the fp is getting-around
Getting Around Belize
Local airlines connect Belize City with the main towns and cayes. Flights leave from both the international airport and the municipal airstrip. The main carriers are Maya Island Air (www.mayaislandair.com) and Tropic Air (www.tropicair.com). It is best to book in advance to get the best prices. Bear in mind that Belize is small, so internal flights might be considered unnecessary.
Side of the roadRight
Roads beyond Belize City are remarkably bumpy and pot-holed – it is quite normal for Belizeans, when driving on quiet roads, to stick to the smoother side. Local driving standards are extremely poor and road traffic accidents are common.
There are four paved highways in Belize: the Northern Highway between Belize City and the Mexican border town of Chetumal; the Western Highway between Belize City and the Guatemala Border; the Hummingbird Highway from Belmopan to Dangriga; and the Southern Highway down to Punta Gorda. All other roads are unpaved single- or double-lane highways that get washed out during torrential rains.
Many international and local firms operate in Belize City as well as in Ladyville (Belize Airport), Dangriga and San Ignacio. Visitors usually need to be 25 years old to hire a car. For excursions south of Belize City, 4-wheel drive vehicles are recommended.
Most towns and cities are very walkable; however each city has its own taxi system and they are not very expensive. Belizean taxis don’t have meters so you should sort out the fare in advance. You can also usually ask your hotel to order a taxi for you if you prefer.
Belize is pretty flat and not very big, which makes cycling quite a pleasant way to get around. Roads generally aren’t brilliant, so you need decent tyres. You can hire bikes in most tourist destinations, and they are also available to buy in the bigger places. Bruce Cycling Club Bike Shop in Belize City is one of the most popular. Make sure you’re visible, as drivers have a rather haphazard approach to cyclists.
Several small bus companies run services across the country, the main routes being from Belize City west to Belmopan, San Ignacio and Benque Viejo del Carmen; north to Orange Walk and Corozal; and south to Punta Gorda, Independence and Dangriga, from where you can get buses to Placencia.
Buses tend to be uncomfortable old American school buses or chicken buses. Roads are largely bumpy and timetables are certainly flexible.
The speed limit is 90kph (56mph) on highways and 40kph (25mph) on most other roads. Seat belts are compulsory. You must purchase car insurance. At police checkpoints, officers have the authority to ask to see proof of your insurance and may arrest you if you don't produce the proper documentation.
There are no official breakdown services in Belize, so ensure that your car hire service comes with the assurance that you’ll be picked up if necessary.
A national driving licence is acceptable for three months, after which you need to obtain a Belize driving permit from the Department of Traffic.
You rarely need to use public transport to get around towns and cities due to their size – walking is better. If you need to get from A to B in Belize City at night, taxis are preferred. The local chicken buses are slow and uncomfortable, and really only worth it if you can’t possibly walk.
There is a frequent scheduled boat service from Belize City to Ambergris Caye, Caye Chapel and Caye Caulker. Boats also depart from Placencia to Honduras and from Punta Gorda to Guatemala. See www.belizewatertaxi.com for boat schedules and prices from Belize City to Caye Caulker and San Pedro.