Sights & Scenes of Toledo

Explore Punta Gorda, Toledo

Places to Visit

The Toledo district is the only one of its kind in the country of Belize.  It boasts every feature that mother-nature has to offer.  These include the historical Mayan temples, mysterious caves, crystal clear rivers and waterfalls, lush tropical forest, abundant wildlife, lagoons, creeks and cayes with white sandy beaches. Things to do while visiting Toledo are: fishing, diving, canoeing, kayaking, caving, hiking, birding and sight-seeing, among others. 

Protected Areas

Delve into the pristine natural beauty of Toledo’s protected areas, where lush rainforests, expansive wetlands, and diverse ecosystems await exploration. Embark on guided hikes through the pristine jungles of the Rio Blanco National Park, home to an array of exotic wildlife species and stunning waterfalls. Experience the tranquility of the Sarstoon-Temash National Park, where winding rivers and mangrove forests provide vital habitats for countless species of birds and marine life. Whether you’re birdwatching, kayaking, or simply soaking in the serenity of nature, Toledo’s protected areas offer a wealth of unforgettable experiences for nature lovers and adventurers alike.

Mayan Temples

Immerse yourself in the rich history and ancient wonders of Toledo with a visit to its Mayan temples. Explore archaeological sites such as Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun, where you can marvel at the impressive structures and intricate carvings left behind by the ancient Maya civilization. Discover the secrets of these ancient cities as you wander through sacred temples, ball courts, and ceremonial plazas, offering a glimpse into the fascinating world of Mayan culture and civilization.

Other Destinations

Beyond the ancient ruins and protected areas, Toledo offers a myriad of captivating destinations waiting to be explored. Discover the vibrant culture and traditions of local Garifuna communities as you immerse yourself in their music, dance, and cuisine. Explore the quaint coastal town of Punta Gorda, where colorful streets lined with colonial-era buildings and bustling markets offer a glimpse into everyday life in Belize. Or venture off the beaten path to secluded beaches, hidden waterfalls, and charming villages, where you can experience the true essence of Toledo’s charm and hospitality. Whatever your interests may be, Toledo’s diverse array of destinations promises to leave you enchanted and inspired.

Explore Ancient History

Mayan Temples

Nim Li Punit

Nim Li Punit, meaning “big hat” in Mayan, was discovered in 1976. This site has been classified as strictly a late classic period site. Situated along the top of a ridge in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, the site has a commanding view of the coastal plains of the Toledo district.  The center of the site consists of three main plazas, including a ball court. The largest structure stands 40 ft. above the plaza level. A second structure is only ten feet high, but is two hundred feet long.   Nim Li Punit is located in the village of Indian Creek which is approximately 25 miles from Punta Gorda Town on the Southern Highway.


Uxbenka means “Old Place” in Mayan. The site perches on a ridge overlooking the foothills and valleys of the Maya Mountains in the Toledo District of southern Belize. Old place appears to be an appropriate name for the site since it dates from the Early Classic Period. Unfortunately the site is not in good archaeological form at the present and contains structural mounds, a small plaza and some unexcavated pyramids. There are also seven carved stelae at the site and while one of them contains the earliest archaeological date yet recorded in southern Belize, most are too badly eroded to read. There are also thirteen non carved stelae. The nearby hillsides have been faced with cut terrace stones. This art form has not been found outside the Toledo District. This site was discovered in 1984 and it has not yet been reconstructed.  Uxbenka is located opposite the village water supply tower on the outskirts of Santa Cruz Village, Toledo District. The village of Santa Cruz is approximately 27 miles from Punta Gorda Town.


Lubaantún is located on the outskirts of Columbia Village, approximately 22 miles from Punta Gorda Town.  Its name means “place of fallen stones” in Mayan.   It was a focal point for trade as goods would be brought to the center and then redistributed. The main marketplace was located in Lubaantún’s ceremonial enclosure and the site’s own contribution to the regional trade system was its clay figurines. The largest structure at Lubaantún rises 36 feet above the plaza floor. From the summit of this structure there is a beautiful view of the foothills of the Maya Mountains and the Toledo coastal plains. The center of the site lies along a ridge top twenty miles from the sea.  The ceremonial center of this site has 11 major structures grouped around five main plazas.

