Belize only has three major highways (the Northern, Western and Southern), but the majority of the country is well served by public transport. The unpaved side roads are sometimes in poor repair, though they are usually passable except in the worst rainstorms.
Buses are the cheapest, and most efficient, way to travel in Belize – nearly all towns are connected, and the longest trip in the country (Belize City to Punta Gorda; 5–7hr) costs only Bz$25. The main towns are served by fast and comfortable express buses, which stop only at the towns’ terminals. For villages off the main highways, however, you’ll have to rely on slower local services, often with just one bus a day running Monday to Saturday only. These buses are brightly painted, recycled North American school buses, which will pick up and drop off anywhere along the roadside. The most frequent services operate along the Western and Northern highways, usually from very early in the morning to mid-evening. The Hummingbird and Southern highways, to Dangriga, Placencia and Punta Gorda, are not quite so well provided for, though services are improving. Tickets are purchased from the conductor.
In the most remote parts of Belize bus services will probably only operate once a day, if at all, and unless you have your own transport (which is expensive), hitching is the only option. Though common among locals, it is important to remember that this practice is never completely safe. Otherwise, the main drawback is the shortage of traffic; if cars do pass they’ll usually offer you a lift, though you may be expected to offer the driver some money in return.
All taxis in Belize are licensed, and can be identified by their green plates. They operate from special ranks in the centre of all mainland towns. There are no meters, so establish your fare in advance; within towns a Bz$8–10 fixed rate should apply. It is also possible to negotiate taxi rides between cities, though this option can be quite expensive: usually at least US$60–100 per person for a three-hour ride.
Cycling can be a great way to reach Belize’s more isolated ruins and towns. Bikes are increasingly available for rent (usually Bz$15–25 per day), especially in San Ignacio and Placencia. Though biking along major highways is certainly possible, it is very uncommon, and drivers will not be watching for cyclists; it is therefore important to remain exceptionally alert during the day and to avoid cycling at night. You’ll find repair shops in all towns. One thing to note, however, is that Belizean buses don’t have roof racks, as they do in Guatemala; if there’s room, the driver might let you take your bike onto the bus.
If you plan on visiting the cayes, you’ll have to travel by boat, which will likely be a fast skiff, normally partially covered, though sometimes open to the elements (bring a raincoat). Tickets (usually Bz$25–45) cannot be purchased in advance for domestic routes, so it’s worth showing up half an hour before your departure time, though there’s usually plenty of room. Numerous skiffs run daily between Belize City, Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye, and also connect Ambergris Caye with Corozal.
Though quite expensive, some budget travellers do choose to travel by air, as flights are not only much faster than buses, but also connect destinations unreachable by road. Maya Island Air (t 223-1140, w www.mayaregional.com) and Tropic Air (t 226-2012, w www.tropicair.com) each operate numerous daily flights from both the Municipal and International airports in Belize City to San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Dangriga, Placencia and Punta Gorda. Flights also run from San Pedro to Corozal. Prices start at around Bz$70–90.