Shopping in Belize

While Belize isn't known for it's shopping scene, you can go home with plenty of good finds

Photo credit: © Lawrence Weslowski Jr | Dreamstime.com
 

Many believe that the minimal amount of malls and department stores in Belize makes the country lacking in good shopping, but vacationers who love to shop local will be pleasantly surprised.

Where to Shop

Belize City

Maps

For the most part, shopping in Belize City caters to locals, but there are still designated areas where tourists will find special items to take home. Particularly, Tourism Village. This is where most cruise passengers spend their time in the city because of its close proximity to the port. Local vendors set up craft and food carts in the streets, especially on cruise ship port days, and visitors can easily wander the streets and happen upon unique designs and crafts that symbolize Belizean heritage. There are also some more permanent souvenir shops, clothing outlets, and jewelry emporiums.

Outside of Tourism Village, vacationers can visit the National Handicraft Center on South Park Street for a quite large selection of woodcarvings, pottery, woven baskets, and furniture. Shopping centers in Belize City include Commercial Center and Queen's Square Market.

San Pedro

The main street of San Pedro Town is Barrier Reef Drive, and this is where many begin their day of shopping in town. On this street you will find a high concentration of shops featuring everything from clothing to crafts. Next, Front Street is filled with delightfully colored little shops selling items like Cuban cigars, art, jewelry, and beauty products.

The Little Old Craft Shop is where you will find black coral jewelry and wood carvings in San Pedro City, and Emerald Mine will take care of all of your other jewelry needs. Fido's has a large collection of artwork, Rendezvous Estates is the place to go for local liquor, as they bottle and sell their own wine, and you can stop into Caribe Creations for clothing.

If you haven't found something you like by the end of the day, head into Blu back on Barrier Reef Drive, the catch-all souvenir shop. Every type of Belizean knick knack and craft you can imagine is sold here.

Gifts and Souvenirs

Where once a t-shirt reading “Someone who loves me got this shirt in Belize” or a magnet would suffice, in recent years souvenir shoppers have been on the hunt for unique items that represent the culture of the country. This is why shopkeepers have upped their game in recent years. Sure, those shirts and magnets are still around, but now vacationers will also find Belizean spices, rubs, sauces, and beverages; cookbooks, housewares made from local products, and linens hand sewn by native seamstresses; hand beaded jewelry, woodcarvings, clay figurines and more. Be on the look out for Marie Sharp's Hot Sauce, Creole inspired shell necklaces, cashew wine, Mayan slate paintings, and Garifuna dolls.

There are some places in Belize that sell items considered to be in poor taste. Items made from turtle shells, black coral, and cat fur should be avoided. Also note that it is illegal to carry ancient Mayan artifacts out of the country.

If you enjoy shopping for souvenirs consider visiting Cotton Tree Chocolate, which is located in Punta Gorda, in southern Belize. Made from locally harvested cocoa beans, this shops is unique because they work with local farmers and dedicated chocolateers who aim to create high quality and delicious confections on a daily basis. They're located at 2 Front Street.

A second place to consider is Sunova Beach Gift Shop, which is found 40.7 mi. (65.4 km) from Cotton Tree Chocolate. They are open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you would like to call before booking a room, do so at (501) 523-4060.

A third shop you might enjoy is Maya Bags. This shop features a line of hand-crafted handbags in all shapes, sizes, and styles, as well as other accessories such as hand-woven pillows, coasters, and Mayan baskets. Offering high end fashion items that have hand crafted using the traditional skills of back strap hand loom weaving, basketry and hand embroidery, their top selling items are the gypsy souvenir bag, purses, fitness bags, and home decor. You'll be able to find them on Airport Road.

Many of the gift and souvenir shops in Belize are shown below.

Gifts and Souvenirs In Belize
Name Type Phone Location
Beach Bazaar Gift Shop Gift and Souvenir Shops (501) 523-3113 0.6 mi. South of Central Placencia
Cotton Tree Chocolate Gift and Souvenir Shops (501) 621-8776 Punta Gorda, Southern part of Belize
Fajina Craft Center Gift and Souvenir Shops -- Punta Gorda, Southern part of Belize
First Choice Variety Gift Store Gift and Souvenir Shops (501) 822-0270 Belmopan, Northwestern part of Belize
Fishy Business Gift Shop Gift and Souvenir Shops (501) 523-3614 0.8 mi. South of Central Placencia
Kulcha Gift Shop Gift and Souvenir Shops (501) 523-7075 Hopkins, Central Belize
Maya Bags Gifts, Souvenirs, and Handicrafts (501) 722-2175 Punta Gorda, Southern part of Belize
Sunova Beach Gift Shop Gift and Souvenir Shops (501) 523-4060 0.4 mi. South of Central Placencia

Specialty Shops

One of the interesting specialty retailers in this area is Seahorse Dive Shop. They're located within Placencia, Belize. Most of their trips are boat dives guided by a certified PADI Dive Master. They typically offer full day trips that leave in the morning, allow their guests to take on two to three dives as well as head to a nearby caye for lunch and a bit of relaxation on the beach for their surface interval, then return in the afternoon. If you're looking to call in advance, do so at (501) 523-3166.

