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A Short Guide To Punta Gorda, Belize


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Pris Ferrante



Welcome to Punta Gorda, Belize – a tropical paradise tucked away in the southern part of this beautiful Central America country. Known locally as “PG,” Punta Gorda is a vibrant town with a rich history, diverse culture, and breathtaking natural beauty. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a tranquil escape, Punta Gorda offers something for everyone.


Situated on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, Punta Gorda boasts stunning views, warm sandy beaches, and crystal-clear turquoise waters. This charming coastal town is a hidden gem, often overlooked by tourists in favor of more popular destinations, making it the perfect destination for those seeking an authentic and off-the-beaten-path experience.


One of the key highlights of Punta Gorda is its unique blend of cultures. As the gateway to the Garifuna culture, as well as home to Maya, Creole, and East Indian communities, the town is a melting pot of traditions, languages, and delicious cuisines. Strolling through the streets of Punta Gorda, you’ll be greeted with friendly faces, vibrant colors, and a palpable sense of cultural pride.


While Punta Gorda is relatively small in size, it is big on attractions. From ancient Mayan ruins and lush rainforests to vibrant local markets and secluded beaches, there is no shortage of things to see and do. Whether you’re exploring archaeological sites, embarking on a snorkeling adventure, or simply enjoying the laid-back vibe of the town, Punta Gorda promises to leave lasting memories.


In this guide to Punta Gorda, we will delve deeper into the various aspects that make this town so captivating. We’ll highlight must-visit attractions, provide recommendations for accommodation and dining, offer transportation tips, and ensure you have all the essential information to make the most of your trip. So, join us as we embark on a journey to uncover the wonders of Punta Gorda, Belize.


Location and Geography

Punta Gorda is located in the southernmost part of Belize, in the Toledo District. Situated on the eastern coastline of the country, this charming town is nestled between the Caribbean Sea to the east and the majestic Maya Mountains to the west.


The town’s geographical location makes it a haven for nature lovers. The nearby coral reefs and cayes offer incredible opportunities for snorkeling, diving, and exploring marine life. Inland, you’ll find verdant rainforests teeming with exotic wildlife, picturesque waterfalls, and ancient archaeological sites.


Punta Gorda is a great starting point for exploring the southern region of Belize. From here, you can venture into the pristine Toledo District, home to lush rainforests, rich biodiversity, and traditional Mayan communities. You can also easily access the nearby offshore islands, such as the beautiful Sapodilla Cayes or the remote Glover’s Reef Atoll.


As you explore Punta Gorda and its surrounding areas, you’ll encounter diverse ecosystems, including mangroves, wetlands, and savannahs. These habitats support a wide range of wildlife, including manatees, jaguars, tapirs, and over 500 species of birds.


The town itself is divided into two main areas, with the seafront hosting the local fish market, lively street food vendors, and scenic views of the Caribbean Sea. The main commercial area, known as “downtown,” is where you’ll find shops, restaurants, and the bustling Central Market.


Punta Gorda’s geographical location also allows for easy access to nearby attractions. The town serves as a gateway to the nearby offshore cayes, as well as the pristine rivers and waterfalls of the Rio Grande and Rio Blanco. Additionally, the iconic Mayan ruins of Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit are just a short drive away.


Whether you’re seeking adventure in the great outdoors or hoping to immerse yourself in the cultural richness of Belize, Punta Gorda’s location and geography make it an ideal destination.


History and Culture

Punta Gorda boasts a fascinating history that reflects the cultural diversity of Belize. The town’s roots can be traced back to ancient Mayan civilizations that inhabited the area thousands of years ago. The ruins of Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit, located near Punta Gorda, are testament to the rich Mayan heritage of the region.


During the colonial era, Punta Gorda served as a significant port for the export of mahogany and chicle. The town played an important role in the British Honduras (now Belize) logging industry. Today, remnants of its colonial past can be seen in the historic buildings and architecture sprinkled throughout Punta Gorda.


Punta Gorda is also deeply rooted in Garifuna culture. The Garifuna people are descendants of Afro-indigenous communities who settled in Belize after being exiled from St. Vincent in the 18th century. Punta Gorda is considered the gateway to Garifuna culture in Belize, and visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the vibrant music, dance, and culinary traditions of the Garifuna people.


