There are countless “Top Ten” lists of what to do in Belize, but we will focus on what we think are the Top Ten Toledo activities! So here is our Top Ten Things to Do in Punta Gorda and the Toledo district.
We’ve focussed on those activities which are in some way unique to Toledo. We will never have the tallest Maya temples, the highest waterfalls or the most glorious beaches, but we make up for this in so many other ways.
We’ve put those activities which we think Toledo excels at at the top, but of course everyone will have their own opinion.
- Immerse yourself in the Garifuna culture!
Visit us right here at Warasa and learn about the unique UNESCO recognized Garifuna culture of Belize! Of course this is shameless self-promotion, but we are a 5* rated TripAdvisor attraction for a reason!
If you want to explore further afield in Toledo, the small coastal Garifuna village of Barranco has a beautiful temple, a small cultural museum and other Garifuna cultural activities.
2. Explore the Maya, Kriol and East Indian cultures
There are a variety of Maya cultural activities in Toledo. In Big Falls village you have the Living Maya Experience and Chiac’s Craft Experience. In Indian Creek and other villages there are women’s cooperatives which also offer cooking, craft-making and other cultural experiences.
If you simply can’t get enough drumming, then you can also hop over to the Maroon Creole Drum School to learn about Belizean Kriol drumming, fire hearth cooking and crafts. You can learn more about the Creole culture at the Leela Vernon Creole Museum on Front Street, near the Cotton Tree Chocolate Factory.
Toledo also has a rich East Indian culture, which is being invigorated by the recent interest in turmeric, or “yellow ginger” as it is called here, as a health supplement. TIDE tours offer a full cultural tour which includes a stop in the East Indian village of Forest Home to learn the history of the East Indians in Belize.
3. Cacao and Chocolate Tours
Cacao trees, the source of the beans that are dried, roasted and then ground to make delicious chocolate, are mostly found right here in Toledo. The trees and pods themselves are beautiful, and of course the chocolate is delicious. Toledo cacao is very high quality, and is used by chocolatiers across the world.
Learn the back-story to how chocolate is made.Two of the most well-known cacao experiences in Toledo are Ixcacao Maya Belizean Chocolate, in San Felipe village, and Eladio Pop’s Agouti Cacao Farm, in San Pedro Columbia village.In town, you can also enjoy a free tour in the small but delightful Cotton Tree Chocolate Factory on Front Street near the gas station.
4. Explore Blue Creek Cave – Toledo’s “ATM”
ATM – “Achtun Tunichil Muknal” cave in Cayo is quite rightly one of Belize’s most popular tourist destinations, and it is undoubtedly unique. But here in Toledo, we have our very own cave in Blue Creek Maya village. A trip to Blue Creek “Hokeb Ha” cave offers beautiful jungle hikes, cooling river dips, and exciting cave explorations. There are waterfalls and ancient Maya pottery fragments deep inside the cave.
One word of caution – make sure you do this trip with a local Tour Operator who hires experienced guides….the river and cave can be dangerous to those who haven’t checked the weather and flooding forecasts and you want to be sure you are properly prepared, guided insured and more.
5. Fishing in pristine waters
Toledo enjoys some of the best fly-fishing opportunities in the world! Permit, Tarpon, Snook, Bonefish, Jacks, Barracuda and more. Toledo has a number of pristine and protected fishing areas, including the stunning Port Honduras Marine Reserve. There are a number of local tour operators and experienced guides offering fantastic fishing opportunities, including TIDE Tours Belize, PG Tours, Garbutt’s Marine, Kaimani Marine and more.
6. Birding Multi-Habitat Preserves
The Toledo district offers fantastic multi-habitat birding opportunities for birders of all abilities. If you are here in December you can join The Belize Audobon Society annual national Christmas Bird Count – Toledo almost always counts the most species!
7. Enjoying Toledo’s small but serene ancient Maya sites
Toledo’s Maya sites don’t offer the towering pyramics of Xunantunich and Caracol, but they do offer something unique.
Visit Lubaantun, the origin of the (fake?) Crystal Skull, hundred of (real) ancient Maya whistles and figuerines, and a true sense of serenity. This site, located near San Miguel and San Pedro Columbia villages, is serenely quiet – you will often be the only visitors! As an extra bonus, right next door is the Chaos Oasis – Toledo’s very own Earthship!
Nim Lim Punit is our most accessible Maya site, less than half a mile from the southern Highway in Indian Creek village. Check with your local accommodation or tour operator which days the cruise ship buses will be there….you will want to enjoy its stunning ancient Maya stelae and amazing views without being overcrowded with cruisers.
8. Snorkelling and Kayaking the Reef and River
Many local tour operators offer tours to local uninhabited, unspoilt cayes such as the Snake Cayes, for beach barbeque and snorkelling opportunities. You can also rent kayaks from TIDE Tours or Garbutt’s Marine and kayak the coast or the local rivers.
Even if you don’t want to go swimming in a cave, on a hot day many Belizeans head to one of the local rivers to cool off.
On the newly paved road from Punta Gorda to Jalacte, there are two family friendly waterfalls and swimming spots. San Antonio Falls, just passed San Antonio village, are a small set of falls with swimming spot and picnic tables. Ideal for families with small children, there are plenty of places to sit and shallow pools for paddling.
Slightly further inland, Rio Blanco National Park, between Santa Cruz and Santa Elena villages, has an approximately 20ft fall that the brave jump from into the beautiful blue pool below. The river above the fall has jungle hikes including one that goes over a rope, or hammock bridge. A beautiful spot for birding too!
10. Exploring by Bicycle or Bus
For those on a budget, as well as the cultural activities in and near to town, you can do some DIY exploring by bicycle and/or local bus. The bicycle ride to Boom Creek village, about 4 miles away past Hickatee Cottages is a safe and scenic route, with a decent amount of shade, to a very small Maya village.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can ask the locals to show you the path up Cerro hill, the twin hill about 1.5 miles outside Punta Gorda town.
Many of the activities listed above, including Nim Lim Punit, cultural activities in Big Falls village, and the waterfalls, are easily accessible by bus.