Is Belize Safe To Visit? 2024 Update From Someone Who Lives Here

Belize is Safe to Travel But (As Always!) There Are Some Precautions to Take

I write about life on Ambergris Caye, Belize, and I’ve lived here full-time for over 17 years. I get asked these questions quite a bit:  IS BELIZE SAFE TO TRAVEL?  Is Belize dangerous for tourists?  Is Belize safe for women?  For solo female travelers?  For older travelers?  Is it safe to ride the bus in Belize?

My answer is yes but…

Let me start by saying what I know is 100% true: Belize is the most amazing place to visit. (And a great place to live but that’s another blog!)

It is an incredible blend of Caribbean beaches and cayes, hard-to-believe cave systems, jungle, incredible wildlife, birding, Maya sites and history, languages and cool cultures, and some of the most welcoming, incredible people on earth. We’ve got the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world and…the food also happens to be incredible. 

See: My Take on The Amazing Food of Belize

A huge bonus: as odds have it (since 85% of people who read my blog are from the US, Belize, or Canada) the people in Belize also speak your language.  Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America.

Swim area at Palapa Bar in October
Come sip and float at Ambergris Caye’s Palapa Bar

Now, let’s get TO THE QUESTIONs.

Is Belize Safe For Visitors?

My immediate answer is YES.  Belize is safe to visit.  I have been safe and felt safe here for 17 years living full time on Ambergris Caye.  But like almost everywhere else on earth, there is crime in Belize – especially focused in Belize City.  And like the Caribbean and Central America (and most of the world), a lot of it is related to the drug trade.  If you use good travel sense and follow a few basic guidelines and tips, your trip should be fun and safe.

Front Street in September draped with flags
Front Street San Pedro decked out for the September Independence Holidays

Traveling anywhere outside of your living room is a risk…

But perhaps you have seen a headline in the local news when googling. Or you just want to know about a spot when you are considering spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on vacation. I get it. It’s a very valid question. So let me do my best to answer it and give a few tips that I’ve gathered during my time in Belize.

Belize, like all of Central America and the Caribbean, lies along the drug trafficking corridor between South America and the US, and there are drug-trade-related crimes that occur.  This crime is mainly concentrated in the city – Belize City – but can occur throughout the country.

Belize City is the one real urban center in the entire country and some neighborhoods experience more crime.    AT NIGHT especially and even during the day, if you are not VERY familiar with Belize City, I recommend taking a taxi rather than trying to walk.  Don’t try to walk the 3/4 mile to the bus station that seems so easy on a map – it twists and it turns…just jump in a taxi.   I almost always take a taxi everywhere in Belize City.

It may seem silly and eye-rollingly obvious, but if you use common sense and adhere to a few simple tips, your trip to Belize will be safe and a ton of fun.

My Background (Where I’m Coming From)

My perspective is this:  I moved to Ambergris Caye, Belize 17 years ago, as a 33-year-old female who had visited the country three times.  I thought I knew pretty much exactly how life would be in Belize from my three relatively short visits.  I’d lived in NYC for a bunch of years; Ambergris Caye would be SO easy.  VACATION every day!  Paradise!  Where I could walk back to my hotel at 2 am alone…after a few too many drinks…

17 years later, I’ve learned a lot, like NOT to walk home on the beach alone at night. But I have never been the victim of a crime, and I have honestly never felt directly threatened by crime.

Hotel at the point in Placencia
An older hotel near the point of Placencia

Tips for Staying Safe in Belize

Many of these seem obvious as you sit at home and read them.  DUH.  I would NEVER carry a wad of cash with me late at night.  But I look back on my own behavior when I first visited Belize – sure I’d traveled all over the world – from Istanbul to Vietnam – but I felt so extra comfortable in Belize.  For some reason, my common sense flew out the window.

the pretty beach on the west side of Ambergris Caye
View at Secret Beach’s Casa Nova B&B

Again, I get it.  But getting your phone taken or…losing a wallet can ruin a vacation so just read these basic safety precautions and stick to them.  Trust me on this. My Belize Safety Tips. My Anywhere Safety Tips.

