Belize vs. Guatemala

Deciding between Belize and Guatemala for your next vacation can be a challenge. Belize offers pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a rich cultural history. Guatemala, on the other hand, boasts ancient Mayan ruins, mesmerizing natural landscapes, and a vibrant local culture. Both destinations provide unforgettable experiences for travelers.
Belize vs. Guatemala

Table of Contents

Now that you’ve caught a glimpse of the wonders these two countries have to offer, it’s time to dive deeper into what makes each of them unique. By understanding their individual charms, you can make an informed decision for your upcoming trip. Ready to explore? Keep reading to discover the magic of Belize and Guatemala!

History & Culture

Exploring the history and culture of Belize and Guatemala is like stepping back in time. Both countries have deep roots that shape their identities today. Let’s take a closer look at what each has to offer.

In Belize, the rich cultural tapestry is woven from a blend of influences. Mayan, British, African, and Caribbean traditions merge to create a unique Belizean identity. The country’s history spans from ancient Mayan civilizations to British colonial times, resulting in a mix of languages, art, and customs.

Guatemala, too, boasts a diverse cultural heritage. With a strong Mayan influence, you’ll find indigenous communities preserving ancient traditions alongside Spanish colonial legacies. Guatemala’s rich history is evident in its architecture, textiles, and vibrant customs that have endured the test of time.

When comparing Belize’s and Guatemala’s histories, it’s clear that both have been shaped by ancient Mayan civilizations. While Belize experienced more British influence due to its colonial past, Guatemala’s culture is more heavily influenced by Spanish colonization.

In terms of cultural experiences, Belize offers you the chance to immerse yourself in traditional Garifuna music and dance, while in Guatemala, you can marvel at the intricate weaving techniques used by indigenous artisans. Both countries provide unique opportunities to learn about their history and engage with local traditions.

To summarize, both Belize and Guatemala are steeped in history and culture, with influences from ancient Mayan civilizations and European colonial powers. Each offers unique opportunities to delve into their past and experience the vibrant traditions that continue to shape their identities today.

Attractions & Activities

Belize and Guatemala both offer a variety of attractions and activities to satisfy any traveler’s interests. From natural wonders to historical sites, there’s something for everyone in these Central American gems. Let’s dive into what makes each destination special.

Belize is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers. You can explore lush rainforests, hike through national parks, or discover the world’s second-largest barrier reef system. Outdoor enthusiasts will be thrilled with activities like zip-lining, cave tubing, and wildlife spotting.

Guatemala, on the other hand, is home to some of the most impressive Mayan ruins in the world. Visiting sites like Tikal and Yaxha will leave you in awe of the ancient civilization’s architectural mastery. Additionally, Guatemala’s landscape offers stunning volcano hikes, serene lakes, and dense jungles waiting to be explored.

While Belize is known for its unparalleled marine ecosystem, Guatemala’s claim to fame is its breathtaking Mayan ruins. Both countries, however, offer a wealth of outdoor activities, with Belize excelling in water-based adventures and Guatemala shining in hiking and exploring ancient sites.

For those interested in wildlife, Belize boasts an impressive array of flora and fauna in its national parks and sanctuaries, while Guatemala’s jungles are home to unique species like the resplendent quetzal, the country’s national bird.

In terms of activities, Belize and Guatemala cater to a wide range of interests. Whether you prefer exploring ancient ruins, hiking through stunning landscapes, or diving into crystal-clear waters, both countries have something to offer.

To sum up, Belize and Guatemala provide a diverse array of attractions and activities. Belize excels in water-based adventures and wildlife experiences, while Guatemala offers unforgettable encounters with ancient Mayan ruins and diverse landscapes. No matter which destination you choose, you’re sure to create lasting memories.


A beach vacation is a popular choice for many travelers, and both Belize and Guatemala offer stunning coastlines to enjoy. Let’s compare the beach experiences in these two destinations.

Belize is famous for its white-sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. The country’s coastline stretches for about 240 miles (386 kilometers), offering plenty of idyllic spots for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. Ambergris Caye, Placencia, and Caye Caulker are some of the top beach destinations in Belize.

Guatemala, though smaller in size, also has its share of beautiful beaches. The country’s Pacific coastline measures approximately 150 miles (241 kilometers) and features black-sand beaches formed from volcanic ash. Popular beach destinations in Guatemala include Monterrico and Champerico.

In terms of beach experiences, Belize offers a more typical Caribbean feel with its white-sand beaches and warm waters, while Guatemala’s volcanic black-sand beaches provide a unique and striking contrast. Both destinations provide opportunities for relaxation and water activities.

