Punta Gorda Town
Traveling 200 miles down the Southern Highway transports visitors to the most southerly town in Belize and the capital of the Toledo District. Situated along the shores of the Caribbean Sea with the domineering Maya Mountains holding their stance in the foreground, Punta Gorda Town (called ‘P.G’ by locals) is home to the smallest population in the country and an atmosphere reminiscent of a more primitive Belize. The cool narrow streets are lined with wooden houses and large ancient fruit trees providing shade for pedestrians and cyclists as they pass by. Residents seem to live in harmony in their quiet, laid-back seaside town.
Originally settled by the Garinagu who arrived on these southern shores in 1832, Punta Gorda Town is now home to an interesting blend of cultures (typical of most regions in Belize), including the Maya, East Indian, Creole, Garifuna and Mestizo with a sprinkle of Chinese and Lebanese entrepreneurs.
Residents are known for their hospitable nature, often greeting visitors with smiles, waves and small chitchat as they pass them on the street. Most of the town’s people crowd the streets on market days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday mornings) when farmers from surrounding villages decorate the square with fresh, colorful, fruits and vegetables. The town’s economy is based primarily on fishing and agriculture with a few grocery stores, restaurants and bakeries. The face of the town has been changing slightly in recent years, however, causing more residents to recognize the benefits of ecotourism.
With a few rustic accommodations, P.G. provides an ideal base for exploring the natural treasures of the Toledo District. Excellent tour guides living in town, are easy to locate and ready to provide their services. Just 40 miles offshore, the last stretch of the Barrier Reef provides exceptional diving and snorkeling. Within the protective wall of the Barrier Reef sits a handful of the country’s most pristine coral islands, perfect for basking in complete exclusivity, kayaking on the aquamarine waters, fly fishing, and snorkeling. Inland boasts ancient Mayan cities, intriguing underground caves, hidden waterfalls, several nature reserves, and miles of lush rivers meandering their way through Mayan villages and the largest expanse of rainforest in the country.