Northern Belize: Corozal and Orange Walk

by McNab Editorial Team

The interior of northern Belize is a treasure trove for culture lovers, naturalists and archaeology fans. Visitors can escape to a less touristic, relaxed experience.


Corozal is conveniently located between Mexico and Ambergris Caye, with its own turquoise shores and diverse landscape, from beaches and historical sights to a nature reserve. In town, remnants of historical and cultural heritage are on full display. There are gun turrets at Fort Barlee used during the 19th century during the Caste War; the vibrant Corozal Town Mural depicting the district’s history and the Maya temple of Santa Rita, where the mestizo population of Belize was born.

Corozalis also home to an East Indian population whose 19th-century arrival to work on sugar cane fields is depicted at the “Windowinto the Past” museum. The district’s diversity further shines at “Art in the Park”, a mid-monthly tradition celebrating local arts, music, food, and community spirit of Corozal.

The Beauty of Corozal

At sunset, families, and lovers cool off in the bay, children frolic along the beach or stroll the town’s waterfront, where the sunsets are among the most breathtaking in Belize. An hour-long ferry ride east from Corozal will take you to the sleepy fishing village of Sarteneja, which produces Belize’s traditional wooden sailboats. You may peak into the impressive workshops or venture into the Shipstern Conservation and Management Area. From mangrove shorelines to rainforest and botanical trails, this is one of the most ecologically diverse areas of Belize. Inside the reserve, thrive 300 species of birds, butterfly species, manatees and crocodiles. If you’re fortunate to be in Sarteneja at Easter time, you can enjoy its annual sailing regatta, which is one of the unique events in the country. Corozal also has two popular Maya sites, Cerros and the Santa Rita Ecological Park.

Orange Walk

Only an hour north of Belize City, Orange Walk, affectionately known as “Shuga City”, for its sugar cane production, is home to the majority of the country’s Mestizo population. Beyond the tempting rum factories, Orange Walk is both rustic and authentic. This is a place where it is not far-fetched to go for a morning rainforest run and spot an ocelot stealthily crossing jungle trails.

Travelling on the New River Lagoon-Belize’s largest freshwater body, at 28 miles long- is a veritable safari. You will be scrutinized by Morelet crocodiles, while above, drooping off the trees are bird nests, and gliding black vultures hunting from the sky.

northern belize

Maya temples abound. Lamanai (submerged crocodile) is a majestic sight and a 26-mile boat ride up the New River. This site, boasting 700 mapped Maya structures, includes the Temple of the Jaguar. Lamanai is one of the biggest and most stunning Maya sites in Belize and had been continuously occupied for over 3000 years. Lamanai’srainforest protects hundreds of bird species, including our national bird, the Keel-Billed Toucan, you will hear birdsong as well as the spine-tingling roar of the Howler Monkeys. Hike deeper into the bush and explore medicine trails in the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area.

If your appetite is stimulated, meals bursting with Latin flavor awaits you in these Northern parts. Sample signature ‘SALPICON’ or spicy pork ceviche, and tacos so tasty that it draws Belizeans from all over the country. As surprising as Orange Walk’s wild landscape is its fun-loving spirit! Enjoy colorful festivities such as Sugar City Rum Festival, Fiesta rama, and the beautiful September Carnival Parade, with each as vibrant and cheerful as the soul of an Orange Walkeño!

Written by Nelita Castillo

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