In addition to the Garifuna, Punta Gorda is home to a diverse mix of cultures, including Maya, Creole, and East Indian communities. This cultural blend creates a unique and colorful tapestry of traditions and customs that can be experienced through local festivals, music, art, and cuisine.


Visitors to Punta Gorda have the chance to witness traditional ceremonies, such as the Garifuna Wanaragua dance, a ritual dance that pays homage to ancestral spirits. The annual Punta Gorda Chocolate Festival is another highlight, showcasing the region’s strong ties to cacao production and its importance in Mayan, Garifuna, and Belizean cultures.


To truly understand the history and culture of Punta Gorda, it is worth engaging with the local community. Whether through a homestay experience, a cultural tour, or a visit to the local market, interacting with the friendly locals and learning about their way of life will deepen your appreciation for the town’s rich heritage.


Punta Gorda’s history and culture are intertwined, creating a tapestry of traditions, stories, and experiences that make this town a vibrant and captivating destination.


Attractions in Punta Gorda

Punta Gorda offers a wide range of attractions to suit every traveler’s interests. From exploring ancient ruins to immersing yourself in the vibrant local culture, there is no shortage of things to see and do in and around the town.


One of the must-visit attractions in Punta Gorda is the Lubaantun archaeological site. This ancient Maya city dates back to the Late Classic period and is known for its unique pyramidal structures and well-preserved stonework. The site offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives and traditions of the ancient Maya civilization.


Another notable archaeological site near Punta Gorda is Nim Li Punit, which means “big hat” in the Mayan language. This site is famous for its intricate stone stelae, including the largest known stela in Belize. Exploring these ruins provides valuable insights into the history and artistry of the Maya people.


For nature enthusiasts, a visit to the Rio Blanco National Park is a must. Located just a short drive from Punta Gorda, this protected area boasts hiking trails that lead to stunning waterfalls and natural pools. You can also spot a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, birds, and colorful butterflies.


If you’re interested in marine life, head to the Port Honduras Marine Reserve and Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve. These protected areas offer incredible snorkeling and diving opportunities, with vibrant coral reefs, sea turtles, colorful fish, and the chance to swim alongside gentle manatees.


To immerse yourself in the local culture, explore the vibrant downtown area of Punta Gorda. Visit the Central Market, where you can browse handicrafts, sample local food, and interact with friendly vendors. On Saturday mornings, don’t miss the Farmer’s Market, where you can find fresh produce, spices, and homemade delicacies.


For a unique cultural experience, be sure to catch traditional Garifuna drumming and dancing performances. The rhythms and movements of the Garifuna Wanaragua dance will transport you to another time and place, offering a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the people.


No visit to Punta Gorda would be complete without exploring the natural beauty of the surrounding areas. Take a boat ride on the Rio Grande and witness the breathtaking spectacle of the Rio Blanco Waterfalls, or embark on a jungle trek to discover hidden caves and stunning vistas in the Toledo District.


Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or local culture, Punta Gorda has something to offer every visitor. With its rich diversity of attractions, this charming town is sure to leave a lasting impression.


Natural Sites and National Parks

Punta Gorda is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. From pristine rainforests and sparkling waterfalls to diverse marine ecosystems, this region offers a wealth of natural sites and national parks to explore.


Rio Blanco National Park, located just a short distance from Punta Gorda, is a true gem. This protected area is home to a lush tropical rainforest, scenic walking trails, and the magnificent Rio Blanco Waterfalls. The cascading waterfalls provide the perfect backdrop for swimming and picnicking, surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature.


If you’re keen to spot wildlife, pay a visit to the Columbia River Forest Reserve. This vast area of dense jungle is home to a wide variety of animals, including monkeys, toucans, and jaguars. Guided tours and hikes are available, allowing you to get up close and personal with the vibrant flora and fauna.


For those interested in birdwatching, the Toledo District is a paradise. With over 500 species of birds residing in the area, birdwatchers can spot toucans, parrots, hummingbirds, and many more colorful species. The Golden Stream Corridor Preserve is a popular spot for birdwatching, where you might even catch a glimpse of the elusive Harpy Eagle.


