ALL ABOUT BELIZE
Reasons to visit Belize, fun facts, Travel tips and frequently asked questions.
NOTE FROM DEBORAH NEISIUS: I have compiled this list over the years because my #1 goal is to prepare you before your trip in order to make your stay as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. Most questions can be answered in this website but I would be happy to answer any additional questions prior to your trip in addition to arranging your charter flights, golf cart and mainland tours. For your snorkeling and diving, Carlos with Suya Tours is always nearby to assist you. Our office staff is off-site, but will greet you at your condo when you arrive. Upon check-in, you will be presented with instructions, keys, all the linens you will need and given tips on how to make he most out of your vacation. The staff is always a phone call away. We also hand-pick a personal cab driver who will be on call for you during your stay. We have complimentary bikes with baskets for you to retrieve groceries/souverniers from town. Golf cart rental can also be arranged through me.
~ Deborah Neisius
WHERE IS BELIZE? Belize is South of Mexico off the tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Ambergris Caye (Am-BUR-grease Key) is the largest island in Belize. The island is only 25 miles long and is located in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. The coastline of Ambergris Caye is protected by a 190 mile Barrier Reef, the second longest living coral reef barrier in the world. CNN Travel recently featured an article boasting Ambergris Caye being as the “World’s No. Island” two years in a row by the travel review site TripAdvisor. Belize is prized by many vacationers as an easy destination where the official language is English, a passport is required, the exchange rate is simple ($2 BZ = $1 U.S. dollar) and where the U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere!
IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT BELIZE: Government: Belize is a democratic member of the British Commonwealth, with a Westminster-style system with a prime Minister, an elected house of representatives and an appointed senate. The current prime minister is Said Musa, a British-educated lawyer of Palestinian and Belize heritage. Belize is the size of the U.S. State of Massachusetts with a population of 240,000. Ambergris Cay has a population of 4500. English is the official language but Creole and Spanish are also widely spoken.
ABOUT SAN PEDRO: San Pedro Town (Saint Peter Town) is the only town on the island of Ambergris Caye. The town of San Pedro is an evolved fishing village where the dress is casual, the pace is slow, the people are friendly and the streets are still covered with dirt and sand. Many of the local pubs have dirt floors and the island’s dress code consists of t-shirts, shorts and bare feet.
HOW SAFE IS AMBERGRIS CAYE?: Safety is always a concern and common sense should be used anywhere you travel. The most common crimes against tourists are petty theft and pick pocketing. Violent or physical crimes are rare. In general, Ambergris Caye has a much lower crime rate than Belize City or the U.S. in general. The south end of the island is the safest (where we are) because we have a south end Security Patrol that all the southern resorts pay for the salaries.
FIVE REASONS TO VISIT BELIZE: . #1 World-class diving/snorkeling. Regardless of level or ability there is a mask for you in Belize. #2 Maya Sites. Belize is the center of the Maya world. Dozens of ruins can be visited and Cahal Pech, Caracol, El Pilar, Lamanai, Lubaantun and Xunantunich are some of the most interesting. #3 Ecotravel (Wildlife, birds and nature). Most of Belize is untouched and uninhabited with over 500 species of birds and 700 species of butterflies. Rare animals still thrive in Belize's bush. #4 Adventure. Adventures to fit any level including hiking, canoing, kayaking, windsurfing, caving and spelunking. #5 Culture. Belize is a fascinating multi-racial, multi-culteral and multi-lingual society.
MOVIES FILMED IN BELIZE: Good movies that were filmed in Belize are Dogs of War (1981, Mosquito Coast (1986), Alien Origin (2012), Mega Piranha, Dragon Wasps (2012), The Oceanmaker (2014), Curse of the Xtabai (2012) and The Cay.
