Is it safe to visit Belize?

Gabriela Peratello

Belize has a lot to offer travelers, from jungle interiors to islands and beaches — and of course, the world’s second largest coral reef. That makes it a popular place to relax, soak up some sun, dive and snorkel. However, you may well be wondering: is Belize safe to visit? This guide covers all you need to know.

We’ll take a look at Belize travel restrictions and how to make sure your trip is as safe as possible.

📑 Table of Contents

We’ll also touch on how the Wise Multi-currency Account can help you save on currency exchange and keep your travel money safe when you’re on the move.

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How safe is Belize?

We’ll run through the details of how to stay safe in Belize in just a moment. Let’s start with an overview.

Belize is a fairly safe place, but it’s important to note a few key risks. The crime rate in Belize — including violent crime — is high. Tourists are less likely to be deliberately targeted for violent crime but can be victims of opportunistic thefts, pickpocketing and scams.

You’ll be able to minimize the risks of travel to Belize by planning your itinerary carefully to avoid more dangerous areas, and remaining aware of your surroundings.

OVERVIEW¹
Overall riskMedium
Transport & TaxiHigh
PickpocketingHigh
MuggingHigh
ScamsMedium
Natural disastersMedium

Safety tips for Belize

With some smart and sensible precautions, travel in Belize can be perfectly safe. Tourism is on the rise in the country, and it really is a beautiful destination to visit.

Safety concerns in Belize tend to lie around a few key points:

  • High violent crime rate in some regions
  • Tourist scams and petty crime
  • Road and transportation safety

It’s true that there are some areas of Belize where safety can become a concern. We’ll look at that in more detail later, but it’s easy enough to simply avoid these regions on your trip.

Transport safety is an issue but taking licensed taxis and sticking to the major highways will help. And you’ll be able to significantly lower the chances of being a victim of petty crime by taking sensible precautions like these:

  • Get local advice about where in your neighborhood is safe to visit
  • Use situational awareness — keep an eye on your surroundings and follow your instincts if somewhere or someone feels dangerous
  • Don’t display expensive items or accessories — most crime experienced by tourists in Belize is opportunistic
  • Travel in groups if possible — you can join organised excursions even if you’re taking a solo trip
  • Be wary of accepting help from friendly strangers — you may be expected to tip or make a payment later
  • Lock your passport and valuables away in your hotel
  • Use registered taxis, and be very careful if you choose to use public transport such as chicken buses, as thefts do occur in crowded vehicles

Scams to watch out for when in Belize

Most of the scams you may encounter in Belize are similar to the tactics used elsewhere — and can be avoided with a little common sense. One commonly reported scam is where a tourist agrees to have someone braid their hair, at a price agreed in advance. Half way through the service the seller increases the costs, leaving you stuck between paying more or having a half head of braids.

Other common scams are taxis and drivers who take you to locations where they earn a commission — and of course pickpockets which can work in groups seeking to distract and rob tourists.

Keep your money safe when going abroad, get a Wise account

Bank card skimming can be an issue in Belize — as in many other places. One smart way to avoid this becoming a problem is to keep your travel money separate from your regular bank account using a specific international account like the Wise Multi-currency Account.

With a Wise account you’ll save on currency conversion costs, and you’ll have a linked debit card to use to spend in stores and restaurants, and make ATM withdrawals. You’ll never have to carry large amounts of cash, and can manage your card from the Wise app — turn it on when you’re using it, and lock it for security after. Simple.

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Is it safe to travel alone to Belize?

Most trips to Belize are completely trouble free — including solo travelers, backpackers and people looking for an adventure.

There are some safety issues in Belize you’ll want to be aware of — but keeping your wits about you when you travel, and taking simple precautions to stay safe should mean you have a perfect vacation in Belize.

Is Belize safe for solo female travelers?

Belize is generally safe for women, but any female solo travelers will want to take sensible precautions. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) recommends women stay in groups where possible.

It’s worth noting that police resources in Belize are severely stretched which can result in official support in the event of a crime being limited.

What are the safest places to visit in Belize?

Let’s take a look at some of the safest destinations in Belize. We’ll also cover where not to visit in Belize in just a moment.

You can get lots of Belize travel information and inspiration on the Visit Belize website, too².

Placencia

placencia
Placencia — which is a peninsula but has the look and feel of an island — is a popular tourist destination on the Caribbean coast. There are fabulous beaches and reef dive sites to explore and nature lovers can spot manatees and crocodiles in the Placencia lagoon.

Ambergris Caye

ambergris-caye
If you’re looking for the Belize island experience, you can also consider Ambergris Caye — the largest of the Belize islands. It’s a perfect place to base yourself if you love to dive, with a great range of dive sites accessible. And because it is a popular tourist destination you’ll be able to find more or less anything you need to make your trip memorable.

