Frequently, and infrequently, asked questions.
Q / How do you get to Placencia?
A / From Belize City, Dangriga, and Punta Gorda, there are flights several times a day on the two national airlines; Maya Island Air and TropicAir. We can help you book your flights if you like since we are an agent for both of the airlines.
Q / Do the local airlines ever offer discounts?
A / Sometimes the local airlines offer cash discounts for walk-up/standby customers. If you don’t mind taking the risk, you can try that to save a few dollars. Keep in mind that each plane carries only 12 passengers, though. If you want to be sure to have a seat, you need to book in advance and pay the regular fare. If you book your air ticket through Maya Beach Hotel, then we include a complimentary ground transfer between the Placencia airstrip and the hotel. If you book your own local flights and want us to arrange a pickup, the cost is US $30 for a round-trip transfer for 1-4 persons between the Placencia airstrip and the Maya Beach Hotel. Transfers must be booked in advance, but if you make your travel plans at the last minute, you can get a taxi from the Placencia airstrip to the hotel for the standard fare of US $20.
Q / Can I get there without flying?
A / There is also bus service. Since schedules are complicated, please visit this website for details: http://www.placencia.com/services.htm#trans . You will probably take a bus from Belize City to Belmopan and then Dangriga, and then transfer to a bus to Placencia. If you take the bus, it passes the hotel so please let the conductor know you wish to get off at Maya Beach.
One of the nice ways to travel is to rent a car at the international airport in Belize City. It takes about 3.5 hours to drive to Maya Beach from Belize City. Private taxis can also transfer you to and from the hotel for a price of around $275-300 US each way. For a group of four, the private taxi is a little less expensive than flying. Driving directions from Belize City are available here. If you drive, you should look for signs for Maya Beach approximately 6 miles after you turn on to the peninsula at Riversdale. Once you enter the Maya Beach area, look for our sign on the left, or the sea side, of the road. If you reach Jaguar Lanes, Green Parrot Resort, Mangos restaurant or the Maya Breeze Inn, you have gone a little too far South.
There are no water taxis from Belize City to Placencia. However, if you happen to start your vacation in Caye Caulker you can take a 2-night sailing charter from Caye Caulker to Placencia. This includes a little snorkeling and camping in the cayes.
Q / Can I rent a car or golf cart in Placencia?
A / If you want to fly to Placencia and then rent a car or golf cart, you can do it through a local rental company called Car Rental of Placencia with cars starting at around $70 US dollars per day. Golf carts are around $60. Please mention us when you contact them. Budget and Hertz also have cars in Placencia. Should the Placencia companies be out of cars, some rental companies in Belize City will send a car down for you. The cost of doing this is approximately $200 US dollars to have a car delivered to you in Placencia. It will cost another $150-200 US dollars to have the car picked up, but if you drive it to Belize City yourself, you can save that charge. Normal car rental fees of $70 to $120 US dollars per day will apply.
Q / How do you get around from the hotel?
A / Within walking distance you will find a small convenience store and a few small restaurants. If you don’t have a car, you can use taxis to go further. You can also use our complimentary bicycles (but remember it’s 4 miles to Seine Bight Village and a total of 8 miles to Placencia Village. There are also a few busses toward Placencia Village in the afternoon and evening, and you can return by taxi when you choose.
Q / Is it better to use local taxis to get around or rent a car or golf cart?
A / The answer to this depends on what you plan to do on your vacation. Golf carts cost between USD $40 and $60 per day, depending on where you rent them. Cars are in the USD $60 to $120 range per day. Since taxis are only USD $20 one-way for the 8 miles to Placencia Village, even though that might sound expensive, it would cost less than using a golf cart if you’re only planning on one trip to the Village per day. However, if you like to have more freedom and make more frequent trips, a golf cart would be a good choice (albeit a little slow). If you want to drive around the countryside and visit some of the national parks or Mayan sites on your own, you can take advantage of having a car, although it certainly isn’t necessary since engaging Belizean tour guides are available to take you just about anywhere.
Q / Where are the tours in the area?
A / There are tour operators to the North and South of the Maya Beach Hotel. Some are independent, and some are associated with other resorts. Tour operators will pick you up at the hotel as long as the tours are booked in advance. Read about tours and activities.
Hotel services & policies
Q / Is there Internet service?
A / Yes. We have a public computer for guest use. If you have your own laptop, you can connect to the Internet using either wired ethernet or wireless (wi-fi). There is no charge.
Q / What sports or activities are included with the room?
A / We have a small number of complimentary kayaks, snorkeling sets, and bicycles available for guests to use on a first-come first-served basis.
Q / Is there a swimming pool?
A / Yes! We have a pool adjacent to our outdoor dining area. It is available to guests of the hotel and the rental houses.
Q / Can I change money at the hotel?
