Belize Maya Sites

If you want to include one or more of the notable Belize Maya sites in your Belize vacation, you'll have plenty of options to do so. Tours to the various Belize Maya ruins are easy to arrange at all the top tourist destinations, and they can often be paired with a list of other fun activities in the area. Guided tours of Belize Maya sites are available, but some of them are quite easy to get to and explore on your own if you wish. The Belize Mayan temples in the northern and western part of the country are among the best you'll find in all of Central America, and they display the kind of advanced building skills employed by the ancient Maya. Though the southern Belize Maya ruins tend to be less impressive than those found further north, they are still very much worth visiting, especially if you are vacationing in south Belize. Some of the more interesting Belize Maya sites are found inside the various caves of western Belize, and especially in the Cayo District. Explore a cave or two in Belize, and you're bound to see some evidence of past Maya use.

Since most visitors to Belize arrive on flights to Belize City, it behooves them to consider the nearby Altun Ha ruins for a quick visit. Even if you are not hanging out in Belize City for an extended period of time, you can probably fit these small, yet impressive Belize Mayan ruins into the agenda. Many Belize City hotels have tour desks that can help you arrange a guided tour that includes your transportation and perhaps even lunch. If you have rented a car and want to drive yourself, it's only about 30 miles away, and the route is well-marked. Much like the other major Mayan ruins in Belize, most of Altun Ha remains covered by the earth, with only some of the most significant temples and such uncovered. The Temple of the Masonry Altars is one of the 2 main pyramids found at the Altun Ha Mayan ruins, and it is also the largest. Climb the 54 feet to its summit, and you'll enjoy some excellent jungle views. North of Belize City by the Mexico border, visitors to Corozal Town can easily include some Mayan ruins in their trip. The two main Mayan ruins that people visit when in the Corazal District are Cerros, where a surviving 70-foot temple affords astonishing views of the bay, and Santa Rita, which is found just on the outskirts of town. These ruins may be small, but they are so easy to get to from Corozal that it's almost a no-brainer if you are spending time here.

Should you want to see some of the most impressive Belize Mayan temples, a trip to Lamanai in north central Belize is worth considering. Lamanai is certainly one of the largest Belize Maya sites, and there are 3 large pyramids here that can be quite intimidating to climb. One of the more interesting things about Lamanai is the fact that the Maya managed to remain here until the mid 1650"s, while most of the other Belize Maya sites had been abandoned before or around 900 AD. In the 1500"s, the Spanish erected two catholic churches at Lamanai, only to have the Maya destroy them. The remains of these churches are among the more curious offerings at Lamanai. Heading into Belize's Cayo District, you will find a few of the top Mayan ruins in Belize, including Caracol and Xunantunich. Caracol is the largest of all the Belize Maya archaeological sites, and its centerpiece is the 136-foot tall Caana pyramid.

Xunantunich was a major Classic era ceremonial center for the ancient Maya, and it's found just 10 miles from the town of San Ignacio, which makes for an easy visit. Guided tours can be arranged at the San Ignacio hotels with tour desks, and there is also a full-time guide at the site if you find your own way there. Public transportation is available should you need. The El Castillo pyramid at Xunantunich rises some 130 feet above one of the six main plazas here, and there are various other pyramids, palaces and friezes to marvel at as well. While you're visiting San Ignacio and Xunantunich, you might as well also hit Cahal Pech. Resting on a hillside overlooking San Ignacio, a half-hour uphill walk can get you here from downtown, though you might entertain the notion of staying right by the ruins at the Cahal Pech Village Resort.

When hanging out at southern Belize towns like Placencia and Punta Gorda, you might take some time out from fishing or hanging out at some of the best Belize beaches to visit Lubaantun or Nim Li Punit. They are both found in the Toledo District, and though some consider them to be less impressive than the northern Belize Maya ruins, they are still very much worth dropping in on. The style of construction at these sites differs from ones found further north, which helps to give them added substance. As mentioned before, the Belize Maya sites are not only of the temple and city variety. The Maya believed in a spiritual world known as Xibalba, and their link to this world was found inside caves. The western Belize caves, and primarily those of the Cayo District, are not only a joy to explore for their jaw-dropping natural formations, but also for their ancient Maya vestiges. The Che Chem Ha Cave near San Ignacio is known for its collection of ancient Mayan pottery, and at Aktun Tunichil Mucknal Cave, you can witness the sparkling, naturally-preserved bones of a young Maya girl. Taking tours various Belize Maya sites such as the ones mentioned in this article is a great way to learn more about the Maya culture and how it figures into Belize history.

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