Updated: Mar 31, 2020
If you are the kind of traveler searching for simple and natural beauty away from the hustle and bustle of American comforts Belize is the country for you; the true backpacker's retreat and nature's best kept secret. Belize is often overlooked by many travelers, mostly because it is still untouched by commercial properties, chain resorts, stores, and restaurants, many people seem to avoid the unknown and unfamiliar but venturing out in Belize is well worth the visit.
Belize has something to offer to everyone of all ages; from hiking, kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, Mayan ruins, caves, waterfalls, jungles, and river tubing. The outdoor activities are endless. And the best part is that you can do majority of these activities for less than $5 USD or even for free! No need for a tour guide here!
The first time my boyfriend and I traveled to Belize we were able to save more money by renting an SUV. We explored all the tourist sites ourselves versus spending up to $100 USD or more for a guided excursion. The dollar is also 2:1 so food was ridiculously inexpensive. One night my boyfriend and I bought 6 empanadas, 3 tostadas, and 5 large bottles of water all for $6 bucks!
If the cheap eats, endless attractions, or outdoor activities still doesn't convince you to give Belize a visit; go for the amazing hospitality. The local people there are beyond nice, and are more than willing to help you out in any way possible. More than once my boyfriend and I got lost trying to find our hotel in the middle of the night. (Belize is still developing so there are a limited amount of streetlights and signs) But nevertheless, everyone we approached were friendly and more than helpful even the ones with machetes in their hands!
Flights: Book early; round trip flights in October for January are in the low $300's but if you wait until the last minute more specifically 3 weeks before you travel you will end up paying up to $500.
Currency: $2 BZD to $1 USD; everything was extremely cheap especially food.
Hotels: The only typical American chain hotels such as Best Western, or Holiday Inn are located in Belize City; you won't find the comforts of a Marriott's or Hilton's here. But isn't that the point of traveling somewhere different anyway? The resorts that Belize does offer are all one of a kind with exceptional hospitality, and beautifully designed with nature in mind. I've stayed and recommend the following resorts
The Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge (Belmopan)
Airbnb Forest Room (San Ignacio)
Matachica Resort (Ambergris Caye)
Island Magic Beach Resort (Caye Caulker)
Mayan Ruins- Xunantunich $4 per person park entry fee, the ferry to cross the river is free
Rio On Pools- free
Big Rock Falls- free
Pine Ridge Park - free
Rio Frio Cave- free
Small Blue Hole & St. Herman's Cave - $4 per person park entry fee
Hol Chan (snorkeling with stingrays and nurse sharks) - $55 per person
River and sea kayaking or paddleboarding- free, most resorts offer this complimentary
Day Trip to Tikal Mayan Ruins in Guatemala - prices varies per tour company
Tips: Watch out for typical hotel tours/booking agents and in-house resort restaurants they are overpriced. My advice is to dine at the local food eateries, it's cheaper and actually 10 times better. Also rent an SUV for about $200 for 3 days and explore all you want yourself for free.