Water sports enthusiasts will find Belize more appealing, as its barrier reef system is perfect for snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing. In contrast, Guatemala’s Pacific coast is known for its strong waves, which attract surfers from around the world.

Whether you prefer Belize’s postcard-perfect beaches or the dramatic volcanic sands of Guatemala, both destinations offer a chance to unwind and enjoy the beauty of their coastlines.

In summary, Belize is the ideal destination for those seeking a classic Caribbean beach experience, while Guatemala offers a unique black-sand beach alternative. Both countries provide ample opportunities for relaxation and enjoying water activities, depending on your preferences.

Eating, Drinking & Nightlife

Sampling local cuisine and experiencing the nightlife are essential parts of any vacation. Belize and Guatemala each have their own distinct culinary scenes and evening attractions. Let’s see how they compare.

In Belize, you’ll find a mix of flavors influenced by Mayan, Caribbean, and African cuisines. Signature dishes like rice and beans, stewed chicken, and fry jacks are sure to delight your taste buds. Fresh seafood is also abundant, making for delicious and satisfying meals.

Guatemala’s cuisine is also heavily influenced by its Mayan roots, with a touch of Spanish flair. Traditional dishes like pepian, tamales, and chiles rellenos showcase the rich and vibrant flavors of this Central American nation. Fresh produce and ingredients ensure a memorable dining experience.

When it comes to drinks, Belize is known for its refreshing beverages like Belikin beer and the iconic rum punch. You can also find locally distilled rums that are perfect for sipping on a warm evening.

In Guatemala, you’ll discover a thriving coffee culture due to its world-renowned beans. For those who prefer something stronger, try the traditional spirit called Quetzalteca, made from sugarcane.

Nightlife in Belize is laid-back, with beach bars and live music venues offering a relaxed atmosphere to unwind. Some popular spots feature local musicians playing reggae, soca, and punta tunes.

Guatemala’s nightlife is more diverse, with options ranging from lively bars and clubs in cosmopolitan cities like Guatemala City and Antigua, to more low-key establishments in smaller towns. Live music and dancing are common features of the Guatemalan night scene.

In conclusion, both Belize and Guatemala offer unique culinary experiences and nightlife options. Belize boasts Caribbean-influenced cuisine and relaxed beach bars, while Guatemala showcases its Mayan culinary heritage and a more varied nightlife scene. No matter which destination you choose, you’ll find delicious food, enjoyable drinks, and entertaining evening activities.


Shopping can be a fun and rewarding part of any vacation. Both Belize and Guatemala offer unique shopping experiences to satisfy your desire for souvenirs and local treasures. Let’s see how they compare.

In Belize, you’ll find a variety of shops and markets selling locally made products. Traditional Belizean crafts, such as carved wooden items, colorful textiles, and handmade jewelry, make for excellent keepsakes or gifts for loved ones back home.

Guatemala, on the other hand, is a shopper’s paradise for those seeking vibrant textiles and intricate handicrafts. The country’s markets, like the famous Chichicastenango market, are filled with handwoven goods, ceramics, and traditional clothing, showcasing the skill of local artisans.

While both countries offer unique handmade items, Belize’s shopping scene is more focused on traditional crafts, while Guatemala’s markets are known for their colorful textiles and pottery.

When it comes to shopping for local specialties, Belize is famous for its high-quality chocolate, made from locally sourced cacao. In Guatemala, you can’t leave without picking up some world-renowned coffee beans to enjoy at home.

In terms of shopping venues, Belize offers a more laid-back atmosphere, with smaller markets and boutique shops. Guatemala, however, provides a bustling and lively shopping experience, with large markets and a wide variety of vendors.

To sum up, Belize and Guatemala both offer unique shopping experiences. If you’re looking for traditional crafts and a relaxed atmosphere, Belize is the place for you. For those seeking vibrant textiles, pottery, and bustling markets, Guatemala is a top choice.


Finding the perfect place to stay is an important part of any trip. Both Belize and Guatemala have a range of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s needs. Let’s compare what they have to offer.

In Belize, you’ll find a variety of lodging options, from luxury beachfront resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses. Many accommodations focus on providing a relaxing, tropical atmosphere for guests to enjoy.

Guatemala also offers diverse accommodation choices, ranging from high-end hotels in the city to charming boutique properties in more rural areas. You can even find unique stays, such as eco-lodges and historic haciendas.