THINGS BELIZE IS FAMOUS FOR:
DIVINE DIVING: Belize is one of the top 10 diving destinations globally. Utilize one of the local, fully-equipped dive shops and take advantage of the second longest living Barrier Reef in the world. One popular dive site, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, is a quick 10 minute boat ride
away. Explore endless canyons and walls. Visit Belize’s famous Blue Hole. Explore black coral and giant sponges. There’s a good chance you could swim with dolphins, glide with schools of Eagle rays and socialize with manta rays.
SUPERIOR SNORKELING: The best snorkeling in Belize is just a short, 1/3 mile trip out to sea. Swim with 6 foot sharks and manta rays. You can book directly with the on-site tour operator, Suya Tours by Carlos or we can help arrange a charter who will pick you up on our
300 foot dock.
FINE FISHING: A fisherman’s dream with tarpon, snook, blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish, wahoo, dorado, kingfish and yellowtail just to name a few. Grouper and snapper are found in abundance with the help of a local guide. Catch bonefish off the resort’s 300 foot dock.
BEST BEACH: Due to the Barrier Reef and sea grass, most of the beaches in Belize are not "true" swimming beaches mainly due to large break walls. However, we are the exception and not the norm. Our break wall is a mere 3 inches tall which allows easy access to the water. I recommend diving booties because of the sea grass. You and the kids can catch some wonderful snorkeling just a few feet from your condo's front door! Many enjoy fishing right off our 300 foot dock because the water is so clear you can actually watch the fish as they bite your line.
LIVELY LOCALS: One of the best features of Ambergris Caye are the locals. They are fun-loving, laid-back and refreshingly friendly. It is truly an honor to have such gracious people so proudly share their piece of paradise with us. It is said they never wear shoes, but they always wear a smile. People like this should be treasured.
AWESOME ADVENTURES: Let our reservation staff arrange your mainland tours for you! The jungles of Belize have an abundance of wildlife from exotic birds and howler monkeys to jaguars and crocodiles. Visit the Maya ruins or go deep into the jungle to enter caves filled with ancient Maya relics. Explore the rain forests. Take boat rides down thewinding rivers. Enter mysterious caves or travel to exotic waterfalls. The tour companies are organized, efficient and fun. Mainland tours are a day event where you will leave in the morning and return mid to late afternoon just in time to take a sunset nap in a hammock, or quiet stroll along the beach, before you make dinner plans.
DELECTABLE DINING: On Ambergris Caye it is never hard to match your meal to your mood. Dine in condo or go out and enjoy one of the wonderful restaurants on the island. There is a lot of fun to be had in San Pedro. Many restaurants have live entertainment.
ROYALLY ROMANTIC: Celebrate your wedding, anniversary, engagement, or simply your union together. Many couples cannot help but feel celestial wonder in renewing the beauty of their relationship in such a magically, tropical paradise.
WISH-FILLED WEDDING: Want to get married in Belize? Many couples choose to honeymoonon Ambergris Caye. Some choose to wed there. Whether you would like to exchange vows underwater in the Blue Hole, near a waterfall, or on the beach; we would help make your dream wedding become a reality.
WONDERFUL WEATHER: The weather is predictable. The Ambergris Caye are is truly a spectacular island paradise. Even the temperate in the famous Blue Hole at 130 feet is 76` with
FUN DATES TO VISIT: The best time to visit is during LobsterFest in June. Good festivals St. George's Caye Day (Sept. 10-21), Independence Day (Sept. 21), Garifuna Settlement Day (Nov. 19), Marti Gras (recent, celetrated with parades, paint bombs and drinking), and Costa Maya Festival (formerly Sea and Air Fest celebrated with beauty contests, music and dances (late July/early Aug.)
WHERE IS SUNSET BEACH CONDOS IN BELIZE? The resort is located on Ambergris Caye, Belize just 30
miles north east of Belize City, 2.34 miles south of the "heart" of San Pedro Town.
