Belize isn’t your ordinary vacation; it is an extraordinary destination. From colorful corals constructing the Barrier Reef to mysterious caves hidden beneath jungle-shrouded mountains. From the vibrant cultures to the rich biodiversity, Belize is a special place, and to commemorate your visit you should bring home a special souvenir. Forget the tacky tee shirts or crummy keychains! Here are my recommendations for Belizean-made products that make great souvenirs worthy of an unforgettable vacation.
I think consumables make the best souvenirs and greatest gifts to bring home to friends and family from your travels. No one wants useless trinkets or tchotchke from your vacation to clutter their spaces and collect dust, but they would surely appreciate something they could actually use. Bring back with you a little taste of Belize to share with friends or to keep in your cupboard as a reminder of your trip. Marie Sharp’s famous hot sauces grace the tables of nearly every Belizean eatery across the nation from high-end to humble roadside dining, the pepper sauce has become synonymous with the country’s cuisine. Bring a few bottles home with you; they make great gifts for the heat-seekers in your life too.
Artisanal finds like local honey, homemade jams, and small-batch fruit wines also make lovely souvenirs that can provide enduring enjoyment post-holiday. My favorite artisanal product, and I’d wager to guess it is many people’s favorite, is any of the dozens of excellent handcrafted chocolates. Everyone loves chocolate and Belize produces some of the very finest, single-estate chocolate from our famously high-quality cacao.
Gourmands will cherish souvenirs to use in their at-home cooking. Belize’s climate is great for growing All Spice, Cardamom, and Vanilla. A unique ingredient to take back to your home kitchen is wildly farmed seaweed. Used locally as a nutrient-dense base for shakes and smoothies, seaweed is a versatile and natural thickening agent that curious cooks will love experimenting with. I especially love the dried Eucheuma variety from the Women’s Seaweed Farming Cooperative in Placencia. Stored properly, the dried Eucheuma lasts well over a year. If you’re not keen to cook with seaweed, you can still reap the benefits of the product in a range of locally-made soaps, lotions, and hair care products.
Jewelry is a great souvenir and if you’re traveling light, no worries. It doesn’t take up much space in your suitcase. Handmade and artfully crafted pieces of jewelry are mementos you can treasure for many years. I’m partial to the creations that use Lionfish spines. They’re wearable art that has a corrective impact on Belize’s marine ecosystem.
The Lionfish is a beautiful but invasive species to our tropical waters and their bombastic presence on our reef is detrimental. Local dive shops and fishermen have implemented measures to control the Lionfish populations. Local jewelry makers have also joined the effort by turning the beautifully striated spines of speared Lionfish into custom adornments. The results are stunning: organic yet polished, very eye-catching, and certain to be a conversation starter.
In addition to our talented jewelry designers, Belize has an abundance of gifted and skilled artists and craft creators. Embroidered fabric, pottery, wood carvings, and woven baskets are unique souvenirs that you will value as an addition to your home décor far more than a fridge magnet.
If you have the space in your luggage and on your walls at home, I suggest purchasing a painting by one of our brilliant artists. One-of-a-kind creations that will remind you of Belize any time you gaze upon it. My personal favorites are Walter Castillo’s whimsical landscapes and the Sierra Brother’s realistic and colorful scenes focused on marine life.