Corozal

corozal
Corozal is the most northerly town in Belize, and considered a safe place to visit or live. In fact, lots of expats live there already, while tourists who choose Corozal tend to be looking for an ecotourism experience. There’s a population of under 10,000 people making this somewhat sleepy town a great place to relax — and you can still find lovely beaches, luxury hotels, jungle experiences and pristine nature nearby.

Places you might want to avoid when in Belize

Avoid Belize City, and especially the southside of the city, due to gang related crimes. These don’t tend to target tourists, but you can still get unwittingly caught up in problems if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In 2020, the Belize government brought in a state of emergency in some areas of the city which means police can stop and search people without a warrant.

It’s also worth staying away from the border areas with Guatemala. Although there are some tourist sites in this region, travel may require a military patrol due to security concerns.

Important information about going to Belize

Advance planning is the best way to make sure your trip to Belize — or anywhere else for that matter — is a relaxing break without any issues. Here are some key things to bear in mind — and some ideas on where to find more information to help you prepare.

Emergency numbers and contact

The emergency number in Belize is 911. However, it’s worth knowing that police resources are limited, and reporting a crime and getting help may prove time consuming. Contact the US embassy if you need help to speak to the police in Belize.

US Embassy address:
U.S. Embassy Belmopan
4 Floral Park Road
Belmopan, Belize

US Embassy telephone:
+(501) 822-4011

Emergency Embassy support:
+(501) 610-5030

You can also enrol in the US government’s Smart Traveler program to get updates and safety information when you travel³.


Belize travel restrictions

belize-mask

You might be wondering whether it is safe to travel to Belize right now — at the time of writing, there’s a government issued level 4 travel advisory in place for Belize due to Covid. That means US citizens are advised not to travel to Belize.

Prior to the pandemic, the government advised increased caution due to crime in Belize, and notes that some areas are more dangerous than others.

The travel situation is changing all the time, so before you book your tickets you’ll want to check out the most up to date information. Try the Belize country pages on the State department website, and the US Embassy in Belize for reliable, live information.


FAQ for Belize travel

Still got questions about Belize travel? We’ve got answers. Read on for some common FAQs about travel safety in Belize.

Is transportation safe in Belize?

According to the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), road transportation in Belize can be challenging due to poor road conditions⁴. This is especially so in wet weather. OSAC recommends that driving at night is avoided entirely. Here are some

💡 Key points about transport in Belize to consider when planning your trip
  • Road conditions can be poor, especially in rural areas. Highways tend to be in better condition than local roads.
  • Driving at night is discouraged, and driving in rain may increase the likelihood of accidents
  • Licensed taxis have green license plates — you’ll have to inform the driver you don’t want them to pick up additional passengers
  • Buses can be dangerous due to inadequate safety precautions and poor driving standards
  • Water taxis are usually safe — check there are enough life vests for the number of passengers on board

Is it safe to drive or rent a car in Belize?

Driving in Belize can be a challenge because of road quality. This is especially so after dark or when it rains. Parts of the coastal road in particular can be problematic because they’re unpaved and can be dangerous due to flooding.

Is it safe to hitchhike in Belize?

Hitchhiking is inherently risky and best avoided if possible.

Can you drink tap water in Belize?

Whether the tap water is safe to drink will depend on where you are in the country. In most cities the water is safe — but hotels and resorts tend to offer bottled water instead.

How safe is the food in Belize?

Trying out the food in Belize is likely to be a big part of your trip. Food is safe as long as normal health and hygiene precautions are taken. Use common sense when deciding what and where to eat — choosing popular venues should mean you have a great experience.

Do you need any special vaccinations?

You do not need any special vaccinations to travel to Belize.

What’s the risk of getting Zika in Belize?

Belize is not experiencing a Zika outbreak at the time of writing. However, there have been cases there in the past, so you’ll want to get up to date information before you travel. Check out the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information⁵.

Tip: the best way to stay clear of Zika — and other mosquito borne diseases — is to avoid mosquito bites where possible. Remember to use a good quality mosquito repellant, cover up, and use a mosquito net at night.

Is it safe to get an Airbnb in Belize?

You can find some stunning places to stay in Belize through Airbnb. Choose well rated hosts and take normal safety steps when you travel, as you would anywhere else.

Is Belize friendly to the LGBTQ+ community?

Although Belize is a popular destination for LGBTQ+ travelers, OSAC does warn about some hostile sentiment towards the community which can at times flare into violence. As with anywhere, be aware of your surroundings and seek help if you feel threatened.


Planning your trip to Belize should be a lot of fun — and getting there for your vacation will be even better. Use this guide to make sure you’re safe throughout your travels and don’t forget to open a Wise Multi-currency Account to help cut the costs of currency exchange and keep your travel money safe.

Keep your money safe. Try Wise

Read more: the cost of living in Belize

Sources:

  1. US Travel - Belize travel advisory
  2. Travel Belize
  3. STEP
  4. OSAC
  5. CDC - Zika information

Sources checked on 11.11.2021


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