5 Underrated Towns and Villages in Belize Worth Exploring

by Gisselle Hernandez
Punta Gorda by EcoTourism Belize:Yaaxche

While Belize is tiny, there’s no shortage of new destinations to uncover now and then. In fact, you’ll encounter most of them by simply taking a road trip anywhere in Belize. The more popular destinations, such as Ambergris Caye or Placencia, are well worth the hype many visitors seek. However, there are some towns that are valuable to a first-timer’s vacation in their own right. These small towns are the backbone of Belize’s cultural melting pot, and not adding them to your Belize bucket list can deprive you of myriad experiences you wouldn’t come across anywhere else.


Sarteneja retire

Sarteneja. Image by Jessica Sawers

This sleepy fishing village is located in Northern Belize, and indeed many tourists seem to be unaware of its existence. Mostly appealing to retirees and expats, Sarteneja is the perfect resetting point should you wish to embrace the laid-back carefree life, even if for a little bit. Killer sunsets and warm hospitality are the drawing factors for many who choose to make the journey up to this town.

Orange Walk

Lamanai Maya Site. Photo by Duarte Dellarole

More than just to-die-for tacos, the northern town of Orange Walk is the go-to for both culinary and historical aesthetics. Authentic Mayan and Mestizo food is the basis for a direct line to their culture’s heritage. Additionally, the town has a house of culture for museum enthusiasts looking to learn more about Belize’s history. Should that not be enough, the Lamanai Maya ruin is just an hour boat ride away from the town, making it ideal for a half-day trip before returning to explore the rest of Orange Walk on foot.

Punta Gorda

punta gorda

As the southern-most town in Belize, Punta Gorda is not first – or second – on many visitors’ list of places to visit. A shame, since the coastal town overlooks the jewel-spangled Caribbean Sea and yet is devoid of crowds. The drive to P.G. itself is worth the trip to Belize’s southern district. The five-hour drive from Belize City takes you through the world-renowned Hummingbird Highway as well as the hill-laden Southern Highway. On the way, you’ll come across exotic villages, the inland Blue Hole, the Sleeping Giant, Belize’s Spice farm, among other attractions. The town itself is known for its homey atmosphere and vibrant Garifuna culture.

San Antonio, Cayo

San Antonio Womens Group in Cayo Belize MPR

The San Antonio Women’s Group. Photo by Belize Tourism Board

Many pass through this town on their way to the highly sought after Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve, but San Antonio itself is worth a pit stop. Pop by the San Antonio Women’s Group to learn traditional pottery making, or to take a Maya cooking class. Want a more spiritual experience? Opt for a cleansing ritual performed by a Maya Shaman to rid you of all those mundane worries. We’re sure you’ll leave feeling both lighter and enlightened.

Spanish Lookout

Belize has several Mennonite communities, with Spanish Lookout being one of the bigger ones. Sitting about nine miles northeast of San Ignacio, this farming community transports you back in time. Much like the Amish, Mennonites opt for traditional or old-fashioned ways of living, including farming. However, with Spanish Lookout adapting a more modern way of living, this Mennonite community is a bit more progressive than others. Shop at any of the large grocery stores for organic, farm-grown produce, or stop for some can’t-miss ice cream at Western Dairies.

Header image courtesy EcoTourism Belize/YA’AXCHÉ CONSERVATION TRUST. This article was published in June 2021. 

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