Coming into Belize by road through Mexico gives you the splendid opportunity to enter the small metropolis that Belize's northernmost district is becoming. Traditionally the heart of the country's sugar growing and processing industry, Corozal today is also well-known for its Free Zone.
It continues to be a convenient base for day trips to Chetumal, the capital of Mexico's southern state of Quintana Roo which is nine miles away, or for excursions to the Mayan ruins and beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula. San Pedro Ambergris Caye, Belize' most popular destination for scuba divers and snorkelers, is only 15 minutes by air from the Corozal airstrip.
It's 90 miles from Belize City to Corozal, a comfortable two-hour ride; buses run regularly, daily. Corozal is located between two scenic rivers, the New River and Rio Hondo, with its fair share of Maya ruins, snorkeling, swimming and fly fishing attractions. Corozal is Belize's fourth largest populated district, with 33,335 residents, and home to a growing community of North American retirees.
Today, even with all the Free Zone activity, Corozal Town still has a quaint seaside feel, a comfortable style reminiscent of a more laid back time. Indeed, if you go jogging along the glorious spread of a Corozal sunrise along Consejo Shores or anywhere along the Bay, don't be surprised at the numerous greetings of "Good Morning" or "Buenos Dias" you'll hear. Corozal Town sits on the Bay of Corozal; its population is 7,888. The town was built by refugees fleeing civil war between Mestizos and Indians in Mexico.
Spanish is the predominant language here. Yet, like everywhere else in Belize, the multinational blend is evident everywhere: Mestizo, Maya, Creole, Garifuna, East Indian, Mennonite and Asian all claim this rather tranquil seaside community as home. A visit to market located just along the bay area is a wonderful experience of exotic fruits and friendly faces.
Just nearby is a renovated 19th century Customs house, with a distinctive steeple which displays, among other things, Mayan artifacts, a pictorial history of the sugarcane industry and a traditional hut.
The history of Corozal, including a graphic depiction of the war and the impact of colonial rule on the Mayan people, are sketched in a strikingly beautiful mural on the wall of Corozal's Town Hall. The mural, painted by artist Manuel Villamor Reyes, was restored in 1986 and updated to depict the exploitation of immigrant workers during the 1850's and 1860's. The mural can be viewed through the windows on the ground floor if the town hall is closed.
Tony's Inn and Beach Resort has an excellent gourmet restaurant featuring Belizean, Mexican and international cuisine at its recently renovated Y-Not Grill and Bar. Live music is usually available on weekends.
Reasonably priced food is also available from the Hotel Maya, which also has a Belizean cuisine feature and TJ's Restaurant. Accommodations, meals and tour arrangements are available at the Caribbean Hotel. Budget accommodations and good food are also available at Nestor's Hotel.