Orange Walk Town

Orange Walk Town is barely on the radar of most visitors, except as a jumping-off point for boat trips to Lamanai, road trips to Gallon Jug and Río Bravo, or as a place to gas up en route from Corozal to Belize City. Though its population of around 14,000, mostly Mestizos, makes it the sixth-largest urban center in Belize (after Belize City, San Pedro, Belmopan City, San Ignacio, and Corozal Town), it's more like a "county seat" in an agricultural area than a city. In this case, it's county seat of Belize's sugarcane region, and you'll see big tractors and trucks hauling sugarcane to the Tower Hill refinery. Happily, a bypass around Orange Walk Town has reduced through traffic.

The town's atmosphere will remind you a little of Mexico, with signs in Spanish, a central plaza, and sun-baked stores set close to the streets. The plaza, near the Orange Walk Town Hall, has a small market (daily except Sunday and holidays) with fruits, vegetables, and inexpensive local foods for sale. This was once the site of Fort Cairns, which dates to the Caste Wars of the 19th century, when Mayan attacks drove Mestizo residents of Mexico down into northern Belize.

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