Belize is an awesome time! Couple a coral-fringed Caribbean coastline with copious verdant jungle interiors and add a cocktail of colorful cultures, and you get the fascinating country that is Belize.
However, border tensions with Guatemala and increased drug and human trafficking into Mexico via Belize have made it rank consistently high worldwide when it comes to violence.
You may have heard stories about how dangerous or how safe Belize is and may well be wondering is it safe to travel to Belize?
We have crafted this guide to staying safe in Belize so that you don’t have to worry anymore. All of us over here at The Broke Backpacker believe you CAN travel smartly, safely, and responsibly – all whilst having the best time ever!
Naturally, we’re going to be covering a lot of different topics. That means basically everything from whether it’s safe to travel solo in Belize to whether or not Belize is safe for female travelers. We believe that traveling to Belize is safe – public transport, food, and lodging all included – but only if travelers are sharp and aware of their surroundings.
Whatever your concerns, our insider guide will help you out, so let’s get right to it!
How Safe is Belize? (Our take)
We think backpacking Belize is a great idea. 60% of Belize is covered by forests, there are 450 offshore islands to explore, it boasts the largest cave system in Central America. Oh, and then there’s the huge Belize Barrier Reef for you to discover; around here are excellent snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities, safe waters for boating, good fishing to be had, and we’re only scratching the surface.
Even though tourism is such an integral part of the Belizean economy, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the safest place in the world. In fact, violent crime of all kinds is on the rise, especially in urban areas like Belize District. Unfortunately, Belize ranks consistently in the top 10 countries in the world with the highest rate of homicides.
Both drug and human trafficking – and the gangs responsible for them – are the main causes of increased violence. While this is a tragedy, it also means that Belize is relatively safe for tourists. Unless you’re a gang member or a Belizean citizen caught in the crossfire, you’re unlikely to be a victim of these crimes.
But let’s have a more detailed look and ask…
Is Belize Safe to Visit Right Now?
With so many natural points of interest, it’s no wonder that Belize is such a popular destination for tourists and backpackers.
Usually, tourists aren’t the target of crime in Belize, however, in recent years crimes have been increasing in tourist areas. It’s believed that this is due to a large disparity between rich and poor – which is vast. It is true that petty crime is one of the main dangers in Belize.
The Belize crime rate is probably higher than what you will be used to at home. Generally, anything north of Belize City is considered ‘risky’ because of gang activity. Some areas in the country have been classified as “crime-ridden” and police in these places have the right to stop and search without warning, so be aware of that.
In 2018 there’s also been trouble along the western border with Guatemala, thanks to border tensions that go back to 1821. Border areas may be best avoided. The Caribbean coast is where most tourist activity is limited to.
Politically, Belize is actually pretty stable. Like many developed Western countries with two main political forces, Belizean politics is basically dominated by the center-left People’s United Party and the center-right United Democratic Party.
As long as you stay up to date with current events and exercise some precautions, it is easy to travel to Belize.
At the end of the day, Belize is safe to visit right now, but traveling smart is likely to diminish the chance of becoming a victim of crime.
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Do you need Travel Insurance for your trip? Even if you’re only going for a few days, that’s more than enough time to get smote by wrathful angels. Have fun in Belize, but take it from us, overseas medical care and canceled flights can be seriously expensive – insurance can, therefore, be a life-saver.
Travel mishaps can and do happen and it is well worth thinking about insurance before you leave home.
We have used World Nomads for years now and I have personally made several claims. Why not get a quote from them yourself?
Do be sure to read the terms and conditions to make sure that the policy covers your needs.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Safest Places in Belize
When choosing where you’ll be staying in Belize, a bit of research and caution is essential. You don’t want to end up in a sketchy area and ruin your trip. To help you out, we’ve listed the safest areas to visit in Belize below.
Caye Caulker is a small island located off the coast of Belize. It measures just 8.2 kilometres in length and is home to a laid-back population of 1,300.
With its relaxed atmosphere and relatively cheap prices, it is also a popular destination with budget backpackers and cost-conscious travellers. Here you can enjoy all the perks of paradise without breaking the bank.
Money aside, staying in Caulker means that you can choose from everything – wild nightlife, relaxing holidays or crazy snorkeling and nature adventures. There is nothing this charming place can’t offer you. Definitely worth checking out!
The Caye Caulker Island boasts a plethora of outdoor activities and is an ideal destination for scuba divers, snorkelers and sun-seekers, alike. It is set close to the incredible Blue Hole as well.
