Sea And Sun Guesthouse

Sea And Sun Guesthouse

A comfortable stay for travelers who want a private room. The rooms here start from $40.00 per night.

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Blue Wave Guesthouse Caye Caulker

Blue Wave Guesthouse Caye Caulker

An excellent choice if you want a bit more privacy. Fan-cooled rooms here start from $30.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
fresh seafood being cooked on a bbq at the beach in caye caulker
fresh seafood being cooked on a bbq at the beach in caye caulker
you cant go wrong with a delicious pina colada when in belize
you cant go wrong with a delicious pina colada when in belize
two manatees we swam with from caye caulker
two manatees we swam with from caye caulker

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

Located on the beautiful island of Ambergris Caye, San Pedro is a picturesque destination known for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters. It is a haven for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts, with vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life waiting to be explored beneath the surface.

While it can be perceived as more expensive compared to other areas of Belize, fear not! There are still plenty of budget-friendly options available, especially if you choose to stay outside of the bustling main tourist area.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve: Dive into an underwater paradise at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. This vibrant coral reef ecosystem will leave you breathless with its myriad of marine life!

Shark Ray Alley: Ever wanted to swim with sharks? Well, here’s your chance! Don’t worry, these nurse sharks are friendly and love posing for photos.

Secret Beach: Head to the Secret Beach for an afternoon of sunbathing and relaxation. This hidden gem is perfect for those seeking a quiet escape.

San Pedro Market: Immerse yourself in local culture and flavors at the San Pedro Market. From fresh produce to local crafts, there’s something for everyone.

Iguana Eco Sanctuary: Get up close and personal with these gentle creatures at the Iguana Eco Sanctuary. Don’t forget to snap some photos with your new scaly friends!

Drift Inn

Drift Inn

A quaint little hostel on the island. They have air-conditioned dorms that start from $25.00 per night.

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Belize Budget Suites

Belize Budget Suites

An excellent choice if you are wanting a bit more privacy. Rooms here start from $60.00 per night.

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Sandbar Beachfront Hostel San Pedro

Sandbar Beachfront Hostel San Pedro

A comfortable and modern hostel that has a pool. Air-conditioned dorms start from $20.00 per night.

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Ambergris Sunset Hotel San Pedro

Ambergris Sunset Hotel San Pedro

An affordable choice with a pool to relax in. Rooms here start from $50.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
enjoying a meal from the truck stop in san pedro is a must when backpacking belize on a budget
enjoying a meal from the truck stop in san pedro is a must when backpacking belize on a budget
relaxing at secret beach in ambergris caye
relaxing at secret beach in ambergris caye

🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Placencia

This stunning peninsula, nestled along the picturesque southern coast of Belize, is renowned for its pristine white sand beaches, vibrant and charming colorful buildings, and a delectable array of fresh seafood that will tantalize your taste buds.

Placencia offers a wide range of budget-friendly accommodation options and an array of delectable local food choices that will surely satisfy your cravings

Exploring Maya Beach: Known for its tranquil ambiance and beautiful stretch of white sand, this beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming or just lazing around with a good book.

Visiting Placencia Lagoon: If wildlife watching is your thing, a trip to Placencia Lagoon should be on your list. It’s possible to spot manatees, crocodiles, and a plethora of bird species.

Hiking in Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary: Get closer to nature by hiking in this sanctuary. It’s home to jaguars, pumas, ocelots, and other exotic wildlife.

Tasting Local Delights: Don’t forget to enjoy the fresh seafood, especially the lobster. Try traditional Belizean dishes like Hudutu (a Garifuna coconut fish stew) or the spicy and flavorful Mayan chicken tamales.

Kayaking in the Sea: Rent a kayak and explore the calm, clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. It’s a fun and active way to spend an afternoon.


San Ignacio

Nestled in the picturesque Cayo District, this vibrant town offers a perfect blend of history, nature, and thrilling adventures. Immerse yourself in the ancient wonders of Mayan ruins, explore mysterious caves teeming with secrets, and indulge in an array of heart-pumping adventure activities.

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Exploring the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins: Step back in time and immerse yourself in Belize’s rich history by visiting the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins. Climb to the top of the El Castillo structure for a breathtaking panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.

Touring the ATM (Actun Tunichil Muknal) Cave: Adventure awaits inside the ATM Cave. Be sure to book a guided tour to see the ancient Mayan pottery, tools, and human remains that it holds.

Venturing into Barton Creek Cave: For a unique experience, take a canoe tour of Barton Creek Cave. It’s an archaeological site and a natural wonder with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.

Visiting Iguana Conservation Project: Get up close and personal with green iguanas at this conservation project. It’s a fun and educational experience, plus you’ll be contributing to an important cause!

Hiking in Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve: Nature lovers should head to this forest reserve for magnificent pine forests, cool mountain streams, and the chance to spot Belize’s diverse wildlife.

River Tubing on the Macal River: After a busy day of sightseeing, there’s nothing like a relaxing tube ride down the Macal River. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery.

Bellas Backpackers

Bellas Backpackers

A chill family-style hostel in the center of town. Dorms start at $12.00 per night.

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The Old House Hostel

The Old House Hostel

The most popular hostel in the town. Dorm rooms start from $12.00 per night.

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Yellow Belly Backpackers

Yellow Belly Backpackers

Another lovely hostel in a great central location. Dorms here start for around $12.00 per night.

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Nabitunich

Nabitunich

A beautiful countryside farm stay for a unique experience. Private rooms here start at $60.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
one of the impressive pyramid temples at cahal pech mayan ruins in san ignacio
one of the impressive pyramid temples at cahal pech mayan ruins in san ignacio

FAQs About Backpacking Belize

Is Belize good for backpackers?

Absolutely! Belize has a thriving backpacking scene with budget-friendly accommodations, stunning natural landscapes, and plenty of opportunities for adventure. Plus, the locals are known for their warm and welcoming hospitality towards backpackers.

How long do you need to backpack Belize?

The length of time needed to backpack Belize depends on your itinerary and personal preferences. Some backpackers spend a few weeks exploring the country, while others may only have a few days. It’s recommended to budget at least 10 days to fully experience the top destinations and activities in Belize.

on our ferry from san pedro to caye caulker looking back at the island while backpacking belize
on our ferry from san pedro to caye caulker looking back at the island while backpacking belize

🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Wrap Up: All You Need To Know About Backpacking Belize on a Budget

In conclusion, traversing Belize on a budget doesn’t mean skimping on experiences. With its ancient ruins, natural wonders, and diverse wildlife, the country offers an exceptional range of activities that cater to every backpacker’s interests.

Belize truly is a hidden gem in Central America, blending cultural richness with natural beauty. So, get ready to strap on your backpack and embark on an unforgettable journey that will leave you with stories for a lifetime.


Any Questions? Let me know in the comments!


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Come find out all you need to know about backpacking Belize on a budget. From money matters, where to go, eating, drinking, sleeping, and more in one of Central America's most expensive countries!

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