Belize (former British Honduras) is an independent (since 1981) democratic country, Queen Elizabeth II of England is Head of State, who is represented in Belize by a governor-general. The prime minister, is the leader of the party with the largest number of seats in the parliament.
English is the official language although most people also speak Spanish, other languages spoken in Belize are Creole, Garifuna and Mayan. English is the language used in school, but teachers may also use Creole or Spanish for the benefit of non-English-speaking children in their first few years at school.
Time zone is GMT -6 this means for Western Europe (excluding England) -7, for US and Canada: Central Standard Time. Belize does not have daylight savings time (summer time).
Due to its unique British inheritance and geography in Central America, Belize is considered to be the only Caribbean country in Central America.
SAN PEDRO: Back to Top
When you arrive at the San Pedro Airstrip, our representative will pick you up and take you to Fido's Dock from where our boat takes you to PORTOFINO (approximately 15-20 minutes).
San Pedro (very roughly) consists of three streets, parallel to the beach line and their nicknames are: for the front one (from the beach to the back): Front Street, for the middle one: Middle Street, and for the back one: Back Street. These are not the actual names, but it is easy to remember and everybody knows what you are referring to.
There are four banks on the Island (Two on Front Street); Belize Bank and Heritage Bank, (One of the Middle Street; Atlantic Bank, and next to the airstrip is Scotia Bank. Each have 24 hour ATM Machines.
There is a post office on the Middle Street. It is open Monday to Friday 8 am to 12 then 1 to 5 pm.
There are of course, many Restaurants, Bars, Discotheques and Shops, mainly in Front and Middle Street (Back Street is more residential area and businesses for locals).
Getting around in San Pedro: Basically you can do everything on foot, but you can take a taxi (prices in San Pedro from point to point are BZ$ 7-10) or you can hire a Golf Cart or bicycles.
The Island has a road to the south, and one which goes about 8 miles north. However, it is not recommended to use the road as a means of travel as it is just a path that is not accessible most of the time due to weather. PORTOFINO is located exactly 5.9 miles (9.5 km) north (coordinates: N 17° 59.701' - W 87° 55.022'), and transportation to our resort is mainly by boat. You can take our boat (free of charge), which goes at least two times a day (but usually 3-4 times) to town, or you can take the Coastal Xpress Service which goes at least every two hours daily. Current rate for the water taxi is US$11 one way. For those that plan on traveling into San Pedro every day, weekly passes are also available.
WEATHER AT AMBERGRIS CAYE:
Like most of Belize, Ambergris Caye has a sub-tropical climate. There is usually a breeze, which is good with the high humidity above 80%, especially in the summer, when the temperatures are between 77°F and 95°F (25° - 35°C). Winter temperatures (November through March) are between 70°F and 90°F (20°C - 30°C).
June through November is hurricane season, although our region was only hit 3 times during the last century: 1931, 1961 and 2000.
GETTING TO PORTOFINO:
Easy to get to. Hard to leave…
The international airport is located 10 miles northwest of Belize City. Maya Island Air and Tropic Air fly on to Ambergris Caye. PORTOFINO will have a representative to pick you up from San Pedro and bring you to Fido’s dock by taxi, and then by boat directly to the resort. The boat ride is approximately 15-20 minutes.
GETTING TO BELIZE: Back to Top
Getting to Belize from the US:
- Miami, Florida (MIA): American Airlines (2 hours).
- Dallas, Texas (DFW): American Airlines (2 hours).
- Houston, Texas (IAH): United Airlines (2 hours).
- Los Angeles (LAX): Delta (4 hours).
- Atlanta (ATL): Delta (3 hours).
- Charlotte (CLT): US Airways (3 hours).
Getting to Belize from Europe:
There are no direct flights to Belize, the most convenient way is to come through Houston or Atlanta (and stay overnight there), the flight back through Atlanta has a direct connection to Europe, Houston not. Travelling through Cancun, Mexico to Belize is also another alternative as Tropic Air now offers regional flights directly from Cancun to Belize.
Getting to Belize from Mexico:
- Cancun: Tropic Air will fly 6 days a week (excluding Saturdays). The flight leaves at 2:15pm and arrives in Belize City International. The return flight leaves Belize City at 11:30am and arrives in Cancun at 1:15pm. (Actual flying time is estimated to be 1 hour and 20 minutes but you need to add in a bit at this very busy international airport.)