Located on the mainland, Corozal is the northernmost district in Belize. An easy-going topical paradise, Corozal was one of Belize’s best-kept secrets. Now, a nirvana for expats and retirees, Corozal is breaking its way into the limelight thanks to its focus on eco-tourism that gives travellers a glimpse into the traditional Belizean way of life.
It’s considered one of the safest places in Belize, mainly because of how many expats live here. While you’ll still have to watch out for pickpocketing, it’s probably the most peaceful and relaxed spot you can find in the country.
Enjoy everything from pristine beaches and turquoise waters to nature reserves, animal adventures and culinary encounters, all without the throngs of tourists in Corozal, the hidden gem of Belize!
At 40 kilometres long and nearly two kilometres wide, Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize. It is one of the country’s most popular destinations for tourists thanks to its stunning views, beautiful beaches, lively nightlife and its unbeatable snorkelling and scuba diving.
While lots of tourists normally mean an increased crime rate, San Pedro is still pretty peaceful compared to Belize City. The only thing you’ll have to worry about here is petty theft and pickpocketing. But this can be easily solved by simply looking after your stuff.
San Pedro is the most prominent town in Ambergris Caye. It is a small but bustling village that offers delicious cuisine and sightseeing experiences. It is also where you’ll find the best and brightest nightlife in Belize.
Places to avoid in Belize
In order to have a safe visit, it’s important to know the areas in Belize that aren’t super safe. Keep in mind that Belize is quite a famous tourist destination, so wherever you are, you will have to watch out for pickpocketing and petty theft.
Statistically, the most dangerous place in Belize is its former capital, Belize City. That’s where you’ll find most crimes, including assault, break-ins and murder.
However, these crimes normally don’t target tourists. You can visit Belize City without a problem, but you’ll definitely have to come prepared and do quite a bit of research. While we don’t want to stereotype a whole city, we do recommend being cautious and aware of your surroundings at all times.
There are a few areas in Belize City that are known to be extra sketchy. Avoid these completely:
- George Street
- Kraal Road
- Literally ANYWHERE at night
It might be relatively trouble-free for visitors, but the best way to avoid any crime whatsoever is to travel smart. The best way to travel smart would be to bear in mind our insider tips for staying safe in Belize. These Belize travel safety tips will help;
- Don’t walk around in secluded urban areas – fewer people around = fewer witnesses.
- Don’t get crazy drunk – keeping your wits about you is the best way to avoid crime, so getting dead drunk isn’t smart.
- Hand over the goods – if you ARE a victim of a robbery, just hand it over. Your possessions aren’t worth your safety.
- Act like you know where you’re going – if you look lost you’ll stand out as a tourist, therefore rich, therefore a good target.
- Don’t flash your cash – yeah, um, this is just an advert for how a) rich and b) oblivious you are. Keep the bulk of your cash hidden in a money belt.
- Be careful when you’re walking around – there’s a lack of pavement sometimes. Stay safe on the road!
- Hire a guide if you’re heading into the jungle – trekking is cool, but getting lost or getting bitten by something awful is not.
- Be careful of coral (and other sea creatures) – the reefs are STUNNING, but coral can hurt – and so can a lot of other critters.
- Understand local laws – for instance, public drinking is a no-no. Do your research and avoid trouble with the police.
- Do what you need in the daytime – there’s a much lower crime rate during daylight hours (as anywhere).
- Catch a taxi after dark – they’re inexpensive. Better safe than sorry.
- JUST SAY NO – drugs are ILLEGAL. Drugs cause major problems in this country. Don’t contribute.
- Don’t pay for sex – that’s also ILLEGAL. Again, you’ll most likely be funding trafficking gangs and human misery. Don’t even.
- Ask for help if you need it – if you feel like someone’s following you or something dodgy’s going on, step into a cafe or shop and ask someone for help. People are friendly here.
- Carry copies of important docs – losing vital documents is a major headache, so if you need them when you’re out and about, have copies.
- Check your vaccines before you travel.
- Protect against mosquitoes – there may be low rates of malaria, but the risk is never worth it. Use repellent and cover up: these mozzies are beasts.
- Know what to do in a disaster – Hurricane Earl took out 65% of Belize’s electricity in 2010. June to November is hurricane season so be aware if you’re traveling in this period.
- Lock windows and doors at night or when you go out – much theft happens at one’s accommodation, so ensure your room is secure.
- Protect yourself from the sun and keep hydrated – you might want to be in the sun ALL THE TIME but that’s not smart.
