Like in April, May is a hot month in Belize, particularly on the mainland. Temperatures there peak around 91°F (32°C) and humidity is a potent 79%. The reason for the higher mercury is because this is the last month of the sunny dry season. That said, by May the rains are indeed starting to arrive. Typically this manifests in light morning showers with the occasional thunderstorm at night.
Weather on the coast and islands is reliably cooler, with temps peaking at around 82°F (27°C). This is a great month to visit Belize's Barrier Reef and partake in its famous diving and snorkeling. Coastal winds pick up at around 12-15 knots, during this time, but water visibility is still great at around 75-100+ feet. The waters remain calm enough to enjoy catamaran tours and charter cruises to the outer islands and atolls.
Crowds & Costs
Though May is still technically the high season in Belize, things are starting to wind down around this time. Hot weather combined with ever more frequent rain means tourists are starting to arrive less often. Booking a trip to Belize in May is a bit easier, as you don't have to plan so far in advance. And not only is it less hassle to find hotels that aren't booked up, but you might also even score good deals on rates, too.
Where to Go
The South Water Caye Marine Reserve is a great destination for anyone who wants to explore Belize's Barrier Reef. There are eight marine reserves in Belize, and this one is home to beautiful islands like Tobacco Caye, as well as sheltered lagoons. It also encompasses outer portions of the reef system, with shallow, clear waters ideal for snorkeling.
Great sights on the mainland include the various Maya ruins dotted throughout the country. These can be found all over, which is a testament to how strongly the Maya civilization flourished in this region. Lubaantun, for example, is the largest archeological site in southern Belize. The ruins of 14 major limestone structures are here, centered around five plazas. Supposedly Lubaantun is where one of the most famous "crystal skull" artifacts was discovered, although this claim is likely apocryphal.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
Wildlife spotting is great in May. Howler monkeys are out in force and can be seen all over the mainland. You'll almost certainly spot them frolicking in the trees when you take a boat or kayak tour down the Moho River. Beyond monkeys, the jungles along this riverbank are havens for exotic animals like kinkajous and iguanas. Often flying overhead are hawks and eagles, and in the water, you'll probably spot a crocodile or two.
Also, because May is still technically the dry season, water conditions and visibility are ideal to see Belize's abundant marine life. Go diving or snorkeling in the marine reserves and atolls around the Barrier Reef and you can spot manta rays, nurse sharks, hawksbill turtles, and more. Dolphins are common sights as well, particularly around the outer atolls, such as at Lighthouse Reef.
One of the most exciting activities is swimming with whale sharks. May is the best month to see these gentle giants in their natural environment before they migrate during the rainy months. They're most abundant off the coast of Placencia, a peninsula in southern Belize. Book a tour during a full moon, as it's during this time that whale sharks spend more time at the water's surface in order to feed on plankton.
Events in May
Labor Day (May 1). Like in the US, this holiday honors the working people of Belize. It's a day off for most Belizeans, as services, businesses, and schools are closed. Expect barbecues and fun on the beach.
Commonwealth Day (May 24). This public holiday is a holdover from Belize's days as a colony of Great Britain. Banks and government services are closed, and there is a popular horse race held in Belize City.
Traveling to Belize in May? Check out these great itineraries
Islands of Belize - 7 Days. Come check out Belize's tropical islands and exotic wildlife over seven active days. First, get acquainted with monkeys, coatis, and jaguars at the Belize Zoo. Then head to the Barrier Reef for a few days of kayaking and snorkeling around the South Water Caye Marine Reserve.
Discover Belize: Rainforests, Ruins, & Reefs - 10 Days. This unforgettable adventure covers the outdoor highlights of Belize. You'll do it all, from overnighting in a rainforest lodge in a national park to paddling down the Moho River, dining with a local indigenous family, hiking around Maya ruins, and exploring Glover's Reef Marine Reserve, near Southwest Caye.