In addition to its terrestrial wonders, Punta Gorda also offers incredible marine ecosystems to explore. The Port Honduras Marine Reserve is a protected area teeming with marine life, including coral reefs, sea turtles, and a diverse array of fish species. Snorkeling or diving in these crystal-clear waters is a must for any aquatic enthusiast.


If you’re looking for a more secluded and untouched experience, make your way to the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve. This remote collection of picturesque islands offers pristine white sand beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and incredible snorkeling opportunities. You can also kayak through the mangrove forests and spot rare coastal birds.


For a unique adventure, consider visiting the Blue Creek Cave in the southern part of Toledo District. This extensive underground cave system allows visitors to swim and float through crystal-clear waters, surrounded by magnificent stalactites and stalagmites. The experience is nothing short of surreal.


Exploring the natural sites and national parks in and around Punta Gorda provides a breathtaking glimpse into Belize’s incredible biodiversity. The region’s commitment to conservation ensures that these pristine ecosystems remain protected for future generations to enjoy.


Local Cuisine and Dining Options

One of the highlights of visiting Punta Gorda is the opportunity to indulge in the diverse flavors of Belizean cuisine. The town boasts a variety of dining options, ranging from local eateries and street food stalls to upscale restaurants that showcase the best of Belizean flavors.


When it comes to local cuisine, seafood is a staple in Punta Gorda. The town’s proximity to the Caribbean Sea means you can savor fresh and succulent seafood dishes. From grilled snapper and lobster to savory shrimp stew, seafood lovers will be in culinary heaven.


The Garifuna influence in Punta Gorda also means you can sample traditional Garifuna dishes. Hudut, a flavorful fish and coconut stew served with mashed plantains, is a must-try. Other Garifuna specialties include tapou, a savory fish ball soup, and cassava bread, a staple made from cassava root.


If you’re up for a unique dining experience, consider visiting the local street food stalls. Here, you can feast on delicious Belizean snacks such as garnaches (fried tortilla topped with beans, cheese, and cabbage), salbutes (fried tortillas with various toppings), or panades (fried dough filled with seasoned meat or beans).


When it comes to drinks, be sure to try the local favorite, Belikin Beer. This refreshing brew is a mainstay at social gatherings and pairs perfectly with the tropical climate of Punta Gorda. For a non-alcoholic option, indulge in a refreshing glass of coconut water straight from the source, or savor the flavors of locally made tropical fruit juices.


Punta Gorda also offers a range of dining options for those seeking international flavors. You can find Italian, Mexican, and American cuisines, as well as vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. Many restaurants in Punta Gorda use locally sourced ingredients, ensuring the freshness and quality of the dishes.


For a true taste of Punta Gorda’s culinary scene, consider visiting during the annual Taste of Toledo Food Festival. This event brings together local cooks, chefs, and food enthusiasts to showcase the delicious flavors and diversity of Toledo District’s cuisine.


From street food delights to gourmet meals, Punta Gorda offers a culinary adventure that will tantalize your taste buds and introduce you to the rich flavors of Belizean cuisine. So, prepare to indulge in the vibrant and delicious culinary scene that this charming town has to offer.


Accommodation Options

When it comes to accommodation, Punta Gorda offers a range of options to suit different budgets and preferences. Whether you’re seeking a luxurious beachfront resort, a cozy bed and breakfast, or a budget-friendly guesthouse, you’ll find a place to rest and rejuvenate in this charming town.


For those looking for a pampering experience, Punta Gorda features upscale eco-lodges and resorts that provide luxurious amenities, such as private beach access, spa treatments, and gourmet dining options. These accommodations blend seamlessly with the natural surroundings, offering guests the opportunity to relax and unwind in a tranquil setting.


If you prefer a more intimate and personalized experience, bed and breakfast establishments are a popular choice in Punta Gorda. These charming accommodations offer cozy rooms, hearty breakfasts, and the chance to connect with friendly local hosts. Some bed and breakfasts even offer guided tours and activities to enhance your stay.


For budget-conscious travelers, there are affordable guesthouses and hostels available in Punta Gorda. These accommodations provide basic amenities, clean and comfortable rooms, and a friendly atmosphere. Staying at a guesthouse or hostel allows you to save money while still having a comfortable place to relax.


For a unique experience, consider immersing yourself in the local culture by staying in a homestay. This allows you to live with a Belizean family, gaining insights into their daily life, traditions, and cuisine. Homestays offer a genuine connection with the community and a chance to forge lifelong friendships.


