exploring Punta Gorda, Belize

Our trip to Belize in November, 2018, was full of adventure. As I’d mentioned in this introductory post, we flew into Belize City, and then took a small plane to the southern tip of the country to begin our cacao adventure in Punta Gorda, the Cacao Capital of Belize.

punta-gorda-belize

Flying in the small propeller plane of Tropic Air gave us the opportunity to fly low above the jungle as we arrived in Punta Gorda, Belize.

Located in the Toledo District of Southern Belize, Punta Gorda is a small centre of just over 5,300 residents. We were to use that as our base for three nights as we explored the area. We stayed at the Coral House Inn, a lovely six-room property located right on the Caribbean Sea. We enjoyed the natural seaside setting with nicely landscaped grounds populated with flowers, birds, and a couple of resident cats. There was a small pool, open bar with payment via the honour system, and breakfast included with our room.

punta-gorda-belize

We really enjoyed our time at the Coral House in Punta Gorda, Belize.

punta-gorda-belize

I must thank my friend Virginia, who has accompanied me through seven countries (to date) where we have explored chocolate and cacao as research for Chocolatour. Her love of adventure and positive spirit make our chocolate adventures so much fun.

I’ll devote a couple of future posts to what we learned about growing cacao in Belize and the delicious chocolate we tasted. But in this post, I’ll highlight two fantastic tourist attractions that a visit to Punta Gorda really should include.

touring the punta gorda region

Two million Mayans once populated the area known as Mesoamerica as early as 2500 BC. They migrated to Belize in about 250 AD, so it is no surprise that there are at least 12 sites where Mayan ruins have been excavated. The one closest to Punta Gorda is called Lubaantun (translated as ‘the place of the fallen stone’) which dates back to 750-850 AD at which time the village had a population of approximately 1,000,000 residents.

punta-gorda-belize

Lubaantun is a Mayan ruin located near Punta Gorda, Belize. We were told it had been dynamited in search of treasure, and that is why it is not as well preserved as some Mayan sites. Excavation and restoration is a work-in-progress.

punta-gorda-belize

I was mesmerized by the sun streaming through the Gumbo Limbo trees of the jungle surrounding Lubaantun. The trees are called “tourist trees” in Belize as their peeling bark resembles the peeling burned skin of tourists.

Allow yourself the better part of a day to get to Lubaantun and explore the grounds at your leisure. Be aware that it involves a pretty hefty hike to get from the parking area up to the site of the ruins. Local Mayan people sell their handcrafts near the interpretive centre at reasonable prices.

Another stop to visit that is not too far from Punta Gorda is the Belize Spice Farm & Botanical Garden. This is a full service facility with a lovely restaurant, gift shop, and tram that you can take to tour the grounds if you choose not to walk or are short of time as we were.

belize-spice-farm

This bird was enjoying the peacefulness of the lily pond at the Belize Spice Farm as much as we were.

The Belize Spice Farm was the dream of Tom and Tessy Mathew, American expats originally from Kerala, India, who started their Golden Stream Plantation by growing cacao and orange trees. Today, that plantation has grown to a 500-acre property that has 400 acres of oranges and hundreds of other plants including a wide variety of tropical flowers, spices, and trees. The highlights for me were the massive lily pond and the lotus garden. Shown below are the pink lotus. It was incredible being surrounded by them.

belize-spice-farm

The lotus garden at the Belize Spice Farm was beautiful.

belize-spice-farm

I hope you will find the opportunity to visit Southern Belize and the Punta Gorda region. From this post, you have learned of a nice place to stay and two major attractions in the area. Stay tuned for more about the chocolate and cacao of Belize.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

54 Responses

  1. TammyJo Eckhart
    Twitter:
    says:

    DId the breakfast have cocoa or chocolate with it?

  2. Janet says:

    I imagine the spice farm was very aromatic. What a cool place to visit.

  3. Linda Strange says:

    So beautiful ! It would be great to make that trip sometime when visiting the “Mayan Riviera”. I love flying in small planes and being able to see what’s below. You and Virginia always have such a lovely time. Great travel partners ! Thanks so much for this, and for your lovely photos.

  4. Thank you, Doreen, for including me in your adventures once again. Belize was such a fascinating place in ways I didn’t expect – such an interesting mix of cultures and natural wonders. And as your photos depict, the diversity of trees and plants alone made it worth the trip.

