Corozal Town in northern Belize is only a few minutes by taxi from Mexico’s large border city of Chetumal.
Because it’s right on the sea, the town is blessed with cooler breezes that come down from Mexico. So, you’ll find a better overall climate in Corozal, than in the steamier areas to the south and further inland in Belize.
Both locals and expats consider Corozal one of the best places to visit or live in the little country. It’s easy to step into the natural pace of local life in this relaxing town of about 10,000, because Corozal is not overly touristic.
Unlike the popular and often crowded islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, in Corozal, you never feel that you’re in a tourist crunch.
The laid-back Caribbean vibe encourages you to take it easy and enjoy the great weather, gorgeous landscape, and friendly people. Surprisingly, for a sleepy little town, there’s a lot to do in Corozal, and it’s well worth spending some time here when you visit Belize.
Corozal has a long, attractive seaside promenade lined with beaches and occasional gazebos, plus nearby restaurants and fruit juice vendors. Of course, you'll want to spend some time taking in the expansive sea views and swimming in Corozal Bay, where the water is calm and inviting. However, there are also several other things to do in the town:
Corozal’s government-sponsored cultural center functions as a museum and art gallery. Here you can take in a free tour of exhibits that chronicle the town’s colorful history for the last thousands of years (including pirates!).
The cultural center, located near the beach, is an identifying landmark. Corozal House regularly schedules public events, so when you are there. You can also take a self-guided , starting at the House of Culture, or find a guide for the tour through the House of Culture.
Be sure to take in the gorgeous and colorful mural at the Town Hall, that depicts Corozal’s rich history in amazing detail.
We were intrigued to discover that the Corozal Town of today was built atop the enormous ancient Mayan city of Santa Rita that once reached all the way to Chetumal! The remaining Santa Rita Mayan Ruins are just on the outskirts of the town. The site includes an impressive large building that can be explored, plus numerous rooms and passageways among the remnants of the ancient city.
The small, but beautiful, historical spot is open all year round and can be explored easily in a day. There are no guides on site, so you can wander the ruins at your own pace. Santa Rita can be reached by walking or via taxi from town.
And if you don’t mind a bit of travel, you can also check out the Cerros Ruins, a much larger archaeological site in the Corozal District. Cerros can be reached by boat or by car from Corozal, in just less than one hour.
The complex is larger than Santa Rita, with several structures, including a 65 ft. tall funerary temple that offers stunning views of the Corozal Bay.
Most hotels and resorts will be happy to help you book a car or tour to Cerros.
Tip: Prepare to be liberal with insect repellent, as these sites can be buggy during rainy season (June-November).
One of the most interesting ways to pass a Monday or Friday morning in Corozal is to stop by the Corozal Farmer’s Market, manned primarily by Belizean Mennonites. Ask for directions and walk over early in the morning – don’t dawdle, or you’ll miss the best!
Note: It’s not the downtown Corozal Market, but the one on the outskirts, in Corozal’s Finca Solana area.
Mennonites live in enclaves throughout Belize, and are a close-knit group of traditional families who immigrated to Belize around 1950. They made an arrangement with the government to provide sustainable agriculture, wood working and food production services in Belize in exchange for the freedom to practice their religion in peace.
You’ll see Mennonites around Corozal town, the men usually wearing denim overalls with suspenders and hats. The women array themselves in bonnets and long dresses/skirts, reminiscent of pioneer days.
If you stay at a self catering apartment or condo, (or if you want some fresh fruits, including green coconuts for snacking) the market is a great place to stock up on fresh veggies and other food stuffs. Here you’ll find the freshest fruits and veggies in town, plus eggs, raw milk, butter and homemade cheeses.
Some Mennonites speak only a specific form of old German, Plautdietsch, but others are fluent in English and/or Spanish, so you’ll probably be able to communicate with someone there.
And from Sarteneja, it’s only 3.5 miles (6 kilometers) to Shipstern, a nature reserve that is home to an amazing variety of birds species (over 300 – a birder’s dream!), including parrots, toucans, egrets and warblers.
Visit an enormous butterfly farm, and be sure to check out the manatees and crocodiles around the Shipstern Lagoon at the heart of the reserve. Other wildlife species include armadillos, deer, tapir, even pumas and jaguars! There are dry and wet tropical forests to explore in the 2100 acre park, along with a large variety of medicinal plants to identify.
The Corozal Bay is home to abundant marine life, so sailing and deep sea fishing are popular pastimes. There are a few family-owned tour companies that head out for sport fishing from Sarteneja Village, the best area for catching Marlin, Tuna. Mahi Mahi, Mackeral and more. The village is just about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Corozal.
In addition to having beautiful beaches, in Sarteneja you can watch traditional boat builders practice their artisanal work. The boats are usually made from start to finish by one craftsman, using a few varieties of local wood and time-honored classical techniques.
Throughout the town, friendly, smiling local Afro-Caribbean men ride bicycles all day long, hawking their hand-carved wood statues of toucans, dolphins, angelfish, and other Belizean figures.
You’ll be approached many, many times and, if you stay long enough, you’ll be persuaded to purchase one or more of these iconic items. Take your time, as the quality and variety is vast… these guys work really hard to keep their families fed, so it’s a great way to support the local economy and also get a nice souvenir.
And if you get antsy for a little cosmopolitan life, head up to the Mexican border (just 7 miles from town) to the large Free Zone, a duty and tax-free shopping area. Here you’ll find over 300 retail outlets selling discount household items, fashions, electronics, and of course, there’s an abundant food court.
The zone is also home to a few hotels and casinos, if you want to stay overnight, and treat yourself to some fun and fine dining.
