Corozal Town & History
The sleepy town of Corozal is nestled along the scenic Corozal Bay, only a few miles from the border with Mexico. It was founded in 1848 when Mestizo refugees fled the Caste Wars in the neighboring Yucatan Peninsula. For the next few years several thousand immigrants found refuge in Corozal. They brought along with them the Spanish and Yucatec Maya language, Catholicism and Maya folklore and their family structure and way of life. To this day more Spanish is spoken here that English. Corozal basically emerged from a Mestizo settlement in a land ruled by British expatriates. The best place to start exploring the town is at Central Park. Its large trees and park benches make it a popular meeting place for many with no shortage of street vendors selling a variety of drinks and snacks. Nearby you’ll find the town clock, the remnants of a Fort Berle and a beautiful mural in the Town Hall. Painted by the Mexican-Belizean artist Manuel Villamor, it depicts the rich history of Corozal.
Surrounding Sites & Attractions
There are many sites and attractions around Corozal Town that are worth exploring. The town of Chetumal in neighboring Mexico makes for a fun day trip to shop, eat and explore the Malecon (Board Walk of Chetumal). At the border you’ll also find the Free Zone that offers great shopping deals as well as 2 casinos where you can test your luck. North of Town you’ll find Consejo Village and the surrounding area that features various nice resorts nestled along the Corozal Bay. It offers a secluded and serene atmosphere to enjoy complete peace and tranquility surrounded by nature. East of Town along the Bay you’ll find the small fishing village of Sarteneja. This village is legendary for its local boat builders who specialize in making handmade wooden sailboats. This scenic Bay area is also popular among tourists and retires. Just south of the village is the Shipstern Wildlife Nature Reserve which covers 32 square miles and harbors about 200 species of birds, 60 species of reptiles and amphibians and nearly 200 species of butterflies.
Maya Sites & History
Corozal, like the rest of Belize, has a rich Maya history. In fact, Corozal Town itself is built over the ruins of Santa Rita. In the 1980’s an archeological team found that more than 50% of Santa Rita structures lie under the town. Of the many original buildings of Santa Rita, only one still stands partially excavated fifty feet above ground. It is located just a few miles out of Corozal Town ironically juxtaposed next to a modern Coca Cola factory. The best known Maya ruin in Corozal is Cerros, meaning hills. This ruin is accessible by boat from Corozal Town or by a dirt road in the dry season. The site has two ball courts and a pyramid cluster within a central plaza, with the main temple rising more than 70 feet offering a panoramic view of Corozal Bay from the top. Stuccoes and painted masks still visible through years of erosion show representations of the sun and venus. Cerros was an important trading center controlling ancient routes from the coastal Yucatan Peninsula to deep in the jungles of Peten through nearby rivers such as the Rio Hondo and New River.
Retiring in Corozal
Over the past few years Corozal, particularly the area around the Bay, has become a popular retirement area. While most expatriates choose Ambergris Caye or Placencia as their new homes, some have discovered the advantages of living in Corozal. It offers a more serene and tranquil atmosphere that is much less touristy. In addition, property prices are far lower in Corozal where a property overlooking the Bay can be purchased for a very reasonable price. In addition, Chetumal with its malls and cineplexes is only a short drive away as is the Free Zone which offers great shopping and casinos. And if you want some touristy fun, Ambergris Caye is just a short flight or boat ride away.