A / There is no need to change your money to Belize dollars (BZ $) before you come. US dollars will be welcome in the hotel and other local establishments. Maya Beach Hotel does accept US dollar travelers’ cheques. For total fees of approximately 3-5 percent (fees from both your home bank and a Belize bank), you can get a cash advance in Belize Dollars from your ATM card or credit card. If you like to have small change on hand for tips, etc., please bring US $ in small denominations ($1, $5, $10)
Q / Are there facilities for cooking our own meals?
A / None of the rooms at Maya Beach Hotel have kitchenettes but they do have hot water kettles and small beverage refrigerators. Our restaurant serves meals all day. Our vacation rentals (beach houses) do have kitchens or kitchenettes.
Q / What about laundry?
A / Our housekeepers can do small amounts of laundry for guests. The charge is BZ $10 (US $5) per small load. We are not able to dry clean or wash delicate items.
Q / What is the beach like?
A / The Maya Beach Hotel is on a long beach with some of the softest sand in Belize. There is about 70 feet of sand between the hotel and the water. Nothing else (except coconut trees, hammocks and beach chairs). The water is very shallow in front of the hotel, and you can walk out two hundred feet in waist-deep water. Walking up and down the beach, you will pass in front of some other developed beach properties as well as some natural sections of beach, perfect for beachcombing!
Q / How are the rooms furnished?
A / All of our rooms have queen beds. Some have either an additional bed (Coconut Room and Toucan Room) or an additional futon (Hummingbird Room and Jaguar Room). The rooms have small tables and chairs with pretty views out the large windows. Some of the rooms have an attached veranda for chairs and hammocks. The rooms and furnishings are not fancy, but have a cozy beach feel.
Q / What about power and electrical appliances?
A / Electricity in Belize is 110V/60Hz (same as theUS). The majority of outlets are the same plug type as the US although some places use theUKstandard plug. All of the outlets at the Maya Beach Hotel are the US type. Since the electricity in our area is provided from a diesel generator, voltage variations and surges can occur and we suggest that you bring a surge protector if you are planning to use your laptop computer or other electronic devices. None of the rooms are furnished with hair dryers, so you should bring your own if you need one.
Q / Does Maya Beach Hotel host weddings?
A / No. We do not host weddings. There are many wonderful resorts in the Placencia area that do, however, and we can provide you a list on request.
Q / Is smoking allowed in the hotel rooms?
A / No. All of our hotel rooms are non-smoking as are indoor common areas of the hotel and restaurant.
Q / Can I smoke in outdoor areas?
A / You may smoke outdoors, but please be considerate of other guests and restaurant patrons and smoke in areas where others are not affected.
Q / Are pets allowed?
A / Sorry, pets are not allowed as guests in either the hotel or the rental houses, but please show us a picture of yours because we like cats and dogs too!
Maya Beach area
Q / What are the restaurants like?
A / Besides the Bistro at the Maya Beach Hotel, there are some others. Mangos is a thatched-roof bar on stilts just a few hundred yards down the road from us. The Hungry Gecko, next to a small convenience store about 1/2 mile down the beach, is another open-air restaurant with reasonable prices and a very casual atmosphere, serving Belizean and Honduran food. Jaguar Lanes (a 4-lane bowling alley) serves snacks and light meals. The De Lite Café offers meals for breakfast and lunch in a garden setting. Other hotels and resorts in the area have restaurants that are open to the public as well, such as Singing Sands, the Green Parrot and The Placencia Hotel.
Q / Are the beaches private?
A / One of the great things about Belize is that the public is always allowed to use the waterfront. Locals and tourists wander up and down the beach to their hearts’ content, although in quiet Maya Beach you often have the beach to yourself.
Q / Is it safe?
A / Belize is a developing country and the Placencia Peninsula is a little isolated, so you should be aware that emergency services such as police, fire or rescue services are very limited and are not usually able to respond quickly. Placencia Village has a nurse and family doctor and it is a 15-minute drive from Maya Beach. Please take precautions to safeguard yourself and your belongings when you travel.
Q / Can I drink the water?
A / The Maya Beach Hotel collects fresh rainwater, treats it with cholorine and runs it through filters. We also purchase potable water from a reliable private source and that is also run through our hotel’s purification system. If you prefer bottled water, it is readily available in the hotel and at local shops.
Q / Are there bugs?
A / Sandflies (no see’ums) and mosquitoes are sometimes present in the Maya Beach area, but well-maintained beaches do help keep the bugs at bay. DEET-based repellents work well to repel mosquitoes and sandflies, and other products like Avon Skin-So-Soft’s Bug Guard are also popular repellents for sandflies. If you are extremely sensitive to insect stings or bites, you will probably prefer to sleep in an air-conditioned room with the windows closed. The Maya Beach Hotel maintains our beach and facilities in ways that control flying insects, but it is a natural, subtropical environment. At times there are other insects but they are rarely a nuisance in maintained areas.
Planning your trip
Q / Do I need a passport and/or visa?