Both countries cater to different budgets and preferences, with Belize emphasizing beachside luxury and Guatemala offering a mix of urban and rural experiences.

In terms of location, Belize’s accommodations are often close to the beach or set amid lush rainforests, while Guatemala’s lodging options can be found near ancient ruins, colonial towns, or picturesque lakes.

No matter your preferred accommodation style, you can find something to suit your needs in both Belize and Guatemala. Each country offers a range of options, with a focus on unique experiences and beautiful surroundings.

In conclusion, Belize and Guatemala provide a variety of accommodation options to fit any traveler’s preferences and budget. Whether you’re seeking beachside luxury in Belize or a mix of city and rural stays in Guatemala, both countries have something to offer for a memorable stay.

Family-Friendliness & Children’s Activities

Traveling with family can create lifelong memories, and both Belize and Guatemala offer activities that cater to children and adults alike. Let’s explore the family-friendliness and children’s activities in these two destinations.

Belize is known for its family-friendly atmosphere, with many resorts and hotels offering amenities tailored to families. Activities like snorkeling, visiting wildlife sanctuaries, and exploring ancient Mayan ruins are both fun and educational for kids.

In Guatemala, you’ll also find a variety of family-oriented experiences. Children can learn about history and culture by visiting the ancient city of Tikal, exploring colorful markets, or taking part in traditional Mayan ceremonies.

Both Belize and Guatemala offer unique educational experiences for children, with Belize focusing on wildlife and marine life, and Guatemala emphasizing history and culture.

In addition to educational activities, Belize and Guatemala provide opportunities for family fun and adventure. Belize’s cave tubing, zip-lining, and wildlife encounters are sure to delight children of all ages. In Guatemala, families can enjoy hiking around Lake Atitlán, exploring volcanoes, or visiting coffee plantations.

No matter which destination you choose, both Belize and Guatemala offer family-friendly accommodations, activities, and experiences that cater to children and adults alike.

In summary, Belize and Guatemala both provide excellent family-friendly destinations, with a range of educational and fun activities for children. Whether you’re drawn to the wildlife and marine life of Belize or the history and culture of Guatemala, either destination will make for a memorable family vacation.

Getting There & Getting Around

Reaching your vacation destination and exploring the local area are essential aspects of any trip. Let’s compare the ease of getting to and around Belize and Guatemala.

To reach Belize, you can fly into Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport, which is about 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) from Belize City. Direct flights are available from several major cities in the United States and Canada.

Guatemala is served by La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, with direct flights from various cities in North and Central America. The airport is located around 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) from the city center.

Once you’ve arrived in Belize, getting around is relatively easy. You can use water taxis to travel between islands or rent a car to explore the mainland. Additionally, domestic flights and buses connect popular destinations.

In Guatemala, traveling between cities and attractions is often done by bus or shuttle, with options ranging from local chicken buses to more comfortable tourist shuttles. Renting a car is also possible, but driving conditions can be challenging.

Both countries offer a variety of transportation options to suit different travel preferences and budgets. Belize has a smaller land area, making it easier to navigate, while Guatemala’s larger size may require more planning and time for transportation.

In conclusion, getting to and around Belize and Guatemala is manageable with a variety of transportation options available. Whether you prefer the ease of navigation in Belize or the opportunity to explore more diverse landscapes in Guatemala, both destinations provide unique travel experiences.


Weather can play a significant role in your travel plans, so understanding the climate in Belize and Guatemala is important. Let’s compare the weather in these two destinations.

Belize enjoys a tropical climate, with warm temperatures throughout the year. Average highs range from 80°F (27°C) to 88°F (31°C). The dry season runs from November to April, while the rainy season lasts from May to October.

Guatemala has a more varied climate due to its diverse landscapes and elevation. The coastal areas are warm and humid, while the highlands have a cooler, more temperate climate. Average high temperatures can range from 68°F (20°C) in the highlands to 90°F (32°C) along the coast.

Both Belize and Guatemala experience tropical rainstorms, with Belize having more rainfall overall. If you prefer drier weather, it’s best to visit Belize during the dry season or Guatemala’s highlands at any time.

In terms of hurricanes, both Belize and Guatemala are at risk during the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June to November. Travelers should monitor weather updates and follow local advice during this time.

Overall, Belize offers a consistently warm, tropical climate, while Guatemala has more varied temperatures due to its diverse landscapes. Both countries have a rainy season and are at risk of hurricanes.

