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Renting a Car in Belize City and Driving to San Ignacio

Waukesha...
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Renting a Car in Belize City and Driving to San Ignacio

Our family will be coming to Belize in August and we intend to rent a car at the airport. We will the drive straight to San Ignacio. Does anyone have any words of advice? How are the roads from point A to point B? Any suggestions on who to rent through? Any tips on purchasing a road map? Thank you for your help!

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San Ignacio
San Ignacio
Cayo, Belize
28 replies to this topic
Caribbean
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1. Re: Renting a Car in Belize City and Driving to San Ignacio

I won't make any rental company recommendations (try searching the forum), but I can provide some driving information.

All the main highways are paved, two-lane and well signposted (visitors might disagree about the signposting). A four-wheel drive vehicle is not necessary unless you plan to get way off the highways. Insurance is mandatory. Current gasoline prices are around BZ$9 (US$4.50) per gallon.

The Philip Goldson Highway (formerly called the Northern Highway) is the main highway from Belize City to Orange Walk, Corozal and the northern border. The maximum speed limit is 50 mph (80 kph).

The George Price Highway (formerly called the Western Highway) is the highway from Belize City to Belmopan, San Ignacio, Benque and the western border. The maximum speed limit is 50 mph (80 kph).

The Burrell Boom Road is a highway that connects the Philip Goldson Highway to the George Price Highway. It’s often used as a shorter route to go from the airport to Cayo District.

The Hummingbird Highway is the main highway between Belmopan and Dangriga. The maximum speed limit is 50 mph (80 kph), but with many curves and some one-lane bridges, it’s not safe to drive the maximum speed limit on much of this highway. If driving to Dangriga, this is the best route because it’s very scenic.

Some general safety tips…

On the highways, be aware of unmarked speed bumps near towns and villages. In wet conditions, the pavement can get EXTREMELY slippery due to the type of paving material. Be aware of pedestrians and cyclists walking & riding ON THE HIGHWAY, not on the shoulder. Be careful of that especially at night because lights and reflectors are seldom used. And there are some bad drivers in Belize -- watch out for speeding buses. If driving at night, take more care because road lighting is poor (non-existent). The highways have white posts that act as mile markers.

When exiting the airport terminal, if you want to avoid driving into & through Belize City...

Upon reaching the T-intersection with the Philip Goldson (formerly called the Northern) Highway, turn LEFT towards Orange Walk and Mexico (Belize City is to the right) -- this route avoids Belize City. After about 8 km (5 miles), turn left onto the Burrell Boom Road (watch for the signs). Follow this road -- it intersects with the George Price (formerly called the Western) Highway. Turn right onto the George Price Highway and follow it to San Ignacio. This should be very clear if you look at a map or Google Earth -- you might not need a map.

When approaching San Ignacio, you will first come to the town of Santa Elena on the east side of the river. West-bound traffic is routed through the town of Santa Elena (follow the signs if there are any), and across a one-way bridge into San Ignacio. Another bridge carries east-bound traffic to Belize City.

Edited: 17 January 2016, 17:49
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Cayo, Belize
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Cayo, Belize
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Belize
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Waukesha...
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2. Re: Renting a Car in Belize City and Driving to San Ignacio

Wow! Thank you so much for this information. I intend to print off your response and take it with me. I appreciate all the little details. Hopefully I can pay it forward to another travel soon. :)

Boston...
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3. Re: Renting a Car in Belize City and Driving to San Ignacio

I was there about a year ago. I really don't think you want to rent a car. Roads are horrible and there are not good signs or services. Lots of pot holes and cars are very old there. Limited cell phone service too. We used William the driver for our trip out to San Ignacio. A colleague from work told me about him. www.parrot-nest.com/belize-shuttle.html He was awesome and took us to our hotel in San Ignacio and then back to Belize City to the boat terminal. Belize is beautiful but be very careful as there is a lot of crime. William is reliable, professional and knows the area well.

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Cleves, Ohio
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4. Re: Renting a Car in Belize City and Driving to San Ignacio

Lucky, we rented an Escape that was only a few years old. It was fine. The roads were fine. The speed bumps are about the worst thing we encountered.

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5. Re: Renting a Car in Belize City and Driving to San Ignacio

have you considered just using a shuttle such as William's Belize Shuttle or Teddy Bear Shuttle...both reliable and know the roads and will get you to your hotel in San Ignacio with no hassle. Having observed the road conditions....driving habits....condition of rental cars etc. and some on the side of the road needing help I highly recommend considering a private shuttle.

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Belize
Belize
Central America
San Ignacio
San Ignacio
Cayo, Belize
6. Re: Renting a Car in Belize City and Driving to San Ignacio

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Carmel, Indiana
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7. Re: Renting a Car in Belize City and Driving to San Ignacio

We have done this drive several times. I use Crystal Car Rental (their website is online). They rent GPS for around 9 USD per day. The driving is easy. I recommend you stop at the Belize Zoo along the way. It's a great attraction, all the jungle cats and other animals that you can see and photo up close. You can also visit Jaguar Paw to do the cave tubing. No need to pay for a tour, just drive up. If you want to get off the highway to go to Caracol, Mountain Pine Ridge, or Barton Creek cave tubing, you should consider getting a 4x4 rental. With a rental jeep, GPS and an bit of an adventurous spirit you can save big bucks and have a lot of fun doing it yourself. One note, don't take a rental car to Guatemala to see Tikal. You are completely uninsured in Guatemala, bad idea. It is possible to take a shuttle over there and stay a night or two, great idea with kids and cheaper than a full tour.

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The Belize Zoo
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La Democracia, Belize
Jaguar Paw
Jaguar Paw
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Barton Creek Cave
Barton Creek Cave
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Cayo, Belize
Guatemala
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Tikal National Park
Tikal National Park
Peten Department, Guatemala
Waukesha...
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8. Re: Renting a Car in Belize City and Driving to San Ignacio

Thank you IndianaJohn and everyone else that replied. Your advice is very insightful! I will not be driving the rental into Guatemala.

I am pretty certain that we are going to rent a car. I want the flexibility of being able to go where ever I want when ever I want. We did shuttles in Costa Rica and regretted it.

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Carmel, Indiana
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9. Re: Renting a Car in Belize City and Driving to San Ignacio

Maureen,

If you are going to rent a car be sure you get the full insurance, don't rely on your credit card insurance. Be sure to check the condition of the tires and make sure that there is a decent spare tire. The dirt roads in Belize are pretty rough with potholes and all. The "gravel" that they use to pave the roads seems to often be 4" in diameter. A GPS will be handy, cell coverage does not extend to many gravel road destinations. Crystal includes a cell phone with the rental so you can call them if you need help. We will be there soon and try to post a trip report afterwards.

Edited: 19 January 2016, 11:41
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Houston, Texas
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10. Re: Renting a Car in Belize City and Driving to San Ignacio

We did it, no problem. We liked the freedom too and it was nice to drive wherever we wanted, stop at the store, eat anywhere. We rented from Crystal Auto and the lady who helped us was great! Gave us directions, where to eat on the way, etc. She told us GPS wasn't even needed and we did fine without it. The roads were ok, but when we went to Rio On Pools, it was all rocks. We were glad to have the car-allows for spontaneity and change of plans depending on weather.

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Rio On Pools
Rio On Pools
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Cayo, Belize
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