Belize has a reputation as one of the most expensive countries in Central America to visit. But compare it to a vacation in the States, and its cheap. With a few money saving tips and a little creativity, ten days in Belize is very doable. Our budget even includes a private island! Here is how we did it, and what it cost.
While in Belize you can pay in US or Belize dollars just about everywhere you go. We tried to keep it Belizian as much as possible in hopes of avoiding any ‘tourist inflation’, but I don’t think it really matters. The exchange rate is a simple 2 to 1.
$2BZ = $1 US
All expenses are shown in US dollars for simplicity.
So, How Much Does a Trip to Belize Cost?
We aren’t going to include the cost of getting to Belize in the grand total because everyone is going to be coming from different places. But just to give you an idea we have included the price tag here. Honestly, I thought two round trip tickets to Belize would cost way more than they did.
$952.80 – Two round-trip plane tickets from Seattle (SEA) to Belize (BZE)
TIP: We searched for the cheapest flights we could find using Skyscanner and then purchased our tickets thru our Chase Sapphire Ultimate Rewards card so they actually cost us nothing out of pocket.
LODGING IN BELIZE
We wanted to really get a feel for the country and the people so we Airbnb’d it for the most part. We also wanted a little luxury time to just relax and unwind before heading back to the US so our itinerary included a stay at Maruba Jungle Spa thru Groupon. Here is a breakdown of our lodging and what it cost.
Of course, the most amazing part was having a private Caribbean Island all to ourselves. That is, besides Jose, the caretaker, but he was really cool. You are going to have to read all about that in our Private Island post.
- $400 Airbnb: Private Island – Blackbird Island, 2 nights
- $62 Airbnb: Tia Maria Guesthouse (with A/C) in San Ignacio, 1 night
- $134 Airbnb: Farm Stay at Hannah Stables, 2 nights including farm cooked breakfasts
- $50 Third night on the farm booked directly with the host
- $52 Placencia hotel
- $445 Groupon for Maruba Jungle Spa, 3 nights plus one-way airport shuttle
- + $40 Maruba hotel tax, charged on departure
$1183 Total Lodging for 10 nights
Average lodging per night: $118
How we could have saved on lodging
We could have significantly lowered this expense without the stays on the private island or at Maruba.
We considered the private island stay to be worth it. I mean, who doesn’t dream of a private island in the Caribbean?
Maruba Jungle Spa was nice, but we actually didn’t spend much time there, and certainly not enough to make it worth it. We were way more interested in exploring the local area such as Maskall village and Orange Walk. Also, prices for activities through Maruba were relatively expensive.
Comfortable Airbnb’s seemed to run about $50-60 per night, and we could have easily kept it in that range.
GETTING AROUND BELIZE
We started out planning to use the buses and taxis for our stay. But half way through our time in Belize we realized we just weren’t going to have enough time to do and see everything we wanted to so we decided to rent a car and make it a road trip. This derailed our plans to cross the border to Guatemala (not allowed in a rental car), but it did mean we could make our way south to Placencia, experience the Hummingbird Highway, and much more. It was really nice to be able to stop off and dip our toes in the river, and just explore.
- $25 taxi from airport to Belize City
- $5 taxi from Brodie’s to the docks
- $10 express bus Belize City to San Ignacio
- $464 car rental for 7 days including airport pickup
- $156 fuel
- $.75 tolls to Orange Walk
$660.75 Total Transportation
How we could have saved on transportation
Renting the car did blow our rather loose budget just a little, but we did save on some of the activities because we had our own transportation. Our visit to Lamanai ended up costing $50 each instead of $145. We could have saved a little if we would have rented the car near the airport rather than in San Ignacio because we ended up having to pay $75 extra for them to come pick up the car on our day of departure. A bit steep, but we didn’t see a way around it without a big hassle.
EATING & DRINKING IN BELIZE
We ate the local fare as much as possible, why would you not… it is amazing! Some of the best food we had were the meals at the roadside stands, our Airbnb farm stay at Hannah Stables, and eating in the villages. What gets spendy are the meals at resorts. Even eating at the local restaurants is not bad at all. We brought dried fruit, nuts, and jerky with us for the times when we were hungry and local food could not be found (must be the backpacker in us). Here is a breakdown of our food bill for ten days.
I’ve listed things line by line to give you an idea of what is available and what it will run you. More on the food of Belize in an upcoming post.
- $52 groceries for two days on the island (we bought too much food)
- $5 hot food/lunch from Brodie’s Grocery
- $40 drinks and water at St. George’s Caye Resort
- $80 dinner for two at St. George’s Caye Resort, Italian buffet
- $.50 coconut tart at the bus station
- $14 Caoba Restaurant one plate of chicken fajitas and 3 Belikins
- $2 soursop ice cream, oh yeah
- $16 breakfast for two at the Guava Limb Cafe
- $1 mango slices at the Friday Market
- $3 2 waters
- $1 coke
- $1.50 water
- $12 breakfast for two at the weekend market in San Ignacio (3/$1×5 tacos, panadas x2, horchata, tamarind juice)
- $4 water/drinks
- $23 lunch at Coaba Restaraunt – two plates of tacos and 3 Belikins
- $15 lunch at Foxy’s (not recommended, the server was nice but the food… meh.)
