What is the weather going to be like when I visit?
People usually ask this if they are visiting in the summer or fall (typically the rainy and hurricane seasons). Will it rain while I am there? What are the odds that there will be a hurricane?
Will the weather look like this?
August, September and October are the main months when tropical storms affect Belize. It does rain more than during the rest of the year. Often at night but there can be some rainy days during your trip as well.
And since I moved here, we have had tropical storm scares in San Pedro but never a direct hit. I think over the past 5 years, we have had 1 to 2 watches a season. Times when the weather channel is on at every bar all day long, when people often pack up things outside, sometimes board up windows and now and then, some people will leave the island and head to the mainland. Knock on wood, nothing terrible has happened. And I have never left the island. Often we have rain for the day, dark skies, heavy seas and wind. I have seen a mandatory closing of restaurants and bars in town, but that is rare.
That does not mean that it can’t happen. But hey, apparently it can happen in New York City too. Hurricane Irene hit the northeast pretty hard in 2011.
Final answer? Your odds of stormy weather are better than during the rest of the year but there are some great advantages to visiting during the fall months (see: Visiting Sept 21 and Visiting in October). You need to weigh the positives (like cheap airfare and amazing September celebrations) vs. the negatives like a few possible rainy days or even the much slimmer chance of a tropical storm. I wouldn’t hesitate but would check policies of the airlines and hotels in relatively slim chance that I would have to adjust my plans.
Another quick weather note: No matter what time of the year, people log onto some of the large weather sites (like weather.com) to check the forecast for their vacation. They see the menacing picture below + “isolated t-storms” for the entire 10 day forecast.
These sites are pretty much never right beyond a few days. Plus, we NEVER have thunderstorms at this time of year. Summer, yes…winter and spring? No.
For the most accurate short term forecast that I have seen, check: Belize’s Meteorological Service
Should I Visit Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye?
Let me start with saying that I love them both, but after visiting both, I chose to live on Ambergris Caye so…I’ve gotta bias. Let me just break it down into the reasons to visit each.
Reasons to Pick Caye Caulker
- Overall, lower budget hotels
- You really get to know the island and all of the people there very quickly. It’s very homey.
- Very easy to explore by foot. No traffic. No need for golfcarts or taxis like much of AC.
- A generally younger crowd. Also tends to be a bit more international.
- It’s very quaint, very pastel, very charming.
- More restaurant and bar choices. You could easily stay for one month and try a new place each day. Probably two.
- More varied choices of hotels, from simple bed and breakfasts to high end resorts. You can stay in the busier town or at a very remote spot up north.
- Lots of events each afternoon and night (see my event calendar below) from live music to karaoke to fund raisers to the famous Chicken Drop. You will never be bored.
- More dive and tour companies. You will have a larger selection of trips that you can take each day.
- It’s a relatively long island. There are lots of different areas, (better) beaches and neighborhoods to explore.
- If you are doing your own food shopping and cooking, you have a much larger range of options.
You can swim, dive, snorkel, sun, sail, windsurf and take to trips to the mainland from both islands. Both have great bars, restaurants and lots of friendly people. So it ends up being all about personal preference. My personal preference? 5 days on Ambergris Caye and 2 days on Caye Caulker (or even just a day trip to CC). And this blog is all about my opinion.
Can I follow my celiac/gluten-free diet while in San Pedro?
This one is new to me but I’ve probably been asked it about 10 times in the last month. I do not follow a gluten free diet (or any diet for that matter!) but here is what I think.
Many of the most popular dishes in Belize are totally wheat-free. Chicken and fish, rice & beans, plenty of corn tortillas and tortilla chips, plaintains, foods like salsa and ceviche are available at almost every restaurant.