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Belize Maya Ruins

Belizean owned and operated, home-cooked meals

Getting here

Belize Maya ruins, Belize Caracol, Belize Xunantunich and Cahal Pech

There are hundreds of uncovered Maya ruins in Belize. Below we list some of the Belize Maya ruins that are located in close proximity of beautiful Crystal Paradise. See Belize map for Belize’s attraction location.

Caracol Rio Frio Caves and Rio On Pools- (Full Day Tour)

Belize’s premiere Maya ruins. Come see Caracol in Belize

Mayan templeThe Belize Archeological site of Caracol sits high on a plateau, 500 meters above sea level on the western edge of the Maya Mountains. It is nestled deep in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve within the Mountain Pine Ridge area.

Caracol is famed as the most extensive Maya center in the country. Cutting across the hilly terrain, remnants of vast agricultural field systems give evidence of an extensive farm industry that once provided sustenance for a large population. Caracol has an internal road system made up of 60 kilometers of Sacbeob (roads) and causeways, which served as routes for transportation and communication.

This site is home to the tallest man-made structure in Belize, Canna, standing 143 ft above the plaza floor. The discovery of Alter 23, which shows bound captives, indicates that Caracol was an extremely fierce and war like center. It is believed that Caracol defeated Tikal in war in 562 A.D.

The scenic drive to Caracol traverses through the Mountain Pine Ridge area. The road travels over a series of creeks, through lush tropical forest and pine forest, habitat for a variety of  Belize bird species. The highest canopy  of this Belize rainforest is home to several species of cats, as well as rare birds in Belize such as the Keel-Billed Mot Mot, Crested Guan, Great Curassow and the Ocellated Turkey. A wide variety of orchids, vines and trees are also found in the area. This tour is combined with a visit to the Rio Frio Caves and the Rio On Pools for a swim after a ride on the bump roads.
What to Bring : Camera, binoculars, drinking water. Wear shorts or pants and hiking boots. Bring along swimwear, Water shoes or sandals, insect repellent and sun screen.

Caracol Ruins (full day trip)
with stops at the Rio Frio Caves and Rio On Pools.
Includes: transportation, guide, and packed lunch
Driving time: 2hrs
Fitness: moderate

Xunantunich Maya Ruins (Half Day)

XunantunichPronounced shu-nan-tu-nich, it was a major ceremonial center across the Mopan River. Xunantunich is located in the Mayan village of San Jose Succotz, about 40 minutes by car from Crystal Paradise. A hand-cranked ferry takes you across the Mopan River followed by a mile drive uphill to the archaeological site.

The partially-excavated and largest pyramid, El Castillo, stands at 130 plus feet above the main plaza floor, offering an impressive view of Belize’s Cayo District and nearby Xuanantunich Belize maya ruins Guatemala. El Castillo is known for its frieze, a banded stucco decoration which at one time extended around the entire structure.

An impressive museum displays a three-dimensional model of the entire site and depicts the evolution of the Maya civilization.

What to Bring : Camera, binoculars, drinking water. Wear shorts or pants and hiking boots. Bring along insect repellent, sun screen, and money for the gift shop and lunch.

Tour Includes: Guide and Transportation.
Driving time: 2hrs
Fitness: moderate

Cahal Pech

The Mayan site of Cahal Pech in San Ignacio, BelizeSituated on the hills above San Ignacio, Cahal Pech was once the home of a royal Mayan family. Its Late Pre-Classic temples consist of 34 structures and two separate ball courts displaying fine examples of Maya craftsmanship. The site spreads over two acres. The site was occupied as early as 1,200 B.C and was abandoned around 800 A.D. Its complex structures and winding tunnels and fine architecture makes it a very interesting visit. One of the easiest and most accessible Belize Maya ruins

What to Bring : binoculars, camera, drinking water and shopping money. Wearing shorts is fine however pants recommended if buggy, wear comfortable shoes and bring along insect repellent and sunscreen, an extra shirt is also advisable to change into after the hike.