  1. Don’t walk alone on a dark beach at night or on a dark road 
  2. Don’t get silly drunk – it’s hard to predict what will happen when you are in a blackout.  (If you want to get silly drunk, be with friends or think about your hotel bar – the commute is very short)
  3. Take a photo of your passport and ID and save them and don’t carry your passport around with you – your mom/know-it-all friend always tells you this before you go on vacation but it’s all fun and games until you lose your passport and have to cancel your flight/go to the US embassy in Belmopan
  4. Leave Most of your wallet at Home – you don’t need your checkbook or your Bloomingdales’ credit card.  You DO need your driver’s license if you plan to rent a golf cart  For tips on using money, getting money, all things money in Belize, see this post:  Tips for Handling Money and Different Currencies in Belize
  5. Contact your credit card company and tell them you are traveling to Belize – if you are not out of the country often, it’s just a good idea so you don’t get shut off on day one
  6. Keep an eye on your purse or bag – don’t leave it under a coconut tree when you go swimming or on the back of a restaurant chair that’s facing the beach – odds are it’ll be fine…but if you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it on vacation!
  7. Don’t leave phones or anything valuable out the deck or balcony – if someone is riding by on a bike, it’s just easy to snatch.  It can happen.
  8. Don’t feed wild animals especially crocs. I don’t think that needs additional info.
  9. Stay away from drugs and drug dealers – What’s the saying? If you go looking for trouble, you are probably going to find it. It may seem obvious but when you are on vacation and had a rum punch or two…  The guys who offer to sell you weed may seem super cool – and he probably is…let me be a bit judgemental here.  Here I go:  the guy who is selling you drugs probably doesn’t have your well-being as his #1 priority (I’m going to say DITTO for anyone that offers you sex for money or favors – male or female.)  He might not be the person you want to take back to your room for popcorn and a movie.
  10. When People Ask You Where You are Staying – Be a bit vague – “down south”.  There is no reason to tell strangers where you are staying.  Especially if you are traveling solo.  There just isn’t.
  11. Be Conscientious About Your Comings and Goings – Especially if you are a large group staying in a rental home.  You wouldn’t hang up a sign that says:  WE ALL WENT CAVE TUBING FOR THE DAY.  BACK AT 5pm!  (ELECTRONICS ARE IN THE BEDROOM!) on the front door.  There is no reason to announce that to everyone or make it SUPER obvious either.
  12. Say No Firmly but Politely to Someone Asking You For Money – if you don’t want to give someone a few dollars, you don’t have to.  If they are collecting money for an operation or fundraising for a soccer match, sure.  But if you don’t want to donate, a firm but polite “No” usually does the trick.
  13. Do Things During the Day – Like going to the cash machine or standing on a dark corner fiddling with your phone or driving in an unknown area.
  14. Take the Bus During the Day – and watch your bag.  I feel very safe taking the bus on the mainland (I have never encountered any scary situation – at all), but I’d also keep my bags close/where you can see them.  Don’t load it on the back of the bus and then sit in front.  It’s just good sense.  (Here are some other tips about taking The Bus in Belize)
  15. Never Drink and Drive or Drive Recklessly – But on Ambergris Caye or Placencia…it’s just a golf cart? Right? They are toys.  NO!  Golf carts can go 25-30 mph and tip over more easily than you might think.  Especially if you are drinking. You are sharing the road with trucks, speeding taxis, kids, and dogs crossing the street.  Falling off a golf cart going 25 mph can scrape you up; it can also paralyze you – let’s not even talk about you hitting another person.  You must also remember that you are not insured – THE GOLF CART IS NOT INSURED.  Even a fender bender is going to cost you.  Don’t drink and drive.
Important warning sign from ACES
Warning sign by ACES Crocodile and Wildlife Sanctuary on Ambergris Caye
  1. Now that you have me on Golf Carts – LOCK UP your golf cart.  And don’t leave your pricey Yeti tumbler in it or even your beach towel.  That stuff could disappear.  And since there is one universal key for all golf carts on the island – your cart might get snatched too.  It doesn’t happen that often but it DOES happen.  And I won’t even tell you how much a new golf cart costs.  Okay I will.  $30-40K.  Belize dollars but STILL!
  2. Ask Questions – go with your gut.  If something seems off…feels off…makes you think twice, don’t do it.  Ask your front desk or someone working at the local restaurant or bar or shop owner for advice.  There is no reason to be an army of one.  You don’t have all the answers – you are not from here!  ASK.  If it’s late at night and your taxi guy wants to stop to pick up another fare (that’s often common practice on Ambergris Caye), tell him you don’t feel comfortable with that.  Traveling (solo in particular) is not the time to be timidly polite.
Heading North on Ambergris Caye

 A Few Other General Safety Types

These are more to avoid annoyance/feeling ripped off rather than physical safety but consider these as well.

