Tiny, tropical Belize is where Spanish-flavoured Central America meets the captivating culture of the Caribbean, but it pays to think about when to go.

You’ll get the best out of Belize’s Mayan ruins, vine-draped rainforests and the largest barrier reef outside of Australia during the dry season from December to April. At other times, crowds evaporate and prices plummet, offering a more relaxed taste of the tropics.

Many visitors swear by the shoulder season in November and May, when there’s still plenty of sunshine, but much less competition for towel space on Belize’s Caribbean beaches. Some activities though are definitely better in the dry – rain can put a real damper on diving in the spooky Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef or exploring the flooded caverns of Actun Tunichil Muknal. Plus, the summer heat can be a lot to handle. 

Here’s our guide to help you decide the perfect time to visit Belize. 

A boy swims in the crystal clear waters of San Pedro, Belize
The clear waters in Belize make diving and snorkeling an incredible experience © Getty Images/EyeEm

Prime weather conditions from December to April

Best time to go swimming

The dry season from December to April brings brilliant blue skies and birdlife to the Caribbean Coast, meaning prime weather for birding, sun-bathing, swimming and diving on the beaches of Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye and hundreds of other islands along the Belize Barrier Reef. Accordingly, hotels and transport operators bump up their prices by 30% to 50%. Extra-high “peak” prices apply from mid-

December to mid-January; reservations are essential if you plan on enjoying some Christmas sun.
The dry season is also the best time to explore the Maya wonders of the country, from the stepped pyramids of Caracol and Altun Ha to the menacing masks adorning temples at Lamanai and Xunantunich.

Cavers can take advantage of the dry weather to wriggle and wade deep underground in sacred Mayan caves such as Actun Tunichil Muknal and Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve.

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Avoid the crowds in November and May

Best time to go for budget adventures

The crowds die down either side of the peak dry months, but most of Belize’s attractions stay open, and hotels offer wallet-friendly prices. Temperatures stay warm in November and May, there are plenty of dry days, and you won’t have to share the temples, beaches and jungles with a crowd.

Coming in November also means you can join the party for Garifuna Settlement Day, celebrating the culture of the Garifuna people – descendants of escaped enslaved Africans and indigenous Carib people, who were evicted to Central America from St Vincent & the Grenadines.

May is a great time to dive in Belize, with good chances of encounters with whale sharks, which gather to feast on the eggs released by breeding snappers in the Gladden Spit & Silk Cayes Marine Reserve.

Although the whale sharks haven’t been seen for several years, there's hope that they will return soon. The chocolate festival in Toledo and the cashew festival in Crooked Tree Village are good reasons to detour inland.

A catamaran is moored in the blue waters of Belize. There is a woman sitting on the edge of the boat.
If you're willing to risk heavy rainfall,the months of June to October are great for budget travelers © Justin Lewis / Getty Images

Expect lots of rain from June to October

Best time to go for low prices

Low season means low prices, but this is the off-season for a reason. Heavy rainfall and high temperatures sweep across the country from June to mid-November. The rain is especially present at night, when thunder and lightning put on quite a show.

Some hotels and tourist-oriented attractions close down for the season, especially in September and October, and trips into the rainforest and to Maya ruins are marred by muddy tracks and abundant mosquitos.

Hurricanes are possible between August and October and can cause chaos on the coast (the last hurricane to make landfall in Belize was Hurricane Nana in 2020). But in case that sounds like a doom-laden forecast, it doesn’t rain all day, or indeed every day, and most of the showers take place overnight or early in the morning.

Resorts often slash their prices, meaning some real bargains for travelers who don’t need constant sunshine. Play it safe and bring waterproofs, a rain-proof cover for your backpack and a dry bag for your electronics. 

