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Is September and October Really Belize's "Worst Time to Visit"?

Is September and October Really Belize's "Worst Time to Visit"?

 Belize in October

Belize in October

A cheap flight to Belize in September or October may seem like a great deal at first. That is, until you Google "October in Belize" and see the warnings about rain, hurricanes, and claims of it being a terrible time to visit.

At least that was my experience when I snagged a $266 roundtrip flight on Scott's Cheap Flights from San Francisco to Belize.  Despite the warnings, my friend and I went anyway. I thought, “How bad could this be?” 

Turns out, not that bad. Even though we were a bit nervous about traveling during what’s supposedly one of the worst months to visit Belize, we quickly discovered "worst time in Belize" doesn't equal "terrible trip". In fact, there were some hidden perks to traveling in a season most would rather avoid. If you're thinking of going to Belize next fall, here’s what to expect and tips for traveling to Belize in September and October.

Yes, October Weather in Belize is Rainy -- But Not All the Time

 Hopkins, Belize

Hopkins, Belize

October is Belize’s rainy season, but that doesn’t mean it’s raining 100% of the time. In tropical regions, rainy season often means sudden, short, intense bursts of rain.

So even if it rains throughout the night, you might still wake up to no rain and an overcast sky -- which isn’t so bad in 90-degree weather. Also, if it looks like it’s about to start pouring, just find a place to hang out for the next hour and wait it out. Throughout our stay, we actually didn't get rained on all that much.

What About the Risk of Hurricanes?

That said, the highest risk for hurricanes and tropical storms in Belize is in September and October -- though it tends to be hit less frequently than neighboring Caribbean islands, Florida, and Honduras, thanks to its geographical position.

If you’re concerned about hurricanes disrupting your travels, I’d suggest investing in travel insurance. WorldNomads and Allianz are two great companies to consider, having worked with both while I was in the travel industry.

Know What to Pack for Rainy Weather Travel

 Tikal, Guatemala: a quick 1.5 hour drive from San Ignacio, Belize

Tikal, Guatemala: a quick 1.5 hour drive from San Ignacio, Belize

I once had a friend who said "there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing." I don't fully agree, but the sentiment is: bad weather sucks less if you're prepared. So, if you're heading to Belize -- or any country -- in rainy season, you’ll want to make sure you pack:

  • A rain cover for your backpack: If you travel with a backpack as your main luggage, get a rain cover to keep your stuff dry. I personally use CamelBak's rain covers ($12-16), which are durable and effective.

  • Waterproof shoes: In tropical countries, I always travel with a pair of waterproof flats or sandals (not flip flops) that can get wet but stay on my feet. Hunter ($110) makes a durable black ballet flat (though there are some cheaper alternatives) and Teva ($30-60) sandals are ready for adventure.

  • Dry-sacs for your electronics. I always keep my camera, notebook, and passport in a waterproof dry sack by Sea to Summit ($9 - 25). However, while in Belize, my travel partner, Nadia, introduced me to Earth Pack ($18-25), a dry bag with a strap that can double as a day bag.

  • Rain jacket. I’m a fan of Columbia’s lightweight rain shells. They pack down super small, are lightweight for hot weather, but keep you dry in an unexpected rainstorm.

  • Travel umbrella. Pick something lightweight and compact, like the Repel Easy Touch Umbrella ($22)

Some (Not All) Attractions May Close Because of Weather

 Cahal Pech Ruins in San Ignacio

Cahal Pech Ruins in San Ignacio

We spent our first few days in San Ignacio; typically a great jumping off point for exploring nearby Mayan Ruins or the Actun Tunichil Muknal (aka ATM) cave. Unfortunately, heavy rains meant we couldn’t reach either (even though others had been there just days before).

Still, many of the bigger attractions were still easily accessible -- like Cockscomb Jaguar Sanctuary and the Blue Hole. We ended up taking a day trip over the border to see Guatemala’s famed Tikal ruins instead (it's actually easier to get to from San Ignacio, Belize than it is from Antigua or Guatemala City, Guatemala). Definitely not a bad alternative.

While you’ll probably find plenty to do regardless of the weather, it can affect access to some of Belize’s attractions. Be prepared to be flexible.

Off Season Means Cheaper Prices and Fewer Tourists

  Ka'ana Resort  in San Ignacio

Ka'ana Resort in San Ignacio

There is an upside to traveling to Belize in September or October: fewer tourists and cheaper prices. Since it’s low season, tour groups may be smaller, restaurants not as crowded, and hotels will have plenty of availability.

Hotels and tour groups will also run discounts or be willing to negotiate. Both of these factors make it easy to travel affordably and without much of a plan -- if that’s your style.

October Marks the Beginning of Conch Season

 Conch Ceviche

Conch Ceviche

Second upside: October is the start of conch season. Conch, similar to calamari in texture and flavor, is a popular food not just in Belize but throughout the Caribbean. While you’re there, keep an eye out for fresh conch dishes, such as a refreshing conch ceviche, crispy conch fritters, or savory conch soup.

FYI: Belize Also Celebrates Columbus Day

We planned our trip over Columbus Day weekend to take advantage of the extra time off work. However, it wasn’t until we arrived in Belize we realized they celebrate Columbus Day too!

A few businesses (including banks and some restaurants) closed and busses ran less frequently, but otherwise it wasn’t an issue -- much like in the U.S.

Should You Travel to Belize in September or October?

Yes! It may be rainy in Belize in September and October, but there’s also lots of availability in hotels, fewer tourists, cheaper prices, and (oh yeah) fresh conch.

Just be sure to pack right and get travel insurance if you’re worried about any weather related travel disruptions. Now, get out there and climb a Mayan ruin.

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