Many travelers chose to exit Belize by sea via either Water Jets or San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi, both of which offer fairly efficient ferry service on alternating days between Caye Caulker, San Pedro and Chetumal, Mexico. Daily boats leave Caye Caulker at 7am and stop in San Pedro to pick up passengers and clear immigration.
Southern Belize is where open savannah and citrus-filled farmland give way to forested hills dotted with Maya ruins and jungles, with many fine beaches and beautiful tropical islands thrown in for good measure.
Stann Creek District
Bordering the Belize District to the north, Cayo to the west and Toledo to the south, the Stann Creek District is home to a number of spots popular with visitors, from the coastal villages of Hopkins and Placencia, to amazing inland parks and jungle sanctuaries and some of Belize's least visited cayes.
When Madonna sang about her dreams of San Pedro, she was referring to the captivating capital of Ambergris Caye, which has since adopted the inevitable nickname La Isla Bonita. Of course, it was more than 20 years ago when Madonna crooned about all the nature being wild and free.
Belize City does not exactly top the list of tourist destinations in Belize. In fact, many visitors choose to bypass the country's only major urban area. This may be because the country's main attractions are natural and nautical, rendering superfluous a prolonged visit to its only metropolis.
Northern Belize is probably the most passed-through region in the country. Many travelers save themselves a small chunk of change by flying into Chetumal or Cancun in Mexico and bussing straight down into Belize City and out to the cayes. Their general take on the transitory sojourn is less than complimentary. ‘Flat terrain, farmland and uninspiring towns, ’ some have said.
'No Shirt, No Shoes…No Problem.' You'll see this sign everywhere in Belize, but no place is it more apt than Caye Caulker. Indeed, nothing seems to be a problem on this tiny island, where mangy dogs nap in the middle of the dirt road and suntanned cyclists pedal around them.
Perched at the southern tip of a long, narrow, sandy peninsula, Placencia has long enjoyed a reputation as 'the caye you can drive to.' This is more true today than ever since the 27-mile road from the Southern Hwy is no longer spine-crushing, having now been fully paved. How you wind up feeling about Placencia really depends on what you're looking for.
San Ignacio (Cayo)
Together with neighboring Santa Elena, on the east bank of the river, San Ignacio forms the chief population center of Cayo District. Staying here is generally the more economical option for travel in Cayo; furthermore, there is no shortage of tour operators who are willing to show you the attractions and activities in the surrounding area.
The country's northernmost district, Corozal is wedged in between Orange Walk and the border. Its proximity to Mexico lends it a certain Spanish charm, and also offers easy access to travelers coming from Cancun or Chetumal.
Bordering Guatemala to the south and west and the Stann Creek and Cayo Districts to the north, the 1669-sq-mile Toledo District encompasses an area most Belizeans refer to lovingly as 'The Deep South.' Around 27,000 people live in this huge area, and about half the district is under protection as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, forest reserves or nature reserves.
Most casual travelers in years past didn't make it as far as Punta Gorda (or PG as it's called throughout Belize); if they did, they only used this low-key seaside town as a jumping-off point into Guatemala.
Orange Walk District
Orange Walk is one of the more spread out and thinly populated districts in Belize. The Northern Hwy cuts through the district's population center in its far northeast, and most of the communities and attractions scattered west of this are connected by a network of (mostly) unpaved roads.
Nine miles south of Mexico and 29 miles north of Orange Walk Town, Corozal has a vibe different from any other town in Belize. The Mexican influence is palpable on the streets of this provincial town, where you are likely to hear Spanish and eat tacos.
Dangriga is the largest town in Southern Belize, and the spiritual capital of the country's Garifuna people. Stretching along the coast, Dangriga has a funky vibe about it – it's tumbledown and mildly untidy. Despite sharing a similar ramshackle exterior with Belize City, Dangriga exudes little of the larger city's menace, and is generally a safe place to explore.