What to Bring Along
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Intensity: Easy
- Duration: 2.5 Hours
Belize City limits reach out to Mile 8 on the Western Highway and Mile 14 on the Northern Highway, at the Haulover Bridge that spans the mouth of the old Belize River where it disgorges into the Caribbean Sea. The city proper is split into two areas: North side Belize City, bounded by the Haulover Creek and ending in the east at the Fort George area, and Belize City South side, extending to the outskirts of the city to the Western Highway (now also known as the George Price Highway.
The Belize City north side is considered the safest and most prosperous area of this population center. Good hotels, a casino and the Museum are located in that zone as are the cruise ship and marine terminals. The Southside has a couple of tourist attractions, namely historic St. John’s Cathedral and the House of Culture.
Four bridges starting from the west and going east, the new Chetumal Street Bridge opened in 2016 but as of this writing with unpaved road access (unofficially called the Dean Barrow Bridge), the BelCan (Belize-Canada), BelChina (Belize-China) and the original Belize City Swing bridge (the only functioning manually operated bridge in the world) join both sides of Belize City. Belize City’s coordinates are 17°15′ North longitude and 88°45′ West latitude. This city is the largest population center in the country with well over hundred thousand inhabitants sprawling over the delta formed by the Haulover Creek which branches off the Belize River. Belize City itself is no longer the nation’s capital, but remains the commercial capital and home to the largest sea port and airport in the country and location of the Belize Tourism Village where cruise ships dock. The city offers the visitor an eclectic combination of rustic, old-fashioned, run-down Caribbean charm and bustling modernity.
As a seaport the city built itself from the East inwards so most of the older colonial structures are near the coast. Efforts are underway to preserve several of these buildings such as the Supreme Court, Government House formerly the home of the British governor, and the oldest Anglican Church in Central America St. John’s Cathedral. These impressive structures have survived hurricanes and other challenges such as city fires. Driving in Belize City is an adventure on to itself as the streets were designed by the British colonizers for bicycles and mule and carts. Belize City unfortunately is emblematic of the crumbling infrastructure that peeps out from most of what is the Belize welcome mat.
The city itself originated as a logging camp and export center for mahogany in the 1600’s. After the Maya who were the original inhabitants, came British and Scottish Pirates who used the area’s many creeks and mangrove swamps as natural hiding out areas and a base from which to loot passing Spanish ships laden with treasure. Naturally, because it is the country’s largest urban area, one finds all cultural types and mixtures in the city – Creole, Garifuna, Latino, Chinese, Lebanese, Hindu and the original East Indian descendants and Maya.