Only a passport is required for citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, European Union and most British Commonwealth nations, as a 30-day visitor’s permit is issued upon arrival. The Philip Goldson International Airport is located about 10 miles outside Belize City. American, Continental, US Airways and Delta offer direct flights from many cities in the southern United States, including Dallas, Miami, Houston and Atlanta. The flight takes about two and a half hours.

Placencia, about 100 miles to the south of Belize City, has its own airport, located about 2.5 miles outside the town center. Regional airlines such as Maya Island Air and Tropic Air offer about half a dozen daily flights between the Belize City and Placencia airports, with round-trip flights costing around US$200 per person between Belize International and Placencia, and US$160 per person for round-trip flights between Belize City Municipal Airport and Placencia.  A taxi into the town center from the Placencia airport is cheap, about US$6 for 1 or 2 persons.   You may also rent a car in Belize City and drive to Placencia along either the Coastal Highway, which is quicker (a little less than 3 hours), or the Hummingbird Highway, which makes for a more scenic drive through the mountains (4 hours). (Note:  the Coastal Highway is very prone to flooding and may not be in good condition, so it's best to make inquiries with your rental car company before deciding on the Coastal Highway Route.  There are also bus lines that run between Belize City and Placencia, but the buses are not air-conditioned and often break down on the road.

Private shuttles are a good alternative option.  For groups of 4 or more rates for a van are as low as $200 US$ (http://www.discountedbelizeshuttlesan...Discounted Belize Shuttles and Tours (pauldlanza@hotmail.com) they also have a rate of $140 per 2 persons. They will stop at the zoo or other sites upon request.  Search for "Belize Shuttle Service" on the net.

The Placencia road is no longer a disaster.  Recently paved, it's one of the nicest highways in Belize  Also, if you're staying in Placencia Village, a car can be a real disadvantage because of very lmited parking.    Most tour operators now park their tour vans across the Placencia Lagoon and ferry tour members over via boat to avoid the Placencia road.  (The roads out of Mango Creek/Independence across the Lagoon are in pretty decent shape and can cut travel time substantially.)  Plus, if you take a guided tour, you'll get the benefit of a guide with a local knowledge, local stories and local humor, in addition to avoiding the Placencia road.