One of the biggest and best excavated Maya sites in northern Belize, Lamanai lies 24 miles south of Orange Walk Town up the New River (or 36 miles by unpaved road). The ruins are known both for their impressive architecture and marvelous setting, surrounded by dense rainforest overlooking the New River Lagoon.
The most famous and best restored of the Yucatán Maya sites, Chichén Itzá, while tremendously overcrowded – every gaper and his grandmother is trying to check off the new seven wonders of the world – will still impress even the most jaded visitor. Many mysteries of the Maya astronomical calendar are made clear when one understands the design of the ‘time temples’ here.
The ruins that have inspired Belikin beer labels and Belizean banknotes, Altun Ha (admission BZ$10; 8am-5pm) stands 34 miles north of central Belize City, off the Old Northern Hwy. Altun Ha was a rich and important Maya trading and agricultural town with a population of 8000 to 10, 000 at its peak in the Classic Period (AD 300–1000).
Journey into the Maya underworld
Belize’s forest-clad highlands sit atop Central America’s most extensive cave system, containing some of the largest subterranean passageways and chamber rooms in the western hemisphere...
Beyond the Pine Ridge, to the southwest, are the ruins of Belize's largest and most important Maya site, Caracol. Once among the most powerful cities in the entire Maya world, this ancient city now lies enshrouded by thick jungle near the Guatemalan border, a 52-mile (much of this very rough) drive from San Ignacio that takes anywhere from three to four hours.