When Should You Visit Belize?
Like many subtropical regions, Belize enjoys not four seasons but two. The rainier period from June-November is considered the low season, but don't fret because this country is open for business year-round. Diving and snorkeling around Belize's famed Barrier Reef are perennial activities and the wet season is also peak time to spot exotic animals like howler monkeys, jaguars, tapirs, and hundreds of species of birds, including macaws.
If you do visit during the dry months of December through May, not only will you experience perpetual sunshine, but it's the perfect time for land and water-based activities. Hop a catamaran and sail to the outer atolls, or hike around some of the hundreds (yes, hundreds) of ancient Mayan archeological sites here. Jungle river trips also make for epic adventures. And if you really want to score a good deal, head to Belize during the "mini dry season" of August and September, when the sun peeks back out and you can enjoy low-season rates on hotels and tours.
And for more information on tours and activities in Belize, check out this roundup of exciting itineraries.
|Season||Pros||Cons||Best For||Where to Visit|
|December - May (Dry)||Sunshine; great water visibility for diving; pleasant weather allows for sailing to outer atolls||Higher prices; must reserve ahead for accommodation and activities; Christmas holidays can be crowded||Nature hikes, river trips, sailing excursions, diving, water sports, visiting Mayan ruins||Ambergris Caye, Turneffe Atoll, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Altun Ha, Moho River, Lighthouse Reef Atoll|
|June - November (Wet)||More abundant wildlife; cheaper prices on hotels and tours; fewer crowds||Rainfall can be over 8 inches during wettest months; chance of hurricanes; limited sailing to outer atolls||Wildlife spotting, birding, fishing, diving, lobster season||Belize Zoo, Shark Ray Alley, Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve|
|August - September (Mini Dry)||Offers the best of the dry season without the crowds; lower prices||Still runs the risk of tropical storms; boat tours may not go to outer atolls||Viewing manatees and green sea turtles, visiting Mayan ruins, river trips||Placencia, Lamanai ruins, Xunantunich ruins, Moho River|
The Dry Season (Dec - May)
The dry season in Belize is the high season. With less chance of precipitation, you can plan active excursions around the country without the chance of a rainout. This is ideal if you want to embark on boat tours down the Moho River or visit Mayan ruins like Altun Ha and Xunantunich.
The beginning of the dry season, in December, is ideal for wildlife spotting. Birders can marvel at the red-footed boobies nesting at Half Moon Caye, and howler monkeys are out and about on the mainland. It's also a great time to participate in Belize's famous aquatic activities, like swimming with nurse sharks and spotting dolphins.
Divers will also be interested to know that April and May are the best months to see whale sharks, and the best place to swim with them is at Gladden Spit. This protected marine reserve is located about 28 miles east of Placencia, a coastal peninsula in southern Belize. Know that water temps are slightly cooler from November to April, and during this time, divers might prefer to hit the water in a shorty wetsuit.
As for trip planning, if you're looking to escape the North American or European winter for a tropical Belize holiday in December, book your reservations far in advance. This is one of the most popular months to visit Belize. In general, you'll pay higher prices during the dry season, so if you're looking for a trip without crowds, the rainy season is the time to visit.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
The Rainy Season (Jun - Nov)
In Belize, rain is variable during the wet season, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, as there are benefits to Belize's rainy season. Believe it or not, wildlife spotting is better during this time. That's because food is in abundance, which means more active animals. It's the perfect time to see Belize's famous wildlife, such as monkeys, tapirs, iguanas, and wildcats like jaguars. There are also colorful winged residents, like scarlet macaws and the blue morpho butterfly.
The best time for sport fishing is from May-August. They call it the "grand slam" fishing season, because during that's when three of the most popular types of fish—tarpon, bonefish, and permit—are in abundance. If you're interested mostly in sailing, the rainy season is a good time to do it, as trade winds average 10-13 knots. Unfortunately, these higher winds can make it difficult to embark on trips to the outer atolls.
Foodies will love Belize's famous conch and Caribbean lobster (also known as "rock lobster" or "spiny lobster"). To preserve supply, lobster season is from June through February while conch season is from October through June. This is the time to come and indulge in these world-class seafood delicacies.
Beyond the rain itself, June through November is also hurricane season. Category four hurricanes hit Belize hard in both 2000 and 2001, while 2020 saw the milder, category one Hurricane Nana hit the island. Always be mindful that hurricanes are real risks if you are planning on visiting Belize during the rainy season, so travel insurance is recommended.
The Mini Dry Season (Aug - Sep)
This is a kind of "shoulder season" in Belize. August and September fall outside peak travel times, so the crowds will be smaller. And because the weather during these months is slightly anomalous, you'll probably luck out with more sun than rain. August in Belize is so unique, in fact, that locals call it "little dry." As rainfall decreases, temps range from highs of around 86°F (30°C) to lows of 78°F (25°C).
The aforementioned "grand slam" fishing season falls during these months, and water visibility is still great for diving and snorkeling. Plus it's a good time to swim with sharks, rays, sea turtles, dolphins, and other marine life. Also, August is by far the best month to see manatees. These gentle aquatic giants are in abundance on the southeastern coast, around the Placencia mangrove lagoons.
In September, the rains do pick up. However, this month is the apex of the low season. So if you want to beat the crowds, September is the time to do it. Additionally, Belize's Carnival occurs during September. Join in the revelry amid the exotic costumes, live music, street theater, and wild parades.
It's worth noting that the risk of hurricanes doesn't decrease during August and September, so keep that in mind when making your travel plans.