When to plan a trip to Belize 

January is filled with parities and events 

Although the dry season only really gets underway in late January, the post-New Year holidays see a huge influx of people and a big increase in prices. Visitors might see some rain, but usually not enough to stop people having a good time. There are big NYE parties in San Pedro, horse races at Burrell Boom and cyclists ride from Corozal to Belize City for the Krem Annual New Year's Day Classic.
Key events: New Year’s Eve; Krem Annual New Year's Day Classic

Palms greet arrivals to tropical Tobacco Caye
Palms greet new arrivals to tropical Tobacco Caye ©Simon Dannhauer/Getty Images

February is dry season 

The dry season arrives in earnest, bringing blue skies and deliciously warm temperatures day after day. Prices for accommodation remain high, and there’s lots of demand for space on boats to the cayes and trips inland to caves, ruins and jungle reserves. Lagoons and rivers begin to dry up and birds become easier to spot, as they congregate around the limited remaining water sources.
Key events: El Gran Carnaval de San Pedro; Sidewalk Art Festival, Palencia

Conserve water in April 

The dry season rolls on and Belize basks under blue skies, with almost perfect temperatures. Supplies of fresh water can run down on the cayes due to the lack of rain and heavy tourist demand – do your bit to help by conserving water and not asking hotels for unnecessary laundry services.
Key events: Baron Bliss Day; La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge, San Ignacio to Belize City

Easter celebrations in April 

The weather is dry and temperatures creep upwards, especially in the southern parts of the country. Expect extra crowds during the weeks before and after Easter, which is celebrated with passion across the country.
Key events: Semana Santa (Holy Week)

May is an ideal time to avoid the crowds 

Humidity increases and the dry season gradually turns to wet season toward the end of May, but this can be a good time to travel with fewer tourists and low prices. There are still plenty of dry days and most tourist attractions stay open.
Key events: Chocolate Festival of Belize, Toledo; Cashew Nut Festival, Crooked Tree Village

A woman looks down at her phone while traveling to the Barrier Reef in Belize
Head to the waters to beat June's heat and humidity © James N Williams /Getty Images/iStockphoto

Temperatures soar in June

Dry season gives way to the humid season in June, though showers are usually brief and often happen at night. The heat is profound at this point. Visitors who can tolerate a few raindrops and increased temperatures will enjoy a peaceful atmosphere and lower prices. The reopening of the lobster season means succulent seafood treats are back on the menu.
Key events: Lobster Festival & Día de San Pedro, San Pedro

Off-season closures make travel tough in July 

The humidity really kicks in; expect short, sharp heavy showers as a regular backdrop to your day. Off-season closures make travel complicated in some parts of the country.
Key events: Belize International Film Festival, Belize City

Things get wet in August

The weather is hot, humid and usually wet, wet, wet. Belizeans start monitoring the weather forecasts for signs of hurricanes and tourists make themselves scarce. There’s still some cultural activity though, particularly on Ambergris Caye.
Key events: Costa Maya Festival, San Pedro

Sandy street on Caye Caulker
Sand replaces tarmac on the streets of Caye Caulker Aleksandar Todorovic/Shutterstock

September is hurricane season 

September is the height of hurricane season, and thunderstorms are likely, even if there are no big weather events on the horizon. Conversely, this is also the most festive month in Belize – particularly in Belize City – as locals celebrate national holidays with gusto.
Key events: Battle of St George's Caye Day & Independence Day, Belize City

October is for conch 

The start of the conch fishing season livens up menus, but the rains continue and hurricanes are still a risk. Birds migrating south from the US start to put in an appearance. Venues that closed for the low season start to reopen.
Key events: Pan American Day (Columbus Day)

Two different sets of hands play the drums
The drum is an important part of Garifuna culture © Karen Brodie/Getty Images

Celebrate Garifuna Settlement Day in November

The rain starts to let up. The start of the month is quiet, but as temperatures drop in the northern hemisphere around Thanksgiving, the trickle of tourists turns into a steady stream. Garifuna Settlement Day on 19 November is a great time to visit the coast.
Key events: Garifuna Settlement Day

Celebrate the holidays in December

December still sees some rain, but not enough to deter the many travelers who want to spend Christmas in the tropics. Most lodgings are busy and extra expensive in the last two weeks of the month and prices stay high through the first weeks of January; book months ahead for rooms in prime locations.
Key events: Christmas

Belize is on our 2022 Best of Travel list. For more stories from some of the world’s most exciting destinations click here.

Safety recommendations and restrictions during a pandemic can change rapidly. Lonely Planet recommends that travelers always check with local authorities for up-to-date guidance before traveling during Covid-19.

You might also like:
Your guide to adventure activities in Belize
Exploring the flavors and melodies of Belize 
Going local: explore culture tourism in Belize 

This article was first published June 2021 and updated January 2022

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