Flights to Belize aren’t cheap but if you’re traveling from the US or Canada there is an option that will save you some money. What you must do is fly into Cancun, Mexico and catch the overnight ADO Bus to Belize City. It is also possible to rent a car at the airport (don’t forget to get vehicle documents to cross the border) or hire a private transfer but at $616.00 pesos/ $48.00 USD, the bus is so much more economical.
When I went in December 2014, with $200.00 I flew from Toronto to Cancun on Air Canada and when it was time to come back, I had to pay $605.00 from Belize City to Toronto with a 5 hour delay in Atlanta. As you can see there’s a huge difference.
I’ve flown into Cancun a few times and usually take a bus to Playa del Carmen and spend a couple days there before heading to Belize but this time I decided not to take the regular detour because I wanted to be in San Ignacio for Christmas.
Here’s how the journey went:
My direct flight from Toronto took 4 hours but for the lucky few that are flying from the Southern United States it is much closer. Houston to Cancun is 2 hours and 20 minutes and from Miami it is only an 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Getting off the plane you’ll notice the airport is very busy and well developed. The only immediate difference that will let you know you’re in Mexico (the tropics) is the humidity. If not, visit the bathroom and you see it’s filled with young men and women handing you toilet paper in exchange for tips. Haha.
After customs and immigrations you’ll see the exit gate, take a right and walk for a few minutes until you arrive at a mini airport checkpoint. Tell the guard you’re looking for the ADO Bus and he will show you where to go. Once you’re at the ticket booth, say you’re interested in the Cancun to Belice viaje ($48.00 USD) – there’s only one trip a day and it leaves at 10:15PM. There isn’t a way to book this beforehand so try to get there early, preferably before 3PM (BTW, don’t forget about Mexico’s time difference).
The overnight bus to Belize doesn’t leave from the airport therefore you will have to go to the ADO bus terminal. You can either take a taxi or catch the airport bus which costs $50.00 pesos/ $4.00 USD.
The bus station is a safe place but I suggest you don’t wander too far. Since I needed access to Internet I walked a block to a McDonalds for the free Wi-Fi. To be honest I didn’t feel too safe, but if you’re traveling with a crowd it shouldn’t be a problem.
We left at 10:15PM, the bus stopped for a few passengers at Playa del Carmen, then Tulum. After we crossed the Mexico and Belize border (there is a $25.00 USD departure fee at the Mexican border) the bus did two quick stops at Corozal and Orange Walk before arriving at the Belize City bus station at approximately 6:30AM.
Belize City water taxi to Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye
Take a $3.50 taxi to the Caye Caulker Water Taxi terminal or San Pedro Belize Express terminal, both offer the same service. It costs $15.00 to Caye Caulker and $20.00 to Ambergris Caye. Receive $5.00 off if you book round trip tickets but I’ve always found that the hassle of worrying that it gets lost isn’t worth the savings.
OR… Chetumal water taxi to San Pedro or Caye Caulker
If you’re heading directly to San Pedro or Caye Caulker you also have the option of taking the ADO bus to Chetumal (these leave frequently from Cancun or Playa del Carmen) and catching a water taxi to the Cayes. There are two Belizean water taxis that depart daily at 3PM from Chetumal’s Muelle Fiscal (Municipal Pier). It is best if you are there a couple hours before it departs so that you can secure a spot on the boat. The water taxi ride takes approximately 2 hours and costs $30.00. Mexican officials are at the pier and after processing your documents they will charge you a $5.00 port fee + $25.00 departure fee.
N.B. If for any reason the boat to the Cayes is overbooked, catch a taxi to the Mexico/ Belize border and after clearing customs and immigration, you can catch a $2.00 collectivo taxi to the bus station in Corozal. Local buses leave every 1/2 hour to Belize City.
From Belize City, local buses that travel to all areas of the country depart every fifteen to half hour.
If I didn’t have a friend who was picking me up, I would have taken a 3 hour bus ride to San Ignacio. The bus takes long because it makes frequent stops – at least a couple times in each village. You’ll here the locals shout “right here” and the bus pulls over to the side of the road.
Return ticket to Cancun?
You can buy your Belize City to Cancun ticket 7 days in advance. I strongly suggest you purchase it if you can because it gets sold out quickly, especially during the high tourism season of December, January, February, March and April. At the Belize City bus station the ADO booth opens at 5:30PM but the convenience store named Reliance Store sells tickets throughout the day.
The bus leaves every evening at 7:30PM and arrives at approximately 5:30AM at the airport before reaching its final destination at the ADO Cancun bus station. It costs $48 from Belize City to Cancun and $44.50 to Playa del Carmen.
With this helpful guide…you’re on your way to having a better Belize vacation! Cheers 🙂