I just returned from a quick car-trip to Punta Gorda. It was wonderful! The Hummingbird Highway is in excellent condition and is (as always) among the most beautiful highways you will ever see. The Southern Highway is mostly paved, with perhaps just 8 miles of unimproved road between Placencia and PG. We stayed at El Pescador PG - awesome (I admit that the owners are some of my best friends - but really, the place is stunning ). The little village of San Antonio, west of PG is SO lovely, and there are some special natural sites along rivers and such that are exquisite. The drive from Belize City to PG, by way of Belmopan (the long way) took just about 4 hours. Highly recommend that anybody headed south be sure to take a day or two for Toledo and PG. We met a man who was spending a whole month at El Pescador PG - fishing every day. If you are an angler, this is exciting virgin territory!
The Toledo District area is gorgeous and has a lot of heart. It's totally uncommercial, and beyond quiet - the soul of the local people is "right there" and beautiful to experience.
There are a couple of hotels right in Punta Gorda and also Maya-Village "in home" and "guest-house" programs - a couple of nights (including meals) with a Ketchi Indian family might set you back a whopping $10-20.
You can see the excellent work that was done by volunteers in rebuilding the Indian villages after Iris. Marty and others "done good"!!!
, you'll be glad you did.