Belize Is Safe (But You’d Be Wise to Read These Important Tips)
Generally speaking, the answer is “yes.” Belize is safe for expats and tourists. The U.S. Department of State reports, “Potential for domestic terrorist activity such as bombings, kidnappings, or hijackings is considered low.”
And thanks to the Belize Government’s strong measures against historical gang wars and drug violence (largely in Belize City), the country’s overall crime rate is declining. Gang and drug violence are not perceived to be a threat to tourists and expats, particularly outside Belize City. Belize Defense Force and Tourism Police heavily patrol most tourist sites around the country.
There are many reasons to relocate to or visit Belize. Its friendly welcoming people are one of them. But as in most expat and tourist havens around the world, you still need to be cautious of crimes of opportunity.
Here are a few common sense ways you can avoid petty crime.
11 Common Sense Ways You Can Avoid Petty Crime
- Carry small amounts of cash. Don’t go out flashing large sums of money.
- Leave your flashy jewelry (or any objects of wealth) locked away at your hotel or home.
- Don’t leave your backpack, purse, wallet, camera, iPad, or phone unattended.
- Don’t stand out in the crowd. Tone it down and dress modestly.
- Don’t venture out to archaeological sites or on jungle hikes alone. Hire a guide service or go with a group.
- Don’t walk at night. Hire a private driver or legal taxi service to go from point A to B. Regulated taxis have green license plates.
- Avoid public transportation.
- Stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
- Avoid late nights at the bar.
- Familiarize yourself with sketchy areas and steer clear.
- Refuse any offers to purchase drugs or engage in any other illicit activities.
Driving in Belize may be more of a safety concern than petty crime is for most. Road conditions are generally poor. And traffic fatalities are a real danger.
10 Things to Watch for While Driving in Belize
- Poorly lighted roadways.
- Pedestrians and cyclists. It’s common to see bicyclists carrying passengers on the handlebars. Watch for pedestrians with kids walking in the roadway.
- Unexpected obstacles like dogs, wildlife, pot holes, and speed bumps.
- One lane bridges.
- Flooded bridges due to clogged drainage and waterways.
- Odd driving patterns. For example, drivers turning left must pull over on the right shoulder until all vehicles have passed in both directions.
- Speeding buses.
- Local drivers passing in curves.
- Sketchy cell phone coverage.
- Poor road signage.
An accident on the roadway in Belize can lead to health safety concerns. Minor medical care facilities and pharmacies are available in most rural areas of Belize. But major medical services are limited outside Belize City. If you live or travel in a rural area, take precaution to ensure you are covered for medical emergencies that may require air transport.
5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Health Safety Concerns
- Keep your routine vaccines current. Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Malaria and Rabies are recommended for most tourists and expats. Check the CDC website for a full list.
- Be cautious of where and what you’re eating and drinking outside your home or hotel. Tap water and ice in some rural areas may be contaminated. It’s always a good idea to eat only food that is cooked on demand and served hot.
- Use hand sanitizer and wash your hands with soap every chance you get.
- Stock up on anti-diarrheal medication.
- Apply insect repellents often.
Dengue fever and malaria are two mosquito borne diseases that are present in Belize. And sandfly parasites are common in jungle areas. These simple preventive measures will help you stay well away from home.
It’s always a good idea to implement some preventive measures to keep your home or hotel room safe as well. Burglary can happen in any neighborhood. But you can lower your risk by taking these common sense precautionary measures.
3 Preventive Safety Measures for Your Home or Hotel Room
- Secure your entry doors with deadbolts.
- Leave the entrance well-lit at night.
- Always make your home look like it’s occupied. Leave lights, TVs, and radios on timers.
- Store your valuables in a locked safe.
Like in the U.S., residential crime rates are lowest in neighborhoods with neighborhood watch programs.
Belize is safe if you heed the warnings and take precautionary measures just like you would back home in the U.S. This applies to weather hazards and water safety as well.
Severe weather and inadequate safety precautions contribute to numerous deaths in Belize each year.Whether you’re going out on a boat or kicking back inland, be sure to tune in often for severe weather alerts and deteriorating local conditions.
5 Weather-Related Safety Hazards You Should Look Out for
- Frequent tropical storms and occasional hurricanes.
- Severe flooding, tornadoes, and high waves.
- Washed out roads and bridges.
- Water taxis that sail in inclement weather. Often they don’t carry enough safety equipment to accommodate their oversized passenger loads.
- Negligent diving tour operators that don’t heed the weather warnings.
Belize Is Safe and Beautiful
The weather in Belize is not to be feared, but respected. Many expats and tourists prefer rainy season (low season) due to less crowds and lower rates. But snorkeling, diving, and caving adventures sometimes get cancelled because the conditions are considered unsafe.
Expats are flocking to Belize at an ever-increasing rate. And tourism is on the rise year-round. Whether you’re contemplating a short visit or the move of your lifetime, you can rest assured that Belize is safe, and it’s one of the most beautiful places to go in Central America.