Welcome to the second instalment of how to navigate Central America. In this edition Navigating Belize, we divulge how we made our way around Belize, the costs involved and the border crossings we made from Guatemala to Belize.
Belize is such a chilled location, with excellent public transport and roads. It was such a relief and welcome surprise after traveling on the dreadful roads in Guatemala.
The buses are an interesting experience (that I kinda of loved), with bus drivers blasting reggaeton and friendly locals striking up conversations and offering you tips and advice for the remainder of your trip.
The buses run according to a schedule and generally run on time. Each bus has a ticket conductor that will collect your payment and advise you when you have reached your stop. While there are designated stops, in the countryside the buses will stop if waved down or to let someone off.
Flores to San Ignacio
If you time it right getting to San Ignacio is very straightforward, a coach departs from Flores at 5am and 7am heading straight to Belize City. You can take this bus and you will be dropped a 15-minute walk from the centre of San Ignacio.
The border crossing is a quick one, the coach will you drop on the Guatemalan side where you will get an exit stamp, then you will walk with your bags to Belize immigration. There is a customs section but they didn’t bother scanning or bags we got our arrival stamp and meet the coach to carry on with our journey. There was no exit or entry fees (however when you depart Belize there will be a fee), the process taking us a total of 30 minutes.
If you are unable to get this coach then the journey will be a bit more complicated. You will need to catch a local bus to the border, once you have entered Belize catch a colectivo or taxi to Benque (2km) and from there you can get a bus to San Ignacio.
- Direct coach: Flores –San Ignacio 100q (10USD)
- Direct coach: Flores –San Ignacio 2 ½ – 3 hours
- Exit fee Guatemala – No fee
- Entry fee Belize – No fee
San Ignacio to Caye Caulker
Many will advise you to catch a shuttle to the water taxi terminal in Belize City to carry on your journey to Caye Caulker. This is totally unnecessary and about four times the price of catching the local bus.
Buses in Belize are all owned by different companies and operate on different schedules. All of the buses to Belize City depart from the same central hub in the main square of San Ignacio town (just ask any local for directions, it’s just one street back from Burns Ave).
The buses depart around every half an hour and take around 2.5hrs to get to Belize City. Express buses also operated daily aside from Saturdays.
- Local Bus: San Ignacio – Belize City 2.5hrs (around 1.45hrs if you can get an express bus)
- Taxi: Belize City bus station – Ferry Terminal 5 minutes (could walk in about 15-20mins)
- Water Taxi: Belize City – Caye Caulker 40 minutes
- Local Bus: San Ignacio – Belize City $10BZ ($5USD)
- Taxi: Belize City bus station – Ferry Terminal $5BZ ($2.50USD)
- Water taxi: Belize City – Caye Caulker $13.50BZ ($7USD)
No need to buy a bus ticket in advance just pay once on the bus and good luck trying to find a seat.
To get to Caye Caulker you will need to catch a water taxi from Belize City, you can either opt to catch a private water taxi (need to be organised in advance) or a public water taxi service. The public service is operated by two companies, each with their own terminals.
Each terminal is around a 15-minute walk from the bus station in Belize City or a $5BZ taxi fare. The two services operate around every hour or two during daylight hours, neither offer an evening service.
Caye Caulker to Placencia
Originally, we never planned to go to Placencia but we needed to catch a ferry from here to Honduras. We opted for this route as otherwise we would have to head back through Guatemala and this would have been a slow and frustrating journey.
This journey sounds complicated with all the changes but it was actually relatively stress-free and all of the transport linked up perfectly.
From the bus station in Belize City catch any bus heading to Punta Gorda, disembark in Independence and catch a 5-minute taxi ride to the Hokey Pokey (water taxi/ferry) from here catch the Hokey Pokey to Placencia.
- Water Taxi: Caye Caulker – Belize City 40 minutes
- Local Bus: Belize City – Inderpendence 4-4.5hours
- Hokey Pokey: Independence – Placencia 10 minutes
- Water Taxi: Caye Caulker – Belize City $13.50BZ ($7USD)
- Local Bus: Belize City – Inderpendence 4-4.5hours $15BZ ($7.50USD)
- Hokey Pokey: Independence – Placencia 10 minutes $10BZ ($5USD)
We found navigating Belize to be a stress-free experience. The transport is well maintained, runs to a set schedule and generally runs on time.