Punta Gorda Surroundings
The surroundings of Punta Gorda are comprised of Mayan villages, East Indian settlements and archaeological sites. Outdoor activities can be enjoyed in the Blue Creek Rainforest Preserve, and several offshore cayes and nearby rivers present numerous water sport activities.
Toledo Botanical Arboretum & Dem Dats Doin Farm
Alfredo and Yvonne Villoria own both the Toledo Botanical Arboretum and Dem Dats Doin Farm, the latter of which is an organic "ecofarm" using sustainable agricultural techniques. More than 55 varieties of fruit trees are grown on the property, including starfruit, guava, passion fruit, and apples. Jams, preserves and pickles are also produced.The arboretum features over 1,000 species of exotic plants and trees, as well as examples of energy-sufficient farming, natural fertilizers and insect repellents. The grounds also include a small nursery selling ornamental plants and seeds to locals.
Address: Box 73, Belize
Useful tips: Tours are by appointment only. A donation of U.S.$5 is suggested.
Toledo District Mayan Villages & Ruins - Indigenous Experience Program
This program places travelers in villager's homes, offering an intense cultural experience of indigenous cultures of Belize. This program is popular with anthropological and cultural academics interested in the Mayan culture. The Indigenous Experience Program is run by Alfredo and Yvonne Villoria, owners of the Dem Dats Doin ecofarm.
Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve
Situated on the southernmost tip of the Belize Barrier Reef, the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve includes 14 sand and mangrove cayes. Six of the cayes are arranged in a "J" formation, these are Sapodilla Cayes, which are known for excellent diving and snorkeling conditions. The reef system supports various types of coral and marine life such as dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles, whale sharks and large schools of fish can be spotted. Kayaking is a popular method of exploring the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
Part of the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve, Hunting Caye is known for its attractive beach. Located on the eastern shore of the caye, the crescent-shaped beach has coral sand and is also a turtle nesting site.
Barranco is a small coastal village, populated by people of mixed African and Carib Indian heritage. In the past, the area was heavily farmed, but today the village is sustained by fishing. The village of Barranco offers a glimpse of a rare, disappearing lifestyle, and is often visited while touring the southern region of Belize.
Sarstoon-Temash National Park
Declared a protected area in 1992, the Sarstoon-Temash National Park covers 41,000ac/16,599ha of land situated between the Temash and Sarstoon Rivers. Situated in the southernmost region of Belize, the park is one of the most remote reserves in the country and hosts a wide variety of wildlife. Warries, ocelots, tapirs and jaguars make the park their home, while rare birds and animals such as the scarlet macaw and white-faced capuchin monkey have been spotted.The Sarstoon River forms the country's southern border with Guatemala and nourishes the only comfrey palm forest found in Belize. Large snook and tarpon commonly swim the Temash River. Both fishing and hiking are common in the Sarstoon-Temash National Park.
Always opened on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Baron Bliss Day - Belize (Mar 9), Commonwealth Day - Belize (May 25), Independence Day - Belize (Sep 21), National Day - Belize (Sep 10), Pan American Day - Belize (Oct 12), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Easter - Christian
Useful tips: Tours are offered from Punta Gorda, which reach the park by boat.
Forest Home, Belize
The small settlement of Forest Home has an interesting history. After the U.S. Civil War, eight Confederate families relocated to this site from Texas, Louisiana and Alabama. Forest Home was settled with the intentions of farming sugarcane, but the settlement only lasted for about a generation. Visitors usually visit Forest Home on a day excursion from Punta Gorda.
The Confederate Cemetery is the remaining evidence of the Confederate community that founded Forest Home.
Port Honduras Marine Reserve
Declared a protected area in 2000, the Port Honduras Marine Reserve lies just north of Punta Gorda and encompasses 322sq.mi/847sq.km of coastal Caribbean Sea. The reserve includes a river estuary at the coastline and 135 small mangrove islands, only 10% comprised of dry land. Snorkeling and sportfishing are popular activities in the reserve, and manatee and dolphin sightings are common in the area.