About the author
Holger is a management consultant turned volunteer. He loves to take pictures, run around in the sun, dive and he has never met a beer in his life he didn't like.
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I have been in Belize for the better part of a year now. I arrived with a backpack full of things that I didn’t need or that I could’ve easily bought here. A few things I brought proved to be very valuable. For the rest I just begged visiting friends.
Here are the 5 things that are essential when visiting Belize:
For me, sunscreen used to belong in the same category as machetes, bug spray and rum: It’s something that people need where you go on a daily basis so you can safely assume that they have it readily available. This worked out quite well for me until I came across a batch of fake sunscreen that gave me the worst sunburn in years.
Don’t fall for the counterfeit sunscreen and bring your own. SPF 50! If you have to buy local – that’s the one we recommend (and it even smells like dessert!)
Good Dive Insurance
Belize is a paradise for divers. If you can at all, go check out the Blue Hole, Lighthouse Reef and the other Caribbean atolls located in the Belize Barrier Reef.
In case you get in trouble while hanging with turtles and sharks, no worries: Belize has a pressure chamber. Just like anywhere in the world, it is very expensive to use it, so diver insurance is a very good idea. Make sure you have an insurance plan that pays for pressure chamber treatments no matter how you end up at the chamber. Some insurance plans (especially ones that come with a credit card) require you to be admitted to the pressure chamber by a hospital. In Belize, the pressure chamber is in San Pedro, 100 meters from the reef. The hospital is in Belize City, hours by boat from the reef and the chamber.
I recommend DAN or aqua med.
No matter if you’re diving, snorkeling or just swimming – the sun in Belize is relentless. So relentless in fact that I never swim without clothes. Either I bring my imported rash guard (they are very hard to find here) or I wear any long shirt I have with me.
When you’re in the water, make sure your protective garment doesn’t hike up leaving your midriff unprotected. A visiting friend got second degree burns on his lower back from a single snorkeling trip.
No matter where you are in Belize, chances are that it’s hot. The rainforest is usually more humid than the cayes where a pleasant breeze is common but the sun is scorching more often than not in every corner of the country. Functional clothing that is breathable and dries quickly is the solution. And not only against the sun. Long sleeves and pants prevents you from most kind of bites, not only mosquitos. Most expats wear their Columbia shirts and Under Armor pants day in and day out while locals like to sport basketball jerseys and linen shirts.
Make sure you bring long shirts and pants and shoes with a closed toe if you plan to explore the jungle.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label
Nothing says “I like you” in Belize as clearly as this specific brand of whisky. I have not been able to find out how it came to this but I have been witness to plenty of friendships turning into brotherhood over a small bottle of this scotch.
Imported liquor is incredibly expensive in Belize so make good use of your duty free allowance and make a Belizean friend with the help of Mr. Walker.
What are your top items to bring on a trip to Belize? What do you ask all of your friends to bring when they come visit you?