17 Must-Have Belize Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring

What to pack for Belize — and other tips to make your trip “Unbelizeable”

With crystal blue waters, a short flight from the U.S. and English as its official language, Belize is the best of both worlds — central American culture and beaches paired with relative traveling ease. My husband and I picked Belize as our honeymoon spot for those exact reasons, knowing that we would need a mental break after months of hectic planning. That’s exactly what we got: endless hours spent in hammocks or reading on a dock mixed with day trips snorkeling, tubing and exploring ruins.

“Unbelizeable” — the silly pun we saw over and over again. And what started as a joke became the theme of the trip. Relaxation, fun and beauty, together in one place. Ready to go? Here’s what to pack for Belize:

What to pack?

1) Bathing suit – With approximately 240 miles of coastline and hundreds of islands (or cayes), you’ll be spending a lot of time in the sun. Depending on where you spend a majority of your time, you’ll be on a ferry boat within hours of landing in the country to make it to your final destination. The beach may just be a small strip of sand or the immediate coastline could be a bit grassy, but many accommodations have their own private docks that put you in the middle of clear water where you can sit in the sun or swim. From there, you essential stake your best lounging spot — beachside, dockside or hammock — to let the relaxation begin.
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2) Flip flops – Belize’s laidback vibe mean shoes are optional. Many times I found myself walking to the nearby store or to dinner in barefeet, as the roads were made of packed sand in our more remote caye. There are no cars on many islands, with golf carts as the main transportation. You’ll likely spend some time on a boat, or even tubing through caves, so water-friendly footwear is a must.
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3) Walking – If you’re looking for a more active vacation, there are jungle and forest treks easily booked at a nearby tour agent. Don’t forget to pack a pair of long pants if you plan to hike. The Mayan temples are worth the time, and on the easy side, if you’re looking for a break from the ocean.
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4) Bug spray – As with other countries in the region, mosquitoes in Belize can carry diseases. Travelers should wear repellent with DEET, Picaridin, Oil of lemon eucalyptus or PMD IR3535 whenever you plan to be outside, according to the CDC. Additionally, ticks can be a problem when venturing through grass or brush. Repellants with 20% DEET or more are the best protection. Belize is currently on a level 2 alert of Zika due to reported cases in the country. Read more from the CDC
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5) Sunscreen – Given its proximity to the equator, the sun is strong in this region. Combined with outdoor activities, you’ll need to reapply sunscreen frequently. While it is available in convenience stores there, I found some were especially hard on my skin, so I would advise bringing your own of at least SPF 50 or higher.
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6) Hat & Sunglasses – Whether you’re snorkeling, fishing or simple strolling on the island, you’ll want to make sure that you’re protected from the sun. A good hat and sunglasses (with UV protection) will go a long way.
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7) Hand sanitizer – Catering to tourists, the facilities in Belize usually have very high standards. But if you’re on a day trip somewhere, you never know where you’ll end up, so it wouldn’t hurt to bring some sanitizer — and maybe a pack of tissues for emergency toilet paper — just in case.
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8) Reading materials – Many a day was spent reading — switching from dock to hammock to balcony. Some accommodations will even have a lending library as you power through those paperbacks. An e-reader will make for a lighter load along the way, though.
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9) Warm weather clothes – Even in the cooler months, Belize’s average temperatures range between 70-80 degrees. The warmer months are hot and humid. Pack plenty of shorts, tanks and lightweight dresses.
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10) Rain jacket – Depending on when you travel, your likelihood of encountering rain will change. Rainy season is typically June to November, with the latter part coinciding with hurricane season. The low season can also mean big savings if you’re willing to risk some showers. But keep in mind that some businesses close during the slower months.
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11) ATM card – The country’s currency is the Belize dollar — with a 2:1 exchange rate with the U.S. dollar. There are ATMs in major towns that distribute Belize dollars. For businesses that accept U.S., you’ll likely get change in Belize dollars. Make sure your bank is aware of your international travel plans so they can put a flag on your account. Otherwise you run the risk of having your card frozen due to suspicious behavior until you clear up the confusion.


12) Day pack – There are a variety of day trips to give you a break from the beach. They range from laid back beach BBQs to snorkeling to treks. A day pack with some essentials like mosquito repellant, sunscreen and water will make those trips more enjoyable.
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13) Scuba certification – Belize has long been a draw for SCUBA divers due to the unmatched Blue Hole, a 300-400 foot drop off of the coast. There are miles of coral reefs teaming with wildlife, from colorful fish to sea turtles to sharks. Even if you’re not certified, there are plenty of snorkel trips — highly recommended.


