Cayo District picture
KaraGrubis/Getty Images

Key Info

West of Belize City

Price & Hours

Free
24/7 daily

Details

Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
More than Full Day Time to Spend
4.2scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Travel west of Belize City and you'll discover a cluster of ancient Mayan sites, rolling hills, gorgeous sunsets, tranquil butterfly gardens and verdant jungles. In the heart of the Cayo District sits San Ignacio, a small town that boasts traditional culinary dishes and affordable hotels.

Start your tour just 6 miles south of the town at the ancient Mayan ruin Xunantunich. Set along the Mopan River and less than a mile from the Guatemalan border, the temple at Xunantunich was once a civic ceremonial center for the Mayan people.

From there you'll likely want to drive about 60 miles south on the George Price Highway (also known simply as the Western Highway) to expansive Caracol. The largest Mayan ruin site in Belize, Caracol dates back to 1200 B.C. and served as a home to as many as 120,000 people. The grounds cover 30 square miles and include five plazas, an observatory and more than 35,000 identified buildings, although not all are full excavated.

The region is free to visit 24 hours a day, but most of its sites are only open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Each costs 10 to 15 Belize dollars (about $5 to $7.50) to access.

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More Best Things To Do in Belize

Ambergris Caye1 of 9
Great Blue Hole2 of 9
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Ambergris Caye

With its plentiful outdoor activities, this 25-mile-long island off the coast of northern Belize caters to the snorkeling and diving set. The island was originally inhabited by the Mayans to serve as a far-extending trade route, spanning from present-day Mexico to as far south as Honduras. Today, Ambergris Caye welcomes thousands of visitors seeking easy access to the barrier reef that surrounds the island. Snorkelers and intrepid divers alike will want to explore Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Most of the diving and snorkeling shops and instructors are found in San Pedro, including the Belize Pro Dive Center, Tuff E Nuff Tours and Scuba School Belize, which all offer a variety of daily excursions. Prices vary depending on the type and length of tours, plus any certification fees for diving.

When you're not underwater, explore San Pedro, Ambergris' main town. Here you'll find beachside restaurants, lounges, shops and luxury hotels. You'll notice the difference between this tourist hub and the more urban Belize City as soon as you step onto its cobblestone streets, which are filled with golf carts and bicycles, rather than cars.

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