SHOES BLUES – What Footwear to Pack for a Snorkeling, Hiking, Kayaking, Rafting, Sightseeing Trip.

IMG_1481Now that I know what I know, I’ll share “experienced” recommends for footwear on a National Geographic Adventure to Belize and Guatemala – Reefs, Rain Forests & Ruins. We read their packing list, and still made some footwear mistakes. But we also did some smart things.

This was a strenuous adventure for Larry and me – we’re city folks. But NO COMPLAINT; we got ourselves into this. We read the itinerary and our egos said, “SURE, we’re fit and active adults! SURE, we can swim and snorkel. SURE, we can hike for miles. YES to being wet and chilly often. And boats. And rafts. Blah Blah.” Well, it was HARD. But we made it.

P1310519So, let’s talk feet: Being “sure footed” is mandatory for every activity. Stepping on jagged rocks trying to get snorkel flippers on. Crawling into and out of kayaks and rafts. Maneuvering sloshy seaweed and slick mossy rocks. Sand to dirt to rocks to coral to mud to water. In other words, APPROPRIATE FOOT WEAR required! My suggests:

1. Lycra Fin Socks– OMG, we would have been in deep trouble without these. Worn in water inside with shoes or flippers, these miracles kept sand out and prevented blisters, scrapes. $8 a pair, one size fits all. We bought these Deep Sea Fin Socks. Snorkel Shoes are thicker and have zippers, some fellow travelers wore those.

2. Walking/hiking/ water sandals with closed toes – Keens the shoe of choice. You need REALLY GOOD TREAD (i.e. look at this style),. I bought my Keens on EBay before our first Africa trip, well broken in, 20% of the new retail price. 

3. Water shoes – like slippers for water stuff, they are softer than Keens. I often wore mine for the wrong times (like starting out walking on the beach and ending up on rocks). But they were useful.

4. Flip-flops for “off times.” Easy kick-off shoes. You don’t walk barefoot on atolls; they’re coral with a thin layer of sand. STUBBED TOES.  Just don’t plan on using flip-flops for activities unless you were born here, tenderfoot.

5. Hiking boots? Frankly, I could have left mine home. We used once for a muddy, hilly hike but looking back, I could have worn the Keens for that and saved the luggage weight.

POSTSCRIPT for hands: definitely bring sports gloves. $12 at Target in the gym equipment section. Used almost daily — kayaking, river rafting, spelunking. Like these. They “sort of” dry overnight (humid Belize).

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And during down time on the island, I built this little art installation “vignette.”

National Geographic Expeditions and Adventures:  http://www.nationalgeographicexpeditions.com/

We took Nat Geo to Cuba, as well.  http://worththewhisk.com/2012/01/10/why-cuba-has-so-many-classic-american-cars/

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