- Chetumal: cross the border to Corozal by ground transportation (20-30 minutes) and take Maya Island Air or Tropic Air to San Pedro (20 minutes) or you can travel daily by boat transfer with the San Pedro Water Taxi.
Getting to Belize from Guatemala:
- Guatemala City: Aerovias (1 hour and 20 minutes).
- Flores (Tikal): Maya Island Air or Tropic Air (50 minutes).
Getting to Belize from Honduras:
- San Pedro Sula: TACA or Tropic Air
- Roatan: Tropic Air
Maya Island Air and Tropic Air have hourly flights throughout Belize: San Pedro, Belize City (Municipal or International), Caye Caulker, Punta Gorda (south), Placencia, Dangriga and Corozal. Flights from the Western Border are also available with Tropic Air.
PACKING FOR PORTOFINO: Back to Top
Clothes: casual beach wear (all over San Pedro). On the Island shoe's are not necessary, but when you are not used to walking barefoot, we advise you to take sandals, or boat shoes (especially for in town). Sunglasses, Photo cameras.
Insect spray; you might not need it, but when the wind lies down, it can be necessary for outside. Sun Block (high protection).
DOCUMENTS: Back to Top
Passport, must be at least 6 months valid. Return ticket. Entry is granted for up to 30 days, with renewals of up to a total of six months permitted (renewals cost US$12.50 per month.)
VACCINATIONS: Back to Top
MONEY: US$ 1 = BZ$ 2 Back to Top
US dollars are accepted everywhere (bills; not coins). Banks charge a fee of 1.25 % to change US dollars, while local businesses will just change 2 to 1.
Travelers Cheques are also widely accepted. You usually need to show your passport when paying with a Travelers Cheques. Banks and some businesses give about BZ$ 1.96 for US$ 1 Travelers Cheques.
EUROs are not accepted, although we change them at PORTOFINO.
Hotel rates, dive and trip rates are usually quoted in US dollars, restaurant and bar rates are usually Belize dollars.
Credit cards: We accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express, Diners is not accepted anywhere in Belize, and American Express is not always accepted.
Tips are appreciated, hotels (and some restaurants) usually add 10% service charge, in those cases no tipping is required.
There is a 9% hotel tax is which is added to your hotel charges and a general sales tax of 12.5% which applies for all sales across the board.
DRINKING WATER AT PORTOFINO: Back to Top
Fresh water is scarce on the Island. We have a desalination plant which provides excellent drinkable water. Because the process generates 2/3 wastewater, we only have this water at the sinks from the cold water tab. Apart from that we provide water from purified mineral water on the rooms.
ELECTRICITY: Back to Top
Electricity is equal to the American system: 110 volts, 60 cycles.
TELEPHONE: Back to Top
Telephone in Belize is provided by BTL (Belize Telephone Limited) and SMART. International dialing rates to the US are very expensive.
Belize country code = 501
San Pedro local code: 226
IMPORTANT NUMBERS: Back to Top
Police 911, 226-2022, 226-2926
Fire Department 226-2372
Lions Clinic 226-2073
Health Centre 226-3668
Hyperbaric Chamber 226-2851
Belize Tourism Board 226-4531
BELIZE REPRESENTATIONS IN THE WORLD: Back to Top
- Belize Tourist Board, 421 7th Avenue, Ste. 1110, New York, NY 10001 (800-624-0686), www.travelbelize.org
- Embassy of Belize, 2535 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington , D.D. 20008 (202-32-9636)
- Consulate of Belize, 862 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami FL 33138 (305-448-9684)
- Consulate of Belize in Canada, 200 Bay St., Royal Bay Plaza, South Tower, Suite 3500, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5J 2J7 (415-865-7000)
EMBASSYS AND CONSULATES IN BELIZE: Back to Top
- United States Embassy: Belize City Tel +501 227 7161
- British High Commission: Belmopan +501 822 2146
- Mexican Embassy: Belize City +501 223 0194
- Belgian Honorary Consul: Belize City +501 223 0748
- Canadian Honorary Consul: Belize City +501 223 1060
- French Honorary Consul: Belize City +501 223 2708
- German Honorary Consul: Belize City +501 222 4371
- Italian Honorary Consul: Belize City +501 227 8449
- The Netherlands Honorary Consul: Belize City +501 227 3612
- Russian Honorary Consul: Belize City +501 223 1151
- Swiss Honorary Consul: Belize City +501 227 7363
- Office of the European Commission: Belize City +501 223 2070