High upon a hill, overlooking the twin lakes of Laguna Yaxhá and Laguna Sacnab, this late Classic Maya site is the third-largest in Guatemala. Yaxhá translates as ‘green water,’ likely in reference to its lakeside location. (By the way, don’t be tempted to swim in the lakes, as the crocs will get you!) During its heyday in the 8th century, Yaxhá was home to a population of 20,000. Its 400-plus structures included five acropolises, two astronomical observatories and three ball courts. These days, excavations are ongoing, but it takes at least a couple of hours to look around the main groups of ruins. The high point (literally), towering above all else, is Templo 216 in the Acrópolis Este (Eastern Acropolis), which affords magnificent views in every direction. On an island near the south shore of Laguna Yaxhá is a separate, Postclassic archaeological site, Topoxté. The dense covering of ruined temples and dwellings may date back to the Itzá, the pre-Columbian civilization that occupied Flores island. About 10 miles north of Yaxhá, Nakum is an old river port on the Holmul River. You’ll need a 4WD, but once you get there you can observe the ongoing archaeological excavation. The admission price to Yaxhá includes all three sites. Halfway between Puente Ixlú and Melchor de Mencos, Yaxhá is 7 miles north of the main road. The access road is unpaved. It is difficult to reach without your own vehicle.