As a tourist, driving yourself around Belize is a wonderful way to see the country. This gives you complete control in structuring your itinerary and the pace of your all inclusive Belize trip here. For a growing number of tourists, this has become a part of their adventure…after all, as the brochures claim, Belize is “Undiscovered and Unspoiled!”
Considering that Belize is only 185 miles from north to south and 69 miles wide, it is not necessary to drive long hours on any given day. There are three principal highways: The Northern Highway, from Belize City north to Corozal and the Mexican border; The Western Highway, from Belize City west, passing by Belmopan, through San Ignacio, and on to Benque Viejo del Carmen and the Guatemalan Border; and the Hummingbird Highway, which starts near Belmopan and runs south to Dangriga. These are all paved. Additionally, there are the Southern Highway, from Dangriga to Punta Gorda, and the Manatee Highway, locally known as the “Coastal Road,” which starts at La Democracia on the Western Highway (near the Belize Zoo) and also leads to Dangriga via Gales Point. The condition of all of these roads is described below.
One must bear in mind that the rainy season, which is generally June through October, can have a great impact on the accessibility of some sites and areas. At that time, it is not advisable to venture too far off the main roads. Even during the dry season, a four wheel drive vehicle is often recommended, as the level of maintenance on the unpaved roads can vary. Most of the rental agencies in Belize only handle four wheel drives, and all have fairly comparable rates, but it always pays to shop around.
If you are planning on driving your own vehicle to Belize, you will be required to purchase insurance in Belize for the duration of your stay. The Belize Insurance Company office is located across the street from the Customs office in Santa Elena, at the northern border with Mexico. It is open every day except Sunday, when you must go to their office in Corozal (about 10 miles south). Be sure to check with the Mexican authorities prior to departure to find out about restrictions on private vehicles transiting through Mexico.
Tips on driving safety are the same as in most any country: Do not leave valuable items visible in the vehicle; keep the doors locked at all times; avoid driving the highways at night; fill your gas tank whenever possible; and do not pick up hitchhikers or stop to render assistance to people you do not know.