Getting Around in Belize
As with most of our trips, our preferred mode of ground transportation is driving ourselves. We like to be self-sufficient and on our own time schedules plus there is something to be said about a couple that can make it through co-navigating foreign lands.
However with that being said, we changed our minds after receiving some interesting feedback from a friend who had visited Belize quite a few years ago. When we mentioned we were planning to rent a car, he seemed cautiously positive but explained the difficulty getting around.
Roads in Belize are not as developed as what we are used to. For the most part they are narrow, not properly lit, and littered with deep potholes or sometimes constructed completely of loose gravel. There are random speed bumps along the way that are poorly marked. Also streets and intersections are also poorly marked causing a lot of confusion for those who are not familiar with the area.
Considering that we would be landing in Belize and driving two and a half hours to Hopkins in the dark, we quickly began rethinking whether or not we were up to the challenge. After all, this was meant to be a relaxing trip to decompress.
Affordable Private Shuttle
During research on ground transportation, Marc came across Ron's Belize Shuttle Service—a private shuttle service offering both airport transportation as well as in-country driving.
Ron Otten is a Holland native that came to Belize on holiday and liked it so much that he made it his permanent home in 2004. He leaves near San Ignacio but provides transportation to and from the airport in Belize City, San Ignacio, and Santa Elena.
Unfortunately Ron was unavailable the day we arrived, so we used a hotel shuttle for the first leg of our trip from Belize City to Hopkins Bay, some 140 kilometers away.
After spending two days on the beach at Hopkins Bay Resort, Ron picked us up for the nearly three hour trek to Xunantunich Mayan Ruins. Along the way Ron shared with us his story of coming to Belize and falling in love as well as some suggestions for what we should do during the second half of our trip in San Ignacio.
Once we arrived at Xunantunich Mayan Ruins he helped to navigate the car ferry that takes you across the river to the archaeological site. Since the ruins are close to the Guatamala border, there is a heavy military presence and Ron ensured we were following all of the appropriate protocol. And once inside the site, he stayed in the parking lot (eating his lunch) and gave us all the time in the world to explore the ruins on our own time.
After departing the ruins, Ron took us into San Ignacio where we were staying at Midas Resort. On our way into town, he pointed out areas that might be of interest to us while we are in the area.
What was most helpful is that Ron ensure us that San Ignacio was a very safe town and encouraged us to go out on foot and explore, which is exactly what we did for the next two days.
At the end of our trip, an associate of Ron's came to pick us up from Midas and drove us the hour and a half hours back to Belize City where we caught our plane home.
Private Driver Just "Makes Cents"
Ron boasts on his website: "Where your dollar travels a little further. Saving Money makes a lot of cents." We had a little chuckle over it but then when we added up the expenses, hiring Ron did make sense!
For all three of our drives, we spent $390 USD in private shuttle services, which was about $100 USD more than what we were spending on a rental car. Taking in consideration the cost of fuel, then we most definitely came out on top. Plus it was a bonus that we didn't have to worry about navigating and we could relax and sight-see along the way.
Check out Ron's Belize Shuttle Service at ronsbelizetraveladvisory.com.