Toledo, the Hidden Gem of Belize

Toledo, located in Southern Belize, is the heart of tradition, culture, serenity, breath-taking views, and a friendly environment. Toledo’s population is primarily made up of the Kekchi and Mopan Maya, with as many as thirty traditional Maya villages. It is also home to other primary indigenous ethnicities like the Creole and Garifuna, hailing some of Belize’s musical pioneers, such as Leela Vernon, Paul Nabor, and Andy Palacio. This southern gem is rich in agriculture, cultivating crops like corn, rice, beans, and the famous cacao.

Experience the scenic Maya mountains and immerse in the glistening Caribbean Sea as you travel through this lesser explored area. Here are our top five experiences to cross off your list when visiting Toledo: 

Hokeb Ha Cave. Hike, swim and relax under the rushing waterfalls at Hokeb Ha. Enter the mystical cave from its large limestone rock entrance to the crystal blue waters. Archeologists estimate that Hokeb Ha was used in the Late Classic Period for ceremonial purposes due to ceramics and an altar that was discovered in the cave.

Belize Spice Farm and Botanical Garden. Inhale the fragrant aroma of nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, black pepper, and other herbs at the Belize Spice Farm and Botanical Garden. Located in Hellgate along the Southern Highway, touch, smell, and taste the fresh spices as you tour the farm on a tractor-pulled trailer. Discover the seasonings you have at home in their natural form when visiting the Belize Spice Farm!

Chocolate Making. If you’re a chocolate enthusiast, you’ll be delighted to know that Toledo is the Chocolate Capital of Belize. Have fun as you learn the farm-to-table process of traditional Maya chocolate-making. From harvesting the cacao, extracting the beans from the pods, fermentation, drying, and roasting to grinding the nibs using the Maya stone tool. Taste the richness of pure chocolate in various forms and cuisines, especially at the Chocolate Festival in May!

Living Maya Experience. Learn about the Kekchi Maya in Big Falls village while engaging in the Living Maya Experience. Spend a day with a Kekchi Maya family cooking with them, tasting their flavorful meals, and listening to traditional music. Tour the museum to absorb the history of their culture and artifacts of this indigenous group.

Tour Maya Temples. Toledo has several Maya sites, known particularly for Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun, and includes other sites like Uxbenka and Pusil Ha. Be amused when standing next to the longest stelae in Belize or touring the largest ceremonial center of southern Belize. These sacred grounds still host Maya traditions like the vibrant and historic Deer Dance. 

Explore the many wonders tucked away in one of Belize’s hidden gems, Toledo. Book your stay in Belize to bask in the beauty of this culture rich destination!

Chocolate Making