- Businesses close on Sundays – if you need supplies for any particular reason, get them on a Saturday!
- Keep opinions on religion to yourself – it’s still very much a religious country, so be respectful.
- Watch out for snakes, scorpions, etc. – yep, they live here. Be vigilant.
The easiest way to have a stress free time in Belize is to keep in mind our handy tips. Ultimately, staying safe in Belize is pretty straightforward – it’s all down to traveling smart and being aware of your surroundings.
Some General Safety Tips from the OG Broke Backpacker
Belize IS safe to travel alone. There are a few differences between traveling solo and traveling in a group – anywhere in the world – which means you’ll have to put some extra care and thought into how you travel. Safety in Belize is largely a question of how you behave and how alter you stay.
There are a few tips to bear in mind when it comes to safe solo travel in Belize.
- Staying in well-reviewed hostels and guesthouses is a great idea. This is for two reasons. The first is keeping your belongings safe. It’s not unheard of to have things stolen from accommodation, so somewhere with a lot of great reviews is going to be a good option. Secondly, meeting people is a good way to stay connected, stay sane, and stay safe, so a social hostel is a good idea for a solo traveler.
- Similarly, do your research. Our tips are literally the tip of the iceberg! Making sure you use well-reviewed everything – from trekking tours and hostels, to snorkel rentals and restaurants – will help prevent you from getting involved with scams and anything otherwise dodgy or unsafe.
- If English isn’t your first language, don’t worry. A few simple phrases will be enough to make yourself understood, order food and get around.
- Standing out like a tourist is a sure way to receive some negative attention. Trying to blend in, wearing what locals might wear!
- Sticking to restaurants, accommodation, even ATMs that are in public view is the best idea. Isolated, secluded spots are great places for crime to occur unseen.
- It might seem like a good idea at the time, but don’t go to the beach at night. Aside from the usual dangers of swimming at night, you’re also easy pickings for thieves, which makes this generally a no-no.
It might be easy to judge the country by its gritty capital, but Belize is safe for solo travelers who are smart. Always be aware and always be prepared; situational awareness is KEY. Remember these practices and it will be not only safe to travel alone in Belize but hugely rewarding.
Is Belize safe for solo female travelers?
Is travel to Belize safe for lone women? Belize is safe for solo travelers, that much we know. When it comes to traveling solo as a female there are, unfortunately, a whole other set of rules you need to follow to stay safe. It’s unfair, but this is the reality.
Belize can be a safe place for solo female travelers who take special precautions, and we’ve listed a couple of important ones below.
- Catcalling is very uncool but it will happen no matter how you dress. Our tip is to understand the culture of the country and respond with a polite “good morning” or “good evening” or an equally appropriate greeting – and move on.
- Travel for yourself and assess the risks involved in seeing or doing something that might be potentially dangerous. If there’s a risky activity and you think that it’s not worth the trouble, then don’t do it. Don’t feel like you have to see everything that everyone else is seeing.
- Talk to other people if you don’t feel safe – tell the hotel staff where you’re going, let bar staff know if someone is hassling you, make friends with doormen.
- Tours are both fun and safe. Take a simple walking tour of the city, for example, that your hostel might put on. If you’ve just arrived in a city, this is a good way to get acquainted with your surroundings. Plus you can meet fellow travelers.
- It might be tiring, but always be aware of your surroundings. Observe, notice if people are acting weirdly around you, make assessments and remove yourself from certain situations if they don’t feel right.
- Getting crazy drunk is really not a smart move. But if you do want to party, check yourself into a well-reviewed hostel and make a good group of travel buddies to go out with.
- Use accommodation with good reviews. Check for other female traveler comments that stayed there.
- Ask locals for advice on safety in the area, as well as good places to go to eat and drink. Are there areas to avoid? Is there a safe route from A to B? It pays to know.
- It’s ok to say no if you don’t feel comfortable with something. This is your experience, your safety, your life.
With the proper habits, Belize is safe for solo female travelers. Basically, it all boils down to being aware of situations, making sure you avoid things that feel like they aren’t right and maximizing your safety by making friends.
More on Safety in Belize
We’ve covered the main safety concerns already, but there are a few more things to know. Read on for more detailed information on how to have a safe trip to Belize.
Is Belize safe to travel for families?
Choosing to travel with your children to Belize could make an already thrilling country even more memorable! One part Latin America, one part Caribbean, and all parts amazing, this country offers activities for all ages and creeds. Thankfully, Belize is safe for families to travel to as well!
