Punta Gorda is the main town of the Toledo District in the south of Belize. Though only having a population of around 5,000 people, its inhabitants are from a rich and varied mix of cultures, most notably Kek'chi and Mopan Maya, Garinagu, Creole, Mestizo and East Indian. The town is a sea border crossing point to Guatemala via various size and speed boats.
Via the Toledo Tour Guide Association, many activities are on offer in the local area ranging from sea kayaking to caving, wildlife identification to fly fishing.
There are several Mayan archeological sites in Toledo District including Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit, most of which are an easy day trip from the town.
The Toledo Ecotourism Association is run by an association of Maya and Garinagu villages, offering homestays and excursions with families within each community. A great opportunity to experience South Belizean life up-close.
November 19th is Garifuna Settlement Day, a celebration of when in 1802, November 19th, the Garinagu people first arrived in Belize in the town of Dangriga. The celebration is held all over Belize where Garifuna communities are found, in Toledo District most notably in Punta Gorda and Barranco.
Being the heart of the region's cacao industry, Punta Gorda hosts an annual Cacao Festival, more geared towards national and international tourists, it is an opportunity to learn and taste your way through the regions rich history with cacao.
There are several daily buses between Belize City and Punta Gorda, with James Bus Line offering the most frequent service. The express bus takes 5 1/4 hours, and the regular around 6 or 6 1/2 hours. This is certainly the cheapest option at US$12 each way.
Requeña’s Charter Service & Watertaxi operates a watertaxi, “Mariestela”, between Punta Gorda and Puerto Barrios in Guatemala. It departs Punta Gorda daily at 9:00am from the Municipal pier near the Customs & Immigration Office. It departs Puerto Barrios daily at 2:00pm from the pier near the Shell gas station. It takes about 1 to 1.5 hours and costs BZ$40.00 each way (about US$20). Check the Belizenet Requena website.
Other options include the Pichilingo, departing Puerto Barrios daily at 10:00am and departing Punta Gorda daily at 2:00pm. Duration is about 1 hour and costs BZ$50.00 each way (about US$25). Or take the Marisol departing Puerto Barrios daily at 1:00pm and Punta Gorda daily at 4:00pm. Same duration and costs. For up to date information check the following website.
Another option is the ferry from Punta Gorda to Livingston on Tuesdays and Fridays for US$17.
Punta Gorda is small, easily walkable, though if you wish to grab a taxt these can usually be found near the central park. Many villages in the region have bus links to Punta Gorda, though some are only once or twice a week. More info can be found here.
The town has 5 main streets running north to south (Front, Main, Jose Maria Nunez, West, and Far West), and several cross streets. Day-time activity tends to centre around Central Park and its clocktower on Main Street, and the market area on Front Street. Some hotels offer free bikes for guests to use, and bike hire may be available through 'Mr Pops' near the University of Belize.
PG has recently introduced a new one-way system (head south on Front Street, and head north on Main Street) - watch out for the signs!
Punta Gorda has a variety of eateries available for different budgets and tastes, with a good list being foundhere.
|Cuxlin Ha Youth Hostel||Toledo District||Hostel||-|
|Tranquility Lodge||8 miles Southern Highway Jacintoville||HOTEL||-|
There are a number of lodges and hotels in and around Punta Gorda, again catering from budget to luxurious. A good list can be found here. Just outside of Punta Gorda you will also find Cotton Tree Lodge. For longer stays and/or botanical research trips in the area there is the Maya Mountain Research Farm (note this is only accessible via an hours canoe trip or walk from the village of San Pedro, a true jungle experience!).
Internet cafés can be found at most major tourist destinations around Belize. Wi-Fi is also increasingly common, and many hotels are offering it for free. Rates at cybercafes run between BZ$2 and BZ$10 per hour.
See also International Telephone Calls
The general emergency number is 911. The country calling code to Belize is 501 and to make an international call from Belize, the code is 00.
Belize has a standardized seven-digit phone numbering system. There are no city or area codes to dial from within Belize.
Payphones are the most common public phones and accept pre-purchased phone cards.
If you bring your own cell phone, avoid roaming charges, as the bill for internet can add up quickly. Instead, use only wifi or buy a local SIM card.
Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL) and their cellular division DigiCell have a virtual monopoly on cellular service in Belize. Luckily, DigiCell does have affordable packages for SIM card activation.
Belize's postal service provides services throughout the country. Services are not very reliable though and it might take weeks for a postcard or letter to arrive at your destination. Post offices are generally open from 8:00am to 5:00pm, with a one hour lunch break starting around noon.
Most hotels will post a letter for you, and there are post offices in the major towns. It costs BZ$.80 to send a letter to the United States, and BZ$1 to send a letter to Europe. Postcards to the same destinations cost BZ$.40 and BZ$.50 respectively. If you want to send a package, it's better to use international companies like TNT, DHL, UPS or FedEx, as they are fast, reliable and not too expensive.
A great source of information on Punta Gorda is the Official Town Website.
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