Punta Gorda is the largest town in southern Belize, and the spiritual capital of the country’s Garifuna people. Stretching along the coast, Punta Gorda has a funky vibe about it – tumbledown and mildly untidy – and for this reason it isn’t a major stopover point for most tourists. We think this is a shame: despite sharing a similar ramshackle exterior with Belize City, Punta Gorda exudes little of the larger city’s menace. Though a bit rough around the edges (strangers may ask you for money), Punta Gorda is generally a safe place to explore and has a good deal of cultural cachet with which to entice visitors to stay an extra day. It’s a proud, festive town, one that does its best to make the most of its vibrant Garifuna heritage.
Punta Gorda is the birthplace of punta rock (a fusion of acoustic Garifuna and electric instruments), and is home to a number of notable Garifuna artists, artisans and festivals, not to mention Belize’s only Garifuna museum. With good access to both the central cayes and the Southern and Hummingbird Hwys, Punta Gorda is also an excellent place from which to launch nautical or jungle excursions.