A Belize holiday in January is a solid bet for great weather. While it's true that you'll likely find good diving and snorkeling conditions any time of year in Belize, these dry season months do offer noticeable benefits—mainly, the offshore winds are milder (around 9-13 knots). Bear in mind, though, that in January it's common for northerly winds (known as nortes) to blow through the country.
As for temperatures, in January expect average highs of around 78°F (25°C) on the coast, with lows of 71°F (21°F). Inland, the temperature doesn't vary much and peaks at about 80°F (26°C). Water temperature also stays at a balmy 80°F (26°C), which is about as low as Belize's sea temps get any time during the year. And though January does fall in the dry season, there is still a chance of the occasional light shower (but these are typically brief).
Crowds & Costs
While most of the holiday crowds have gone home by January, that by no means suggests Belize is a ghost town. This is still the high season, after all. Know that many adventure tours, like catamaran trips to the outer atolls, experience their peak during January, and as such are sold out months in advance. Many hotels and resorts also fill up during this time, so make your reservations as far in advance as possible.
Where to Go
A more difficult question would be where not to go. The entire country is open for business during January, so you have your pick of activities and locales. Obviously, pleasant weather and clear skies mean great conditions for boat trips and diving at the atolls and islands around the Barrier Reef. However, inland excursions are amazing in January as well.
If you do want to indulge in some laid-back island life, there are hundreds to choose from. The most popular islands (called cayes in Belize) are easily accessible by water taxi from Belize City. The largest is Ambergris Caye, which is serviced by boat from the capital but also has its own airstrip. Other islands, like Half Moon Caye, Tobacco Caye, and Caye Caulker, may be smaller, but they're no less beautiful.
On the mainland, there are a number of wildlife reserves, protected areas, and archeological sites to visit. The best places to see wildlife near the capital are the Belize Zoo, Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, and other parks. And some of the most famous ancient Maya ruins here include Caracol, Lamanai, Altun Ha, and Xunantunich.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
You'd be remiss if you visited Belize and didn't take advantage of its world-class water sports. Ambergris Caye, for example, makes a great base to embark on snorkeling and diving trips around the nearby atolls and islets. Hol Chan, Glover's Reef, and Turneffe Atoll are marine reserves where you can not only dive but swim with reef sharks too. A sunset sail around the island is another highlight Ambergris activity.
Then there's mainland Belize, which is all about wildlife, nature trips, and local culture. One of the best ways to get acquainted with the exotic fauna is by staying in a forest lodge adjacent to the Belize Zoo. It sits on about 2.5 acres and is home to more than 175 native animals like monkeys, tapirs, iguanas, and wildcats such as ocelots and jaguars. You can see more animals and exotic birds, like green macaws and spectacled owls, on a jungle boat cruise down the Moho River.
One of the most rewarding activities in Belize is strolling the famous Mayan archeological sites found on the mainland. Lamanai is a must-visit, as not only is it the largest such grouping of Mayan ruins but it is also the oldest (the site dates back to 1500 BCE). However, not all of Belize's indigenous culture is in the past. Another great activity is to visit an indigenous village and sit down with a local Maya family for lunch and cultural exchange.
Events in January
New Year's Day. Just like in many other countries, expect hangovers in Belize. And just like in many other countries, expect most businesses to be closed in order to cope with those hangovers.
Traveling to Belize in January? Check out these great itineraries
Rainforest & Reef Exploration -7-days. Experience the best of mainland Belize and its barrier reef on this unforgettable week-long adventure. Visit national parks for rainforest hikes then hit the water and explore the marine reserves around Tobacco Caye.
Discover Belize - 10 Days. Visit rainforests, ruins, and reefs on this packed itinerary featuring the country's highlights. It includes river trips, visits to indigenous villages, exploring the Lubaantun Maya ruins, and snorkeling around Glover's Reef Atoll.