Belize. I’ve been avoiding Belize. Only because every basic bitch I know has gone. And since I don’t even like those people, I was like ‘hmm, doesn’t really sound like my type of destination.’ Well let me tell you, HOW BASIC that train of thought was.
Belize is fucking amazing and 1000 times better than anywhere on the Yucatan strip. It is often lumped in as a backpackers stop after Tulum, but I say just skip Tulum. BUT if you’re going to do that route, you can get there from Mexico for only $60!
But I must preface this post by saying, I only went to Caye Caulker, don’t read further for advice on the rest of the country. In addition, it is a country 100% full of basic tourists and expats, but the local vibe 10,000% makes up for it. If you’re looking for a relaxing weekend by the sea, a bankable beach, outdoorsy things to do, a place for young people to party, or a girl’s trip away, THIS.IS.YOUR.SPOT.
How To Get To Belize For $60
Before Leaving America
No visa is required. But make sure to have American dollars. I would bring at least $100 for the immigration process. You can also use American currency for all of your purchases. No need to change.
The Language And What To Pack
English, Creole, and Spanish are all spoken fluently here. The only things you’ll need are a swimsuit, waterproof phone case, and your passport.
Getting To Belize
There is a ferry from Chetumal that leaves everyday at 3PM. The only caveat is you have to get to Chetumal, which from Tulum is about $15. You can also reserve and pay for your seat on the ferry at the ADO bus stop in Tulum. I actually would recommend this just to reserve your seat. The cost for the ferry ticket is 1050 pesos or ~$63
Once you get the Chetumal, the taxi to the ferry dock is 70 pesos or ~$4. Once you get to the dock, you’ll need to show your Mexican immigration card at the window. Then you’ll go around to a separate window and pay your 500 peso or ~$30 Mexican exit fee. So total your cost is more like $100.
I’m not sure what possesses people to be basic as fuck in this line, but for some reason everyone pushes, shoves, and cuts to get into this line. Even though we are literally all getting onto the same boat at the same exact time. Don’t be this person. Especially since we’re about to all run into each other again on the island and I will dead stare you down after I loudly scold you for being basic.
Once on the ferry, prepare yourself for a very bumpy 1.5 hour ride. Dramamine is $1 at the pharmacy, get you some if you get sea-sick easily. You’ll end at a dock in San Pedro, Belize. Here you’ll all get off and go through another immigration line to enter Belize. The cost is $2. You can pay in American dollars, Belizean dollars, or pesos. The Belizean dollar is 2:1 USD.
You can either stay in San Pedro, or get back on the ferry for another 45 minutes to Caye Caulker. It’s worth it to stay on the ferry. But fair warning, you’re supposed to leave at 3 and arrive at 5. More like leave at 4:30 and arrive at 9.
There is a cheaper option, which is by bus. You can take a bus from Chetumal to Corozal, which is 20 pesos/$1.5 USD/5 BZ. Then from Corozal, you cross the border and get on the same bus another 4 hours to Belize City for 70 pesos/$4.5 USD/9 BZ. And then from Belize City, you can take a water taxi for $9.50USD/$15 BZ. I believe you still have to pay the 500 peso exit fee to leave Mexico. So total would be ~$46. I did not take this route. I was ok with paying the extra $54 to cut down 5 hours of travel time. Plus, there’s no guarantee you will catch the water taxi that leaves Belize City on time, so you may have to stay the night there.
3 Things To Do In Caye Caulker And How Not To Be Basic While Doing It
Caye Caulker is an island off of Belize that completely operates off of tourism. But it’s so chill, laid-back, and 100% Caribbean. My eyes were going into overload on all the neon colors of the houses and vibrant hammocks lazily swaying under the palm trees. It’s everything you would imagine a fun island paradise to be with no cars allowed on the island. Aside from straight relaxing and drinking the lizard juice, here are some things you may not want to miss:
1. Snorkel Tour
Belize has the largest LIVING reef in the world. And the water is SO BLUE AND CRYSTAL CLEAR. The reef itself, underneath, is not terribly colorful, but you will be swimming with stingrays, turtles, and sharks. So the snorkel tour is a must-do.
There are two types of snorkel tours: a half-day and a whole-day. The whole-day costs $60 the half-day costs $30. The only difference between the whole-day and the half-day is you get lunch, unlimited rum punch, and go see the manatees. It’s also a longer day.
The tours include a sunken ship (it’s fake, like someone just dropped an old tank down there), a turtle, sea-horse reserve, silver fish among mangrove trees, and the whale sharks. Be aware that the LAST tours leave at 10AM.
I did the whole-day tour cause I wasn’t doing shit else. Pro tip: don’t drink rum punch BEFORE trying to chase after a manatee. It’s too much. The manatee isn’t worth it.
2. Koko King
Koko King is another island 15 mins away. You can get there by taking the road that leads from the dock by the ferry straight to the other side. At the end of that dock there is a boat that will take you to Koko King. It leaves every half hour.
This is a BRAND NEW facility that has everything you could possibly ask for. Water swings, tubes, water bar/volleyball/trampoline, white-cloth cabana beds, and full-moon parties, all while fish are swimming next to you in a crystal clear white sand beach. The best part is the ferry to this island is FREE with the purchase of food or drink.
Super duper recommended if you’re just looking to relax. The prices are more expensive on this island, but we didn’t spend any dollars. We actually didn’t even purchase anything, which was basic of us, but they let us back on the return ferry anyway. No questions asked.
3. Sports Bar
There’s 2 nightlife spots to go to on the island: Reggae Bar and Sports Bar. Every time we went to Reggae Bar it was empty. And also not playing reggae lol. But Sports Bar was lit every night with both locals and basics, I mean tourists. From twerk dance offs to passing around rum bottles, it was a pretty chill vibe. No one getting too insane. Everything is shut down by midnight anyway. You literally run into the same people over and over because the island is so small, so it is kind of fun to have a community you’re forced to hang out with. Also, great for people watching as you see who is going home with who. Like a real life telenovela.
