The Hummingbird Highway is about 50 miles of the most beautiful scenery you could ask for: mountains, valleys, rivers, lush jungle, and tidy rows of citrus fields. Connecting the capital of Belmopan with the coastal town of Dangriga, the Hummingbird Highway is the preferred route to reach the southern districts of the country (Hopkins and Placencia for example) from Belize City or the International Airport. It is a greater distance than taking the mostly un-paved Coastal Road but quicker travel time…quicker that is, if you don’t stop along the way for sightseeing- which you will be tempted to do!
With so many beautiful photo opportunities and dazzling points of interest; you should allow yourself a few extra hours of travel time along the Hummingbird—you won’t be disappointed! Here are my Top Stops along the Hummingbird Highway
Guanacaste National Park
Well, it’s not technically on the Hummingbird, it is on the Western Highway but if we’re using Belmopan as a starting point then you shouldn’t miss a quick visit to this small but well-appointed park. Wide, clean trails with informative signage educate visitors about the history of the area and the beautiful plants and trees it contains. Birding deck, visitor center, gift shop, and swimming area are all on offer but the real show stopper here is the wildlife. Unexpectantly you can see a stunning variety of exotic wildlife right here on the edge of the city; we saw a family of howler monkeys and a coatimundi during our visit but other resident animals include gibnut (also known as agouti or pac), deer, snakes, even armadillo! Cost of entry is $1bzd for nationals and $5 for international visitor.
On the highway just past the village of Armenia, pull off for a quick and affordable chocolate tour with samples of course. Learn how chocolate is made, the traditional way, from pod to grinding stone then fuel up with a cacao energy bar or chili-infused hot chocolate at the gift shop. Tour cost is $25bzd
St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park
This park is captivating! If you stop nowhere else along the highway, at least stop here for a double dose of magic. There’s 2 parts of this park, I recommend starting with the cave. Bring a flashlight or rent a headlamp from the ranger station for $5bzd and take a 15-minute walk down a well-maintained trail through the forest to the entrance of the cave. Stay on the path and you can explore a quarter of a mile deep in to the caverns on your own! To go further or enjoy another cave system and tubing you can hire a guide at the visitor’s center but adventurers young and old will enjoy viewing the impressive formations on a self-guided excursion.
Next head over to the Blue Hole; not the Great Blue Hole that Belize is famous among divers for, this Blue Hole is a gorgeous cenote surrounded by verdant vegetation. A limestone sinkhole filled with clean, cold, cerulean fresh water and encircled by dense jungle—you would never guess this otherworldly scene was merely yards from the highway. Changing rooms are on site if you choose to take a dip in the azure pool. If you have all day you could explore the handful of trails and if you’re lucky spot some of the local wildlife such as toucans, ocelots, and peccary (a type of wild pig). Park fee is $8bzd
A real working dairy farm; stop in for freshly made yogurt, cheeses, and ice-cream. Their snack shop offers burritos, jalapeno poppers, shakes and more. Plenty of parking, quick service, comfortable and clean seating areas—a perfect mid-way stopover to grab some grub. Two oversized scoops of ice cream are just $4bzd
Xaibel Shell Station
I know what your thinking: Really, a gas station? Well… yes! We’ve come to the end of our Hummingbird Highway journey and even if your tank doesn’t need filling, maybe your bladder needs emptying and if your final destination is Hopkins or Placencia you will be glad you used the facilities here before continuing on to the Southern Highway. The convenient store has a dizzying array of snacks and beverages but the freshly made journey cakes, meat pies, tarts, burritos and buns are the standouts. I’ve also discovered products here that I’ve never seen elsewhere in Belize; at Christmas time they had adorable little bottles of Rum Popo for $7.50bzd and currently they have Adult Popsicles in the freezer. How cool are these?!
What are your top stops along the Hummingbird Highway? Let me know in the comments where we should stop next time.