Tips for choosing a tour guide in Belize

Chaa Creek's Natural History Center
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I am a strong advocate of hiring local tour guides in Belize. In general, tour guides are knowledgeable about a destination and are trained to spot things that people typically miss.

Related: What to Do in Belize and Where to Go in Belize

Finding a tour guide is easy, choosing a good tour guide is a different story. This is because, with the rise of tourism, and lack of jobs in other industries, many Belizeans are taking on guiding as a profession. But truthfully, not all have the passion and drive to be exceptional guides. And since my job to educate on travel to Belize, here are a few tips to assist in picking the right guide when in Belize.

Tour operator vs Free-lance guide

Tour operators usually charge more for tours but you can find deals when booking tours as a group. Many of the best Belizean tour guides are employed by tour operators since they offer a guaranteed salary.

You can find free-lance guides while walking on the streets or at sites. These guides are typically cheaper to hire but you should find out about their reputation. Do note that some of the guides who work for tour operators might also work free-lance.


Ask for the guide’s background and how long they’ve worked in the tourism industry. It is also very important to ask if they specialize in a particular area. Although most guides are knowledgeable about all aspects of Belize, if they regularly do fishing tours, for example, this will be their forte, and not something like Maya archaeology or jungle trekking.


You choose to spend time with friends because they are fun to be around. It should be the same with your tour guide. On your travels, you make memorable experiences, and the people you encounter help shape them. First, you need to find a knowledgeable guide and then seek out someone who is also always smiling and loves to crack jokes. By the end of your stay, you’ll want to adopt him/ her.


This one should be common sense. Ask around about your guide or tour operator and search online to see if they don’t have extremely bad reviews. However, I ask that you are critical of what you read online since information on review sites can be fabricated.

Private vs Group tour

I enjoy both options, therefore, choosing a private or group tour is entirely up to personal preferences. For large families or if you want to receive more information, I recommend hiring a private guide. If you’re a couple or are single, a group tour is a great way to mingle with other travelers and it’s very likely you’ll have post-tour drinks with them, including the guide (haha). If you’re coming off a cruise ship, you should definitely hire a private guide because the group tours that the cruise offers is immensely crowded.


Safety concerns should be a top priority whenever you’re on a tour. Check that your guide has the needed safety equipment and if it’s working properly. What is their insurance coverage? Ask if they have had any accidents in the past and how it was handled.

You are also responsible for yourself, state any issues you have and make sure you follow the outlined safety guidelines.

Reviews and referrals

Before you visit Belize, you will most likely search online for the best tours in Belize. Make sure to check out review websites such as TripAdvisor and look for recommended guides and tour operators with great reviews. If you read some of the tour reviews, you will notice that the names of guides are mentioned when people are exceptionally pleased.

Lastly, practice responsible tourism

Hire people and organizations that support the local economy and take the matter of safeguarding the natural environment, seriously. Click here to read about a few ways you can support responsible travel and why it is important.

Did you like my tips? Do share yours if you have any.



Reader Interactions


  1. Lenn A says

    Nice tips and great article! Might want to add these little things:

    1. People might want to ask to see their license before hiring them.(both tour operators and tour guides should have) since many people pose as guides and do not have a valid license, hence operating illegally. As a paying customer, they have the right to ask for that.
    2. Hiring a free-lance guide (cheaper option on first tip) is not recommended, given that then they are acting as a tour operator. Hiring a free-lance tour guide would be running the risk of not being covered in case of injury on any tour. Licensed tour operators have to pay for liability insurance for their tours, hence why their prices are higher.

    Just thought I’d add. Your articles are always a great read Lorenzo!

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