Belize is rapidly making a name for itself as a vacation destination – and it can sometimes have prices to match. 

While a lot more expensive than its Central American counterparts, that doesn’t mean all the culture, cuisine and natural beauty Belize has to offer aren’t available to the budget-conscious traveler too.

With the right amount of planning, proper timing, and an open mind, this diverse country can be yours to enjoy without breaking the bank. Here are some of the best ways to enjoy Belize on a budget.

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A couple paddling in a yellow kayak in vivid blue Caribbean water with a small tropical Island in the background.
Hang on! There are other ways to save some money in Belize other than arriving by kayak ©Justin Lewis/Getty Images

Daily costs in Belize

  • Hostel room for two: $BZ75
  • Basic en-suite room for two (shoulder season): Starting at BZ$140
  • Public bus fare: BZ$10 to $40
  • Coffee: BZ$6 (Americano)
  • Sandwich: BZ$4
  •  Dinner for two: BZ$50
  • A bottle of Belikin beer: BZ$2.50 at a store ($5 at a bar)
  •  Local mixed drinks: BZ$5 to $12
  • Average daily cost: BZ$153 to $257

Visit during the shoulder season for affordable accommodation

When visiting Belize, accommodation is likely to take up the largest portion of your budget. Choosing the right travel dates can make a huge impact on how much – or how little – you spend. Whilst the low season (May to October) is the cheapest time to visit, there is a risk of hurricanes and heavy rainfall, so numerous tourist spots either close or run a limited operation.

Shoulder season is the ideal time to travel for cheaper prices – up to 50% less than the high season in some cases – without winter crowds or heavy rains. The sweet spots fall right after the Easter break (March or April) until early June, as well as October to early November before the holiday rush at Christmas.

People walk to a cream and green bus stopped at the bus station near Belize City in a sunny day
Compared with flying, getting the bus to Belize City will save you hundreds of dollars © Morenovel / Shutterstock

Fly to Cancún first and then travel overland to Belize

Surprisingly, one of the cheapest ways to get to Belize from the US is by making a stop in Mexico first. Flying to Cancún can cost up to BZ$400 less than flying directly to Belize, and travelers can then catch an overnight ADO bus to Belize City for around BZ$80.

The journey takes approximately eight hours and is cheap, convenient, and pretty comfortable. While service was discontinued during the pandemic, Belize’s Department of Transport announced that ADO buses would be resuming transport to and from Belize in late 2023.

Seek out some lesser-known destinations

Ambergris Caye and the Placencia Peninsula may be among the best places to visit in Belize, but they aren't the cheapest. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives worthy of attention.

You’ll find quite a few budget and mid-range stays in San Ignacio Town and the surrounding Cayo District. Hotels like Midas Resort (starting at BZ$210) and Cahal Pech Village Resort (starting at BZ$190) are a lot cheaper than high-end resorts, especially during shoulder season. The area is also a great base for exploring caves, national parks and Maya sites. 

If you’re visiting Belize for its amazing beaches, Caye Caulker, the smaller of the country’s two northern islands, is an affordable alternative to Ambergris Caye. Better yet, the Garifuna village at Hopkins has the best of both worlds with a side of immersive cultural experiences as well.

Seek out the Afro-Caribbean culture of the Belize District © Roijoy/Getty Images

Delve into the Belize District to experience the country’s Afro-Caribbean culture

The highly underrated Belize District is one of the most budget-friendly and culturally rich areas in the country. Head to the Belize River valley, where communities like Crooked Tree and Bermudian Landing offer everything from wildlife encounters to cooking lessons. These historic villages are also some of the best places to experience Belize’s Afro-Caribbean culture.

Seek out street vendors and food trucks for eating out

While the phrase might be a cliché, eating like a local will save you money in Belize. Mom-and-pop restaurants here serve a wide range of cuisines from rice and beans, tamales and soups to stews, curries and traditional desserts. All be bought for less than BZ$20. 

Cheap eats like panades (deep-fried cornflour crescents filled with fish or beans) and tostadas (tortillas) cost even less, while still being both delicious and filling. You might even find a few food trucks here and there, selling affordable eats like burgers and tacos.

If you have a shoestring budget, sup on local drinks 

Whether it’s happy hour or not, local alcoholic drinks are significantly cheaper than imported ones, and the options are surprisingly varied. For BZ$5 at a bar, you can enjoy an ice-cold Belikin beer (which also comes in seasonal flavors), a rum and coke, or a fruity panti rippa (coconut rum and pineapple juice cocktail).

Take the slow road

In Belize, using public transport will greatly cut the cost of your trip while still affording you beautiful views. A water taxi ticket to Caye Caulker from Belize City costs BZ$73 roundtrip with a local operator like San Pedro Belize Express. The journey is about 45 minutes and includes views of the open sea and tiny islands. Puddle-jumper flights, while quicker, cost more than three times as much.

Heading inland? Belize’s bus system covers all major highways, with the only caveat being that you’ll have to arrange a shuttle from the airport to the bus terminal if you’re flying in. Be sure to catch an express bus for the most comfortable trip. Fares range from BZ$10 to BZ$40.

Guided tour of Elijio Panti National Park with a practicing Mayan healer who’s well-versed in the native flora.
Green spaces like Elijio Panti National Park are beguiling and cheap to visit © Aquila Flores/Lonely Planet

National parks and protected areas offer cheap things to do

Belize is home to 17 national parks and more than 100 protected areas. Together they offer a wide range of activities for travelers, some of which can be accessed for as little as BZ$10. These include caving, hiking, birding, medicinal trails, and snorkeling.

On the mainland, take a trip to the St Herman’s Blue Hole National Park (Belize’s other famous blue hole) for some hiking or head to St Herman’s Cave for a refreshing swim in a cenote. It’s found right off the Hummingbird Highway, accessible by public transport.

For a cheaper Mayan site, try Cahal Pech in San Ignacio Town. As well as being easy to get to, you can enjoy the site on your own. However, a local guide can be hired for as little as BZ$40.

To see Belize’s incredible marine biodiversity, a snorkeling tour of the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve is just BZ$80 per person.

Finally, don’t try to see it all in one go

Ditch the idea that you have to do it all in one trip. Skip the “must-do” lists and really get to know your destination by fully immersing yourself in the vibe and culture of an area. This will help you spend less on things like internal transportation and tours.

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