14) Camera – With blue waters, green jungles and colorful palettes, Belize is picture-worthy on a daily basis. You’ll want to remember the memories as you float through the jungle caves or climb to the top of Mayan ruins, so bring a lightweight camera to capture frames along the way.
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15) Seasick tablets – For most, a boat trip is unavoidable if you’re traveling in Belize. Depending on which caye you choose for accommodations, many include a ferry ride. If you’re prone to seasickness, make sure to pack some tablets like Dramamine or Bonine. There are also wrist bands that are known to help, as well.
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16) Beach cover ups – While dress is definitely casual, you’ll want to make sure that you stay respectful. It’s totally acceptable to keep your suit on pretty much wherever you are, however a coverup is best if you’re venturing away from the beach itself.
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17) Bag for wet clothes – Be sure to air dry your suit and towels prior to packing. To keep things from getting musty, pack damp clothes in a wet storage bag.
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Other packing list items to bring

What not to bring:


1) 🚫 Valuables: While general safe, there are pockets of higher crime areas — particularly in cities — in Belize. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so pack only the essentials and keep valuables at home.
2) 🚫 Computer: Unless totally vital, keep that screen at home. Belize is the perfect place to relax and unplug. If you do feel the need to bring your computer, a lightweight one is best.
3) 🚫Cold weather clothes: It stays warm year-around in Belize, so you’ll likely never need more than a light long-sleeve — and that’s only if you’re here during the winter. Most of the time it’s warm and humid, even at night.
4) 🚫 Jewelry or fancy clothes: : The dress code is casual. Unless you’re staying at a higher end resort or feel the need to splurge, you can find yourself eating outdoors or at an open-air restaurant with your feet in the sand.

FAQ


Is it safe to drink the water?

Drinking water varies in the country, with mixed information on its safety. To err on the side of caution, most accommodations provide drinking water, either via bottle or large filtered gallon jugs.

When should I to visit?

Typical high season if from December to April, with cooler temperatures and less chance of rain. The rainy season is June through November. Belize is in the path known for hurricanes, typically occurring between August and October. The low season, while a higher chance of rain, can still be a great time to visit, with fewer tourists and lower prices. I traveled there in June and rain was never a problem.

Where to go and what to do?

The first decision to make is which caye you’ll want to call home while in Belize. Ambergris Caye is one of the most popular, with many shops and restaurants, but also one of the most crowded. My choice was Caye Caulker: laid back with a handful of delicious restaurants — but quiet.

As for how to spend your time, you have a variety of choices based on your interests and location, including:

  • Visit Mayan Temples
  • SCUBA dive
  • Snorkle
  • Jungle trek
  • Cave tubing
  • Fishing
  • Boat trip and beach BBQ
  • Nightlife — restaurants and beach bars

Are any vaccinations recommended?

The CDC recommends Hepatitis A and Typhoid, alongside routine shots like MMR, chickenpox and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis. Additional vaccinations may be recommended depending on location and long term travel itinerary.

What is medical care like?

While healthcare is not as high quality as other countries in the region, most minor issues should be able to be taken care of at clinics in more populated areas. However, for serious issues, make sure that you have an insurance policy that will cover you — or look into getting additional travel insurance to cover the gap.

What’s the best way to get around?

As mentioned, many of the cayes — or islands — require a boat ferry to get to. Upon landing in Belize City, you’ll head to the port and take off from there. Also several cayes don’t allow cars, so once you reach your island, a golf cart will take you the final leg. Check with your accommodation, which can help coordinate. Otherwise, walking is a pleasurable and easy way to venture around. On our trip, one of the best parts of walking back from dinner was scoping out the street food vendors for dessert. Our favorite: the cake lady (yes, that is what she called herself).

Do I need a plug adaptor?

Electric outlets in Belize take the same voltage as the U.S., 110 volt, 60 cycle.

Do I need a visa?

No visas are required for U.S. citizens for up to 30 days, but you must have a valid passport for
the duration of your stay and proof of departure. Visas are required for those wishing to stay longer than 30 days.

What’s the food like?

With an eclectic mix of the flavors of the region, seafood is the highlight here. If you wish, you can catch your own dinner, with the opportunity to take a fishing trip while a local restaurant will fry it up upon return. Not into the DIY seafood? Many restaurants will simply line the day’s catch on ice trays out front. You can point to exactly what you want. Otherwise, rice and beans is a mainstay. Additionally, expat-owned spots cater to western palates with pizza joints and bars.

Belize is also known for its cashews, and if you take a day trip away from the coast you’ll likely spot stalls selling cashew wine along the side of the road. Be sure to sample some — it can be great to sip as you’re floating down a river while cave tubing. Otherwise, Belikin Beer is the drink of choice for many.

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