4 Culturally Rich Towns and Villages in Belize You Should Visit

by Gisselle Hernandez

Travel has always been a sure-fire way to open our minds to new experiences, and new lifestyles – a way to appreciate the uniqueness of our world. So when it comes to chasing deep travel, it makes sense cultural immersion is at the forefront. Cultural travel is not a novel concept – in fact, it’s the driving force behind many travelers’ whims. But as we are thrust full-throttle into traveling post-pandemic, the trend seems to be a hot topic. 

Corn tortilla making with the women’s coop of San Antonio Village. Images courtesy Belize Tourism Board

In a 2022 global travel trends report, American Express found that travelers don’t just want to have a positive impact, they want to immerse themselves in other cultures. “Seven out of 10 people are interested in cultural immersion, ranging from a simple walking tour to a cooking intensive or even a homestay where travelers share a residence with a local, a genuinely unparalleled way to get familiar with a new culture,” wrote TripSavvy. Below, we’ve highlighted perhaps the most culturally rich small villages and towns in Belize – and why they should absolutely be on your itinerary.

Orange Walk Town

The Latin-influenced Orange Walk Town is the culinary capital of the North, and rightly so. But you can’t enjoy a good plate of salbutes, caldo, or even tacos,  without it acting as a looking glass into the Mestizo culture. Mestizos may be a controversial term meaning “mixed,” since the ancestry involves Spanish colonists in union with the Indigenous Maya. But the pride is strong as is evident when browsing Orange Walk’s House of Culture and its historical landmarks trail. They often consider themselves Hispanic as most speak Spanish. Most of the food, like tortillas, tamales, and other corn-based meals, is a direct influence of the Maya. When visiting the area, we recommend grabbing lunch at the beloved Nahil Mayab restaurant for an authentic taste of the Mestizo food you’ll come to love. Then spend the afternoon browsing through artisan items and freshly-picked fruits and veggies at the town market. 

San Antonio Village 

A mere half-hour drive from San Ignacio, San Antonio is a village rife with the Maya culture. It makes for an ideal pit stop when heading to the Mountain Pine Ridge area. This area is home to primarily Yucatec Mayas, several of whom consider themselves versed in the spiritual healing arts. Mostly because the village was home to the late world-renowned healer, Elijio Panti. Here, you’ll find the famous slate-carving Garcia sisters and the talented San Antonio Women’s Cooperative. You can spend the morning in the small town learning pottery, how to make corn tortillas by hand, and partake in a cleansing ritual with rich copal incense

Hopkins Village


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The Garifuna capital of Hopkins is Placencia’s more laid-back counterpart. The silk-sand beaches and the Caribbean Sea vistas are stunning, but that’s not the only charm of the place. Whether you’re staying at the Lodge at Jaguar Reef or Hopkins Bay Resort when visiting, you’re in for cultural immersion unlike anywhere else. We recommend booking a cooking and drumming class with Lebeha Drumming Center to learn the roots of the Garifuna by creating hudut from scratch and belting beats out to African-influenced dancing. Listen intently to the stories and history of how the Garifuna came to our shores before indulging in the art and music that makes the culture so vibrant. 

Spanish Lookout 


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This Western Belize village is a misnomer as its mostly inhabited by Mennonites, German descendants who emigrated to the country in the late 1950s. They are one of the most prominent and respected groups in the country, known for being farmers and agriculture aficionados. Despite often being compared to the Amish in the U.S., the Mennonites in Spanish Lookout are well suited to modern conveniences. It’s also worth mentioning the town is a perfectly manicured carpet of greenery, with rolling hills and pastures that look straight out of a Windows wallpaper. Here, you’ll find a dairy farm and the most popular brand of chicken. You can visit greenhouses and cafes while sitting down for some ice cream at the beloved Western Dairies HQ.

Header image of a small fruit market in Orange Walk Town. Photo by Javier Rejon on Unsplash

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