10 Tips for Making the Most of Your First Visit to Belize
5. Bring bug spray.
Nothing spoils your ability to mindfully engage in your vacation experience like a speckling of swollen, red, and itchy bumps. No need to buy a bug spray with deet—save yourself the money, toxins, and damage to the environment—but a general bug spray is important. Don’t forget to spray your feet! You can purchase more at the local pharmacy or small grocery shops if needed. As a backup, bring along some hydrocortisone cream to take the edge off any bites that make it past your bug spray shield.
6. Wear sunscreen and bring a hat.
The only thing worse than bug bites on a vacation is a sun burn. Make sure you enjoy every day of your vacation burn free and reduce your risk of skin cancer by being vigilant about your sunscreen. Apply like a body lotion (with the high humidity, you will likely never need to moisturize) in the morning and regularly throughout the day. Exposure to wind, water, and sand will decrease your sunscreens effectiveness and require more frequent application. A hat is also a must to give your eyes a break from squinting and preventing the dreaded scalp burn. Pack it or purchase it in-country. If, despite your avid applications of sunscreen, you do end up burnt, utilize aloe vera with lidocaine for cooling skin repair and pain relief.
7. Plan full rest days and full play days.
Nobody likes feeling like they need a vacation after their vacation. Be sure to balance playing hard with resting hard. While exploring and experiencing all the country has to offer is important, don’t let yourself miss out on the experience of lying on the beach, reading a book, and sipping pina coladas. After all, you’ll still be working hard—on your tan!
8. Talk with the locals.
There may not be another country filled with more authentically kind people than Belize. Strike up a conversation, flash a smile, and shake a hand as often as you can. This is one part of a trip to Belize that would be a great disservice to your experience if you missed. Don’t just talk to the bar tender about yourself and where you’re from—ask him about himself, his family, his life. Don’t just haggle with the merchants along the road—ask them about their sources, their methods, and their passion for their craft. Belize is a country full of diversity and you will find locals of varying ethnic backgrounds some of which include Mayan, Creole, Garifuna, Mestizo, Spanish, Mennonite, Indian, and Chinese.
9. Check out the Chinese Stores.
The locals call the small grocery shops “Chinese stores” as most of these establishments are owned and run by Chinese men and women. These stores are great options if you are on a budget and cannot afford to eat and drink at your hotel for every meal. The selection of food and fruit is good with frozen, refrigerated, and shelf stable options. There is also a fine selection of beer, liquor, and wine. Buy a bottle of 3 or 5 barrel rum (made in Belize, $20 BZN for a fifth), a carton of natural orange juice, and a pop-top can of coconut milk for a tasty homemade cocktail. Be sure to buy an inexpensive pitcher and fill it up with ice at your hotel. Mix all to taste, sit back, and enjoy your budget beverage.
10. Get outside on a dark and stormy night.
Don’t let a rain and lightning storm just pass you buy. Get outside and feel the warm rush of wind and torrential rain on your face. Watch the brilliant flashes of lightening as it cuts across the sky. Feel the rumble and shake of the thunder as it cracks a warning of the show to come. While you may initially have a feeling of dread when you check your vacation forecast and see the image of a cloud, raindrop, and a lightning bolt, a storm in Belize is not a damper, it is an enhancer. Take advantage of it!