SCENIC NORTHERN GATEWAY TO BELIZE
Tucked along an arm of the Caribbean that reaches beyond Belize into Mexico, quiet Corozal is known for its friendly people, unusually rich soil, and temperate climate, soothed year-round by gentle trade winds. The region's name derives from the Spanish word for the cohune palm tree (corozo), which the ancient Maya who settled the area revered as a symbol of fertility. Today, that fertility is evident in the astonishing array of exotic and colorful plants that thrive here.
Sprinkled along the shoreline that curves along the bay are brightly colored buildings, homes, and resorts where visitors retreat for quiet getaways.
Corozal is 84 miles north of Belize City and 8 miles away from the Mexican border. Sugar cane fields cover the entire Corozal District. Sugar is
the leading industry in the region with the Papaya seconding.
There is more to Corozal District than sugar cane fields, like a 9 mile
stretch of waterfront extending from Consejo village with extreme potential for
future tourism resort developments.
Corozal Town is the modern incarnation of a city 4,000 years old, built
on the foundations of ancient Maya temple Santa Rita.
The Maya civilization flourished here for centuries and most current residents have at least some indigenous ancestry. In the district capital of Corozal Town -- located less than 8 miles south of the Mexican border - visitors can still explore the temples of Santa Rita, a settlement that was more than 3,000 years old when Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1531.
Because of its strategic location on important Maya trade routes, Santa Rita and nearby communities were prosperous and powerful. A glimpse of this golden age can be seen during a tour of Santa Rita's main temple and burial tombs. Maya artefacts can be seen at the Corozal House of Culture Museum, ensconced in a restored 19th-century Customs House on the shore of Chetumal Bay. Other historical attractions include a 16th-century Spanish colonial church, the ruins of Ft. Barkley (used to defend Corozal Town against a Maya uprising in the 1870's), and a famous mural painted by artist Manual Villamor inside the city hall.
Within Corozal itself can be found another Maya ruin from the fourteenth century AD.
Known as Santa Rita, the pyramid site sits atop the remains of a Maya city that
dominated the area for more than 2000 years. Burial sites rich in jewelry and
artifacts have recently been unearthed here. Santa Rita was probably part of
ancient Chetumal (Chactumal), the
Maya capital of the area at the time of the first Spanish attempt to conquer
the Yucatec Mayas in the early 16th century. Santa Rita is accessible by public
Corozal Town has a wide selection of hotels, restaurants, and tour operators, priced for every pocketbook. It is a perfect jumping-off point for the 20-minute boat ride to the temples of Cerros - a cluster of long-abandoned pyramids, plazas and ball courts that once served Maya seafarers. Some of the buildings display painted masks, up to 13 feet high, depicting humans, animals, and celestial objects. Jaguars regularly pass through Cerros on their night time patrols and during the day, visitors may see tapirs, pacas and other exotic wildlife.
Students of the Maya may want to make a side trip to Caye Coco, a nearby island where a temple discovered in 1996 is currently being excavated. On the return trip to Corozal Town, watch for the dolphins, manatees and crocodiles that frequent the coves and wetlands of the bay.
Activities in Corozal
A must-see destination for travellers with an interest in nature is Shipstern Nature Reserve, a private wilderness sanctuary about 45 minutes by boat from Town that is showcase for four main ecosystems: savanna, lagoon, and river and canopy hardwood forest. Adventurous visitors will want to hike Ship stern's well-marked trails, take part in guided night tours which allow visitors to see nocturnal animals that would otherwise be missed, or visit the natural history museum and Butterfly Breeding Farm, where numerous butterflies are raised for research and export.
Sport fishing enthusiasts have much to choose from in the district. The rich waters of Chetumal Bay, which separate Belize's northern mainland from the country's 185-mile long barrier reef, are teeming with tarpon, snook, cubera, snapper, and crevalle jack. The Corozal Free Zone offers the country's largest casino as well as stores that the visitor can purchase items at duty-free costs. (A passport is required to enter the free zone).
The annual San Joaquin Fiesta is held in July for the patron saint of San Joaquin Village. Art in the Park is a monthly event held on the third Saturday of each month subject to weather permitting.
Avenue 7 2nd Street North
Tel: ( ) 501-602-2126