Guide to Orange Walk District

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Orange Walk tractors hauling sugar cane
Tractors hauling sugar cane in Orange Walk, Belize – Photo by Dr. Hume

1. About Orange Walk

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.

2. Things to Do in Orange Walk

Lamanai's mask temple
Lamanai’s mask temple

The main tourist attraction in Orange Walk is Lamanai, which is one of the top Mayan sites in Belize. Excavations at Lamanai have uncovered large masks, including one of a ruler wearing a crocodile headdress, giving rise to its name.

Another Maya 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 such as Blue Creek that are worth checking out if you want to experience their way of life first hand. And to learn about other aspects of Belizean culture, be sure to visit the Banquitas House of Culture in Downtown Orange Walk.

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.

Top Things to Do in Orange Walk

3. Where to Eat in Orange Walk

Orange Walk Tacos

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, mostly 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-flavoured rum.

Top Food Spots in Orange Walk

  1. Elma’s Tacos or any other tacos food stall
  2. Maracas Bar and Grill
  3. Cocina Sabor
  4. Nahil Mayab Restaurant & Patio
  5. Luigi’s Restaurant

4. Where to Stay in Orange Walk

Chan Chich Lodge, Gallon Jug, Belize

Although lodging options in Orange Walk are limited, they can be quite unique. The La Milpa Lodge and it’s sister property, Hill Bank Field Station are both located within the Rio Bravo Conservation Area and serve as bases for long-term archaeological projects and conservation efforts. A more luxurious option is staying at Chan Chich Lodge, which promotes itself as an extraordinary destination for naturalists, birders, and travelers seeking an authentic retreat in the Belizean jungle.

Top Hotels in Orange Walk

5. Getting There and Away

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 private transfer. You can also reach there by catching the bus from all the various parts in Belize.