Guanacaste National Park
Located at the T junction on the Western Highway where the Hummingbird Highway begins, the 50-acre Guanacaste National Park is probably on of the most overlooked small attractions in Belize. I recommend planning an hour into your day to stop here for a hike, a picnic, and a dip.
Managed by the Belize Audubon Society and the government, the park gets its name from a massive guanacaste, or tubroos, tree on the property. The original tree is no longer living and they had to cut the limbs off for safety, but the park is also filled with ceibas, cohune palms, mammee apple, mahogany, quamwood, and other trees, as well as wildlife like agoutis, armadillos, coatis, deer, iguanas, jaguarundis, kinkajous, and more than 100 species of birds. Among the rarer finds are resident blue-crowned motmots.
There are three easy trail loops; bring a swimsuit and take a dip at the quiet spot in the Roaring River just before it enters the Belize River. This is a perfect place for a picnic and a dip on your way to or from Belize City.
The amate fig also grows profusely on the water’s edge and provides an important part of the howler monkey’s diet. Park hours are 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; entrance is US$2.50 per person, and naturalist guides are free. Contact the park through the Belize Audubon Society at 501/223-4987.
© Joshua Berman and Avalon Travel from Moon Belize, 9th Edition