The Toledo district in Southern Belize is often overlooked by tourists, and they’re missing on a lot of great things. Punta Gorda, the main city, is a quiet fishermen village with not much to do there, it’s what’s around it that’s interesting. Toledo has a lot to offer to the travelers who add this remote place to their Belize’s bucket list. Read on to discover all the things you can do in and around Punta Gorda, Belize.
From visiting Maya ruins to immersing yourself in another culture, read on to discover all the things you can do in Punta Gorda and around.
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Punta Gorda, Belize: Best things to do in the Toledo district:
1 – Chilling in Punta Gorda
Punta Gorda is a good base-camp to explore Southern Belize and the Toledo district. It also an opportunity to discover the Garifuna culture and to take a drumming class. Garifunas are from African descents and migrated from the Caribbean Islands to settle in Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. They are known for their cuisine, music, and dancing. You can join a tour or find a restaurant/bar having live Garifuna music while you’re in Punta Gorda. You can also check out the Warasa Garifuna Drum School.
There’s no beach in Punta Gorda, but you can enjoy the seafront in one of the many bars and restaurant facing the sea. I recommend trying Asha’s Culture Kitchen. The food is delicious, and they often have themed nights. You can also rent a kayak or paddleboard from there and go exploring the sea and nearby mangroves (if the sea is not too rough). If you crave veggies, you can try Gomier’s, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant.
For great cocktails and a nice local ambiance, check out the Rainforest Reggae Bar on Front Street.
2 – Cultural immersion with the Toledo Ecotourism Association
The Toledo Ecotourism Association (TEA) is a community-run program aiming at sharing the traditional Maya culture and developing tourism in the Toledo district while fighting poverty. They offer different types of activities such as farm and village visits, cacao grinding classes, craft classes, and such. You either can plan a day trip from Punta Gorda or stay for a night or two in one of their homestays. Check out their website for more information.
3 – Visiting Maya ruins
There are two Maya sites easily accessible in the Toledo district: Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun.
Nim Li Punit dates back to the Classic period, around the 5th century. The city used to be an important religious and political center. Its name means “Big Hat”, after one of the stelae depicting a man wearing a huge hat.
Lubaantun dates back from the Late Classic period and is known for the special way its pyramids were built, really tall and without mortar. Its name means “The place where the stones fell”.
4 – Swimming in Rio Blanco National Park
Rio Blanco is the perfect day trip from Punta Gorda. There are several trails you can choose from, or you can just chill at the waterfall. It’s also a good place to see birds.
Check out their website for more information.
5 – Trekking to Blue Creek Cave
In Blue Creek, you can trek along the river all the way to Hokeb Ha Cave where you can swim in one of its many pools. The trek is not too hard, but some parts are slippery so be careful. Bring enough food and water with you.
6 – Get your adrenaline going at Big Falls Extreme Adventures
In Big Falls village, you can spend the day zip lining and river tubing at Big Falls Extreme Adventures. Just grab a tube and float away following the river course, gazing at the clouds and the lush jungle. If you prefer the air and the treetop, the zip line follows the river’s course and is a great adventure.
7 – Kayak up the Joe Taylor Creek
From Garbutts in Punta Gorda, you can rent a kayak and go up the Joe Taylor Creek. It’s a great way to explore the mangrove and see wildlife. You can also see volcanic rocks along the bank, the weird thing is the closest volcano is thousands of miles away, in Guatemala.
The best time to go is in the morning when it’s not too hot, and it’s easiest to spot birds.
8 – Explore the Sapodilla Cayes
Probably Belize’s wildest and most gorgeous cayes, a visit to Sapodilla, one hour away from the coast, is a perfect day trip, where you can snorkel and visit deserted beaches.
How to get around Punta Gorda, Belize:
You can easily get to all the places above via public transportation except for Lunbaantun. You can also hitchhike, I did it (alone), everybody there told me it was as safe as it gets. Avoid trying to take the bus on Sundays, as not many are running.
You can also join a tour from Punta Gorda or Placencia to visit these places.
Where to stay in Punta Gorda, Belize:
Accommodations in Punta Gorda are pretty basic and usually more expensive than in the rest of Belize. They are a couple of nice resorts outside of the city, but they’re hard to reach without a car.
A Piece of Ground – The only hostel in Punta Gorda, overpriced, but it’s a nice place to hang out and meet people, it’s clean and well organized.
Lux Guesthouse – The cheapest accommodation in town ($30 BZ), basic fan rooms with shared bathrooms. It’s not on Google map, it’s close to where the boats from Livingston arrive, when you get out of there go right on Front Street, and you’ll find it. Here’s the owner’s phone number: +501 603-2539
Beya Suites – a good mid-range option with sea view rooms, some have a kitchen, all have AC, a TV, and a private bathroom.
Hickatee Cottages – probably the nicest hotel in Punta Gorda, surrounded by nature, perfect if you want privacy and tranquility, the bungalows are spacious and far from each other. There’s a pool and a restaurant/bar on site, the breakfast is included. Free bicycles.
Related post to help you plan your trip to Belize:
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