Explore Conservation Sites

Protected Areas

Payne’s Creek National Park (PCNP)

Photos courtesy of TIDE

This 36,780 acres of lush broadleaf forest, thick mangroves and wide stretches of pine savannah forms a significant part of the one million acre, Ridge to Reef Corridor, dubbed the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor (MMMC).  TIDE co-manages the Payne’s Creek National Park with the Government of Belize Forestry Department and local communities.  The well-known Punta Ycacos Lagoon which is located within the boundaries of the Park is an important fly-fishing area as well as breeding grounds for West Indian manatee. Though manatees are threatened with extinction globally, the species has made a comeback in southern Belize.  Approximately 300 avian species live in PCNP, including 146 migratory birds, and many endangered species such as the yellow-headed parrot, jabiru stork, Muscovy duck and the Aplomado falcon. 

Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR)

Photos courtesy of TIDE

The Port Honduras Marine Reserve is home to the popular Snake Cayes where visitors can find white sandy beaches, migratory birds and even boa constrictors!  PHMR is a 160 square mile marine reserve recognized for its high biodiversity.  The area serves as habitat for various endangered species including the West Indian manatee, the American saltwater crocodile and the Morelet’s crocodile.  Port Honduras Marine Reserve, though only declared in 2000, has been under the watchful eye of the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE). By patrolling for illegal fishing activities, TIDE’s efforts keep aquatic species populations sustainable and therefore provide adequate fish — the major food staple in the area — for human consumption.  In addition, the reserve has become essential to the fly-fishing community, and protecting fish populations has resulted in a booming sustainable business for local guides. 

Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve (SCMR)

Photos courtesy of TIDE

The southernmost islands in Belize are the Sapodilla Cayes. For visitors, the cayes offer beautiful sand beaches: Lime Caye offers prime camping grounds and Hunting Caye is the most developed, including a lighthouse and a Belize Defence Force guard station. Regardless, all six of the Sapodilla Cayes are destinations for snorkeling and fishing. The reserve encompasses about 125 square kilometers of beautiful Caribbean Sea and supports a wide variety of fish species. Spawning grounds for Nassau Grouper can be found on the reef as can prime flats for fly fishing.  The Sapodilla Cayes are approximately an hour and a half boat ride from Punta Gorda Town.

The Rio Blanco National Park (RBNP)

The Rio Blanco National Park (RBNP) is in the Maya Mountain Forest Reserve located in western part of the Toledo District between Santa Cruz and Santa Elena villages. It encompasses 105 acres of land surrounding a spectacular waterfall approximately 100 feet wide and 20 feet high on the Rio Blanco River. The Rio Blanco is a tributary of the Blue Creek and Moho Rivers, which flow into the Gulf of Honduras. The Rio Blanco National Park lies within a sub-tropical wet forest biome, creating high biodiversity of flora and fauna, including endangered species such as: the jaguar, ocelot, margay and river otter, among others.  Wildlife in the area includes many species of residential and migratory birds, terrestrial mammals, amphibians, reptile and fish. The park was established in 1994 by residents of two surrounding communities, Santa Cruz and Santa Elena.  Activities that can be enjoyed at this national park are swimming, caving, hiking, and bird watching.

The Aguacaliente Wildlife Sanctuary (AWS) National Park

This park is situated amidst rolling hills on the east end, steep karsts hills on the south and central wetland areas. The area covers approximately 5,468 acres of land and water.  It was declared in 1998. Its conservation focus is the protection of the central wetland areas, which consist of three fresh water lagoons and a hot spring connected by several streams boding in and out of the lagoons.  The lagoons and forested areas are homes to a wide variety of birds, mammals, orchids, butterflies and insects.  The protected area is co-managed by the Aguacaliente Management Team (AMT), a consortium of people from adjacent villages.  The Park can be accessed from the village of Laguna which is approximately 13 miles from Punta Gorda Town.  Activities that can be enjoyed at this national park are caving, hiking, fishing, bird watching and cultural activities.

Other Destinations


Barranco Village is the only Garifuna village in the Toledo District.  Barranco is the southernmost coastal village in Belize. It is about 45 minutes by road, and 20 minutes by boat south of Punta Gorda Town. The population includes over 150 residents.

The village is situated on flat coastal land with a large variety of fruit trees including breadfruits, malay apple, golden plum, mango, and craboo scattered throughout the village. The diversity of fruit attracts an equally diverse number of birds. The village has electricity and a community phone, one shop, one health center, a bar, a police station, a park, a school, and two churches.

Barranco offers fishing in dugout canoes and river tours through the Temash River Forest Reserve. Nights come alive with Garifuna drumming and dancing.  Barranco Village is the only municipality that has a House of Culture in the entire district. The House of Culture promotes the Garifuna Culture.  It is a must see when visiting Barranco.

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