I’m not gonna bother giving you directions because it’s the one thing that’s happening at night, you will find it. You also don’t need to buy your drinks here at the bar, you can walk across the street and purchase alcohol and water for 1000 times less at the convenience store.
Where To Stay In Caye Caulker
I’m pretty sure you can just walk around and find a place to stay. We booked an AirBnB ahead of time. The location was awesome, the wifi connection was not. If you’re someone who does business online like me, don’t stay here. Otherwise, everything was awesome, including the puppy in the front office! Here’s the link.
Where To Eat In Caye Caulker
While there are a ton of hipster crunchy granola places to eat in Caye Caulker, I found myself going back to the same place every time: Belizean Flava. Why? 1) Because it’s 100% Belizean owned and operated by an entire family from the cook to the servers. And 2) Cause of the fresh lobster! So good. If you don’t eat here, you’re basic. It is located above the Sports Bar.
Life And Culture of Caye Caulker
An island girl myself, I instantly felt at home. I found everyone to be so incredibly friendly and helpful. In addition, people switching in and out of English, Creole, and Spanish, not really knowing where to place me, was totally my vibe. It’s also SO BROWN. As a woman of color, I felt super out of place on a ferry full of White people coming over to the island, but once I landed I felt so relaxed. It is definitely a place welcoming of any ethnicity. But maybe because Belize is so mixed.
I’m not going to pretend to know anything about Belizian history except that it is equal parts Caribbean, Central America, and Latin America while being a British commonwealth. It’s honestly not something you’re going to pick up on the island because it’s just not a historical type of place. But you can Wikipedia it yourself. I know what I did learn though…How Not To Be Basic In Belize.
How Not To Be Basic In Belize
1. Don’t take pictures of the locals or their establishments without their permission. This isn’t a fucking zoo.
I was chatting with a chocolate-skinned Belizian man when all of a sudden an elderly woman walking by and snapped a picture in his face. I was shocked, surprised, outraged. He wasn’t. Before I even said anything, he told me that his eyes were blue and people want to take pictures of him because of the combination of his skin and eyes. He went on to express he was fully aware they were blue because some White man raped one of his ancestors and now he is forever having to succumb to a camera in his face. Yet, no one asks permission, and those people won’t even eat at his establishment. DO NOT be this basic. I was so impressed at his level of chill. Also saddened that this happens so often that he legit doesn’t react anymore.
2. When a waiter is trying to explain prices, DO NOT yell at him because YOU don’t understand English.
I’m not sure what gives people the permission to feel like they should ever yell at waitstaff, but sure. I felt DISGUSTED when a French woman started yelling at a Belizean waiter because she didn’t understand what he was saying. Embarrassed, he walked over to me, just another customer sitting at a table, and apologized, saying he should probably learn French. Belizieans speak THREE different languages; he doesn’t need to learn another when he’s in his own fucking country, you basic. DO NOT yell at him. I told him it’s not HE that needs to learn, SHE needs to learn some manners.
3. If you’re going to connect to Wi-fi, you need to pay according to the amount of time you’re going to stay connected
I was overly annoyed when this man made me pay $2 EXTRA to connect to wifi even though I was already eating at his restaurant. That was until he told me that people come and sit at his café for EIGHT hours, charging their computers, using his electricity all while taking up space at his restaurant. Yet, they will only purchase one drink.
WHO DOES THAT, THOUGH?! I only stayed for 30 minutes, but I get his point. The basics have ruined it for all of us.
4. Don’t book a snorkel tour through your hotel.
There are plenty of shops set up on the island. The key is to go to someone local. There are a TON of retired ex-pats living on the island who take up space in the local economy. Don’t give them your business, they’ll be fine. They overcharge anyway. Go to a shop owned by a local and support sustainable tourism. We used Max’s Snorkel Tours. But really the tours are all the same, you can just ask around and people will point you to the locals they know. This tour is NOT private. You go in a group of about 12. Luckily the people on our boat were super fun! But I could see this being annoying if you have some basics on your tour.
5. Don’t touch the fucking reef.
Not really sure who went their whole lives not watching Finding Nemo, but you can observe the wildlife, but do not fucking touch them! Like why do people do that? You know the reef dies if you put your basic-nature-killing-hands on it, right?
6. Don’t crowd the turtles
Turtles need their personal space, too! I’m not sure why these basics were going up to the sea creatures and stressing them out. Just be normal and observe nature, and don’t feel like you need to assert yourself on to every goddam thing. I mean, would you want someone to randomly stroke you?
7. Don’t ask the locals for weed if you’re not even going to talk to them like they are normal people.
I felt like because there were so many tourists, they wanted to just hang out with each other. Which I guess is fine, except the ONLY time I would see them talking to locals is if they wanted weed. Belizians are petty and will sell you a bag of straight grass. Just because they’re brown, doesn’t mean they are your automatic drug dealer. You should probably engage in friendship before asking about drugs. So unless someone comes up to you, I would just avoid that stereotype and not seek out drugs from the first brown person you see.
In conclusion, Belizians are cool as hell. I give them props for dealing with all the shit they see on a daily basis. Despite it all, I still didn’t feel like they had real animosity towards tourists or anyone for that matter. They were just 100% laid-back and totally accepting. I think that’s why I loved it so much. I need to take a page out of their book. If you don’t book Belize today, I don’t know you.
Next on the blog: How To Get To Guatemala From Belize
Budget $150/day for Belize including transportation, accommodations, and food, excluding alcohol and souvenirs. If you’re splitting a room, half that.