Thanks to a healthy package tourism scene, there are plenty of places to stay in Belize for families. Cruise ships dock along the coast regularly, there are many resorts, and you’ll be able to find more than a few suitable spots on the 450+ cays offshore. But is it safe to go to Belize with your family?
Make sure you visit outside the rainy season: a lot of the activities are outdoorsy and you won’t want to miss out on account of a bit of rain.
You’ll have to deal with things like mosquitoes and humidity, regardless of the season, but the payoff is incredible. The landscape is all kinds of stunning, the adventures to be had are amazing, and it’s easy to travel around.
Is it safe to drive in Belize?
Is it safe in Belize to drive? Being mainly known as a cruise ship destination, the words “road trip” and “Belize” don’t tend to get written about in the same sentence.
But if getting around a country by car is your jam, you’ll be pleased to know that it is both fun and safe to drive in Belize. Thanks to its small size, you should be able to see a lot of Belize just by renting a car as well.
Belize is still a developing nation and the standards of driving may not be the same as some larger, more affluent nations. For instance, the roads may be called highways, but these are just standard two-lane country roads.
Belizean rental cars are usually older models. A little bit of know-how about changing tires and checking for engine trouble would go a long way. Make sure you check the tread – and check for a spare – before you make any agreement.
Being stopped is normal since there are police checkpoints dotted around the country. Just go through the checkpoint, show the police your ID and insurance (and anything else they want to see), and then keep on movin’. Checkpoints have increased recently due to border tensions and other issues.
There aren’t many petrol stations, so if you do see one make sure you fill up. You never know when the next one’s going to show up.
Is Uber safe in Belize?
Unfortunately, there is no Uber in Belize. Maybe one day.
For now, you’ll have to rely on taxis.
Are taxis safe in Belize?
Without a doubt, taxis are safe in Belize. They’re one of the best ways to get around and are especially useful at night.
It goes without saying that licensed taxis are the only taxis you should be jumping in. You’ll identify these from their green license plates. Anything else is unlicensed and potentially dodgy.
One thing you should know: the taxis in Belize don’t operate with meters. Remember that you’ll have to agree on a price to a certain destination before you get in. That’s the best way to avoid a surprise bill at the other end.
To hail a taxi, just put your hand up for one that beeps at you. Don’t be afraid to haggle either, it’s normal
Is public transportation in Belize safe?
Generally, public transportation in Belize is safe though you’ll have to be prepared for some struggles.
The buses here are super colorful affairs that kind of look like old American school buses turned into works of art. Known as chicken buses, these vehicles are cheap and travel long distances, which makes them very useful for backpackers.
Chicken buses are a pretty fun way to get around, but be they are not for the fainthearted. Many are not always in the best condition and can get more packed than is safe, with people standing in the aisles and almost bursting out the doors.
Water taxis operate to/from and in-between the many cays, and these are a popular mode of transport for island hopping.
Water taxis aren’t the safest means of transport. Many don’t come with all the necessary life jackets, can get overcrowded, and sometimes even set sail in bad weather.
Whilst it may look precarious at times, the public transportation in Belize is quite safe, actually. It might be overcrowded, and it might be old-looking, but most of the time your journey will be without issue.
When moving from place to place, you shouldn’t store travel documents in a bag, even if it’s under your seat or overhead.
A full-sized money belt that stays tucked under your clothes keeps your documents and cash organized during your travels and assures nothing critical gets left behind or stolen.
Is the food in Belize safe?
Thanks to the mix of ethnicities and cultures in Belize, the food here is amazing. Heavy on the rice, heavy on the beans, and packed full with plenty of spice and heat, this is definitely one of the main highlights of Belize!
We believe that the food in Belize is safe to eat. It’s not going to have the same sanitation quality as a developed Western country, but follow a few rules and eating in Belize can be stress-free.
- Avoid foods that look like they’ve been sitting around all day. You never know how old these morsels are or how long they’ve remained unsold.
- Street food here is the best. This stuff is usually fresh, hearty and hot. Anything that’s been cooked up right in front of you is most likely going to be safe.
- Popularity=good food. People wouldn’t eat somewhere that had disgusting food; that would be pure madness. Similarly, people wouldn’t eat somewhere that consistently made them feel ill. Eating somewhere that is popular with the locals is pretty much a good rule of thumb for anywhere in the world, but it works just as well in Belize.
- If you get a chance to wash your hands, wash ’em! Didn’t you learn this when you were younger?!
- Don’t eat unpeeled fruit and, on top of that, don’t eat fruit you haven’t peeled yourself.