HOW MUCH AND WHAT TYPE OF MONEY SHOULD I BRING?: The Belize dollar is tied to the U.S. dollar at a fixed 2(BZ)=1(USD). U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere. Canadian , Mexican and European monies are not widely accepted. Belize Bank has an ATM in San Pedro. There is no need to exchange currency before arriving. Most places accept U.S. Dollars and major credit cards. However, some will charge a 4% processing fee for credit cards.
GETTING AROUND THE ISLAND: The most common vehicle is a golf cart. We can arrange to have one delivered to you We provide complimentary bikes and a personal cab driver. Cab rides are available for approximately $10 U.S. one way. NOTE: All pricing is subject to change. These prices are for reference only.
WHAT TO PACK: How about a couple of swimsuits? You won't need much but some casual clothing like shorts, T shirts, and sandals. For nighttime, you may want to bring casual pants and skirts. A lightweight sweater or sweat shirt will suffice for the occasional cool evening. The island wear is definitely casual and the popular slogan is, "No shirt, no shoes, no problems." Aside from all the standard things you would bring on any trip, the following things will be helpful: Extra swimsuits, light-weight cotton clothes, comfortable shoes, reading material (maps, guidebooks), camera with extra film, small flashlight, hat, dark sunglasses, basic health kit, insect repellent, sunscreen, Pepto, favorite snacks, battery operated radio, light wind/rain breaker, binoculars, small day pack and energy bars. You won’t need to dress up, and should leave fancy jewelry at home. Belize can be hot, so prepare adequately for the sun with sun glasses, wide brimmed hats, and plenty of sun block. For night time and exploring, it’s a good idea to bring loose cotton pants. Again, a sweatshirt or sweater should suffice for the evening. You may do a lot of walking, so bring comfortable all-terrain walking shoes, and a spare pair in case they get wet.
DIVING AND SNORKELING EQUIPMENT: For Diving, Snorkeling and Fishing: If you're diving or fishing you can bring your own equipment if you wish. Diving and snorkeling gear is available for rent. When you book a fishing trip with a guide, the fishing gear is included. If you plan to take jungle day tours yo the mainland you'll need hiking boots, loose cotton pants, and insect repellent. As a basic rule, if you cannot get along without it, bring a spare. This applies for contact lenses and glasses, sunglasses, flashlight and any personal medications.
CUSTOMS: Visitors may bring in personal effects, such as wearing apparel, jewelry, binoculars, cameras and laptops. Each person is allowed to import one carton (200 only) of cigarettes and one bottle of alcoholic beverage, duty free.
WEATHER: The average high temperature in Jan (80/70), Feb (80/71), Mar. (83/74), Apr. (85/76), May (87/79), Jun. (87/79), Jul. (86/79), Aug. (86/77), Sept. (86/77), Oct. (84/75(, Nov. (84/75), and Dec. (82/73). The average water temperature is 83 degrees. The rainy season is June-July with quick downfalls followed by sunshine.
TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required of US, Canadian and European visitors. If your passport expires in 6 months, you need to renew it now. Citizens of some other countries are also required to obtain a visa. Visa not required for stay up to 30 days. If visit exceeds 1 month, obtain a stay permit from the Immigration Authorities in Belize. AIDS test required for those staying more than 3 months; US test accepted if within 3 months of visit. For longer stays and other information, contact the Embassy of Belize, 2535 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (202-332-9636) or the Belize Mission in New York at (212599-0233). For information regarding visas in Belize please call 011-501-822-2423.
WHAT LANGUAGE IS SPOKEN? English is the official language of Belize and the exchange rate is simple...$2 BZ = $1 US. The Electricity runs the same as the U.S. 100 Volts AC. Belize observes Central Standard Time w/o observing daylight savings. The Ethnic make-up of Belize consists of 44% Mestizo (mixed European & Maya), 30% Creole, 11% Maya, 7% Garifuna and 8% other.
