Río Blanco National Park
This isolated national park at the southern end of Belize was established in 1994 in an effort to promote sustainable tourism as an alternative to logging. Recognizing the value of the incredible natural resources in the region, the surrounding indigenous Mayan communities of San Elena and Santa Cruz aligned and formed the Río Blanco Mayan Association, which now co-manages the park.
The park spans 105 acres (42 ha) of pristine mountainous rainforest. Spectacular biodiversity draws in birders, hikers, nature lovers, and adventure enthusiasts. The main attraction is Río Blanco Falls, which are 100 feet (30 m) across and 20 feet (6 m) high following heavy rains. The large, calm pool at the base of the falls is surrounded by slabs of sandstone and offers scenic swimming opportunities.
Reaching the falls requires a 20-minute hike along a wide, forested path that begins at the grassy parking area. The trail can get muddy following rain, so be sure to wear proper footwear. Bug spray is also recommended. After exploring the park, make sure to stop in the small on-site craft shop where you can purchase handicrafts made by local Mayan women, including jewelry and woven baskets.
Río Blanco is located approximately 30 miles (48 km) east of Punta Gorda.