Other Maya Sites

  Altun Ha is easily accessible from the Old Northern Highway
Belize has literally thousands of Maya sites, with more being discovered every year. Here are some of the other known major Maya sites. Those likely of most interest to travelers due to size, location, or ease of access are shown in CAPITAL letters.

Cayo District

CARACOL: Re-discovered only in 1936, Caracol is now recognized as one of the largest and most important sites in Central America. Arlen and Diane Chase are continuing their full-scale excavation of the site. The road to Caracol has been improved and, except in severe weather, is easily reachable by car. The drive there is among the most beautiful in Belize. Caracol may only be toured with a guide, available at the site. Some limited facilities at the site. US$5 admission.

XUNANTUNICH: Classic period ceremonial center is on a small site, but it's well worth seeing due to the wonderful views from El Castillo into the Petén. Easily accessible from the Western Highway near San Ignacio. Xunantunich was the first Maya site to be opened to the public in Belize. Limited facilities. US$5 admission.

CAHAL PECH: A small site dating from around 1,000 B.C., but with more than 30 structures. The site is on a hill with fine views overlooking the town of San Ignacio. New visitor center with facilities is now open. US$5 admission.

PACBITUN: Pacbitun was first occupied around 1,000 B.C. and it flourished until the Late Classic period around 900 A.D. The site is about a 30-minute drive from the Western Highway at Santa Elena, up the Cristo Rey road. No facilities. On private land; usually the owner charges a small fee.

Also: Tipu, Mucnal Tunich, Barton Ramie

(TIKAL in Guatemala is also a popular trip from Cayo. As an alternative to flying to Flores from Belize City, Tikal may also be reached via road from Benque Viejo, a trip of about 2 1/2 hours except in rainy weather, when it may take years. Hotels in San Ignacio offer day and overnight trips via minivans, starting at about US$60 per person. Taxis and vans also operate on the Guatemala side, usually at rates lower than from the Belize side.)

Orange Walk District

LAMANAI: Lamanai was occupied by Mayas until the 1600s. The 950-acre site enjoys a beautiful setting on the New River Lagoon. It is accessible by boat or via an all-weather road. Limited facilities at the site. US$5 admission.

CUELLO: One of the earliest known sites in Belize, dating from 2,500 B.C. or earlier. Easy access from Orange Walk Town, but the site is on private land, near a rum distillery and cattle pastures. No facilities. Ask permission at distillery to visit.

CHAN CHICH: The remarkable Chan Chich Lodge is built directly on this small Classic period site, with care taken not to disturb important structures or artifacts. Advance permission to visit required from the lodge. About a four to five-hour drive from Belize City.

LAS MILPAS: Thought to be the third-largest site in Belize, after Caracol and Lamanai, but little excavation has been done as yet. Advance permission to visit site should be obtained from Programme for Belize, on whose lands it is. No facilities. About 3 1/2 hours by road from Belize City.

Also: El Posito, Noh Mul , Kakabish, San Jose, El Infierno

Stann Creek District

Pomona, Kuchil Balum, Kendal, Alabama, Maintzunun

Toledo District

LUBAATUN: Late Classic ceremonial center is unusual in that structures were built without mortar, each of the tens of thousands of stones carefully cut to fit. Famous as the place where the controversial "Crystal Skull" (a head carved from rock crystal) was supposedly unearthed in 1926 by F.A. Mitchell-Hedges. Access is via short hike from parking area off Southern Highway. Limited facilities. U.S. $1.50 admission.

NIM LI PUNIT: This site is known for its stelae. It is located about 25 miles north of Punta Gorda just off the Southern Highway. Present day Mayas offer items for sale near site. US$1.50 admission.

Also: Pusilhá, Uxbenka, Uxbenton, Xnaheb, Hokeb Ha

Corozal District

CERROS: Late Pre-Classic site on Bay of Chetumal can be reached by boat from Corozal Town, or at most times by car via the road from Orangewalk Town which passes by villages of Chunox, Progresso, and Copper Bank and their lagoons. No facilities.

SANTA RITA: Strategically located site dates from 2,000 B.C. and likely was the ancient city of Chetumal. Present-day ruins are easily accessible in the town of Corozal. Limited facilities at site. US$2.50 admission.

Also: Aventura, Shipstern

Belize District

ALTUN HA: Classic site near the coast of Belize is one of the most frequently visited of the ruins in Belize, with tours from Ambergris Caye and Belize City coming on most days. It's 31 miles north of Belize City on the Old Northern Highway. Picnic area and limited facilities at site. US$5 admission.

If You Go to El Pilar

El Pilar: Belize's Newest Archeological Site