Many of you have asked for help, guidance, directions, and more on the best way/route to drive from the Texas/Mexico border to Belize Central America. While this may not be the best route for you we hope this helps if you’re planning such a drive. While we’ve driven this route several times, we can tell you it works for us, and hope it works for you. Cheers and safe travels from the CAO Expeditions Team.
Brownsville Texas/Matamoros Mexico:
This Border crossing is pretty laid back. Total time to cross was less than an hour. You need your original title to your vehicle, passports, registration, and 2 copies of each. As you pull up to the border crossing, turn left immediately at the building and enter under a covered parking area. Go inside and go to the window immediately to your left. This is where you will receive your temporary visa. Turn around and go to the other side of the room to another window, where you will get your vehicle permit. The vehicle deposits will range from $200-$400 depending on the year of your vehicle. This is refundable and can be paid on credit card or cash. You will receive a paper permit and window sticker. Keep these handy as you will be asked for them at most stops. Go back to your vehicle and proceed out of the parking area through a gate. You will be asked where you are headed and possibly asked to look inside your vehicle. After passing through the gate, you are officially in Mexico!
Miles- 204 (approx 4 hours 15 minutes)
Casa De Esperanza Missionary campground $15.00 U.S (need reservations)
Capital city, plenty of supermarkets and ATM machines, a couple of Anthropology and Historical museums, Coca Cola plant
Casa de Esperanza
Km 13.5 carr. Matamoros ( Hwy 101 )
Cd. Victoria , Tamps. Mexico
Miles-123 (approx. 2 hours 2o minutes)
Country Express Hotel
100 plus sites behind hotel in paved parking lot
Hot showers/restroom building,
Wifi only available in lobby
Credit cards accepted ($100 pesos)
Not much to see or do here. Tampico is a busy city that we will just try to pass through as efficiently as possible. Many chain restaurants, Home Depot, etc. much like the U.S. Tourista Police can be a little problem, singling you out at stop lights, possibly looking for a bribe. Never paid one, but have had to argue for 30 minutes before finally being let go.
Phone: (833) 300-0153
GPS: 22.51500 N 98.11972 W 100ft
Miles-174 (approx. 3 hours 40 minutes)
Poza Rica Inn Hotel
20 plus sites includes electric and water
Wifi in lobby/Restaurant onsite
Beautiful clean pool and lounging area
Credit cards accepted ($20 US per night)
Awesome accommodations and close to several attractions. Poza Rica is a busy town. The campground/hotel is peaceful and secure. Excellent 2 day stay to visit El Tajin ruins and also Mexican Pole dancers ritual.
Phone: (800) 505-7377
GPS: 20.51615 N 97.44197 W 300ft
Poza Rica – El Tajin
We can grab a taxi to the ruins or break camp and head over caravan style. Easy trip 20 minutes away. Restaurants onsite, vendors, entertainment and ruins. Back to The hotel for swimming. Many photo ops, including some really cool statues 20 feet tall.
Miles-58 (approx. 1 hour 20 minutes)
Costa Esmeralda beach towns
Numerous camping facilities along the coast (approx. 16 over 8 mile stretch).
We can drive in and pick the best. Most have showers/bathrooms and pools.
Some have restaurants on site.
Nice stop with beach flavor. Seafood restaurants, small stores, and palm tree shade.
We have stayed in several sites here. The most recent was
Veracruz/Boca Del Rio
Miles-109 (approx. 2 hours 15 minutes)
El Rey RV Park and Campground
32 sites with electric and water
Restroom building with warm showers
Small pool and slide, but not in operation during winter
Onsite employee due to it being remote. Its located on a sand dune beach 15 miles south of Veracruz
We also stayed at CoCo Adventure park about a mile past El Ray. It is a large facility, with a great pool with slide, new bathrooms, and a restaurant being built. Electricity.
Great location to enjoy bustling Cruise and military port town of Veracruz. Active downtown offers walking, history, modern day amenities, high rise buildings, ocean front, shopping, statues, really cool over sized fish painted in all types of art along the ocean walk, food, very touristy area, with something always going on. The bus passes in front of the campground every 30 minutes commuting to Veracruz.
There is an inexpensive rooftop bus tour that explores downtown and narrates in Spanish. Great way to see many streets without worrying about traffic.
Phone: (229) 921-1971 or 921-1977
GPS: 19.05278 N 96.02278 W
Miles 94 (approx. 1 hour 30 minutes)
10 plus sites include electric and water
Located on the lake with Pool and terrace area, and boat dock with tours.
Restaurant onsite, not always open
Mainly a stopping point to break up the trip to Villahermosa.
Phone: (800) 822-8286*
GPS: 18.43083 N 95.09139 W 1,100ft.
Miles-180 (approx. 3 hours 15 minutes)
Recreativo El Gordo y San Pancho
53 sites with electric and water
Restrooms at resort/cold showers
This is a swimming resort. With camping, access to pools/bathrooms/showers is granted.
This is also a very busy city, the roads are extremely busy with numerous lanes of traffic.
It might be best to take a taxi for sight seeing. This is the 2nd stop, I recommend staying 2 days.
This is a swimming facility, plus there are many things to do in Villahermosa. The most famous and highly recommended is a mix of history and zoo, called Parque Museo La Venta . It features the famous “Big Heads” of Mayan history. There are also many animal exhibits and beautiful park with walkways. You feel like you are in the jungle habitat of the animals.
Another interesting note, there are quite commonly street performers performing at the stop lights vying for your attention and tip. One of the most memorable was the fire juggler.
Phone: (993) 336-6051*
GPS: 17.98222 N 93.04611 W
Miles: 175 (approx. 3 hours 10 minutes)
Los Tucanes Restaurant/Truckstop
Clean restaurant with showers, restrooms, and plenty of parking in the grass for RV/Campers, Tents, etc.
If you eat at the restaurant, no charge for camping. We were able to plug in a cord to a covered palapa to run a fan. Friendly staff, and good stopping point about halfway to Chetumal. Quiet at night, restaurant stays open 24 hours. Tire repair shop out front. Very nice pool and playground with trampoline for the kids. Peacocks roam free.
GPS: N 18.58793N 091.03899W
Miles 192 (approx. 4 hours)
Villahermosa to Chetumal: Miles-367 (approx 6 hours 45 minutes)
Gringo Daves Last Resort
30 sites, electric available with covered palapas
Bathrooms/cold or hot showers
Located on “The Lagoon of Miracles”
Owner is very nice will show local dinner spot
Kayaking, swimming, beautiful shady facility on lush grass
Mini Mayan ruin onsite
Chetumal will be a great last stop to pick up any necessary items since there is a Wal Mart, Sams, Autozone, etc.
Only about 8 miles from Belize border.
Phone: (984) 156-2400
GPS: N18 30.921 W088 25.492