Corozal is the northern most district in Belize and only 8 miles south of the Mexican border of Santa Elena which borders Belize and Chetumal, Quintana Roo. Corozal is a quaint sea side town that is filled with remnants of the ancient Mayas, the Cerros and Santa Rita Maya ruins.
Present day Corozal is a booming expat community with excellent fishing in the Bay. The expat community can be found in the northern tip of the district in areas like Consejo Shores, Copper Bank and Chunox. Although Corozal is not a tourist destination, it gives visitors a wide range of nature activities to enjoy like bird watching, wildlife viewing, Maya ruin tours, fishing trips, tours through the nature reserve and shopping trips to neighboring Mexican cities.
If you’re driving to Belize through Mexico, your first taste of Belize will be from Corozal. Once known as the epicenter of Belize’s sugar industry, Corozal is now best known for its Free Zone, developing expat communities and low cost of living.
If you’re wondering what all is there to do when staying in Corozal, this little town is booming with fun activities. Corozal is a great base for day trips across the border to Chetumal, excursions to Maya Ruins and beaches within the Yucatan Peninsula, fly fishing and nature hikes. The largest island in Belize, Ambergris Caye, is only 15 minutes by air from Corozal and is great for diving and snorkeling.
Although Corozal is the northern most district in Belize, you don’t have to miss out on the rest of the country just because you’re based there. Belize City is only 90 miles from Corozal and you’d be able to drive from north to south of Belize in just one day.
The characteristics of a Corozal lifestyle are definitely to go slow and take things easy. On its quiet streets, you can find a few commercial banks, museum, churches, primary schools, gas stations, Chinese grocery shops and restaurants, and a small produce market. All these stores are no more than 10 minutes away from each other.
Unless you’re into outdoor activities, there’s not much to do here. Most activities take place during the week at the Central Park when people are bustling about conducting business. Weekends are essentially very quiet in Corozal when the people take time out to rest, be with family, or travel across the border for shopping in the large Mexican supermarkets.
Living in Corozal
Corozal has the fourth largest population in Belize with over 20,000 residents including locals and a host of American and European retirees. Because of its booming expat retirement communities, Corozal was ranked on AARP’s top retirement destinations in 2010.
Despite attracting a lot of visitors to their Free Zone by the border, the town center isn’t affected and remains slow-paced keeping its charming sea-side feeling all year long. Corozal Town is in the Bay of Corozal with almost 11,000 residents. Spanish is the dominant language here. But like everywhere else in Belize, Corozal has a mixture of cultures ranging from Maya, Mestizo, Creole, Garifuna, East Indian, Mennonite and Asians.
Many residents of Corozal find employment at the Corozal Free Zone. The Free Zone isn’t open to Belize residents and caters mostly to Mexicans from Quintana Roo. Chetumal, Quintana Roo has a larger population that the entire country of Belize and is only a twenty-minute drive from Corozal Town.
The Corozal Free Zone provides customers with casinos, hotels, shopping, arcades, and wholesale depots. Everyday hundreds of Mexicans cross the Santa Elena border to shop in the Corozal Free Zone.
Corozal’s produce market is located along the bay and is a great place to find a wide selection of exotic fruits and vegetables along with lots of friendly faces from the locals.
Near the market is a 19th Century Customs house which serves as a little museum in Corozal. It displays Mayan artifacts, a pictorial history of the sugarcane industry, and many other historical and artistic displays.
Corozal Town Hall
The Corozal Town Hall has a graphic depiction of the Yucatan Caste War including the impact of colonial rule on the Mayas sketched in a beautiful mural on its wall. The mural was painted by Manuel Villamor Reyes in 1986.
Corozal has two Maya Ruins to explore, Santa Rita and Cerros. Santa Rita Maya Ruin is located on the northern outskirts of town and Cerros is across the Corozal Bay.
Corozal is a great place to retire in Belize due to its proximity to Mexico. Being so close makes first world amenities like malls, movie theatres, other first class activities easily accessible to retirees in Corozal.
There are several expat communities in Corozal. The largest is Consejo Shores which is a twenty-minute drive north of Corozal Town facing Chetumal City. Consejo Shores used to be a cane farming and fishing community, but it is now developing with many residential communities.
Majority of the home owners in these residential communities are from North America and Europe who have very modern homes with manicured lawns making the communities very attractive. Although Corozal’s expat communities are developing, there are still lots of land available for development, including sea front properties which do come at a higher price for the view.