- $1 water
- $30 3 nights of dinners for two at Hannah’s, our Airbnb Farm Stay
- $43 lots of rum at a beach bar in Placencia
- $2.50 chicken lunch
- $.50 gum
- $28 dinner at Geckos – two plates of Caribbean food, plus drinks
- $2 ice cream for two
- $30 breakfast for two at Brenda’s (Yikes, I think this was a little of that ‘tourist inflation’. Too bad, she was a really nice lady.)
- $12 iced coffee and two smoothies
- $6 crappy coffee at the Art Box
- $8 dinner for two & beers in Maskall Village
- $2 burritos for two
- $14 beer and jalapeño poppers
- $.50 roadside hot corn with lime and seasonings
- $6 more roadside food
- $179 food and drinks plus sales tax at Maruba (2 dinners and 1 breakfast)
- $13 a club sandwich and fries at the airport before departure
$647.50 Total food for 11 days
Average food for a couple: $59/day
How we could have saved on food
Skip the alcohol. Fewer Belekins (the locally brewed beer) and skipping the Belizian rum would knock roughly $200 off our bill …don’t judge, we were on vacation!
Avoid the resorts. The $30-40 per person for one meal at the resorts would feed a person for several days on the local food. Tacos, baby… at 3/$1BZ, they are the way to go!
- $10 St. George’s Caye Aquarium entry ($10BZ/PP)
- $40 for a local guy who took us out on the water for a little snorkeling and fishing… just hanging out on the water.
- $10 Cahal Pech entry ($10BZ/PP)
- $11 Chaa Creek Medicine Walk (unguided)
- $30 Xunantunich guide
- $10 Xunantunich entrance fee ($10BZ/PP)
- $4 The Blue Hole and Saint Herman’s ($4BZ/PP)
- $50 Guided Medicinal walk at Maruba ($50BZ/PP)
- $10 Altun Ha admission ($10BZ/PP)
- $20 Altun Ha guide
- $100 Lamanai tour and boat ride ($50US/PP)
- $30 Belize Zoo Entry ($15US/PP)
$325 Total Activities
How we could have saved on activities
Skip the tour guides. The only guide that came with us that we actually felt was worth it was Francisco at Xunantunich. He was less like a guide and more like a ‘friend for the day’. He likes people and really likes his job, it means something to him. We will tell you all about it when we post on Xunantunich. As for the other guides, you can just tell they are way too burnt out on ‘tourists’.
The Belize Zoo was nice, but not $15US per person nice. The cost was more than we expected from our pre-trip research. But we were there, so we went ahead and paid it.
OTHER EXPENSES (SOUVENIRS & SUCH)
You can’t go without bringing a little something back, right?
- $20 hand embroidered blouse
- $25 Mayan calendar carving
- $5 earrings at Cahal Pech – handmade by a woman in Succotz
- $5 Jade earrings at Altun Ha
- $30 two Belize t-shirts
- $5 chocolate
- $15 copal and 7 incense
- $1 tp at the market’s public restroom
- $10 atm fees
- $4.50 spices
$120.50 Total Other Expenses
How we could have saved on other expenses
We are not super big on souvenirs unless they are something we can actually use. I would actually not consider the clothing purchases ‘trip expenses’ but rather just part of our normal clothing budget.
Going with enough cash would have saved a little in ATM fees but we don’t like carrying that much on us. We used our credit card without foreign transaction fees as much as possible.
Really, everything on this list is money we could have gone without spending. Just remember to bring your own tp for the market’s public restroom. 😉
We weren’t overly concerned about sticking to too tight of a budget this time around. This was a much-needed vacation and it had been a while. At the same time, we weren’t throwing money around like crazy either. We do want to go to Cuba in the fall after all.
Here is what everything came to
- $1183 Total Lodging for 10 nights
- $660.75 Total Transportation
- $647.50 Total food for 11 days
- $325 Total Activities
- $120.50 Total Other Expenses
$2936.75 Grand Total
That comes out to…
$294 per day for the two of us
$147 per person per day
Trim it down
If you leave out the private island and resort stays (assuming $50/night otherwise) and also the accompanying resort meals and alcohol, Belize could be done way more budget friendly.
- $548 Lodging (leaving out the private island and resort stay, assuming $50/night otherwise)
- $306 Food (minus alcohol and resort dining)
- $661 Transport (left as is)
- $325 Activities (left as is)
- $0 Other expenses (all of our ‘other expenses’ were discretionary)
$1840 Trimmed Down Total
Which comes out to…
$184 per day for a couple
$92 per person per day
That is not bad at all.
When are you going?
Well, we hope that helps with your trip planning. Belize should definitely be on your bucket list. It can be done on a budget, or you can go and fulfill your wildest dreams. Either way, take a little time. It was an amazing country to get to know even for just the short time that we were there. The people, the scenery, the history, the food… oh my goodness, we are going to miss that place.
Stay tuned, we have lots more to share about our time in Belize!
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Are you planning a trip to Belize? What would you like to know before you go, maybe we can help!
UPDATE: Our most recent trip to Central American included renting a car to cross the Mexico Belize border…