Regardless of your choice of accommodation, most options in Punta Gorda provide easy access to the town’s attractions and activities. Many establishments can assist with organizing tours and excursions, ensuring that you make the most of your stay in this beautiful region of Belize.


It is advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure your preferred choice and ensure a smooth and enjoyable stay in Punta Gorda.


Whether you’re seeking luxury, comfort, or a more immersive experience, Punta Gorda offers a range of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s needs. So, choose the perfect place to stay and create unforgettable memories in this tropical paradise.


Transportation and Getting Around

Getting to and around Punta Gorda is relatively easy, thanks to the town’s well-connected transportation network. Whether you prefer to travel by air, land, or water, there are various options available to suit your preferences and budget.


If you’re traveling from international destinations, the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City is the main point of entry. From there, you can catch a domestic flight to the Punta Gorda Airstrip, which is located just outside of town. Local airlines provide several flights per day, making it a convenient option for those who want to reach Punta Gorda quickly.


If you prefer a more scenic route, you can also reach Punta Gorda by bus or private car. Buses run regularly from Belize City and other major towns to Punta Gorda, offering an affordable and comfortable mode of transportation. The journey takes several hours but allows you to soak in the picturesque landscapes of Belize along the way.


Once you’re in Punta Gorda, getting around the town is a breeze. The town itself is compact, and most of the main attractions, accommodations, and dining options are within walking distance. Exploring Punta Gorda on foot allows you to soak in the local atmosphere and discover hidden gems along the way.


If you prefer greater flexibility and convenience, renting a bicycle or a scooter is a popular option in Punta Gorda. This allows you to explore the town and its surrounding areas at your own pace while enjoying the warm Caribbean breeze.


For longer journeys or trips to nearby attractions, taxis and private transfers are available. Taxis can be found at designated stands or can be arranged through your accommodation. Private transfers offer a more personalized service and can be a convenient option for larger groups or those with specific travel needs.


If you’re feeling adventurous, consider taking a boat or water taxi to explore the nearby islands and cayes. Water taxis operate regularly, providing access to the beautiful offshore cayes and the wonders of the Caribbean Sea. This is a great option for snorkeling trips, island hopping, or simply enjoying the splendor of the coast.


When it comes to transportation in Punta Gorda, it’s important to note that the town’s streets can become narrow and congested during peak hours. It’s advisable to plan your journeys accordingly and allow extra time for potential delays.


With a variety of transportation options available, traveling to and around Punta Gorda is hassle-free. Choose the mode of transport that suits your preferences and embark on an unforgettable adventure in this enchanting corner of Belize.


Shopping and Souvenirs

Exploring the local markets and shops in Punta Gorda is a delightful experience that allows you to bring a piece of Belize back home with you. Whether you’re seeking unique handicrafts, traditional Belizean products, or souvenirs to commemorate your trip, Punta Gorda offers several shopping options.


The Central Market in Punta Gorda is a bustling hub of activity and a must-visit for any shopaholic. Here, you’ll find an array of vendors selling fresh produce, local spices, handmade jewelry, and colorful handicrafts. Strolling through the market is a feast for the senses, with the aroma of local spices filling the air and vibrant displays of fruits and vegetables.


If you’re looking for authentic Garifuna crafts and artworks, be sure to visit the local artisan shops. These establishments showcase beautifully handcrafted items, including traditional drums, woven baskets, and intricate wood carvings. Supporting these local artisans not only allows you to take home a unique piece of art but also helps to sustain the cultural heritage of the Garifuna people.


Punta Gorda is also known for its locally made chocolate. Belize has a rich history of cacao production, and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to purchase delicious Belizean chocolate in Punta Gorda. Look for chocolate bars, truffles, or hot cocoa mixes crafted from locally sourced cacao beans, offering a taste of Belize in every bite.


When it comes to souvenir shopping, you’ll find an assortment of traditional Belizean keepsakes, including keychains, T-shirts, postcards, and other mementos. These items can be found at various souvenir shops and vendors throughout the town.


