One Local’s Guide to Exploring Northern Belize 

by Gisselle Hernandez

Growing up as a native Orange Walkeña, I was often the subject of out-of-towners’ singing praises about our tacos. It’s true, few early morning grubs come close to Orange Walk tacos, but there is so much more seeped into this quaint region that many outsiders might not know about. For instance, like how to spend the perfect weekend touring northern Belize without falling into any of the tourist traps that befall other “hidden gem” destinations

Staying Low-Key

Cool waters in Blue Creek.

San Pedro and other beach destinations might be the big fish that lure in travelers, but those with cultured taste know the many experiences underrated Northern Belize offers. Researching things to do in Orange Walk, you’ll come across the ubiquitous Lamanai Maya Temple located about an hour away. This should most definitely be on your list, but should you wish to get a feel of where the locals go, opt for exploring the neighboring Mennonite community of Blue Creek instead. With rolling rice fields and a giant, gushing dam perfect for an afternoon dip, Blue Creek Village is about an hour’s drive away from Orange Walk Town.

mennonites-horse-carriage-belize-tourism-board

While modern Mennonites are common in Belize, traditional practices like horse & carriage can be seen across the country. Image courtesy Belize Tourism Board

Stepping into this town you might be taken aback by the diversified way of living. We know Belize to be a tapestry of cultures woven into our history, and the colony of Blue Creek is a prime example. Explore the simple way of life by shopping at the Mennonite grocery store in the village, or discover the green lagoon and lounge the evening away.

Stopping in at Exquisite Cafés

Orange Walk Town may be small, but it sure is saturated with cafés catering to every taste. For the kids, check out their local favorite Ice Break. One of the first cafés in town, locals have witnessed the ice cream parlor evolve into a high-schooler hang-out spot offering its own breakfast and lunch options. For a more upscale, quiet environment, try the new Maria’s Bakeshop & Coffeehouse. Founded by an award-winning pastry chef, this coffee shop is highly sought after for its exquisitely made coffee and delicious desserts.

 

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Speaking of desserts, another award-winning pastry chef owns Doni & Dodits, a delightful donut shop in the coastal town of Corozal. If you don’t have a chance to make it all the way north for their scrumptious, fluffy glazed donuts, they are available to ship countrywide! Coffee isn’t your thing? Don’t worry, there are also cafés, like Natural Balance in Orange Walk, that offer tapioca milk teas for those boba-loving patrons. 

Lunch & Dinner Options

Nahil Mayab. Image courtesy property.

Northern Belize is arguably the culinary capital of Belize, which is evident when it comes to the dishes displayed by the restaurants in these towns. Long-standing establishments such as Nahil Mayab or Maracas Bar & Grill in Orange Walk are the go-to lunch options for out-of-town Belizeans, and for good reason. However, don’t knock the mom-and-pop restaurants that are Orange Walkeños’ first choice for an everyday meal.

For instance, early morning risers are first in line to – you guessed it – get their tacos fix before heading to work. Commuters line up at the nearest taco stall – for there is no shortage of them – before boarding the bus or driving to work. With three tacos for one Belize dollar, it’s an inexpensive yet tasty breakfast to grab on the go.

belizean food escabeche onion soup

Escabeche! Photo by FoodFunTravel

Other smaller food joints that can be found along the main Northern highway passing through Corozal and Orange Walk are most definitely worth a pit stop. With local dishes such as escabeche, salbutes, and the one-and-only rice & beans, there’s hardly a chance for you to not have a good meal in Northern Belize. 

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