Orange Walk Town in Northern Belize is best known for its strong Mestizo culture and good work ethics. It has a large commuter workforce that travel daily to Belize City and Belmopan for jobs in the construction, banking, and government sectors. The district is known for its sugar cane industry, cattle, grain, lumber and honey. Because its not a traditional tourist destination, the cost of accommodations and food is significantly less than other tourist destinations such as San Pedro, Caye Caulker and the Placencia Peninsula.
Many visitors use Orange Walk as a starting point to other destinations in Northern Belize. Altun Ha, Lamanai and a variety of other natural parks are easily accessible to travelers. It’s a convenient stop for visitors traveling through Belize from Mexico to Guatemala. Orange Walk Town is 1 hour south of the Mexican border City of Chetumal and 2.5 hours from Melchor de Mencos, Guatemala. If you’re passing through, we invite you to stay at El Gran Mestizo Riverside Cabins, a secluded and scenic hotel strategically located on the historic New River, just eight minutes from downtown. Alternatively, if you are looking for an in-town/local experience, our property- Hotel De La Fuente, might be just right for you!
Its Mayan name translates to “Rockstone Pond” in English. This is one of Belize’s most popular tourist attractions where you’ll find the largest ancient pyramid, the Temple of the Masonry Altars. The Temple is 54 feet tall and dates back to the 7th Century. Climb to the top for a spectacular view!
Belize’s Crown Jewel, the Jade Head was found deep in a tomb within the Temple of the Masonry Altars, alongside an elite adult male. The Jade Head holds the record in the Maya world as the single largest carved object made of jade. With crossed eyes and fangs, archeologists believe the Jade Head is a representation of the sun god Kinich Ahau. It weighs 9.75 pounds and stands almost 6 inches high. It is believed by many to hold secret powers of healing and dominance. Look at any Belize paper currency and you can see an image of the Jade Head. This masterpiece resides safely under guard at the Central Bank of Belize, when not on loan to museums worldwide. If you are interested in exploring the ancient beauty of Altun Ha, you are invited to join us on a guided tour.
Shipstern Nature Reserve
With more than 27,000 protected acres, this nature reserve is home to wetlands, lagoons, and tropical forests. All five cat species, along with the endangered Baird’s Tapir and over 300 species of birds are found here.
Cuello is the oldest Mayan site found in Belize. To see this magnificent relic, you’ll need permission from the Cuello family as it’s located on their own private land.
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
If you enjoy birdwatching, then you’ll love the sanctuary! Located on 25 square miles, you’ll see over 286 species of birds in their natural habitat of swamps, lagoons, and waterways.
Lamanai is one of Belize’s largest ceremonial centers and means “submerged crocodile”. Found on the New River, the 24 miles of Mayan relics is filled with wildlife, birds, and beautiful scenery. Some of the ruins are: temples, plazas, colonial structures, and a visitor’s center. There is also a colonial sugar mill and the remnants of two 16th century Spanish churches. Our Lamanai tour offers visitors a guided river and walking tour to explore this magical site!
Orange Walk is known for its Mennonite communities. Little Belize and Shipyard are bustling communities that offer services and products to consumers countrywide. Their belief systems do not permit machinery or electricity except for work, yet the Mennonites are still seen as industrious and innovative. Horse-drawn carriages are the mode of transportation in these villages. It is common to see Mennonites around Orange Walk Town, and they are usually distinguishable by their style of dress.
Belize has three rum distilleries and Orange Walk is home to two of the most popular. Caribbean Rum founder and patriarch Ignacio Cuello started producing rum in pot stills in the early 1950’s. Caribbean Rum was formally established in 1968, when Ignacio Cuello perfected his blend for Caribbean Gold rum. In the late 1970’s, the distillery began to produce Trafalgar Gin, Imperial Brandy and other blends.
Ownership of the distillery came into dispute in the mid 1990’s. As the country watched, the relationship soured between the last two remaining sons of Don Ignacio, eventually resulting in a court appointed receiver managing the business. Eventually, younger brother Osvaldo Cuello, left the partnership and founded Old Master Rums near the sugar factory.
Today Caribbean Rum is the best-selling rum in Belize, with Caribbean Gold continuing to be the most popular rum by far. The local secret is to best enjoy the rum with ice and 3 drops of water.The distillery is located 2.5 miles west of Orange Walk Town on the road to Yo Creek Village. It is now owned and managed by the grandsons of Don Ignacio. A formal tour blueprint is being formalized by the grandsons, with a start date of late 2017. However, a tour can usually be scheduled if arranged beforehand. The grandsons are generous and will usually offer visitors a free bottle of the product being bottled that day.
Escabeche, Ceviche, Salpicon
Some of the best Mestizo food countrywide can be found here in Orange Walk, from simple street side tacos and tortas to restaurants that feature specials found predominantly in Northern Belize. Some restaurants such as Cocina Sabor, Maracas Bar and Grill on the River, Nahil Mayab, and Tan’s regularly feature platters such as Escabeche, Ceviche, Salpicon, tamales tortillada and Relleno Negro.
La Inmaculada Church
Located in the center of town, this Spanish colonial church is a reminder of the influence the Spaniards had in Belize’s history. For more than a century the church has served its flock faithfully.
Mass is held daily at 6:30 am in Spanish, and in English at 7 pm Saturdays and 9 am Sundays.
Rio Bravo Conservation & Management Area
The area of Rio Bravo is 4% of Belize’s land area and is a protected rainforest. It’s not unusual to see jaguars, toucans, iguanas, and over 400 species of birds living here.
La Milpa is the third largest archeological reserve in Belize. At least 85 major structures and 24 plazas have been identified.