Often referred to as “Sugah City” throughout the country, Orange Walk is one of the sweetest districts in Belize with the unmistakable aroma of sugarcane filling the air.
Much like its other northern neighbor Corozal, Orange Walk is home to a myriad of cultural backgrounds. Here you will find many Mestizos – a blend of Spanish and Yucatec Maya who fled Mexico during the Caste War. Look for Spanish influence in both the architecture and cuisine.
One of the most important Maya sites in Belize’s history is located in Orange Walk. Lamanai, which is said to be Mayan for “submerged crocodile”, is second in size only to Caracol. It’s set on the banks of the New River and in its day, featured pyramids, ball courts, and other unique features, including evidence of religious sacrifice. Not surprisingly, there was a reason behind Lamanai’s riverside location – it was a route to transport goods, especially mahogany, which was once the primary source of income in the Orange Walk district.
Things To Do
Obviously, one of the main attractions is Lamanai, visitors to Belize would be remiss in not venturing to this important Maya Site, no matter where you call home base for your holiday. Excavations have uncovered large masks, including one of a ruler wearing a crocodile headdress, giving rise to its name.
Another Maya ceremonial site in the region is Nohmul, situated near the Corozal border. The top of the pyramid is the highest point in Orange Walk and its name means “great mound”. Look for the unique raised walkway that connects two ceremonial sites. Since it’s not on the regular tourist route, you will want to gain permission ahead of time to visit Nohmul.
If you are curious about the Mennonite culture of Belize, there are nearby villages worth checking out where you can experience their way of life first hand. To learn about other aspects of Belizean culture be sure to visit the Banquitas House of Culture.
Nature and outdoor enthusiasts will definitely want to visit the Rio Bravo area, Belize’s largest private conservation reserve at nearly a quarter-million acres. The area is filled with archaeological sites, marshes, savannas, and broadleaf forests.
Locals know the spot to go for a relaxing day with friends and family is Honey Camp Lagoon. Located about 20 minutes south of Orange Walk Town, enjoy a leisurely picnic and cool off in the freshwater lagoon.
Food and Drinks
Without a doubt, tacos are the number one thing to try in Orange Walk. These rolled tacos are so famous that locals come from all over Belize just for authentic Orange Walk tacos. Whether you start your morning off with them or end a long night of partying, most everyone agrees you will find the best tacos in Orange Walk.
Since sugarcane is a big industry in Orange Walk, it makes sense that the area is also one of the best spots for Belizean rum. Cuello’s Distillery is located in the heart of Orange Walk and produces a number of interesting spirits, including an anise-flavored rum.
Where to Stay
Lodging options in Orange Walk can be quite unique with the ability to stay within the Rio Bravo Conversation and Management area. The La Milpa Lodge serves as the base for long-term archaeological projects while Hill Bank Field Station will allow guests to participate in conservation efforts on property.
Orange Walk is an easy place to get to. If you arrive to Belize via the Phillip Goldson International Airport (PGIA), you can either rent a car at the airport or arrange a transfer. You can also reach by catching the bus from all the various parts in Belize.