If you are wondering where Belize is located, it is a relatively small country, nestled to the South of the Yucatan region in Mexico, and to the East of Guatemala. The only official English-speaking country in Central America, I was intrigued to see how Belize differed from its Spanish speaking neighbours. Travelling South from Mexico, past Corozal, Orange Walk is a small town but worth a short visit. In a couple of days you can explore Orange Walk town and visit Lamanai, an impressive Mayan site an hour or so away.
Things to do in Orange Walk Belize
Activities in Orange Walk:
The most popular thing to do in Orange Walk is to take a tour to Lamanai, the impressive Maya site an hour away by boat or car. I arranged a tour with my hostel Casa Ricky’s and set off to explore the ruins. Usually accessed by boat, I was the only person on my tour so we decided to drive to Lamanai, through a large Mennonite community which was fascinating. The road is very bumpy, but straight, and I really enjoyed the tour – you can read more about the tour of Lamanai here.
Cuello’s Rum Distillery in Orange Walk
The following day my host, Rick, offered to take me to the local Rum distillery, own & run by Cuello’s. The tour is free, but first you have to go to their office in town to fill out a visit request form. The office is on Main Street, between Park Street and Bakers Street; there is a large shop front then to the left-hand side an unmarked gated doorway leading up some stairs. Go up the stairs, and along the corridor to the second sliding door. Through a little hole in the wall you request your visit, and assuming it is granted, you’re on your way!
We cycled to Cuello’s distillery, it’s only about 20 minutes away by bike, but in the full sun it’s not the most pleasant ride! It is better to do the tour in the morning, as usually they bottle the rum in the morning & the sun isn’t as hot. Unfortunately, during my visit there was a problem with one of the machines so the production line wasn’t running. However, our guide Samir showed us what each machine does, and explained the bottling process.
Fun Belizean Rum Fact: It takes 11 seconds to fill a one litre bottle with rum. The bottles are filled in batches of 12, so in 11 seconds they fill 12 litre bottles. On an average day, the plant produces around 12,000 bottles of rum. All of this is consumed in Belize, as they don’t export to any country – yet. At the end of the tour, I sampled their best-selling gold rum, which was delicious! A sweet, honey flavour and beautiful golden colour it was easily drinkable on its own, so with a dash of coke & a squeeze of lime would be delicious! As a special gift they gave me a bottle to take away – for free! Rum win!
Around the back of the distillery is a small Mayan ruin, which hasn’t been excavated yet. Rick told me there was an archaeologist who wanted to start this year, but lacked funds. It was interesting to see, but sadly there was a lot of rubbish around and a dumping ground close-by so it wasn’t the highlight of my trip by any means! The cover photo is of the ruins to give you an idea.
Learn More about the History of Orange Walk Town
Banquitas House of Culture is a small museum & cultural centre that shares the history of Orange Walk, with information panels describing the tradition of rubber trees, chicle & a turbulent history with the indigenous people and the Spanish and British invaders. The centre also offers cultural events such as traditional dancing and handicrafts.
Cool Off in Orange Walk
It gets hot & humid in Belize, especially in April & May. Down the road from the hostel, about 10 minutes-walk is a public swimming pool with free entrance, and a place to eat. I didn’t go there myself but it would be a great option to cool off!
Where to Eat in Orange Walk Town
There isn’t a huge range of restaurants in Orange Walk, but I didn’t eat badly while I was there.
There are a surprising number of Chinese restaurants in Orange Walk, due to the high level of Chinese immigration. I tried Excellent and OK, next to each other on Otro Benque Road, and both were pretty good – neither OK nor excellent! They both served up huge portions of chow mein, which was just what I fancied after 6 months of Mexican food! Prices start from $5 or $6 Belize; I paid $8 Belize for my huge plate of chow mein.
For budget traditional Belizean food, try Mayito’s at the end of Dunn street, the fry jack there was delicious, and a steal at $2.50 Belize.
For a more upmarket treat, Nahil Mayab offers a wide menu of Belizean and Mayan dishes in a pleasant restaurant. I had the fish curry which was tasty, and a cheeky half price cocktail during the happy hour from 5pm-7pm.
Where to stay in Orange Walk
There seemed to be a lot of hotels in Belize, but not many hostels. In Orange Walk I highly recommend Casa Ricky’s for budget travellers. Rick is a great guy, friendly and full of recommendations of what to do in Orange Walk. The room was basic but clean, and the wifi was excellent. There is no air-conditioning but a fan is provided, and I had my own room which was a treat after so many nights in shared hostel dorms! The only down-side is that it is above a bar but Ricky keeps a close eye on people coming and going, and the music stopped at midnight. Ricky has big plans to take over the bar and build a proper reception area for the rooms, which will be a welcome change, but in the meantime, I still recommend it as a great place to stay. I also heard good things about Lamanai Riverside Retreat from fellow travellers too, both as a place to stay and as a restaurant & bar.
Have you tried Belizean rum or fry jacks in Orange Walk? Let me know in the comments below.
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