Belize City and the international airport in Ladyville have most major car-rental agencies as well as several local operators. At the international airport, a line of about 10 rental car offices is on the far side of the main parking lot across from the airport entrances. There also are car-rental agencies in Corozal Town, San Ignacio, Placencia, and Punta Gorda. Some Belize City car rental companies will deliver vehicles to other locations in Belize, but there is always a drop fee, ranging from around BZ$100 to BZ$300, depending on destination. Prices for car rentals vary, but all are high by U.S. standards (BZ$120–BZ$275 per day, plus 12.5% tax), and vehicles are often a few years old with quite a few miles. If renting from an agency at the international airport, there’s a BZ$10 airport fee. Off-season, rates are a little lower. Weekly rates usually save you money over daily rates.
For serious safaris, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is invaluable. But since unpaved roads, mudslides in rainy season, and a general off-the-beaten-path landscape are status quo here, all drivers will be comforted with a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Car rental has never really caught on in Guatemala, which, given the narrowness of some roads, is just as well. If you do rent a car, opt for four-wheel drive, which will run around US$65 a day. Several international and local car-rental companies are based at the Flores airport.
In Belize and Guatemala, rental-car companies routinely accept driver's licenses from most other countries without question. Most car-rental agencies require a major credit card for a deposit, and some require you be over 25.
Most Belize agencies don't permit their vehicles to be taken into Guatemala or Mexico. Crystal in Belize City does permit its vehicles to be taken into Guatemala, as do a couple of the car-rental companies in San Ignacio, although without any insurance coverage while in Guatemala. There is no place to buy Guatemalan liability insurance at the Belize-Guatemala border.
On Belize’s cayes you can’t rent a car, but you can rent a golf cart, at prices not much less than renting a car. You’ll need a driver’s license and a credit card.
If you own a car, your personal auto insurance may cover a rental to some degree, though not all policies protect you abroad; always read your policy's fine print. If you don't have auto insurance, then seriously consider buying the collision- or loss-damage waiver (CDW or LDW) from the car-rental company, which eliminates your liability for damage to the car. Some credit cards offer CDW coverage, but it's usually supplemental to your own insurance and rarely covers SUVs, minivans, luxury models, and the like. American Express and some other credit/charge card companies offer a premium CDW plan for a flat fee, usually around US$20 per rental, not per day, that has more leeway than regular CDW plans, for example covering SUVs, trucks, and driving off paved roads. If your insurance coverage is secondary, you may still be liable for loss-of-use costs from the car-rental company. But no credit-card insurance is valid unless you use that card for all transactions, from reserving to paying the final bill. All companies exclude car rental in some countries, so be sure to find out about the destination to which you are traveling.
In Belize CDW insurance from car rental companies costs BZ$25–BZ$40 a day, and you may still be liable for the first BZ$1,000–BZ$4,000 in damages.
Budget. Offices at the international airport, on the Goldson Highway in Belize City, and in Placencia. Mile 2 1/2 Goldson Hwy., formerly Northern Hwy., Northern Suburbs, Belize City, Belize. 223/2435 in Belize. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.budget-belize.com.
Cayo Auto Rentals (81 Benque Rd./George Price Hwy., San Ignacio, Cayo. 824/2222. www.cayoautorentals.com.)
Crystal. With offices at the international airport and on the Goldson Highway in Belize City, Crystal is the largest car rental company in Belize. It is one of the few rental companies in Belize that permits its vehicles to be taken into Guatemala. Mile 5, Goldson Hwy., formerly Northern Hwy., Northern Suburbs, Belize City, Belize. 223/1600 in Belize; 800/777–7777 toll-free in Belize. www.crystal-belize.com.
Hertz. Offices at international airport, in Fort George area of Belize City, and an affiliated agency in Placencia. Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport, Ladyville, Belize. 800/654–3001 in U.S. for international reservations; 225/3300 in Belize. www.carsbelize.com.