  5. We have been planning a trip to Belize because we have a timeshare there and our daughter and son-in-law have loved it and gone back, as a matter of fact. Thanks for these two recommendations. Loved those gumbo limbo trees in Florida. And that lotus pond would be amazing to see!c

  6. Lori
    Twitter:
    says:

    We’ve visited Belize some years ago but not that area. Sounds like the combo of cacao/oranges/spices is a natural as would be a visit to the spice farm and botanical garden. We’re chocolate lovers and will look forward to your article(s) on the chocolate of Belize.

  7. Belize is a tropical destination that is still on my list! Although I’d like to go there to check out the scuba diving, I also enjoy visiting botanical gardens and other land-based attractions. Hopefully, I’ll make it to this area when I finally make it to Belize!

  8. Kristy Lorence says:

    Beautiful post, simply detailed your thoughts and the sights you visited and that was great. I love to hear this kind of travel stories. The pictures included in your article is also communicating the natural beauty of Belize.

  9. This seems like a nice place to relax and rejuvenate. Would love to explore Central America in future.

  10. Val says:

    I like how your photos present us the nature (so cute tiny bird by the way!). I have yet to visit Belize but your writing inspired me more, thanks for sharing your coco (and not only!) stories!

  11. What a lovely and relaxing time you had in Punta Gorda. We have friends who snowbird to Belize during the winter and we see from your photos that we need to visit them.

  12. Doreen, you’ve made Belize sound more wonderful than other friends who have been there. It’s beautiful and the people sound nice, and the ruins are interesting.

  13. I’ve never heard of those trees called “tourist trees” but what a great name and so true! It’s very easy to get sunburned quickly so close to the equator! Restoring those ruins looks like a major project…I imagine there are many many more waiting for restoration as well. What a fascinating country Belize is

  14. Donna Janke
    Twitter:
    says:

    I’d love to visit Belize. If I do, the Spice Farm and Botanical Garden will definitely be on my list.

  15. Priya Iyer says:

    I love, love, love the look and sound of the spice farm! What an incredible place to visit!
    I’m sure I will love Belize too – hopefully, some day…

  16. Coral House has such a beautiful setting and Lotus Garden is pretty. It is rather cold and grey here in the UK – worlds apart! Looking at the photographs has reminded me how much I miss the sun.

    Thank you for giving us a history trip.

  17. Danielle
    Twitter:
    says:

    It looks like you enjoyed a beautiful experience! The guy I dated in college used to visit his grandmother there in the summers and he loved it.

  18. Danielle
    Twitter:
    says:

    Yes. He has kept me busy . Oh, I love water sports and the zoo would be a hit. I am looking forward to your post!

  19. Jackie Smith
    Twitter:
    says:

    I so enjoy ‘tagging along’ on your chocolate travels. . .this one in particular had me wishing I had been along in person. Loved the tropical feel you captured in your photos!

  20. Chin We
    Twitter:
    says:

    Nice! I miss your blog posts on your chocolate travels. I am back now!
    what an awesome time you had in Punta Gorda.
    It looks like an incredible place to visit.

  21. Belize looks like a beautiful country to visit. And I absolutely love the idea of prawns with chocolate sauce!

  22. Sheena Rustomji says:

    What a cool place to visit. How did you find this place ?

  23. neha
    Twitter:
    says:

    The property is indeed amazing. The views across the lawn to the sea are so refreshing. I would love to stay here any day. When I get a chance to visit Belize, i will definitely check this one out.

  24. The place looks magical and very soothing. The Spice Farm sounds just the place that we would love to visit. I am sure you enjoyed the trip immensely.

  25. Sandy N Vyjay
    Twitter:
    says:

    The post made for fascinating reading. What really had me riveted was reading about the Mayan sites in the region. Was not aware of traces of Mayan civilization in this area. The Spice farm too looks interesting, and again my interest was piqued to see that the owners originate from India.

  26. Careerbuddybooks says:

    Very Nice! I miss your blog posts on your chocolate travels. I am back now!
    What an awesome time you had in Punta Gorda. Thank you for sharing.

  27. Brij Bhushan says:

    Hello.. Doreen

    Very Nice blog posts on your chocolate travels. What an awesome time you had. Thank you for sharing.

    Thank you.
    Have a great day!

  28. Lord says:

    Thanks for sharing info about these two interesting sites! Punta Gorda seems to be a really chill place. Is the next post available yet? 🙂

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