Welcome to The Takeaway, a new series highlighting the best goods a destination has to offer. Every week, we’ll showcase seven gifts every traveler should consider in terms of quality and value.
Belize is lush, and more importantly to travelers seeking respite from low temperatures, it’s warm year-round. And while Belize’s tourism industry has grown substantially, it’s still affordable and an ideal destination for this time of year (as long as you aren’t pregnant or trying to conceive).
Belize’s subtropical climate and high biodiversity makes the country a literal hotbed for plant-based products like coffee, chocolate and lumber. Local hot sauce and rum make for inexpensive—but still beloved—gifts. If you’re looking for something memorable, the Maya culture still thrives in art and handicrafts, which highlight native treasures like jade, black coral and ziricote wood.
We’re not encouraging you to go too wild, but just know that U.S. Customs and Border Protection will waive duty on up to $800 worth of items.
Sarra Sedghi is Paste Food’s Assistant Editor. She can usually be found arguing about mayonnaise on Twitter.
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Chocolate: Where cacao beans thrive, top-notch chocolate abounds, especially when a region's people have been producing it for thousands of years. Gourmet chocolates can easily be found at specialty shops like Belize Chocolate Company, and Cotton Tree Chocolate and Lamanai Chocolate Company offer factory tours.
Photo: Belize Chocolate Company
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Coffee: Belize has seen an increase in coffee farms and production that often ties into newer tourism ventures. Here, you'll find sustainable plantations like Gallon Jug and smaller operations like Caye Coffee Roasting Company.
Photo: The Coffee Trust/Flickr
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Handicrafts: Belize offers a wide array of handicrafts including dolls, bags, clothes, hammocks and ceramics. Again, you can find these just about anywhere, but for a wider selection visit a large market or specialty shop like the Belizean Handicraft Marketplace in Belize City.
Photo by Philippe ROYER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
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Wood: Belizean wood is known for its durability and is often used to make furniture and crafts ranging from bowls to guitars. Belize's low elevations make it an apt breeding ground for ziricote, a multi-toned wood that's only found in small stretches of coastal Central America.
Photo: Art Box Belize
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Jewelry: Many of Belize's most valuable resources, namely ziricote, jade, black coral and freshwater pearls, are incorporated into jewelry. You can easily find handcrafted jewelry at souvenir stands and specialty shops like 12 Belize and Art Box.
Photo: Art Box Belize
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Hot sauce: Belize is home to Marie Sharp's hot sauce, and the Dangringa factory offers an extensive variety of flavors (and free samples). You can also find homemade hot sauce at open-air markets like the San Ignacio Market.
Photo: Marie Sharp's Jalapeno Sauce
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Rum: It isn't a trip to Belize (let alone Central America) without at least one bottle of rum. Traveller's is Belize's top distillery, and you can find every variety at their Belize City museum.
Photo: One Barrel Rum