Never underestimate the value of tipping and how much some people rely on it to put food on their table and pay the bills. The minimum wage in Belize is only $3.30 BZD ($1.65 USD) per hour. Part of the ideology behind that is somewhat based on the fact that most workers are in the tourism industry and therefore will most likely receive tips.
I was recently on a low-cost boat tour and at the start of the trip, the boat owner gave the tipping speech and reminded everyone to tip the guys at the day’s end. I was planning to give the two guys $20 to split. However, I was the last one off the boat and saw that not one person had given them anything so I quickly fished another $20 from my wallet and handed them each one. I am a firm believer in money karma and that it is good to help other people make money. For some people, I will occasionally tip in USD, because I know they save it for travel. I also tip some people in produce and goods. Juicy mainland limes are always well received.
Tipping Guide to Belize
I’m often asked about vacation tipping. “Who should I tip?” or “How much should I tip?” Here are some general “rules of thumb” for tipping in Belize.
First off not everyone does it, but it is always a good idea to put tipping not only in your budget but in your daily planning. What I mean by that is, if you know you are going to do tip worthy activities that might not have ample change such as a boat tour, go prepared with a range of bills to make tipping easier.
15% – 20% range depending on the service.
Street vendors: Both the artisans and the “street meat” vendors do not expect to get tipped. When you pay $5.00 BZD (that’s only $2.50 USD) for a huge “Homer Simpson” burger with all the fixin’s, why not tip them a buck?
Bartenders and waiters; 15% – 20%. If the bar is slow, ask your bartender if he knows any good tricks. There are a few showmen here. Many bar owners split the tips between staff so giving it to your waiter or the bartender makes no difference as they all put it “in the jar”.
Speaking of jars… do not forget to tip the musicians well, especially in low season. Your musicians are rare here and as much of a factor in your good time as your servers, Belikin Beer or whatever you are drinking.
High-end hotels may add a 10% service charge on the bill during checkout. Check your bill and if the charge is not included then it’s always appreciated to give a 5 -15% gratuity for maids and porters if they have assisted you. If you leave money for a maid, put it in an envelope marked “housekeeping” or the person’s name. The front desk clerk should be considered in gratuities as well, especially if he or she must also act as concierge and recommends good restaurants and tours. – Thanks to Juan Carlos Gomez for that one.
Spa staffs in Belize greatly appreciate a tip between 10% – 15%. The tip is usually given to the spa staff that provided you the service. If you have more than one staff providing you their service, you could split the amount among them.
Although there is no set amount the most common, is about 10% – 15% of the price of the tour. I usually give it to the lead employee and tell them that is a thank you to all the staff. For diving, you can tip the dive masters directly. $5.00 or $10.00 BZD per oxygen tank is appropriate.
Most online research will tell you that it is a rare practice to tip a taxi in Belize. Because San Pedro is quite small, taxi fares are fairly low. When traveling within town, you should expect the fare to stay around $7.00 – $10.00 BZD. Of course, the further you go the higher the fare goes. Even so, you should not expect to pay more than $15.00 – $20.00 BZD from the bridge all the way to Victoria House (which is only about 3 miles). If you’re going any distance, negotiate a price first. It’s nice to have “one guy” that you can count on but you certainly can’t expect him to come at your beck and call all the time.
10% – 15% is appreciated for helping you look gorgeous. Salons in Belize are often fully equipped. You can get your hair done, get a massage, and manicures and pedicures. The salon I go to even has acupuncture. If more that one person provides service you can tip them individually or I just hand it to the owner and say it is to split.
taco Tip #15
Because this is a post about tipping, I would be remiss if I did not include one myself. Knowing my struggles in math, a friend taught me this handy tipping trick and I have been grateful for it every single time I tip. For a 2 digit total bill number, double the first digit to get a decent tip example: $68 BZ would get you $12 – about 17%. If it is 3 numbers then double the first two. Example: $153 would be $30. That comes out to about 19%. I know generally you do not tip on tax, but with such a low minimum wage and the high cost of living here, I often do.
Check out my Facebook post (March 22, 2018) on this article to see even more comments and suggestions from readers.
I had to share this one, however, as is funny. From Susan Z. W – …don’t forget the gas attendants! We always tip the guy that pumps our gas. Oh yes, tip the front desk person and your stay will always be better. She also said Sh!t, (expletive) I tip just about everyone for all sorts of things. Way more than I did in the US, just because the wages are so low here. My motto, when in doubt…tip!
Belize Currency Featured Image – A collection of Belizean notes and coins – photo credit, Joanne Weston.