Driving in Belize

Belize's Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
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Exploring Belize by car offers the unique experience of seeing the country at your own pace. It also allows you to reach most destinations and tourist attractions without having to depend on tours and transfers.

Related: Getting around Belize and Top Destinations in Belize

However, it’s important to note that driving in Belize might not be for everyone. It can be challenging due to local driving conditions and high costs. And you can’t do some popular cave tours on your own. But if you aren’t deterred, this guide should have you covered. From insurance and car hire to road conditions and safety tips, here are a few things you need to know before taking to the roads of Belize.

Renting a Car
Safety and Regulations
Driving Essentials
Roads and Highways

Car Rental and Driving Limitations

The hand-cranked ferry used to get to Xunantunich

Belize has several reputable car rental companies with average rental costs starting at around US$70 per day. The legal driving age in Belize is 18 but most rental companies require that renters are 21 or older.

A driver’s license, passport and credit card is necessary to rent a car, but some places accept cash with a large deposit. Renting a four-wheel drive is strongly recommended.

Third-party liability insurance is mandatory in Belize, and you may be required to produce proof of it at occasional police checkpoints.

Note that car rentals are restricted to the mainland. The cayes are off-limits for vehicles. However, in Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, you can hire golf carts to move around the island, costing about US$30 per day for a four-seater.

Safety and Regulations

Belmopan Roundabout on Forest Drive

Driving is on the right-hand side, and seat belts are mandatory for drivers and all passengers. Driving at night is discouraged due to often inadequate road lighting and the presence of winding roads.

Speed limits are generally 55 mph on open highways, 40-25 mph in villages and towns. All road signs and distances are displayed in miles.

If you’re traveling with children, there are no specific laws for child safety in cars, so it is up to the adults to ensure that a child is safely and securely seated in a car. If you are involved in an accident, call 911 and wait for the police and insurance inspector to arrive.

Preparing for the Road

Before hitting the road, ensure you have mapped out your route and you have your license, passport, and car insurance handy. Check that your spare tire is fine and grab some water. Most car rentals offer breakdown cover, which includes pickup and replacement of the vehicle. But if you get a flat tire, you will have to change it yourself.

Essential Checklist

  • Driver’s License
  • Passport
  • Credit Card
  • Phone with GPS or local map
  • Charger for your Devices
  • Spare Tire and Water

Navigating Belizean Roads and Highways

Belize Map

Belize offers a mix of paved highways and unpaved rural roads. Highways are generally in good condition, but be cautious of speed bumps, especially near communities.

Gas stations are frequent in major towns and along main highways. Gas is expensive, costing around US$7 per gallon. Most stations accept credit/debit cards, but it’s good to have cash as a backup.

Highways to Know

HighwayStartEnd
Philip GoldsonBelize CitySanta Elena (Mexican Border)
George PriceBelize CityBenque Viejo (Guatemalan Border)
HummingbirdBelmopanDangriga
CoastalLa DemocracriaHope Creek
Thomas Vincent RamosDangrigaPunta Gorda

Philip Goldson Highway

Main route connecting Belize City to the northern districts of Orange Walk and Corozal, leading to the Santa Elena, which is next to the Mexican border.

StartDestinationDistanceEstimated Time
Belize CityOrange Walk Town57 Miles1.5 hrs
Corozal Town86 Miles2.5 hrs
Santa Elena90 Miles2.5 hrs

George Price Highway

Named after Belize’s first Prime Minister, this highway connects Belize City to the Cayo District of western Belize. The first major stop is Belmopan, followed by the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena, and then Benque Viejo del Carmen, which sits next to the Guatemalan border.

StartDestinationDistanceEstimated Time
Belize CityLa Democracia30 Miles50 mins
Belmopan52 Miles1.5 hrs
San Ignacio72 Miles2 hrs
Benque Viejo80 Miles2.5 hrs

Hummingbird Highway

Known for scenic beauty, this highway connects the capital city of Belmopan, which is in the center of Belize, to the southern coastal town of Dangriga in Stann Creek.

StartDestinationDistanceEstimated Time
BelmopanHope Creek55 Miles1.5 hrs
Dangriga60 Miles2 hrs

Coastal Highway

Traversing the east coast of Belize from La Democracia to Hope Creek, this highway connects the George Price Highway to the Hummingbird Highway. It is used as a shortcut if you want to bypass Belmopan.

StartDestinationDistanceEstimated Time
La DemocraciaGales Point24 Miles30 mins
Hope Creek36 Miles40 mins

Thomas Vincent Ramos Highway

Formerly known as the Southern Highway, this road is essential for reaching southern Belize, including tourist destinations like Hopkins and Placencia in Stann Creek, and Punta Gorda in Toledo.

StartDestinationDistanceEstimated Time
DangrigaHopkins20 Miles30 mins
Placencia50 Miles1.5 hrs
Punta Gorda103 Miles2.5 hrs

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