WHAT IS AMBERGRIS CAYE? Ambergris Caye is located 30 miles from Belize City and is the largest, most popular island in Belize. The island of Ambergris Caye is only 27 miles long and is protected by a 190 mile Barrier Reef, the second longest living coral reef barrier in the world! CNN Travel recently featured an article boasting Ambergris Caye being as the “World’s No. Island” two years in a row by the travel review site TripAdvisor. Belize prized by many vacationers as an easy destination where the official language is English, a passport is required, the exchange rate is simple ($2 BZ = $1 U.S. dollar) and where the U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere. Caye is the most popular tourist destination in Belize. Ambergris Caye is a resort island with good lodging, restaurants and water sports. Unlike Belize City, the streets are made of sand and you will not find a building over three stories high. The second most popular tourist destination in Belize is Cayo district where you will find lodges, Maya ruins, butterfly farms, Mennonites, the gateway to Cool Mountain Pine Ridge and mighty Caracol plus all sorts of outdoor activities including river running and caving. Most people choose to stay on Ambergris Caye where they can enjoy the quaint town, slower-pace and beautiful beaches. Most people take day tours to the mainland. The big tour companies make it a day event and will pick you up in a jet boat and transport you to the mainland. They will feed you and provide all transportation. They are organized, efficient and fun. You will leave in the morning and be delivered back to Ambergris Cay by mid to late afternoon.
HOW TO GET TO BELIZE: Belize is easily accessible by direct flights from many citieswith connecting flights from many
other cities. The Phillip Goldson International Airport is the main port of entry into Belize. (BZE=Airport code). The major airlines service Belize out of the U.S.A. and travel times are below:
AMERICAN AIRLINES/US AIRWAYS
Los Angeles, CA (LAX) -Flight Time: 4 hours, 40 minutes
Dallas, TX (DFW) -Flight Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes
American, US Airways Miami, FL (MIA) -Flight Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes
American, US Airways Charlotte, NC (CLT) -Flight Time: 3 hours, 24 minutes
AVIANCA San Salvador, El Salvador (SAL) Flight Time: 1 hour
COPA AIRLINES Panama, PA (PTY) Flight Time: 2 hours, 22 minutes
Atlanta, GA (ATL) - Flight Time: 3 hours, 11 minutes
Los Angeles, CA (LAX) - Flight Time: 4 hours, 40 minutes
Houston, TX (HOU) - Flight Time: 2 hours, 29 minutes
Denver, CO (DEN) - Flight Time: 4 hours
Chicago, IL (ORD) - Flight Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes
Houston, TX (IAH) - Flight Time: 2 hours, 29 minutes
Newark, NJ (EWR) - Flight Time: 6 hours, 25 minutes
WESTJET AIRLINES - Toronto, CA (YYZ) - Flight Time: 5 hours, 30 minutes
NEW** Starting December 2017 Air Canada will start flying to Belize seasonally!
