Tiny, tropical Belize is where Spanish-flavoured Central America meets the captivating culture of the Caribbean, but it pays to think about when to go.
You’ll get the best out of Belize’s Mayan ruins, vine-draped rainforests and the largest barrier reef outside of Australia during the dry season from December to April. At other times, crowds evaporate and prices plummet, offering a more relaxed taste of the tropics.
Many visitors swear by the shoulder season in November and May, when there’s still plenty of sunshine, but much less competition for towel space on Belize’s Caribbean beaches.
Some activities, though are definitely better in the dry – rain can put a real damper on diving in the spooky Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef or exploring the flooded caverns of Actun Tunichil Muknal. Plus, the summer heat can be a lot to handle. Here’s our guide to help you decide the perfect time to visit Belize.
Palms greet new arrivals to tropical Tobacco Caye ©Simon Dannhauer/Getty Images
The dry season (December to April) has the best weather
Brilliant blue skies. Birdlife checking in along the Caribbean Coast. Belize’s dry season (December to April) offers prime weather for birding, sunbathing, swimming, and diving on the beaches of Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye, and hundreds of other islands along the Belize Barrier Reef. Accordingly, hotels and transport operators bump up their prices by 30% to 50%.
Although the dry season only really gets underway in late January, the post-New Year holidays see a huge influx of people and a big increase in prices, so those extra-high “peak” prices apply from mid-December to mid-January. Reservations are essential if you plan on enjoying some Christmas sun.
There are big NYE parties in San Pedro, horse races at Burrell Boom and cyclists ride from Corozal to Belize City for the Krem Annual New Year’s Day Classic.
In February, prices for accommodation remain high, and there’s lots of demand for space on boats to the cayes and trips inland to caves, ruins and jungle reserves. Lagoons and rivers begin to dry up and birds become easier to spot, as they congregate around the limited remaining water sources.
The dry season is also the best time to explore the Maya wonders of the country, from the stepped pyramids of Caracol and Altun Ha to the menacing masks adorning temples at Lamanai and Xunantunich. Cavers can take advantage of the dry weather to wriggle and wade deep underground in sacred Mayan caves such as Actun Tunichil Muknal and Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve.
Belize celebrates Easter with passion, so expect extra crowds during the April weeks before and after Semana Santa (Holy Week).
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November and May mean fewer crowds and cheaper prices
The crowds die down on either side of the peak dry months. However, most of Belize’s attractions stay open and hotels offer wallet-friendly prices. Temperatures stay warm in November and May, there are plenty of dry days, and you won’t have to share the temples, beaches, and jungles with a crowd.
Visit in November and you can also join the party for Garifuna Settlement Day, celebrating the culture of the Garifuna people – descendants of escaped enslaved Africans and indigenous Carib people, who were evicted to Central America from St Vincent & the Grenadines. Garifuna Settlement Day is held on November 19.
Humidity increases and the dry season gradually turns to the wet season toward the end of May, but this can be a good time to travel with fewer tourists and low prices. There are still plenty of dry days and most tourist attractions stay open.
May is also a great time to go diving in Belize. There was once a good chance of encountering whale sharks during this time as they once gathered to feast on the eggs released by breeding snappers in the Gladden Spit & Silk Cayes Marine Reserve. However, they haven’t been seen for several years. There’s hope that they will return soon.
The chocolate festival in Toledo and the cashew festival in Crooked Tree Village are good reasons to detour inland in May, too.
The clear waters in Belize make diving and snorkeling an incredible experience © Getty Images/EyeEm
June to October is the wet season
Low season means low prices, but this is the off-season for a reason. Heavy rainfall and high temperatures sweep across the country from June to mid-November. The rain is especially present at night when thunder and lightning put on quite a show.
Some hotels and tourist-oriented attractions close down for the season, especially in September and October, and trips into the rainforest and to Maya ruins are marred by muddy tracks and abundant mosquitos.
Hurricanes are possible between August and October and can cause chaos on the coast (the last hurricane to make landfall in Belize was Hurricane Nana in 2020). But in case that sounds like a doom-laden forecast, it doesn’t rain all day – or indeed every day – and most of the showers take place overnight or early morning.
Conversely, September is also the most festive month in Belize – particularly in Belize City – as locals celebrate national holidays with gusto. Resorts often slash their prices in the wet season, meaning some real bargains for travelers who don’t need constant sunshine. Play it safe and bring waterproofs, a rain-proof cover for your backpack, and a dry bag for your electronics.