This small fishing village with about 5,000 residents used to be only accessible by boat, but now daily domestic flights within Belize bring newcomers every day. And Punta Gorda (locally called PG) is also the final stop of the Southern Highway, which connects Punta Gorda with Belize City and the rest of the country. There are only 5 main streets in this town, which is the capital of the isolated and sparsely populated Toledo district, but tourists have discovered its charm and it’s not as lonely as it was not long ago.
What makes Punta Gorda special
The population is mostly made up of the Garifuna people, who are black Caribs with their own unique culture. English is the official language and is widely spoken, but several local languages are also in use among residents. Belize’s cacao production is centered here and chocolate-type drinks have been popular among residents for centuries. There are also Maya villages not far inland, and a program allows visitors to stay with families there to observe the culture up close.
What to do
Its location on the Bay of Honduras and close proximity to nearby islands makes this a popular spot for day or overnight trips of scuba diving, snorkeling, and sea-kayaking. Many tour operators are based near the public dock and run regular excursions off shore.
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There are several Maya villages just inland from Punta Gorda, so those with cultural interests can visit them and even arrange to stay with a local family overnight.
Market days are every Wednesday and Saturday morning and these bring out most of the town in addition to people coming from across the border in Guatemala. You can buy handcrafts, household items, and local produce among other things.
Bird watching is big in the area with around 500 different species found nearby.
As a fishing village, it’s no surprise that that sport is a big attraction in PG. This town is called the Permit Capital of the World, but tarpon and bonefish are common as well.
Where to stay
There are about 20 hotels, inns, and guest houses in the Punta Gorda area, and most of them are in the budget price range, and only about half of them have online booking available. There are a few lodges and resorts in the area with rooms from between US$100 and US$200 per night, but there are also many small and simple places with prices close to or below US$50 per night. It’s usually easy to just show up and find one of these cheaper places available, but during peak season this could be a problem, and the city is very remote so you don’t have many nearby backups.
Punta Gorda is about a 4-hour drive from Belize City and there is also a daily express bus that takes about 5.5 hours at a cost of around US$6. The airstrip also has several daily flights from Belize City by the country’s two local airlines. More information can be found on the domestic Belize flights page.