- There’s a lot of seafood on offer here, which is totally delish. If you’re worried at all about the freshness level of anything, don’t worry yourself by eating it.
- Refrigeration isn’t much of a thing when it comes to dairy products on the street and these can turn bad very quickly in hot weather. Even if you fancy a glass of milk or whatever (we’re talking to you, Ron Burgundy), don’t give in to temptation! It’s better safe than sorry.
- If you’re REALLY worried, stick to your hotel.
- Even if you DO get a bad stomach it’s easy to come by over-the-counter meds here, thankfully.
Not only is the food in Belize an actual delight, the food in Belize is safe to eat. If you’re super worried, the best you can do is stick to dishes that omit meat and seafood, eat from your hotel/guesthouse only, and wash your hands!
Can you drink the water in Belize?
It’s not 100% safe to drink the water in Belize. The infrastructure isn’t so much to blame; it’s more that disasters like floods, even those which occur miles and miles away, can cause all sorts of nasty things to get into the water.
Though it should be fine for brushing teeth and showering, you should probably avoid drinking water from the tap in Belize. When it comes to drinking water, it’s best to stay safe and stick to bottled water, which is available everywhere.
If your hotel has a filter in the lobby or something – great news. You can fill up here, in which case you might want to consider bringing a refillable water bottle of your own. We like the Grayl Geopress Water Bottle because it’s super durable and does a great job of keeping water cool.
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Is Belize safe to live?
Asking ‘is Belize a safe place to visit is one question, but it’s another thing to wonder is Belize a safe place to live? There are quite a few things that make Belize a safe place to live. If you’re thinking of making the move there – congratulations. We’d say go for it!
That’s not to say that it doesn’t come without its own unique challenges. Theft and burglary are quite common, so you’re going to want to stay somewhere with good security. Go with a good real estate agency, or somewhere that’s been recommended by other expats. Do your research, basically.
With this in mind, you’ll have to get used to keeping everything locked at all times and never showing any valuables – ever. Don’t advertise your home as somewhere that’s littered with potential booty!
Say goodbye to electricity and water that works 100% of the time. Though infrequent, things like blackouts and water shortages definitely happen.
Most expat communities abound on the Caribbean coast and on the cays. If beachside living is the reason you’ve come to Belize then you’re in luck since those are generally safer.
If you’re a laid back person who likes to take it easy, then you’ll love the pace of life here.
Is it safe to rent an Airbnb in Belize?
It’s definitely safe to rent an Airbnb in Belize, but you’ll have to choose the right area obviously. With the reliable rating and review system, you won’t just get to choose from awesome homes, but you can also read about the place you’re about to book in full detail. With the previous guest reviews, you’ll know exactly what to expect.
But keep in mind that hosts can also review their guests. This normally guarantees a very respectful and easy visit from both sides.
Is Belize LGBTQ+ friendly?
Visiting Belize can be a very mixed experience for LGBTQ+ travelers. While most of the country is still stuck with a closed-minded and conservative mindset, it’s changing slowly for the younger generation. Since 2016, homosexuality isn’t illegal anymore either.
Public affection between same-sex partners will be met with shock and probably a couple of rude comments. That’s why we recommend visiting Belize only if you’re okay with keeping your relationship behind closed doors. At least for now…
FAQs on Belize’s Safety
Planning a safe trip to Belize can get quite overwhelming. That’s why we’ve listed and answered the most frequently asked questions on safety in Belize.
So, is Belize Safe?
With the right precautions and a bit of research, we’d say that belize is safe to visit!
Missing out on Belize because of a misconception that is based on warring gangs, as well as border incidents between neighboring countries that aren’t your own, would be a huge shame. We wholeheartedly believe that Belize is safe to travel to; it’s safe to backpack through Belize, it’s safe to visit Belize on holiday and there hasn’t been a serious Belize travel warning for some time now.
You will have to be a little more careful than usual when it comes to watching your pockets, but honestly, that’s nothing a moneybelt won’t stop. Thefts sometimes occur from hotel rooms, but a little research on the best places to stay in Belize would be a good way to avoid this problem. At the end of the day, being aware of your surroundings always pays off.
When it comes to tips on staying safe in Belize, that’s just about it. Our insider guide should have given you a boatload of hints and advice that will help you stay safe when you visit this Central American/Caribbean country. Hopefully, you’re going away full of information that’ll give you peace of mind on your trip to Belize. And have you thought about getting Travel Insurance for your trip? You can get a quote from World Nomads by clicking on the link below.
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!
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