For a unique shopping experience, visit the Punta Gorda Craft Centre. Here, you can interact with local artisans, learn about their crafting techniques, and purchase one-of-a-kind handmade items, such as woven textiles, ceramics, and paintings. Supporting the Craft Centre supports the local community and ensures the preservation of traditional arts and crafts.


When shopping in Punta Gorda, it’s always a good idea to engage with the vendors and learn about the stories behind the products. Many shopkeepers are happy to share their knowledge and expertise, creating a more meaningful connection with the items you purchase.


Remember to check the customs regulations of your home country before purchasing any food products or wildlife-related souvenirs to ensure compliance with import restrictions.


Whether you’re seeking authentic indigenous crafts, locally made chocolate, or unique keepsakes, shopping in Punta Gorda allows you to bring home a piece of Belize’s vibrant culture and create lasting memories of your visit.


Safety and Travel Tips

Punta Gorda is generally a safe destination for travelers, but it’s always important to exercise caution and be mindful of your surroundings. Here are some safety and travel tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip:

  • Stay updated on travel advisories and check the current situation in Belize before your trip.
  • Take precautions to protect against mosquito bites by using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants, especially during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Drink only bottled or filtered water and avoid consuming raw or uncooked food from street vendors to prevent food-related illnesses.
  • Keep your personal belongings secure at all times and be cautious of pickpocketing in crowded areas.
  • Avoid displaying large amounts of cash or valuable items and use hotel safes or security boxes to store your valuables.
  • Respect the local customs and traditions, especially when visiting sacred sites or participating in local festivals.
  • When exploring natural areas, follow the guidance of local authorities and tour guides to ensure your safety. Wear appropriate footwear and carry essentials like water, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
  • Be mindful of the local wildlife and refrain from feeding or approaching them to prevent any unwanted incidents.
  • Observe and respect the marine environment when snorkeling or diving, and never touch or disturb the coral reefs or marine creatures.
  • If you plan to engage in water activities, ensure you have basic swimming skills and use proper safety equipment.
  • Use licensed and reputable tour operators for excursions and activities, and confirm that they have appropriate safety measures in place.
  • Carry a copy of your passport, travel insurance, and other important documents, and leave copies with someone trustworthy back home.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance to cover any unforeseen incidents or medical emergencies during your trip.

By adhering to these safety and travel tips, you can enjoy a worry-free and memorable experience in Punta Gorda. Remember, being informed and taking necessary precautions will contribute to a safe and enjoyable journey.



Punta Gorda, Belize, is a hidden gem that offers a plethora of attractions, natural wonders, cultural experiences, and warm hospitality. Whether you’re exploring ancient Mayan ruins, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, indulging in local cuisine, or immersing yourself in the vibrant Garifuna culture, Punta Gorda has something for everyone.


This charming town in the southern part of Belize boasts a rich history, diverse culture, and stunning natural beauty. The unique blend of cultures, including Garifuna, Maya, Creole, and East Indian, creates a vibrant tapestry of traditions, languages, and flavors.


From the ancient ruins of Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit to the cascading waterfalls of Rio Blanco National Park, Punta Gorda’s attractions offer a glimpse into the region’s rich heritage. Snorkeling in marine reserves, exploring lush rainforests, and savoring the flavors of Belizean cuisine are just a few of the many experiences Punta Gorda has to offer.


When it comes to accommodation, Punta Gorda provides a variety of options to suit different budgets and preferences. From upscale beachfront resorts to cozy bed and breakfasts, you’ll find a place to relax and rejuvenate after your adventures.


With a well-connected transportation network, getting to and around Punta Gorda is convenient. Whether you choose to fly, drive, or take a boat, you’ll be able to explore the town and its surrounding areas with ease.


As you shop for souvenirs, you’ll encounter local markets, artisan shops, and craft centers where you can find unique and authentic Belizean crafts, artwork, and locally made chocolate. Supporting local artisans not only allows you to take home a piece of Punta Gorda but also helps sustain the cultural heritage of the communities.


While exploring Punta Gorda, it’s important to prioritize safety and follow basic travel tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. By staying informed, being mindful of your surroundings, and respecting the local customs and environment, you can have a memorable and worry-free experience.


In conclusion, Punta Gorda, Belize, offers a blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and warm hospitality that will captivate any traveler. So, pack your bags, immerse yourself in the wonders of Punta Gorda, and create memories that will last a lifetime.