Best Time to Visit Belize
From Maya ruins and skeleton-filled caves to secret waterfalls and some of the best diving in the world, Belize has everything a traveler needs for an adventure. The best time to visit Belize is as soon as you can make it to this Central American paradise. However, many tourists plan their trips here between December and May, during the country's dry season.
The time of year that you visit Belize will set the tone for your trip. The gorgeous weather during the high season makes it worth putting up with the crowds – especially if you're looking to relax on Belize's stunning beaches. But the slower months of the year are just as compelling for thrifty tourists who want to score a great deal on accommodations and activities, and don't mind hot, rainy weather. Just be sure to keep your eye on potential hurricane threats, which can occur from June through October.
So will it be high season, low season, or somewhere in between? Let our guide to the best time to visit Belize help you plan the perfect vacation to this beloved destination.
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Best Time of Year to Visit Belize
The best time of year to visit Belize is during the dry season, which typically starts in late November or early December and runs through May. This season gives tourists the best weather to take advantage of Belize's beautiful nature, from the inland jungles to the pristine coastline.
Throughout the year, Belize boasts an average temperature of about 27-29 degrees Celsius. The destination's dry season happens to be slightly cooler than other times of the year, although by no means is it cold. Tourists can expect daytime highs to range from 28 to 32 degrees Celsius, with nighttime temperatures falling no lower than 20 degrees Celsius, from November through April.
This type of weather lends itself well to exploring Belize's remarkable Maya ruins, such as the Caracol archeological park and Xunantunich, as well as the beaches around Placencia. It's also a great time of year to go diving in Belize.
While significantly less rainy than the wet season, Belize's dry season does come with the occasional shower. The country is in the tropics, after all! Tourists should expect relatively frequent rainfalls in the earlier part of the dry season. It rains an average of 13 days in Belize in November, dropping to 11 days on average during both December and January.
The rain subsides as the dry season continues, with an average of six rainy days in February and just four days of rain in both March and April. It rains about six days on average each May – the last official month before Belize's sopping wet season begins.
Despite the vacation-friendly weather, Belize's dry season does come with a downside: crowds. December and March compete for the highest numbers of visitors to Belize, with each month approaching some 55,000 tourist arrivals in typical years. That number pushes even higher when you count the 130,000-plus cruise passengers who usually spend the day in Belize City at some point during the months of January, December, and March.
If you want to make the most of great weather but avoid some of the busiest months for tourists, plan your trip to Belize in November or May. Tourism drops about 30 to 40 percent from peak levels during these months. The further you venture away from the main tourist hot spots of Belize City, Ambergris Caye, Cayo District, and Placencia, the less crowded it gets.
This is a great time of year to go off the beaten path in Belize – watching traditional dance performances (and learning the local moves) in Dangriga, sampling ocean fare at Punta Gorda's fish market, or exploring the ancient Maya city of Lubaantun.
Best Month to Visit Belize
March and April are the best months to visit Belize. While crowded, these months offer the ideal combination of superb weather for days at the beach or archeological sites, springtime festivities, and sightseeing opportunities around the country's lively towns and cities. Expect temperatures to range from highs around 30 to 31 degrees Celsius and lows around 22 to 24 degrees Celsius, with little to no rain.
One of the biggest highlights of visiting Belize in March is the destination's La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge. The annual canoe race takes place in early March on the weekend just before Baron Bliss Day, a public holiday (typically observed on the Monday closest to March 9) that honors a British traveler who left a sizable trust fund to Belize after his death in 1926.
The sporting event kicks off at the Hawkesworth Bridge in San Ignacio. Paddlers race their way down the Belize Old River for almost 300 kilometers over the course of four days, stopping to rest at campsites along the way. Teams practice for months in hopes of reaching the finish line in first place. Join the thousands of spectators along the sidelines to cheer them on.
La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge is the first of many athletic events in Belize in March and April. Tourists can also check out the San Cas Belmopan Cycling Classic, the Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic, and the Holy Saturday Regatta in Caye Caulker. Since many of these events are scheduled to align with Easter, the dates can vary from one year to the next. Check local listings for the exact timings of these sporting events during your visit.
Easter is an important (and fun!) time of year for Belizeans. Nearly 75 percent of the country's residents are Christian, with Roman Catholic as the largest denomination, and they go all out for Easter and the days surrounding the holiday.
Tourists can experience the excitement in Benque Viejo del Carmen, which puts on a reenactment of the Via Crucifix on Good Friday and decorates the streets with Alfombras de Aserrin – patterned carpets made of colorful sawdust. The festivities continue at fairs and events throughout the country, most notably the Burrell Boom Horse Races.
On Easter Sunday, families typically celebrate the resurrection of Christ at church mass and then head to the beach for picnics and swimming.
Special events aside, March and April are also a wonderful time of year to visit many of the top-rated tourist attractions in Belize. Aspiring explorers and history buffs can spend time exploring Maya ruins and the famous Actun Tunichil Muknal cave. Foodies can tour banana farms in Placencia and visit the Belize Spice Farm & Botanical Garden at the base of the Maya Mountain.
