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When it comes to finding affordable getaways from the United States, Belize often never makes the cut. It’s trumped by island destinations or larger Central American countries. Though small in size, I’m here to tell you that Belize should be one of the next countries you visit. Firstly, because it’s packed with adventure and, secondly, because it’s budget-friendly. Here is the nitty-gritty for my Belize budget and the exact amount of money I spent on my 7-day adventurous road trip.
Belize’s currency is Belizean dollars. During my trip, the current conversion rate was $2 Belizean Dollars equaled $1 USD. In this budget guide, I will be reporting my expenses in United States Dollars. You can convert this to your local currency to understand what this trip would cost you.
While in Belize, I used a few different modes of transportation. After flying into Belize City from Minneapolis, I traveled throughout the country in a rental car. After which, I cruised out via water taxi to Belize’s most famous Cayes and relaxed there. At Ambergris Caye, I rented a golf cart to get around while at Caye Caulker I walked. Overall, I spent a total of $758 on transportation while in Belize.
On a Scott’s Cheap Flights deal, I nabbed an American Airlines flight from Minneapolis (MSP) to Belize City (BZE) for $286 in early January. This is actually during Belize’s peak tourist season, so this was a heck of a steal.
Budget car rental in Belize: $263
I embarked on a road trip to visit the Mayan ruins scattered throughout the country and experience off-the-beaten-path experiences that the locals endorse. On my road trip, I did rent a car for five days from Crystal Auto Rental in order to see some of Belize’s hidden gems. On average, I spent just over $53 a day on my car rental.
Editor’s note and disclaimer:
Crystal Auto Rental did provide me with a 15% discount off my rental cost in exchange for mentioning them on my blog. That is reflected in my overall cost for my rental car. Without my discount, the vehicle would have been $303 USD for five days.
On my week-long road trip, I covered quite a bit of ground. I drove a little more than 800km. Gas in Belize is very expensive. On average, I was spending $1.33 USD per liter. For those of us not on the metric system, that equates to $5.03 USD per gallon. That’s a pretty hefty price tag. During my trip, I didn’t cover as much ground as I would like due to flight delays, so I anticipated that my total gas allowance would have been higher.
Water Taxi: $64
After exploring Belize’s mainland, I ventured to the Cayes, clusters of islands off Belize’s coast. There are two famous Cayes — Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker — where visitors flock. I budgeted for both of these Cayes.
I first sailed from Belize City to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. This ferry ride cost me $28 for a single one-way ticket from Belize City. After spending a full day at San Pedro, I ventured to Caye Caulker. My ticket from San Pedro to Caye Caulker cost $18. My ticket to return to Belize City cost an additional $18. Overall, I spent $64 on the water taxi. It definitely was the most cost- and time-efficient way to visit the Cayes.
Golf Cart Rental: $60
I unknowingly stayed in an adult-only resort in Ambergris Caye that was located at the northern end of the island. It’s location served as both a pro and con being so far away from San Pedro’s downtown and water taxi port. In order to easily move about the island, I rented a golf cart at the last minute. I stopped in a random shop in San Pedro’s business district and scored a $60 24 hour rental from Local Rentals.
This was definitely a splurge for me, but I was happy that I did rent the golf cart. I spent the majority of my day whizzing around the island like a local. There are a few hidden gems on the Caye which also can only be reached via golf cart, which I unplugged and sought out.
When traveling, sometimes parking can be a nightmare to find and also very costly. I was fortunate that I didn’t have to spend much of my Belize budget on parking. I only had to pay for parking at my local airport. Otherwise, all the parking areas I encountered at national parks, attractions and within cities was all free.
Total transportation costs = $758 USD
The majority of the sites I explored in Belize were Mayan ruin sites. A number of these sites were only accessible by vehicle. There are a few tour companies that will transport tourists to the larger iconic ruin sites, but it’s a more thrilling experience to travel to these sites with your own vehicle.
Mayan ruin sites
The first Mayan ruin site I surveyed was Xunantunich. This is the tallest Mayan ruin site in Belize and also the one situated closest to Guatemala. At the top of the site’s largest temple, visitors can see Guatemala. The view from the top is one that visitors should not miss. It’s also the only Mayan ruin site that utilizes a hand-crank bridge to transport visitors across a river that secludes the Mayan ruin site. It’s a unique experience that also should not be passed up. Admission was only $5 for this Mayan ruin site.
I also visited Cahal Pech located near Xunantunich. Cahal Pech was a more rustic Mayan ruin site. There were trees and other jungle vegetation that covered the ruins. These ruins were impressive and protected by the jungle foliage. This was the definition of an Indiana Jones excavation. During my visit, there were archaeologists working on uncovering more of the site. Admission for this Mayan ruin site also costs $5.
Finally, I took the long trek to Caracol, Belize’s largest Mayan ruin site. Out of all the Mayan ruins I visited, this site was the most expansive and impressive. There are numerous temples and palaces that were erected in this civilization. Caracol was large enough to defeat neighboring enemy Tikal in a battle.
