Belizean Dos and Don'ts
To make your visit to Belize a breeze, follow this practical advice.
1. Don't sit under a coconut tree bearing brown coconuts. "Brown means they are ready to fall, and we've had people knocked out by them," says Ranguana Cay caretaker Steve Rowland.
2. Do wear insect repellent and long pants at dawn and dusk. Too late? Buy some Rainforest Remedy at the pharmacy. It's the Belizean antidote to itching.
3. Do get proper vaccinations before you go. Visit cdc.gov/travel/vaccinat.htm to see what you need.
4. Don't speak Spanish. Belize, once British Honduras, was an English colony, and that language remains widespread.
5. Do go to the local health clinic immediately if you have medical problems. (The Belizean method of overcoming illness may be admirable―"When I got the bug last week, I played soccer and then built a fence," Steve says―but not necessarily wise for travelers.)
6. Don't step on the coral or touch it when snorkeling. Second largest in the world, the Belize Barrier Reef is highly fragile.
7. Do wipe the lip of a Belikin beer before drinking. It's a tradition for good reason: The bottles are dirty.
8. Don't worry about paying in U.S. dollars, but expect your change in Belizean currency. (At press time, the U.S. dollar is worth about double the Belizean dollar.)
9. Do save $32.50 U.S. from your rum-punch funds to pay departure tax when leaving the country.
10. Don't even think about checking your PDA. "When you're in Belize, you're at ease" is the local saying.
(published December 2006)