If you’re looking for a helpful packing list for Belize, you’ve come to the right place! Read on to see what to pack for a trip to Belize.
So you’ve booked a vacation to Belize! Congratulations! You’re going to love this little Central American gem. No doubt you have already started dreaming about the sun-drenched beaches, misty and mysterious mountains, lush green jungles, and ancient ruins that are in your future.
And who can blame you? The place is incredible.
Now comes the fun part: deciding what to do with your time in country and figuring out what you need to take with you on the trip. It may seem like you have a lot of research to do, but don’t worry – I’m here to help! In addition to the usual suspects like toothpaste, shampoo, underwear, and your camera, below is a packing list for Belize full of items I found to be very useful, if not essential, on our recent trip.
When you’re done, don’t forget to check out our weeklong itinerary for some planning inspiration and helpful tips!
The Essential Packing List for Belize
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Light, Breathable, Durable Clothing
It can get pretty toasty in Belize, especially if you’re exploring the jungles and mountains of the country’s interior. Make sure to pack clothes that will help you stay cool. Keep things light and breathable, sticking to materials like cotton, linen, and rayon.
Belize is a destination that is full of adventure, so you should also make sure that you bring clothing appropriate for the level of activity you intend to undertake. I recommend hiking pants (see below), athletic tops, and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.
While the tropical climate may tempt you to fill your suitcase with shorts, dresses, t-shirts, and tank tops, your packing list for Belize should also include at least one pair of lightweight long pants. Not only are they helpful for your plane ride, which can get chilly, but they’re great at protecting you from mosquitoes and other insects while you’re out and about. I have a pair of hiking pants from prAna that I love and wore on all our jungle excursions. Some lightweight long-sleeved shirts are also a good idea for the same reasons.
Hopefully, you’re planning to spend some of your time exploring Belize’s many jungles, Mayan ruins, caves, and other non-beach attractions. If so, it’s important to be strategic with your footwear. Much of the terrain is uneven and possibly wet or slippery, so water-resistant, sturdy-soled shoes are best. Whether you take your favorite pair of sneakers, hiking boots, or rugged outdoor sandals, make sure they’re comfortable and up to the task!
One of the best decisions I made before our trip was purchasing a pair of KEEN Sandals. They were perfect for my Belizean explorations: sturdy, comfortable, breathable, amphibious, and backpacker chic!
You will need a swimming suit to take advantage of many of the country’s best offerings, whether that means sunning yourself on paradisiacal beaches, snorkeling the incredible Belize Barrier Reef, or tubing through ancient Mayan caves. You won’t want to leave Belize without spending some time in the water!
I would encourage you to add a couple of suits to your Belize packing list, including at least one that you don’t mind getting a little dirty if you decide to go adventuring.
Sunscreen and Bug Spray
You probably guessed this from the first few suggestions, but if you’re spending all your time indoors, you’re doing Belize wrong. Protecting yourself from sunburn and mosquito bites is essential so that you can keep enjoying your days in the sun!
Remember that you will most likely be closer to the Equator than at home, so the sun will be stronger. Choose a high SPF (at least 30) and reapply frequently, especially if you’ve spent time in the water. Pro tip from experience: pay special attention to your back and the backs of your legs while snorkeling! On that note, you won’t regret bringing aloe vera or another after-sun lotion for those spots we all inevitably miss.
Also, please consider a reef-safe sunscreen, as the chemicals in regular sunscreens can be damaging to the fragile underwater ecosystems and coral that make Belize’s barrier reef so stunning.
On the bug spray side, experts tend to recommend insect repellent that contains DEET for maximum efficacy. Women who are pregnant or looking to conceive should be especially vigilant in preventing mosquito bites to decrease the risk of contracting Zika.
Waterproof Camera (or protective case) and/or GoPro
Much of Belize’s beauty can be found in and under the water, so you won’t regret bringing a waterproof camera, camera case, GoPro, or similar. Even if you’re not planning to go snorkeling or you don’t want to bother with a camera when you do, it’s still helpful to have some sort of protection. Activities like cave tubing and boat rides, not to mention getting caught in a rainstorm, can all put your electronics at risk.