Unlike the other Mayan ruin sites, Caracol is very remote and is dangerous to trek to. The Belizean Defence Force escorts visitors every day via a convoy to ensure their safety. I drove with the convoy solo — that was an unforgettable experience. There are numerous tour companies that take travelers directly to the ruin site without any hassle. It takes more than 3 hours to drive to Caracol. This is an all-day event and costs $7.50 USD.
There are numerous other Mayan ruin sites that can be explored in Belize. I only had time to visit these three, but definitely would have liked to tour more.
Parks and Preserves
I always aim to visit at least one national park or nature preserve during my international travels. I love seeing the diversity of landscapes around the world. My first natural oasis was the St Herman’s Blue Hole National Park. This is where I explore St. Herman’s Cave and swam in the Blue Hole, not to be confused with the Great Blue Hole. The Blue Hole is a sinkhole in a lake caused by the collapse of an underwater cave. There is now a dark, indigo spot in the water indicating where the sinkhole. It’s a surreal and almost science fiction-esque experience. Entrance to the park for both the cave and Blue Hole is $4.
Also visited the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve. This wildlife preserve is rumored to be heavily populated with jaguars. Visitors can go on nighttime treks to see jaguars at night when they are most active. In order to enter the park, it’s advised to hire a local guide.
I hired a local guide at Maya Center’s Women’s Craft Shop. One of the artist’s husbands was available to guide me in the park in the evening. To hire a local guide it costs $30 USD. This is also where you can buy your entrance ticket to the park, which costs an additional $5.
Due to an Airbnb scam, I was unable to meet with the local who was going to guide me through the preserve. I’m still bummed about missing this!
Total admissions costs = $26.50 USD
Whenever I travel, I try my best to stay at local accommodations during my trip. Often times I organize home stays with locals via Airbnb or through friends of friends. For the majority of my Belize road trip, I was able to stay at Airbnbs scattered throughout the country. If you are new to Airbnb, feel free to use my referral link to get up to $55 off your first stay.
In some areas, such as the Cayes and slow to Placencia, I struggled to find Airbnbs that were available. I did stay at two hotels owned by Belizean locals. Each of these stays was an average of $40 per night.
At each Airbnb I stayed at, there was a wide range of what an average evening costs. For instance, I stayed at two resorts, one at San Pedro and the other nestled in the jungle nearby Belmopan. Each of these accommodations were the most expensive nights, respectively costing $199 and $99 USD per night. The cheapest accommodation I stayed at was $35 dollars a night and was a cabin in the jungle near San Ignacio. On average, I spent $81 USD per night on accommodations.
Total Accommodation costs = $487
Authentic Belize food
For most of my Belizean vacation, I stayed in remote villages that didn’t have many restaurants. Often times, my fabulous hosts cooked authentic Belizean food for me. This drastically cut down on my overall food costs.
In addition, I usually eat granola bars for breakfast, so that also eliminates another meal that I need to pay for. I spent $40 USD on miscellaneous lunches, dinners, and snacks.
One experience that I splurged on was a Belizean Food Tour in San Pedro. This was a fabulous tour with seven stops that showcased the savory cuisine that Belize locals crave and love. There were more than 12 dishes that sampled and the history and importance of each dish was shared by our fabulous tour guide. The Belize Food Tour was a great way to meet other islanders during my vacation. This tour cost $72 but was completely worth it.
Total food costs = $112 USD
Belize Food Tours provided me with a complimentary tour in order to showcase their tour on my blog. The price of the tour is included in the total food costs, though it was complimentary, to create an accurate and realistic representation of my Belize budget.
BELIZE BUDGET GRAND TOTAL = $1,383.50
For my week-long Belize vacation, I clocked in just under $1,400. Now as a budget traveler, I do gawk at this number. This means I spent on average $157 USD per day, this does not include my flights in this daily average. For me, this is a pretty astronomical number. A large part of my budget was spent on transportation and accommodations. In reality, that should be the largest part of your budget, that puts my mind at ease.
What could I have done differently?
Due to the number of flight delays, I really had to spread myself thin during this vacation. Ideally, this budget would have extended over nine days rather than one week. But overall, I’m pleased with my Belize budget. I expected the admission and food portions of my budget to be much larger. With all the beer and Mayan ruins I visited, I expected to spend hundreds of dollars on these things. Yet, with Belize’s current economy, these items were relatively cheap compared to my everyday Western standards.
Furthermore, I wouldn’t change the amount I spent on accommodations and transportation. I think they were both worth the splurge. Road tripping through Belize was a life-changing experience that many travelers do not take the time to do. The accommodations that I stayed at also allowed me to truly experience the authentic side of Belize. If I did not road trip and stay with locals, I truly think I wouldn’t have fallen in love with Belize.
Belize is a very underrepresented country. It’s bustling with culture and life. Due to the country’s hindered economy and infrastructure, there are challenges to visiting the country. I would highly recommend to travelers to rent a car in order to explore the country at their own leisure. I loved being able to explore remote villages and stay with locals instead of relying on tourist-saturated areas to bring me joy. Dare to head off the beaten path for a very authentic experience in Belize.
Belize Budget Breakdown! Pin it!