Belize’s La Ruta Maya is a canoe race that begins under San Ignacio’s Hawksworth Bridge. Three-person teams competitively paddle over four days and 180 miles to be the first to cross the finish line at Belize City’s Belcan Bridge.
The event began in 1995, intended as a charity stunt with all proceeds going toward restoring the Belize River. Since then, it has metamorphosed into a massive international competition that draws hundreds of teams. There are multiple categories for winning teams: all-male; all-female; mixed; all from a single family; dory; intramural; pleasure craft teams and “Masters,” consisting of teams of 40+-year-old competitors.
Generally speaking, the race starts the first week of March each year. It has been so helpful to Belize’s tourism industry that its beginning overlaps with other nautical events on Baron Bliss Day, a national holiday.
While spectators are free to cheer along any stretch of the 180 mile race, many choose to cheer along each day’s checkpoint. San Ignacio, where the race begins, and its twin town of Santa Elena comprise the second-largest metropolitan area in Belize. This means that visitors will have plenty of ways to get around the country. Additionally, the end of each day’s race involves the competitors coming ashore to enjoy the local festivities of three different host villages.
If you have ever wanted to experience authentic Belizean cuisine; try the rice and beans with stew chicken, ceviche, and cochinita pibil or savor an ice-cold Beliken beer or a glass of Craboo wine…these are just a few reasons to visit Belize and bask in the energies of La Ruta Maya.
If this event sounds like something you would love to see for yourself, you will need some transportation to get around. To that end, consider renting a vehicle from Tour Belize Auto Rental. We have two offices: one within the Belize International Airport and the other in Belize City. You can rent a car and have the freedom to explore the Belizean countryside with a vehicle equipped for off-road traveling.