Many places in Belize accept major credit cards, but you’ll want to have cash on hand for any guesthouses, restaurants, local artisans, and other vendors who are not plastic-friendly. We also discovered that most of the tour operators with whom we booked either offered a discount for cash payments or charged a small additional fee for paying with a card. Try to estimate your total tour expenditure before you leave to make sure you have enough cash to take advantage of these discounts. Also, don’t forget to bring cash to tip tour guides and drivers. Five to ten percent of the total tour cost is usually appropriate and will be much appreciated.
In our experience, many tour operators accepted cash payments in US dollars as well as Belizean (the exchange rate is a fixed .50 BZ to 1 USD), but I would try to conduct business in the local currency as much as possible since it makes it easier on the person you’re paying.
Many banks in the US will exchange money for you at better rates than those found at airports and currency exchange counters. Check in with your bank a few weeks before you leave in case you need to order the currency in advance. I personally use Wells Fargo and have had good experiences.
Chances are that you won’t be spending much time in your guesthouse or hotel, so you’ll want to add something to your Belize packing list that can hold all of your essentials for the day. Whether it’s a small backpack, a drawstring bag, or a beach tote, make sure it’s large enough to hold your camera, wallet, snacks, extra clothing, sunscreen, and anything else you’ll need for your day! Personally, I love my Osprey day pack, and M liked mine so much he got a very similar one for himself.
Especially if you’re planning to visit Belize during the rainy season between June and November, come prepared with some rain gear. I suggest a raincoat or poncho rather than an umbrella. Taking an extra pair of socks and shoes along with you in your day pack is also never a bad idea. No one likes spending the day with wet feet.
Other Tips and Suggestions:
- If you have your own snorkeling and/or diving equipment, it may be worthwhile to bring it with you since the quality of gear you receive can vary by tour company.
- Consider traveling with a backpack instead of a suitcase for greater ease moving about the country. This is especially helpful if you intend to use public buses or if you will be walking over sand or other uneven terrain to reach any accommodations.
- If you intend to do a tour of the ATM cave, make sure to have a pair of socks with you.
- Bring a couple of gallon-size sealable plastic bags to store any wet or damp clothing when traveling between destinations. I also like to recycle one or two handled plastic bags (like you would get at Target or a grocery store) for transporting shoes so that any mud or grime doesn’t get on my clothes. (For a more sustainable option, I love using these wet/dry bags I received as a baby shower gift!)
And some final thoughts for my fellow ladies…
Overall, I found that I spent much more time wearing my casual, athletic, and hiking clothing during our week in Belize than the few nicer pieces I’d brought. (I think we dressed up once for dinner in Hopkins, and my carefully-straightened hair quickly went into a ponytail because the sea breezes were so strong that I was eating almost as much of it as I was the shrimp I’d ordered.)
Thus, I suggest you emphasize packing for comfort over planning to dress to impress. Not only are many of the available activities adventurous in nature, but the general vibe in Belize is casual, laid back, backpackery (it’s a word, I promise), and beachy. You could probably take least half of the suitcase space you’d usually use for make-up, dresses, jewelry, and shoes and reallocate it. (Or take a smaller suitcase.)
I do, however, acknowledge that everyone is different and travel styles vary. Some women are just better and more intentional about being fashion-forward than I am. You also may have more reason to dress up if you’re staying somewhere like San Pedro or at a luxury resort. Do what feels best for you, but don’t worry that you’ll be underdressed if you decide to keep things simple and casual! You’ll fit right in.
So there you have it, my best packing tips for a vacation to Belize! I hope that this post was helpful as you plan your suitcase strategy. Now go have an amazing trip, and tell that beautiful country that I hope to see it again soon!
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Need some help planning your vacation to Belize (or figuring out your Belize packing list)? Full Life, Full Passport offers customized itinerary planning for all kinds of trips and budgets.
This packing list for Belize was originally posted on July 24, 2018, and was last updated on June 30, 2021.
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