Dec. 1, 2017 – Feb 4, 2018 -Boeing 787-9 (mainline). Four times weekly
Dec. 20, 2017 – Apr. 8, 2018 -Boeing 767-300ER (Rouge). Twice weekly
Dec. 15, 2017 – Apr. 13, 2018 -Airbus A319 (Rouge)- Weekly
Dec. 14, 2017 – Apr. 12, 2018. Airbus A319 (Rouge)- Weekly
Dec. 16, 2017 – May 27, 2018- Boeing 767-300ER (Rouge) - Twice weekly
Feb. 22, 2018 – May 28, 2018- Airbus A319 (Rouge) -Three times weekly
Cancun, Mexico (CUN) - Flight Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Flores, Guatemala (FRS) - Flight Time: 45 minutes
Honduras (RTB) - Flight Time: 55 minutes
San Pedro Sula, Honduras (SAP) - Flight Time: 1 hour
Merida, Mexico (MID) - Flight Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
For more information, visit
HOW TO GET TO BELIZE CITY TO AMBERGRIS CAYE: The resort is 30 miles from Belize City on the island of Ambergris Caye, less than three miles south of the San Pedro airstrip. Fly internationally into Belize City and then take a 15 minute flight to San Pedro or a 2 hour water taxi. The charter flight must be scheduled prior to departing from your trip. This charter can be arranged through our reservation's staff or by clinking this link "BOOK A PUDDLE JUMPER"
TAKING A PUDDLE JUMPER CHARTER FLIGHT TO AMBERGRIS CAYE: The 15 minute charter flight is preferred by most since it gets you to the island quickly and more comfortably. I can schedule these for you. If you want to take the water taxi, the last water taxi leaves at 4:30 p.m.. It takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to go through customs. The water taxi port is approximately 20 minutes away from BZE. If you arrive into BZE anytime after 4:15, you should schedule the charter because there is a good chance you will not make it in time and spending the night in Belize City is far from appealing. This is a free service that I offer and actually prefer to do it for guests so we can be better prepared for your arrival. Also, if your international flight is delayed (which happens quite frequently), you will need to have your charter flight rescheduled. Simply call me or email me from the airport and I’ll swiftly take care of the details for you and place you first on the next available flight. ORDER CHARTER FLIGHTS NOW: https://fs11.formsite.com/dneis/form1/index.html
WATER TAXI: The San Pedro Belize Water Taxi Express' website is http://www.belizewatertaxi.com. The water taxi port is approximately 20 to 30 minutes away from BZE. If you arrive into BZE anytime after 4:00, you should schedule the charter because there is a good chance you will not make it in time and spending the night in Belize City is far from appealing. I will guesstimate when you will get to the island, but you will need to have the water taxi staff call our preferred cab driver who will then call our Island manager to meet you at the resort.
GETTING TO SUNSET BEACH RESORT: Once I know your arrival time and method, I will coordinate our preferred cab driver to pick you up and transport you back to your condo. We work as a team at Sunset Beach. I will help you efficiently get to the island and provide all the information you need to have a successful vacation. I will personally book your golf cart, book your charter flights, schedule your cab rides, arrange your golf cart pick-up & delivery and provide valuable tips for your trip. When you arrive on the island, we will send our preferred cab driver, Manolo Contreras, to retrieve you. We've been working with Manolo for several years and he will notify the staff you are on your way to make sure the key will be ready for you. Our live-in caretaker, Chapin, will answer any questions and fix any problems with the facilities during your stay. The day after you arrive, we will send our island concierge, Rosa, to visit you in your condo to fill out the tourism paperwork. She can schedule tours and answer questions. You may also walk into the Suya Tour office located behind building C and schedule tours (diving/fishing/snorkeling/mainland tours). During your stay, our housekeeper, Janet, will make sure your condo is spotless upon arrival and well stocked with all the linens you need during your stay. If you stay more than 10 days, you get a complimentary mid-week cleaning. If you would like additional housekeeping at your own expense, Janet can easy arrange it. We do have a coin-operated laundry building on-site, but many guests prefer to use Irma's pick-up/drop-off laundry service which can be found in the condo notebook.
ONCE YOUR ARE THERE. SUGGESTED ITINERARY FOR THE WEEK:
Day 1. Relax. Explore the island on your rented golf cart. Take a leisurely stroll along the beach. Treat yourself to a night on the town for dinner and explore the streets of San Pedro Town as they come alive at night.
Day 2. Arrange for a snorkeling trip to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley. Relax some more.
Day 3. Jump on a golf cart or grab one of the resort bikes and venture further across the island. Explore the north end of the island and have lunch at one of the beach hotels.
Day 4. Take a trip to the mainland to Lamanai or Altun Ha Ruins and discover the mysterious ancient Mayan world.
Day 5. Go on a morning snorkeling trip and afternoon take the water ferry over to Caye Caulker for an early dinner and explore it's innocence and undeveloped natural beauty.
Day 6. Take another exciting trip to the mainland and go cave tubing and ziplining!
Day 7. Relax and make every minute count before you have to go back home.