Toledo: A District for the Wayward Foodie

by Carolee Chanona
copal tree hotel

Experience the real Belize, for the up close and personal foodie, in Toledo District – a cultural and culinary haven. For the wandering history buff, visit a local Maya site, such as the captivating Nim Li Punit, under the direction of an experienced local guide. The adventurous among you are encouraged to visit the Rio Blanco Waterfalls for a chance to cliff dive into the crisp jungle river. But wayward foodies will find their ideal destination in Toledo’s Punta Gorda, where they’ll experience the fantastic flavors of Belize firsthand. Curate your perfect culinary adventure by adding one of these tours below.

Toledo’s Organic Cacao Trail in Blue Creek

Traditional Chocolate

With Toledo district being home to the organic cacao orchards where pods are grown and harvested, it is easily dubbed the cacao-central in country. The Cacao Trail takes you into the heartlands of Toledo, which blankets the foothills of the Maya Mountains and traditional Maya villages; organic orchards are grown under the shade of indigenous trees with natural pest repellant from other crops like pineapple, cacao, papaya, and all spice. Besides, this hands-on educational tour is a sweet treat – from tasting the fresh and subtle cacao flesh, to harvesting pods, and later, fermentation. Learn to make the foundation of the famous Maya Gold – organic chocolate – which inspires the local chocolate tea, ‘kukuh’, still enjoyed today.

Belize Spice Farm & Botanical Gardens

belize botanic gardens Toledo foodie spice farm

Belize Spice Farm & Botanical Gardens. Photo courtesy Quilz Tamay Photography

Explore the largest spice farm in Belize on foot or by tractor trailer, boasting 500 acres of botanical gardens, orchards, and spice gardens. On arrival, the smell of black pepper, vanilla, cardamom and allspice fills the atmosphere. Over 3 decades ago, the founders – an American couple of Indian origin – moved to Punta Gorda to start the gardens with spices of their homeland in Kerala, India. Since then, the Spice Farm grows more black pepper and vanilla in the country with deep cultural roots. Embark on a culinary tour or fruit and spice tour to experience the natural culinary wonders of Toledo.

Copal Distillery

Three ingredients combine for a unique experience with the certified organic single estate, Copalli Rum. In this new farm-to-flask initiative, witness how each step – rainwater, yeast and sugarcane juice – is harvested and distilled for a delightfully zero-impact product. Besides, Copal Tree Lodge is agritourism chic embodied.

Dance, Drum & Dine at Warasa Garifuna Drum School

Toledo foodie hudut belize

Hudut Photo Courtesy: Belizing

Southern Belize and the Garifuna are inextricably linked, which is why you must dance, drum and dine at the Warasa Garifuna Drum School for a culturally immersive tour. Start with a brief history of the Garifuna and their rich traditions; it’s time to put your newfound knowledge to the test. Enjoy the rest of the evening with a 30-minute lesson on dances like paranda, punta, and jonkuno. Lastly, refuel with the Garifuna soup dish, Hudut – freshly fried snapper is the perfect topping to coconut milk steeped with mild spices alongside mashed plantain. If you consider yourself a foodie, this is one must-have in Toledo.

Written by Carolee Chanona for the 2020 Belize Gold Book.
Feature photo © Caribbean Culture & Lifestyle. All other photos © caption. Article found on page 89 of the 2020 Belize Gold Book. Read more articles from the #BelizeGoldBook below:

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