El Pilar (Half Day)

EL Pilar is a 100 acre Middle Pre-Classic and Late Classic Mayan site which is currently being excavated by the University of California. Continuing work at the site occurs between February and June. The site is situated 12 miles northwest of San Ignacio in the Cayo District. The rare abundance of natural water sources in this vicinity is possibly the origin of the name El Pilar (“pila” being Spanish for watering basin).

El PilarA particularly intriguing feature is a causeway that extends from the eastern part of the ruins across the country border into Guatemala. Thus far, 12 pyramids and 25 plazas have been found at El Pilar. This is triple the number found in nearby sites such as Xunantunich and Cahal Pech. The site was occupied between (500 BC) and (1000 AD) periods. A variety of residential structures were discovered during excavations, in addition to elite household compounds and ceremonial structures.

In contrast to other nearby sites, El Pilar remains virtually the same way today as when it was discovered. Most structures are in the early stages of excavation. Currently there are five trail systems at El Pilar, three archeological and two primarily nature trail intended to provide insight into the agro-forestry of the ancient Maya. This provides the visitor with a sense of what the site looked like before archeologists began their research on the area. The site and its surrounding vegetations make a perfect birding destination.

What to Bring: camera, extra film, binoculars and drinking water. Wearing shorts is fine, wear comfortable shoes and bring along insect repellent and sunscreen.

El Pilar Birding (Half Day)
Belize birding and Nature Tour. We bring along a Swarovski scope
Includes: bird guide and transportation.
Driving time: 45 mins
Fitness: moderate

Tikal Ruins (Full Day)

<pTikalVisit Tikal Maya ruins while staying in Belize. Travel into neighbouring Guatemala to visit a very important Maya site. This all-day tour leaving early in the morning and returning in the evening includes stops for buying Guatemalan textiles and weaving.

Located in the Peten lowland of Guatemala, 1 ½ hrs from the Belize border, this huge Classic Period Maya site, rich in jungle flora and fauna, is considered one of the world’s premier Archaeological Reserves. The park consists of 225+ square kilometers of jungle, the first reserve in Central America and a World Heritage Site.

What to Bring: Passport for entry into Guatemala, binoculars, camera, extra film, drinking water and shopping money. Wearing shorts is fine; however, loose pants and comfortable shoes are recommended. Wear and bring along insect repellent and sunscreen; an extra shirt is also advisable to change into after the hike. You must pay a Departure taxes of $18.75 U.S. per person at the border (only when exiting Belize, not at return).

Tikal Day Tour (full day)
Includes: Visa, guide, lunches.
Driving time: 2 hrs
Be prapared for lots of walking
Tikal Overnight AP (3 meals)
Includes: visa, guided tour on day 1, lunch, dinner, breakfast and lodging at Tikal Inn

Topoxte (place of the breadnut tree) and Yaxha (green water) (Full day)

These two important archaeological sites are located on the Yaxha Lagoon, just an hour’s drive from the Guatemalan border. Upon arrival, we board a motorized dugout canoe to visit Topoxte, located on an island in the lake. This has just recently been restored to show how the Maya lived and protected themselves on the island. After lunch, we will then be transferred to Yaxha. Yaxha is considered to be the third largest city of the Maya empire. End the tour atop Temple 216 to view the jungle and lakes of Yaxha and Sacnab (white clay).

What to Bring: passport for entry into Guatemala; binoculars, camera,  drinking water and shopping money. Wearing shorts is fine; however loose pants and comfortable shoes are recommended. Wear and bring along insect repellent and sunscreen; an extra shirt is also advisable to change into after the hike. Departure taxes of $18.75 U.S. per person

Topoxte Maya site (Full Day)
Includes: fees, pack lunches, guide, boat ride and transportation.
Driving time: 1 ½ hrs
Fitness: moderate


Our guides are brimming in knowledge of the Belize Maya ruins at its history.  See our Belize tour rate.