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Lamanai

Northern Belize | Belize
Lamanai Photo info
padgham/Flickr
  • Type: Sightseeing
  • Time to Spend: 2 hours to Half Day
Overall Rating: 4.0 (4.2)
Value: 4.0 (4.0)
Facilities: 3.0 (3.0)
Atmosphere: 4.5 (4.5)
About these ratings

This sprawling 960-acre Mayan site perched on the New River Lagoon in northern Belize stands masked in crocodile art. Named after a Mayan ruler named Lord Smoking Shell, who proclaimed spiritual ties to the crocodile, Lamanai translates to "submerged crocodile" in Yucatec Maya. It's also not unusual on to spot crocodiles (and iguanas) crawling along the river banks to catch some sunlight. 

Lamanai was inhabited from about 1,500 B.C. to A.D. 1,700, making it the longest-occupied Mayan site in the world. Its dense compound features three Mayan pyramids, the remains of a 16th-centruy Spanish Church, and several noteworthy plazas and temples established during Pre-Classic Mayan rule. You won't want to skip climbing the High Temple. You'll also want to visit the Mask Temple, which includes ancient artifacts linked to Mayan, Aztec, and Olmec rulers. Just be sure to come prepared with sunscreen, light clothing, and plenty of water. One TripAdvisor user advises, "Take some insect repellent, sunscreen and bottled water with you and wear sturdy non-slip shoes if you plan to make the somewhat perilous climb up the High temple steps."

Lamanai welcomes visitors every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entrance to Lamanai costs 10 BZD (roughly $5 USD). You can reach Lamanai from Belize City via the Northern Highway or by water taxi or a guided river tour from Caye Caulker. For more information, consult our section on Getting Around Belize.

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