Visit Toledo District on Your Belize Vacation
Belize doesn’t have states or provinces. Instead, the country is divided into six districts, and Toledo District is the southernmost district in Belize. The Toledo District shares a border with Guatemala and is the least-developed region of the country, a pristine region of rainforests, caves, rivers, jungle, coastal lowlands, and offshore tropical islands.
The capital of Toledo District is Punta Gorda (known locally as “PG”). Toledo District is home to several different populations, including the Maya, Creoles, the Afro-Caribbean Garifuna people, German-speaking Mennonite farmers, Spanish-speaking Mestizo peoples, and even the descendants of Confederate soldiers who emigrated to Belize at the end of the American Civil War.
Although the Toledo District is still largely rural, Punta Gorda can be easily accessed via the Southern Highway. It takes approximately four hours to drive from Belize City to Punta Gorda. Toledo District is also where travelers can find water taxi service to Livingston and Puerto Barrios in Guatemala.
Much of Toledo District is agricultural, the fertile soils producing a bounty of corn, rice, hot peppers, citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, avocados, coffee, and chocolate. For millennia, the local Maya have been growing cacao (the principle ingredient of chocolate), and famous brands like Green and Black are world-renowned for their delicious Toledo-grown chocolate. And every year, Punta Gorda hosts a three-day Chocolate Festival that includes eclectic treats like chocolate beer and Maya drinks that mix corn, black pepper, and chocolate.
Fishing is also an important activity in Toledo District, still largely unchanged over the centuries with individuals using dugout canoes and dories (a kind of rowboat) to catch fish, lobster, conch, and other treasures from the rich waters of the Caribbean.
Toledo District is also home to some of the finest Maya ruins anywhere in the country, including Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit, important trade centers that connected the vast Maya empire that stretched from Mexico to El Salvador. Recently opened sites like Uxbenka give visitors a chance to glimpse ceremonial Maya sites that have been largely untouched.
Popular villages to visit in Punta Gorda include Monkey River Village, Santa Cruz, San Antonio, Barranco, and Blue Creek. The Toledo Ecotourism Association operates a village guest house program that allows travelers to stay in traditional Maya, Garifuna, and Creole villages.
Barefoot Rentals and Services
Barefoot Rentals and Services is a locally-owned and operated company that is based in Placencia Village. Barefoot has a wide range of modern, well-maintained vehicles that are ideal for travelers who want to explore the pristine beauty of the Toledo District of Belize.