A / Everyone needs a valid passport to visit Belize. Americans, Canadians, EC passport holders, and many other nationalities may visit Belize without obtaining a visa in advance. Please visit this websitehttp://belizetourism.net/info/enrq_wkpmt.html to see the entry visa requirements for your nationality.
Q / Should I exchange money before I come?
A / In Belize, there is no need to have anything but US dollars when you arrive. There is a fixed rate for the Belize dollar (BZ $) against the US dollar (roughly 2 BZ$ = 1 US$). Most establishments will accept US dollars and will give you change in Belize dollars. Most will also accept traveler’s checks, but traveler’s checks are cashed at the official government exchange rate which is slightly less than 2/1. ATMs are scarce, and credit cards are only accepted in some places and the exchange rate you receive is poor. Our recommendation is to bring part of your money in cash and part in traveler’s checks (in case of theft). If you are traveling from outside the United States, you should exchange your own currency into US dollars before you come.
Q / Are credit cards accepted?
A / The Maya Beach Hotel accepts Visa and Mastercard for payment, both for your accommodations (charged 30 days prior to your arrival) and for incidentals such as meals, drinks, and tours while you are here. Cards are widely accepted at most retailers, but some of the smaller shops may require cash. Additionally, bear in mind that the exchange rate is a little more favorable when you use cash as your credit card company will use the official bank rate and may charge a foreign transaction fee, while cash is accepted at the rounded-up 2/1 rate to the US dollar.
Q / What will the weather be like?
A / The climate here is subtropical. The temperature is almost always in the high 80s to high 90s during the day. In the summer, nights are very warm and in the winter there is more relief from the heat with temperatures dropping in to the high 60s and low 70s overnight. There is normally less rain between the months of November and April but there is a chance of rain year-round and especially in the summer. A few internet sites have statistics which are interesting, if not helpful. The most comprehensive we have found is WorldClimate.com. The Savannah Forest Station is the closest to us.
Q / Do you get hurricanes?
A / Tropical storms and hurricanes can threaten Belize, normally in the months of June – November. If you are traveling anywhere in the Caribbean you should have a contingency plan during those months. It might be as simple as purchasing travel insurance so that you can make a claim if your flights or prepaid hotel stays are disrupted by a storm. The Maya Beach Hotel monitors local and international weather sources and will keep guests informed of any potentially threatening tropical storms or hurricanes. If there is a storm approaching, we will advise guests of any recommendations made by Belize’s national weather and safety authorities and guests will be required to comply.
Q / What should I bring with me?
A / Packing List:
- Flashlight (for walking around at night and occasional power failures)
- Camera & batteries or charger
- Hat (mostly for sun protection)
- Lightweight rain jacket or poncho
- Water shoes, sport sandals or sneakers that can get wet (required for some jungle, river & cave tours)
- Your prescription meds
- Small first aid kit for cuts, scrapes, stings, allergies, etc.
- Comfortable, lightweight, casual clothes
Q / What about vaccinations?
A / There are some diseases in Belize that you can be vaccinated against before your trip. These include Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Tetanus, Malaria and Influenza. Ask your doctor which vaccinations are currently recommended or visit an immunization clinic.
Q / Will my cell phone work?
A / The main mobile provider in Belize uses GSM technology on the 850/1900 bandwidths. If you have a relatively new phone with a SIM card, and you have a plan that allows international roaming, most likely your phone will work. If you are going to be in Belize for an extended period and you expect to make a number of calls, check to see if your phone is unlocked so that you can purchase a SIM card from BTL (Belize Telemedia Ltd) in order to save some money.
Q / How can I make international calls if my phone doesn’t work?
A / If your phone does not work here, we have a cell phone that guests can use while on the property to make calls, both locally and internationally. This will cost approximately 30-40 US cents per minute to call North America and 10-20 cents per minute to make calls within Belize. Some people also have luck using Skype or Facetime over wifi.
Q / Where is Belize?
A / Belize is on the Caribbean (East) coast of Central America, sharing borders with Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Q / Is Belize Spanish speaking?
A / Actually, Belize is officially an English-speaking country. However, Spanish is the first or second language of many Belizeans so you may have a chance to use Spanish when you are here. You might also pick up some Belizean Kriol or a few words from the Garifuna or Maya people you may meet. A lot of Belizeans speak 3 or 4 languages!
Q / What are the people like?
A / Belize is a very diverse country, populated by Mestizos (44%), Creole (30%), Mayan/Indian (11%), and Garifuna people (7%). The remaining 8% of the population is made up of North Americans, Europeans, and Asians. While people live rather harmoniously, there are distinct cultural differences that can be seen in towns throughout the country. While at the Maya Beach Hotel, you will likely meet Belizeans of all sorts.
Q / How big is Belize?
A / In terms of population, Belize has less than 300,000 permanent residents. Results from the 2010 census are not available yet. Its physical size is roughly the size of Massachusetts, or about two thirds the size of Belgium. Belize has around 240 miles of coastline on the Caribbean.