Get comfortable with the money/currency exchange – US dollar and BZ dollars (1US=2BZD) are used interchangeably.  You might get US dollar change when you give BZ dollars in payment or both…take your time to count it out and figure it out.  Ask questions nicely.  In general, people are incredibly friendly and helpful.

This post if helpful if you have questions:  Tips For Handling Money in Belize): Belize Currency & USD Accepted

Ask prices beforehand if they are not listed or marked – at restaurants, shops, tours, etc.  “Is the price in US or Belize dollars?”

Book tours from real tour companies rather than some guy on the beach who says he has a boat.  No, you won’t be kidnapped and sold into slavery – you just might find that the guy’s boat breaks down – or he might ask for a bit of extra money for gas and some other unexpected “fees”.  I’ve always found it easiest to take recommendations from the hotel/resort.  Then, if you need to change the time or date or if you have an issue, you can chat with your hotel.

Stay hydrated (the heat, especially in the summer, is SERIOUS) – bring along your bug repellant (Bugs That Bite in Belize) – especially as you get farther away from more heavily populated areas – and wear sunscreen.  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WEAR SUNSCREEN! (An awful sunburn might be Belize’s most serious danger…)

To the Single Female – There will be some whistling or catcalling.  It can be silly (“hey lady, do you need an island boyfriend?”)…it can be annoying (through-the-teeth hissing) but please don’t let it ruin your day.

I hope that helps and alleviates some worries.  Remember that nothing is guaranteed but that the HUGE rewards of visiting Belize will almost certainly be worth it.  Don’t let common sense fly out the window, keep your wits about you and have fun.  Be safe and you’ll be telling EVERYONE about your trip to Belize when you return home.

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  1. David Martin on April 24th, 2024 at 5:10 pm

    Great pics and information as usual. Yes, it’s just common sense, mostly, eh? But hey, when people go to Paradise and everybody speaks English, we just feel like, ‘ih soh sayf ya’.

    Golf cart keys. Interesting, but private carts surely have individual keys, right?

    • Rebecca on April 25th, 2024 at 6:55 am

      Nope. Same little square key for all carts unless you have something special made, it’s even it is repeated 100x – lock your cart.

      • David Martin on April 25th, 2024 at 8:31 pm

        Huskey Parts Company makes replacement ignition switches for golf carts using unique keys. <$30 on Amazon.
        search: huskey golf cart unique key switch

  2. Rui on April 26th, 2024 at 10:33 am

    Very nice post – as a former resident of the island I like the feedback from visitors.Great info..thanks..only negative I noted u sole a photo/logo from Caye Caulker “Go Slow” is the Caye Caulker slogan…love it anyway 🙂

    • San Pedro Scoop on April 27th, 2024 at 7:33 am

      I have a pic from Placencia too. It’s a Belize blog with a focus on Ambergris Caye. Thanks.

  3. Robert on April 26th, 2024 at 12:48 pm

    Hello someone who lives here,
    You seem to be a well traveled person. As a widowed single male entering retirement, I am planning on moving (more like escaping) someplace affordable, warm, friendly and not influenced by these psychotics we all call governments. I have traveled some myself but no place I would take roots.
    I have lots of questions and wish to befriend a “local” but it’s probably not a good idea to post my email address here.
    Just a few basics if I may ask
    1. Is the Belize government influenced or corrupted by globalism?
    2. Can foreigners buy property?
    3. What is the cost of living like? House rental, food, utilities
    4. Is it preferable to live outside of the tourist area’s?
    5. What is the weather like?

    Thank you

    • San Pedro Scoop on April 27th, 2024 at 7:32 am

      What do you mean by corrupted by globalism? Corruption is a frequent topic here but I’m not sure globalism has anything to do with it. I have a cost of living post on my blog. Foreigners can buy property. I’m not sure there is any place on earth like the one you are describing! Government – different degrees of crazy – is everywhere.

      • San Pedro Scoop on April 27th, 2024 at 7:33 am

        It’s not far…20 miles? But there are two rivers and some very bad road – so up to 3 hours. But I think…if you hit all the ferries just right at the right time of day…an hour and a half?

  4. Joan K on April 26th, 2024 at 10:56 pm

    Hi, thank you for all this great info. Question, (hopefully not a silly one) you say to lock up the golf cart but if all the keys are similar, how do you lock it?

    • San Pedro Scoop on April 27th, 2024 at 7:30 am

      There is an additional bar – almost like the old school Club – that you have a padlock across the steering wheel.

  5. Brett on May 5th, 2024 at 11:25 pm

    Thank you. Travelling to Caye Caulker in June.

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