Posted: 10/21/2019 | October 21st, 2019
Whether it’s relaxing on a picturesque beach, exploring Mayan ruins, or snorkeling the world’s second longest barrier reef, you’ll discover that Belize is full of amazing and adventurous things to do. The country is one of the most unique destinations in Central America and among my favorite countries in the region. It’s also where I did my first solo backpacking trip and, since that first trip, I’ve loved every minute I’ve spent there.
From the Latin culture of the interior to the Caribbean Rasta vibe of the coast to the old English feel of some of the islands, Belize is a mash-up of vibrant and historic cultures.
The country is popular with backpackers, vacationers, dive enthusiasts, and honeymooners alike, offering something for every travel style and interest.
And tourism is on the rise, too.
In 2018, Belize saw an all-time high of 1.5 million visitors — which is a lot for a country of just over 400,00 people! Tourism will no doubt continue to increase here as Belize is one of the safest countries in the area to visit.
But just because it’s safe doesn’t mean you can let your guard down fully. Here are some tips to help you stay safe during your visit:
9 Safety Tips for Belize
1. Avoid isolated areas – If you’re somewhere isolated, you’ll be at a greater risk for getting robbed, especially at night and in the cities. Try to stay where the crowds are — that’s the best way to avoid being singled out by potential muggers.
2. Be aware of your surroundings while in crowds – While sticking to where the crowds will help you avoid getting mugged, it will also make you a target for petty theft. Tourists are usually easy targets for pickpockets, so when you are in the popular tourist areas make sure your valuables are secure.
3. Don’t wear flashy items – Petty theft is the most common threat here, so remove any jewelry or watches, and don’t wave your phone around. Do your best to blend in, so you don’t become a target for pickpockets. If you happen to find yourself a victim of armed robbery, follow the instructions of the robber and give up your valuables; these material items can be replaced — but your life cannot.
4. Don’t leave your items unattended – If you are spending the day on the beaches of Placencia Peninsula, Hopkins Village, or Caye Caulker, do not leave your belongings unattended while swimming or walking along the sand, as locals and tourists alike can easily swipe your valuables. If you can, find friends at your hostel to hit the beach with so you can take turns watching over each other’s things while you swim and relax.
5. Avoid the bus at night – If you need to get somewhere at night, take a taxi. It will be safer than any public transportation. Have your accommodation call the taxi for you so you can be sure you’re getting a reputable driver. Make sure you get in a taxi with a green license plate, as those indicate authorized taxis. If you’re a solo female traveler, make sure you travel with other people at night (even in taxis).
6. Be careful on public transit – If you must take public transit, keep your valuables on you and well secured, especially on “chicken buses” (colorfully decorated school buses that have been converted to public transportation for goods and people). Theft is common on night buses, so avoid them if you can. (Buses also tend to not run on time, and sometimes they are extremely slow, packed, or both. Be prepared for the experience!)
7. Don’t do drugs – Cartels in Belize have made life very difficult for the local population. Don’t support them by buying their products. Drug penalties are also harsh in the region, and you don’t want to end up in jail!
8. Stick to the touristy parts of Belize City – Belize City (the largest city) has some sketchy neighborhoods that unfortunately have been taken over by local gangs. There are areas, however, that are relatively safe, such as the main tourist part of town. If you don’t wander too far from there, you should be fine.
9. Buy travel insurance – Travel insurance will protect you if you get injured or ill, are a victim of theft, or must deal with delayed or canceled flights. It’s a worthwhile investment and can save you thousands of dollars. Don’t risk traveling without it. I always buy travel insurance before I leave home — a lesson I’ve learned the hard way!
FAQ on Safety in Belize
Below are answers to common questions I get on safety in Belize so you can be better prepared for your trip!
Is there a risk of Zika in Belize?
Belize has a history of Zika virus transmission, but there is currently no evidence of an ongoing outbreak. While the risks are low, travelers are advised to take the following precautions:
- Use mosquito repellent on your body (on top of any sunscreen) to prevent bites, and sleep under a mosquito net to avoid getting bit while when you’re asleep.
- Wear breathable garments that cover your arms and legs.
- Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible to prevent mosquitos from entering your room.
- Pregnant women or couples considering pregnancy should consult a healthcare practitioner prior to travel.
Is hitchhiking safe there?
Hitchhiking in Belize is quite common, easy, and — most importantly — safe. My friends and I hitchhiked throughout the country and saw lots of locals doing it too. HitchWiki has a lot of information on hitchhiking in Belize to help you get started.
Is the street food safe?
It sure is safe to have street food in Belize! The best and most affordable way to experience the local cuisine is through their street food, which has Afro-Caribbean and Mexican cultural influences. Sample conch fritters, ceviche, or coconut curry and enjoy the variety of delicious flavors!
Is the tap water safe to drink?
Belize’s Ministry of Health has taken steps toward making tap water drinkable for locals. However, during the rainy season, some areas experience flooding, which may contaminate the tap water. The best way to make sure your drinking water is safe is to bring a SteriPen or Lifestraw for your reusable water bottle. This way you’ll be able to purify the tap water, so you don’t get sick — and avoid single-use plastic bottles in the process.
Are the taxis safe?
Taxis are safe — and preferred — when getting around at night. You can ask your hostel or hotel to call a taxi for you. Be sure to get take an authorized taxi (they have green license plates). Use your smartphone and track the route on your offline map, and if the driver seems to be going off said route, speak up and ask why they’ve decided to take this direction instead. At the end of the day, always trust your gut: if a taxi driver seems shady, stop the cab and get out.
If you’re a solo female traveler, I suggest traveling with a friend or another traveler at night, just to be safe.
Is Belize safe for solo travelers?
Solo traveling in Belize is safe, although petty theft is one of the most common types of crime in Belize. The people involved in some sort of incident tend to be drinking or doing drugs or taking part in illegal activity. If you don’t do it at home, don’t do it in Belize! Follow that rule and you’ll be fine.
Is Belize safe for solo female travelers?
Belize is a safe place for solo female travelers, especially if you’re new to solo travel. It is one of the safer countries in this region. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. Always be aware of your surroundings and have a downloaded map so you can find your way home. Don’t flaunt any valuables, and avoid taking taxis alone at night.
If you’ve done your research and still have concerns, I’d suggest asking to join other groups at hostels when going out or sticking to group travel or tours, just to be safe.
Here are a few helpful posts on safety written by our solo female travel experts:
- How to Stay Safe as a Solo Female Traveler
- 8 Myths About Solo Female Travel Debunked
- 10 Common Questions About Solo Female Travel
- Women Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Travel Alone
I loved my time in Belize. The country may be small, but it had so much to offer, from dense jungles to massive caves and, of course, the famous Belize Barrier Reef, where the marine life is astonishing. (And in my opinion, the Blue Hole is one of the best places to go scuba diving.) The toughest challenge for you will be deciding what to do first!
While Belize is considered generally safe for traveling and backpacking, there’s no denying that some precautions should be taken. Read and follow this safety guide, and your experience in Belize will be a safe, fun, and memorable one.
Book Your Trip to Belize: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time. My favorite hostels in Chile are:
- The Red Hut Inn (Belize City) – This is a chill social hostel with lots of areas to relax in — includng a pool. The staff are great too!
- Dirty McNasty (Caye Caulker) – This is one of the biggest hostels in the country and known for its wild parties.
- Anda Di Hows Hostel (Placencia) – A cozy hostel on the beach with great staff and free kayaks and snorkeling gear you can use for free.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use – and I think they will help you too!
Want More Information on Belize?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Belize for even more planning tips!