A smallish country surrounded by Mexico (rent a car in Mexico), Guatemala (car renting in Guatemala) and the Caribbean Sea, Belize is special in more ways than one. It is the only country in Central America whose official language is English, as well as the 2nd smallest and least populated, with roughly 340,000 people in 2014.
Thanks to its excellent climate, unique collection of over 450 picturesque islands, diverse flora and fauna and active focus on improving its tourism offerings, Belize is quickly becoming a popular destination for tourists from around the world. The country’s capital city is Belmopan, its largest city is Belize City and the official currency used in the country is the Belize dollar, although US dollars are widely used and accepted as well.
What You Need To Know About Car Rental In Belize
The best place for car rental in Belize is at the Belize International Airport, where you’ll find several car rental agencies. Alternatively, another good place for car rental is Belize’s largest city, Belize City. You’ll find a few big international car rental agencies operating in Belize, such as Avis, Budget and Hertz, as well as reliable local companies such as Crystal Auto Rental. In order to rent a car in Belize, most car rental agencies will require that you’re 25 or older.
With roads in Belize being in the condition they’re in, you should seriously consider renting a 4×4 if you’re planning to explore Belize in a rented car, as anything less powerful and durable might cause you some serious headaches. In fact, some car rental companies won’t even allow for their non 4×4 cars to be driven on unpaved roads, so take that into consideration when you’re planning your itinerary and deciding which car to rent.
Driving in Belize
Although the traffic signs in Belize are in English, not all roads and highways have them, so you’ll often have to rely on asking locals for directions during your Belize driving adventure. The same goes for street signs, so try to get prepared in advance, get yourself a good map and ask for directions and tips at your hotel, travel agency or car rental company.
While most of the main roads – including the 4 highways – in Belize are paved, many others are still unpaved, dirt roads, often riddled with potholes. Add to that numerous speed bumps, and it becomes clear that you’ll have to drive around Belize very carefully if you want to avoid damaging your rented car or injuring yourself. Expect to occasionally see dogs and farm animals on the road, as well as pedestrians and cyclists, since many roads lack accompanying sidewalks.
Another thing to watch for while driving a car in Belize is careless drivers. Although not among the countries with the highest rates of traffic-related deaths in the world, Belize still has a significant problem with speeding and drunk driving. And if you can avoid it, don’t drive in Belize at night. Its winding, bumpy roads are dangerous even in broad daylight and even more so during night-time.
Traffic police in Belize are mostly polite and you shouldn’t have any problems with them as long as you respect the traffic laws and have a valid drivers license from your country. If you get into an accident, however, the fact that you’re a foreigner will most likely do you more harm than good so do your best to stay calm and keep your wits about you.
Belize is only around 70 miles wide and 250 miles long so, given enough time, if you decide to rent a car in this country or in the nearby Honduras (renting a car in Honduras), you’ll have a good chance of exploring it thoroughly.
After you’re done exploring Belmopan and Belize City, you’ll have a number of options to choose from. Among the most notable attractions in Belize is its chain of islands known as cayes. Caye Caulker is known for its relaxed, easygoing, idyllic atmosphere, while Ambergris caye is the largest island in Belize and a bit more popular and touristy, but both provide excellent opportunities for surfing, diving or just relaxing on the beach.
If you’re a lover of history and archaeology, you can visit the Caracol Ruins, one of the biggest preserved Mayan sites in the world, and if you’re interested in eco-tourism, a visit to Placencia or San Ignacio will let you experience more of Belize’s marvelous nature.