Corozal is the perfect place to plan a vacation to just relax and have no big plans. And there’s nothing like waking up in the morning to the sunrise of golden yellows, oranges and pinks filling up the sky over the bay.
If you have a car, there are beautiful condos and resorts dotting the long shoreline of Corozal. Most have stunning sea views and some also have beautifully landscaped grounds and a swimming pool.
Sunshine View Hotel and Restaurant – Progresso Road, South Side of Corozal – a family-friendly boutique hotel with swimming pool, restaurant, bar, right on the bay. This hotel is just a bit further from the centre of Corozal (1.4 kilometres) and sort of within walking distance,
Almond Tree Hotel Resort – outside of Corozal, but actually within walking distance, with a swimming pool, bar and restaurant
Tilt-Ta-Dock Resort Belize – Finca Solana area, northern end of Corozal (get directions, better to have a car), individual cabanas w/self-catering kitchenettes, pool, personalized service, bikes and kayaks, right on the bay
Royale Manor – private house , lush grounds, (longish) walk to town
Orchid Bay Resort – about 40 minutes outside of town, pool (pictured above)
Otherwise, if you want to stay in town, you'll find some affordable accommodation option, within walking distance of shops and restaurants. If you aren't driving, this is the most convenient way to go.
Hotel Maya, 115 7th Ave, Corozal, friendly family-owned budget boutique hotel with rooms and apartments (longer stays possible), restaurant onsite
Las Palmas Hotel, 115 7th Ave, Corozal – central hotel with great service and comfortable rooms
H’ok o’l Kin Guest House, 89 4th Street, Corozal, Belize – small family-run, family-friendly guesthouse, with clean, comfortable rooms, helpful service, excellent restaurant on site.
Food in Corozal is very good, and local restaurants reflect the mix of cultures in the town, serving a mix of traditional Belizean dishes and international flavours.
Start your day with a hearty Belizean breakfast at a local café. Dive into plates heaped with eggs, refried beans, and the ever-popular fry jacks, all while sipping on freshly squeezed tropical juices. As the day progresses, follow the scents of stewed chicken and rice and beans, cooked with rich coconut milk, to try one of Belize's best-loved dishes.
Seafood lovers are in for a treat, as Corozal's proximity to the coast ensures a fresh catch daily, and there are several great seafood spots in town. For those looking to explore international cuisines, there are many restaurants offering Mexican, Chinese, and European dishes, reflecting the town's diverse population.
Here are various (approximate) timings to travel to other points in Belize
Corozal to Orange Walk – 45 minutes by car, 45 minutes by shuttle, 1 hour 10 minutes by bus
Corozal to Belize City – 2 hours by car, 2.5 hours by shuttle, 3.5 hours by bus
Corozal to Belmopan (capital city of Belize) 2 hours 50 minutes by car, 3 hours 50 minutes by bus, 4 hours by shuttle
Corozal to San Ignacio – 3hours, 25 minutes by car, 4 hours 45 minutes by shuttle, 4 hours 45 minutes via bus
Corozal to Placencia Peninsula (resorts, beaches) – 5 hours, 30 minutes by car, 7 hours 30 minutes by bus
Below is more information on buses and shuttles in Belize. Of course, you can also hire a car and drive from another city. Also, remember that there are domestic flights to all of these destinations, especially if you want to visit Placencia for its gorgeous lagoon and beaches at the southern portion of Belize.
Central American local “chicken” buses - repurposed old US school buses with wooden benches, no luggage hold (you can bring your luggage on board, but keep an eye on it), no AC - run between Corozal and other cities in Belize.
There are schedules, and they are “mostly” accurate, if you factor in Belize’s laid-back attitude. You can always flag down a bus going in your direction on the road. The good news is, bus travel in Belize can be a fun experience of local culture, and will only set you back a few dollars, regardless of where you go in the country!
There are also shuttle buses that run between most cities in mainland Belize. While the price is more than taking a local bus, they are more comfortable, more dependable, and offer hotel and/or pick-up/drop off services for additional fees.
From anywhere on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, you can take a bus (ADO is the local Mexican bus company) to Chetumal in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Chetumal is about a 20 minute ride via taxi or Uber to the Mexican border with Belize.
As you exit via the Mexican border, you’ll be asked if you paid your tourist tax in Mexico. If you flew into Mexico, this tax is usually included in your ticket price, so have a copy of your ticket that shows the included taxes – that way you can avoid paying the tax again, which will save you about 33 USD.
Once you exit Mexico, you will travel a few minutes by taxi to the Belizean border. You’ll want to go to the “New” border. You cannot walk this distance, but must go by car.
Entering Belize, you may need to provide proof of your first night’s accommodation in Belize and 6-month validity on your passport. They also check luggage and confiscate any fresh fruit, veggies or open food that you are carrying. There is no fee to enter Belize and most passports receive a 30-day visa, which can be renewed for a longer stay. There is a fee upon exiting Belize (about 40 USD).
You could also opt to arrange for a transfer driver (much easier!) to pick you up at your Chetumal hotel, wait for you through immigration (Mexico exit and Belize enter) and then deliver you to your accommodation in Corozal, which is about 7 miles into Belize.
Note: If you have already spent your full visa time in Mexico and want to visit Belize to “reset” your Mexican visa (as in “making a border run”), be aware that in the last three years, Mexican border officials at the Chetumal border have become far less lenient on giving a full 6-month tourist visa upon re-entering Mexico, if they allow re-entry at all… you might get lucky, but don’t take border-hopping at Chetumal for granted.
Last Updated 9 September 2023