Transportation within Belize
Belize is a small country, and a large portion of its tourism is to its islands/cayes, so this isn’t a typical destination when it comes to options of getting around. Most people land at the international airport outside of Belize City and are bound for Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker, which involves a taxi ride and then a water taxi, or a quick domestic flight, but there are other options.
- The Philip Goldson International Airport is about 10 miles outside of Belize City, and even though it’s quite modest itself, this is where most people begin their Belize holiday. Check the flights to Belize page for information on getting to the country.
- The Municipal Airstrip is about 12 miles from the main airport, and a little closer to Belize City. Two local airlines – Maya Island Air and Tropic Air – fly from this airstrip as well as the international airport. Flights from these airports to the islands and smaller cities are fairly reasonable, and usually cheaper out of the Municipal Airstrip than the international airport. If you are in a group of 3 or more it might be worthwhile to take a bus or taxi between the two airports for the lower prices.
Additional domestic airports are located in Caye Caulker, Corozal, Dangriga, Placencia, Punta Gorda and Ambergris Caye/San Pedro. Most of them consist of one lonely strip of cleared land and a small building or two.
Taxis – By far the most popular taxi ride in Belize is the 10-mile ride from the international airport to the Marine Terminal in Belize City. This will cost you $US25, plus tip, for up to four passengers. Fares for getting around Belize City are usually no higher than $US5.
Island taxis – On Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker you’ll find taxis to shuttle people around along the dirt streets. They are usually golf carts that hold up to 6 people, and fares are usually no more than $US5. Most hotels will arrange to pick visitors up for free from the boat landing, which is another reason to make reservations in advance.
Water Taxi – I don’t know where they came up with this name because it’s not a taxi at all. This is a collection of speedboats that run scheduled services between the Marine Terminal in Belize City and most of the major islands. Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are the two most common destinations, but there are scheduled services to several other local cayes as well.
Domestic flights – The two competing local airlines have similar service and fares. Fortunately for travelers that like to make plans at the last minute, their fares are both reasonable and fixed. You can usually just walk up, pay the fare, and be on the flight in less than an hour.
- International airport to Caye Caulker or San Pedro/Ambergris Caye – both airlines fly hourly from about 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., at a cost of around $US55 per person one-way, with no discounts for children or seniors.
- Municipal Airstrip to Caye Caulker or San Pedro/Ambergris Caye – flights are also hourly, but are only $US32 per person, with 25% discounts for children.
Bus services – The country’s main bus company, Novelo’s, went out of business in 2005. National Transportation Services Limited is the main company now, but there are dozens of other smaller companies operating in the country. Prices are quite low in general – you can go from the north end of the country to the south for about $US20 – but services vary widely as well.
The cheapest buses are the infamous Central American chicken buses (almost always former US school buses), and they stop anywhere and everywhere to pick up and drop off passengers, so don’t take these if you are in a hurry. There are other “luxury” or “executive” services that do express routes, so make sure which sort of bus you are booking on before you pay.
Buses to Flores/Tikal, Guatemala – Several companies run frequently between the bus station in Belize City and Flores/Tikal in Guatemala. There are small travel agencies all over the country that will sell you a ticket for this journey. Most of the prices and buses are similar and of international quality (rather than chicken buses), but it never hurts to double-check before you commit yourself.
Sailing – There are a few companies that regularly sail between Ambergris Caye and Placencia.