The Maya ruins at Lubaantun, 1.3 miles northwest of San Pedro Columbia, are built on a natural hilltop and display a construction method unusual in the ancient Maya world of mortar-less, neatly cut, black-slate blocks. Archaeologists postulate that Lubaantun, which flourished between AD 730 and 860, may have been an administrative center regulating trade, while nearby Nim Li Punit was the local religious and ceremonial center. The Maya site comprises a collection of seven plazas, three ballcourts and surrounding structures.
At the entrance is a small visitors center displaying pottery, ceramic figurines, maps and panels detailing the controversial 'crystal skull', said to have been found here in the 1920s by 17-year-old Anna Mitchell-Hedges. Lubaantun is known for the numerous mould-made ceramic figurines found here, many of which represent ancient ball players.
In 1924, Belize's then-chief medical officer Thomas Gann, an amateur archaeologist, bestowed the name Lubaantun (Place of Fallen Stones) on these ruins. More professional archaeological work has taken place since 1970 and much of the site is now cleared and restored.
There are two entry points to Lubaantun from the Southern Hwy, either via Silver Creek (signposted just north of Big Falls) or San Pedro Columbia. Either way it's around 23 miles from Punta Gorda along dirt roads once you leave the highway. Village buses running between San Pedro Columbia and San Miguel can drop you at the turnoff to the site, then it's about half a mile further.