Another good option is Splash Dive Center, which is located 1.1 mi. (1.7 km) to the north of Seahorse Dive Shop. They are open daily between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. If you're looking to call ahead, do so at (501) 523-3080.

Pen Cayetano Studio Gallery: Historical and modern art by Pen Cayetano is what this gallery specializes in. This includes murals, paintings, textiles, music, and crafts are all available here. Guests will find them at 3 Aranda Crescent.

The following table has more details regarding the 13 specialty shops located in Belize.

Specialty Shops In Belize
Name Type Phone Location
96 Orchid Garden Florist (501) 605-1959 0.5 mi. South of Central Belmopan
Art n Soul Art Gallery (501) 503-3088 0.7 mi. South of Central Placencia
Belizean Handicraft Market Place Art Gallery (501) 223-3627 Fort George, Central Belize
DI Watch & Design Watch Store -- Fort George, Central Belize
Diamonds International Jewelry Store -- Fort George, Central Belize
Diamonds International Jewelry Store -- Fort George, Central Belize
Habano Cigar Store Tobacconist and Cigar Shop (501) 600-4795 Fort George, Central Belize
Image Factory Art Foundation and Gallery Art Gallery (501) 223-4903 Belize City
Mermaid Charms Art Gallery (501) 604-1906 0.4 mi. South of Central Placencia
Pen Cayetano Studio Gallery Art Gallery (501) 628-6807 Dangriga, Central Belize
Seahorse Dive Shop Dive Shop (501) 523-3166 0.9 mi. South of Central Placencia
Splash Dive Center Dive Shop (501) 523-3080 0.3 mi. Northeast of Central Placencia
Tanzanite International Jewelry Store -- Fort George, Central Belize

Clothing and Apparel

Interested in shopping for clothing? You might want to try Zaara's Boutique -- which is situated in Corozal, in northern Belize. Zaara's Boutique offers clothing, jewelry, and more in the best quality at great prices. Their American Hi-Fashion style means that their inventory will be great no matter where you're planning to go. To talk to them, call (501) 630-1832.

The chart directly below enables you to get some details concerning the 5 apparel shops in Belize.

Clothing and Apparel In Belize
Name Type Phone Location
Ace Boutique Boutique (501) 636-7792 0.4 mi. South-Southwest of Central Belmopan
Eden Belize Clothing Accessory and Handbag Store (501) 634-8444 0.3 mi. Northeast of Central Belmopan
Mirab Furniture Gallery Department Store (501) 223-2933 Belize City, Central Belize
Pink Boutique Boutique (501) 223-0706 Downtown Belize City
Zaara's Boutique Boutique (501) 630-1832 0.1 mi. East of Central Corozal

Food and Grocery

Looking for some food? Goss Chocolate is located in Placencia, Belize. Located in the historic cradle of chocolate, the shores of Southern Belize, Goss Chocolate has been in operation since 2007. Cacao has been grown and used in the area for thousands of years, and this chocolate producer is situated near the best farms allowing them first choice of superior organically grown beans. Guests can reach them at (501) 523-3544.

Another possibility is Sweet Ting, which is located 62.2 mi. (100.1 km) to the northwest of Goss Chocolate. The small bakery is known for creating decadent desserts such as cakes and pastries. Stop by to grab a quick treat or order something for your next special event. They're at 96 Benque Viejo Road.

Check out the following chart to learn more.

Food and Grocery Stores In Belize
Name Type Phone Location
Caribbean Spice Belize Grocery Store (352) 630-3813 Fort George, Central Belize
Goss Chocolate Confectionery and Nut Store (501) 523-3544 Placencia, Southern part of Belize
New Capital Supermarket Grocery Store (501) 822-0670 Belmopan, Northwestern part of Belize
Sweet Ting Bakery (501) 601-7263 San Ignacio, Western part of Belize
Tommy's Grocery Convenience Store -- 0.6 mi. South of Central Placencia
Ultimate Herbal Health Food Store Organic / Health Food Store (501) 822-2902 0.4 mi. South-Southwest of Central Belmopan

...stick to locally made items...

 

Duties, Taxes, and Other Tips

Vacationers heading to the Caribbean often find themselves getting amped up at the thought of saving big on designer goods. The abundance of duty free items in most passes coupled with low prices on high end items, often times visitors will come away from the Caribbean with some pretty great deals. This is not always the case in Belize. Though it is possible to buy luxury items in Belize, vendors are not always selling them at low prices, and there is a 12.5 percent sales tax tacked on to every purchase. Your best bet is to stick to locally made items. Not only will they be more inexpensive and symbolic of your time on the island, but your money will go a long way in supporting locals.

U.S. currency is so commonly excepted in Belize that exchanging your money is not necessary. If you do choose to do so, know that the basic rate of exchange is two Belize Dollars to every one U.S. Dollar.

You can expect to find most stores in Belize to be open between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 or 6 p.m., and many close during the lunch hour and on Sundays.

True, shopping is not one of Belize's biggest draws, but that doesn't mean you can't return home from your vacation with a few great souvenirs. Just remember to steer clear of luxury items, buy local, and most of all, enjoy the time you get to spend exploring the country's cities as you shop.

 

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