In summary, Belize and Guatemala have distinct weather patterns, with Belize’s tropical climate and Guatemala’s varying temperatures. Consider your weather preferences and the activities you want to enjoy when choosing your destination.


Safety is an essential consideration when planning your vacation. Let’s compare the safety of Belize and Guatemala for travelers.

In Belize, the overall crime rate is relatively low, especially in tourist areas. Petty theft and pickpocketing can occur, so it’s important to be cautious with your belongings and avoid displaying valuables in public.

Guatemala has a higher crime rate than Belize, particularly in urban areas. Travelers should be vigilant and take precautions, such as not carrying large amounts of cash or wearing expensive jewelry.

Both Belize and Guatemala have areas with safety concerns, so it’s wise to research your destination and avoid high-risk locations. Always follow local advice and stay aware of your surroundings.

Natural hazards, such as hurricanes, can affect both Belize and Guatemala. It’s crucial to monitor weather updates and follow local guidance during your trip.

Healthcare facilities vary in Belize and Guatemala. In major cities and tourist areas, you’ll find adequate medical care. However, in remote locations, access to healthcare may be limited.

To sum up, both Belize and Guatemala have safety concerns, but with proper precautions and staying informed, you can enjoy a safe and memorable trip. Consider your personal safety preferences and risk tolerance when selecting your destination.


Budget plays a crucial role when planning your vacation. Let’s compare the costs of traveling to Belize and Guatemala to help you make an informed decision.

In Belize, the local currency is the Belize Dollar (BZD), with 1 BZD equal to 0.50 USD. Travel costs in Belize can be higher than in Guatemala, with accommodation, food, and activities generally priced more expensively.

Guatemala, on the other hand, uses the Guatemalan Quetzal (GTQ), with 1 GTQ equal to 0.13 USD. Guatemala is known for its affordability, with lower prices for accommodation, food, and attractions compared to Belize.

Transportation costs can also differ between the two countries. Getting around Belize can be more expensive, with higher prices for taxis and rental cars. Guatemala offers cheaper transportation options, such as local buses and shared shuttles.

When it comes to activities and tours, Belize tends to have higher prices. However, this also depends on the type of activity and the level of luxury you prefer. Guatemala offers a wider range of budget-friendly options for travelers.

In both Belize and Guatemala, you can find ways to save on costs, such as eating at local markets or opting for budget accommodations. It’s essential to plan according to your personal budget and preferences.

In summary, Guatemala is generally more affordable than Belize, with lower costs for accommodation, food, transportation, and activities. Keep your budget in mind when choosing between these two destinations.

Which Is Better – Belize or Guatemala?

Both Belize and Guatemala have unique offerings, making it challenging to choose between them. Let’s recap some key differences to help you decide.

For history and culture enthusiasts, Guatemala might be a better choice due to its rich Mayan heritage and diverse cultural experiences. Belize also has a unique history, but its smaller size limits the range of cultural experiences.

In terms of attractions and activities, both destinations offer fantastic options. Belize is well-known for its pristine beaches and marine life, while Guatemala boasts ancient ruins, diverse landscapes, and rich cultural experiences.

If beaches are your priority, Belize is the clear winner with its beautiful sandy shores and the stunning barrier reef. Guatemala has a few coastal gems, but Belize’s offerings are hard to beat.

For foodies and nightlife lovers, both countries offer a variety of dining options and vibrant local scenes. Belize has a unique blend of Caribbean and Central American cuisine, while Guatemala provides traditional flavors and bustling markets.

When it comes to family-friendliness and children’s activities, both countries have plenty to offer. However, Belize may be more suitable for families, with its safer reputation, beautiful beaches, and family-friendly attractions.

Regarding transportation, Guatemala provides more affordable options, making it a better choice for budget-conscious travelers. Belize has higher transportation costs but offers shorter distances between destinations.

Weather-wise, Belize offers a consistently warm, tropical climate, while Guatemala has more varied temperatures due to its diverse landscapes. Both countries have a rainy season and are at risk of hurricanes.

Safety is an essential consideration for all travelers. Both countries have safety concerns, but with proper precautions and staying informed, you can enjoy a safe and memorable trip.

Finally, when it comes to cost, Guatemala is generally more affordable than Belize, making it a better choice for budget-conscious travelers.

In conclusion, your choice between Belize and Guatemala depends on your personal preferences and priorities. Belize is ideal for beach lovers and families, while Guatemala is perfect for history buffs and those seeking a more affordable vacation. No matter which destination you choose, both countries promise an unforgettable experience.