And if you're into animals, Belize spoils you for choice with the Earth's many creatures. Go horseback riding on the jungle trails in Kendal. See colorful birds, reptiles, and the elusive jaguar at the Belize Zoo. Or, strap on your mask and snorkel or diving gear and see what's under the sea.
Best Time to Visit Belize for Diving
While Belize has fantastic diving all year-round, Scuba season peaks from April through June. These months offer the right weather for splashing around the ocean, as well as calm currents that make it easy for everyone (even first-timers) to have a great diving experience. Expect the temperatures in the pretty azure water to range from 26 to 29 degrees Celsius.
Belize is one of the best places in the world to go diving with whale sharks. A bit of a misnomer, whale sharks are not whales, but the world's largest fish, typically clocking in at between six and 16 meters in length. They're also one of the most mysterious creatures on Earth. Despite decades of research, scientists still don't know where members of the endangered species mate or raise their young.
Tourists can go snorkeling or diving with the elusive creatures when they congregate about 50 kilometers off the coast of Belize from March through June, with higher chances of seeing them in April and May. Daily tours typically depart from Placencia two days before the full moon and continue for up to 10 days after, repeating the cycle again the following month. Getting up close to these gentle giants is a magical experience that deserves a top spot on every diver's bucket list.
Diving with whale sharks is just the beginning of the epic scuba experiences you can have in the late spring and early summer in Belize. The country is also home to the Great Blue Hole, an underwater sinkhole that's visible from outer space. The 300-meter-wide, 125-meter-deep wonder is found at Lighthouse Atoll about 100 kilometers away from Belize City. Experienced divers can see what's beneath the surface of this UNESCO World Heritage Site on guided underwater tours that often have you swimming around giant stalactites. Even if you don't have the diving skills necessary to explore the Great Blue Hole, you can see it from above on an aerial tour with Tropic Air.
There's an incredible array of dive sites in Belize, and you can easily find one that fits your interests and skill level. The Belize Barrier Reef bursts with tropical fish, sea turtles, and reef sharks. Tourists can get up close to nurse sharks in Shark Ray Alley. The Southern Coast also has new dive sites on offer every year. Ask local tour operators for personalized recommendations on where to dive during your trip to Belize.
Things to Do in Belize by Month
The best months to travel to Belize ultimately depend on your passions. Are you heading to the Central American country to immerse yourself in the culture? Get up close to wildlife? Explore archeological ruins? Or take a romantic beach vacation? Your interests will ultimately drive when you should visit the destination.
Here are some recommendations on the best months to travel to Belize, based on the type of tourist you are and what you're seeking:
Looking to avoid the crowds? Then the best months for you to travel to Belize are September and October. These months have historically received the lowest number of visitors. Pack a high-quality rain coat and umbrella if you come to Belize this time of year – it typically rains 14 to 16 days each month during September and October.
The best months for culture buffs to travel to Belize are March and April. That's when the country celebrates one of its most important holidays, Easter. Make sure you book accommodations, transportation, and tours well in advance if you're visiting Belize during the high season, otherwise you might find yourself in a pickle upon arrival. You should also be prepared for higher costs in March and April than at other times of the year.
Tourists who are interested in Belize's jungles and rainforests should visit in August, September, or October. The landscape will be thick with greenery and bursting with wildlife. Bonus: Hotels and airlines often run special prices during these rainy months, making it a good time for budget-conscious tourists to experience Belize.
Belize has an amazing coastline, and the best months to go to the beach are January and February. Both months are significantly less crowded than December, but still offer sunny blue skies and warm temperatures for enjoying the water. Plan to spend at least a few days recharging at one of Belize's luxurious beach resorts and let your stress melt away.
If you're eager for epic encounters with sea creatures, the best time to visit Belize is in April or May, during the height of whale shark season. Your best chance at seeing the massive animals is on a dive tour to Gladden Spit, off the coast of Placencia.
With some 587 species of birds, Belize makes for a top bird-watching destination year-round. But for feather fanatics, the best time to visit is January through April, when a variety of migratory birds flock to the country. Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best places to see all kinds of birds, including boat-billed herons, snail kites, spoonbills, falcons, ibis, and more. Bring a pair of binoculars.
Tourists who love performance art should schedule their trip to Belize in December. Along the streets of the local Garifuna community in Dangriga, you can see masked Jankunu dancers move to the beat of traditional drummers around Christmas and the New Year. The holidays also include the Charikanari, a traditional dance that depicts a hunter on a mission to find a "two-foot crow." The dancers make their way from house to house, and the community gathers to watch the crow playfully tease the local kids.
If you're drawn to the Maya ruins in Belize, plan to travel during the month of February. Just six days of rain in February make it unlikely that you'll need to postpone your excursions due to bad weather. Plus, temperatures between 21 and 29 degrees Celsius make it pleasant to spend many hours outside, wandering around the spectacular archeological sites. Don't forget your sunscreen, though!