Touring through the winding stretch of Belize’s Hummingbird Highway with the Maya Mountains in the distance, we had not planned to rent a car for a Belize road trip, but we are so glad we did!
The freedom of the road, not to mention the A/C, and the ability to stop off at whatever roadside curiosity that piqued our interest, made it so worth it. A Belize road trip is the perfect way to explore this jewel of a country whether this is your first visit or your tenth.
See the whole country in a week!
Belize is small. Only about 180 miles north to south and, 65 miles east to west, renting a car for a week gives you plenty of time to explore and see a good chunk of this diverse country. From white sandy beaches and Caribbean delicacies to the inland agricultural areas and the San Ignacio weekend market, a Belizean road trip is a great way to diversify and fit in as much exploration as possible.
A Belize Road Trip was not the plan…
After our private island experience out near Saint George’s Caye, we jumped on an express bus from Belize City to San Ignacio. Belize’s express buses are not at all a bad way to get around. They are very easy on the budget if you want to get there quickly and don’t mind passing up all the interesting experiences along the way. But for our first time in Belize, that just drove us nuts!
We arrived in San Ignacio with packs on our backs and not a clue where we were going to stay for the night. What is an adventure without a little spontaneity? Before too long, we found some wifi and booked an Airbnb for the night.
But, by the time we had found breakfast the next morning and made our way around San Ignacio on foot, we realized this wasn’t going to work. Our ten days in Belize was going to be eaten up by making our way from one place to the next if we didn’t find a way to get some miles behind us.
We headed to Matus Car Rental, a family business, where Rosa (her name, as I remember it) was a gem and hooked us up right! We had our wheels (and our A/C) and it was time to really explore Belize the way we wanted to… on our terms.
Things to know for planning your Belize road trip…
Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you plan your trip. In the meantime, here are a few things we think you’ll find helpful to get you started.
Cost of a car rental in Belize
Because we already made it to the Cayo district by the time we decided to rent a car for the week, San Ignacio car rental companies were our only option. We negotiated $464 for the week including an arrangement for them to pick up the car near the Belize airport where our flight home would depart from. A quick look on Expedia shows you can get a rental car or small SUV in Belize City for roughly $400 – $500 for the week.
Also keep in mind, that the rentals you get anywhere in Belize may not be as pristine as a rental car you may get elsewhere. As long as it is dependable to get you from one place to another and the A/C works, what else matters?
Not all car rental companies will allow you to drive their cars across borders. This may limit your explorations if you aren’t expecting it. If you plan to go into Guatemala or Mexico just make sure you do your research for a company that will allow it. There may also be extra fees involved.
UPDATE: Our most recent trip to Central America included renting a car to cross the Mexico Belize border.
VIDEO: Crossing the Mexico Belize Border with a Rental Car
Cost of 1 gallon of gas (as of April 2017), $4.59
It is not like driving in the US and other places where the lines on the roads actually mean something. Be alert to what is going on around you at all times! At times there doesn’t seem to be actual ‘lanes’, and they do a lot of passing! Just please, be careful.
Traffic flows on the right
On the positive side for North American travelers, at least the flow of traffic in Belize is the same side of the road as what we are used to, on the right. Try driving a standard transmission car through a roundabout in Australia… on the opposite of the road, opposite side of the car (so you are shifting with your left hand)… yeah, that takes some getting used to.
Use Google Maps (Offline) for Navigation
Save the $10 per day on the GPS unit from the car rental company by downloading Google Maps for offline use in the areas you plan to travel.
Open Google Maps on your smartphone and pull up the area you want to download (like all of Belize). Tap on the three lines in the upper left of your screen and then tap on ‘Offline areas’. Tap ‘Select your own area’ and then ‘download. Bam… navigation is covered. We have used this feature countless times and absolutely love it!
Don’t forget to pack your smartphone’s car charger!
Have fun and explore… Enjoy Belize!
Read Next: Places to hit on your Belize Road Trip …post coming soon! Subscribe by email to make sure you don’t miss it!
Would you rather that your car came with a driver?
You can always hire a Belize shuttle service and get a private car to take you from point A to point B with a stop or two along the way. If you plan on seeing more than a destination or two it might get real spendy real quick. If you don’t have a lot a travel planned during your time in county, this is certainly an option.
And for more on Belize…
Read this: Cost of 10 Days in Belize including a Private Island!
Read this: Go ahead, Get Yourself a Private Island! Blackbird Island, Belize
Read this: Hanna Stables – Airbnb Organic Farm Stay in San Ignacio, Belize
going last week in feb and want to rent a car/4×4. and just explore. is it safe,crooks and sleazy people?
Gotta admit I’m jealous! We are due for a trip back. You will love Belize as a road trip!
Yes, it’s safe. Just use common sense like you would traveling anywhere. I wouldn’t recommend that women go hang out by the river by themselves. And, I am not sure if it is still that way but when we were there for a road trip 2 years ago you wanted to go with the military escort if you are headed to the ruins at Caracol. We drove all over the country for a week and we only met very friendly people. We didn’t run into any sleazy characters. That doesn’t mean Belize is perfect. Listen to the locals about areas to visit or not visit.
Safe travels! Would love to hear how you like Belize!