One of the most common things we hear from visitors is surprise at the cost of vacationing in Belize. This isn't Mexico or Guatemala. Life in Belize is much more expensive than either Mexico or Guatemala. If you are going to plan a vacation to Belize, please understand some of our costs.
Lodging. Much like traveling in the States, Canada or Europe you will find many options for lodging. Some are pretty expensive. Very few are cheap. Usually you will get what you pay for. Belize is a fairly regulated country. We have hotel license requirements and safety regulations. This drives up the cost of operating. We also have minimum wage and other labor laws. Much more regulation than neighboring Mexico or Guatemala. Expect much higher prices for lodging. Expect a basic motel room to be $60 or more if it is near a major road. The more remote the location, the more it will cost. Lodging is where the old adage of you get what you pay for really comes out.
Food. There is not standardized delivery system such as Sysco set up in Belize. This is good and bad. Most of the food is pretty fresh here. Very little preservatives are used in Belize. Food tastes better. Also can drive up the prices. Resort food is more expensive than roadside restaurants due to labor laws and overhead costs. Expect meals to be $10-$30 depending on location and quality of food. And please remember tipping in Belize is generally around 10%.
Drinks. Belize does have a bottling factory. Belikin Beer is a very well known beer in Belize. Everyone has it. Imported beers are hard to find. Anything that gets shipped into Belize has a minimum import tax of 40%. Translation: anything coming from somewhere else costs at least 1 and a half times what you pay for it back home. If you are looking for a Budweiser or Miller Genuine Draft, you may have to look pretty hard. If you like Belikin beer (most people speak highly of Belikin) then you'll get along well with the Belizeans. Rum is the local drink of choice and much less expensive than imported whiskeys, tequilas, scotch, gin or the sort. Any of our soft drinks are made with cane sugar. Diet soft drinks are almost impossible to find in Belize. All bars have to have a liquor license. This drives cost up. Expect a beer to be $3-$4 a bottle.
Transportation. Buses are relatively inexpensive. Rental cars are expensive. This is due to the cost of purchasing cars. Import taxes on a SUV in Belize is 70%. That cost is passed on to consumers. Gas prices are more than $5 US equivalency. Outside of busing expect transportation costs to be similar to what you would find in the US. Airport taxis in Belize City start at $25. Taxi services in Punta Gorda to Cotton Tree Lodge are around $75.
At the end of the day, don't expect Belize to be a "cheap vacation like Mexico". Expect prices to be similar to traveling in the US. Just with a more awesome experience!