Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
No
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Xunantunich ("shoo-nahn-too-nitch"), a Mayan site located near the border of Guatemala, is a great place to explore, learn about the history of the area, and take in some amazing views of the countryside. The name means “stone lady” or “maiden of the rock” in the Mayan language and was given to the site in modern times. The actual name of the site, like that of many Mayan ruins, is still unknown.

The site grew and declined between A.D. 700 and 1000, during a time when most Mayan civilizations were crumbling. Xunantunich lasted longer than most of the sites within the region such as Tikal in Guatemala, which was already abandoned by this time. This Classic Period site includes many remains of buildings, plazas, and ball courts. The tallest building, El Castillo, stands at 130 feet (40 meters) above the plaza floor and is still one of the tallest buildings in Belize. Visitors can climb the numerous steps to the top and take in the panoramic views of the valley. Excavation of the site began in the mid-1890s and continues today. A 2016 excavation uncovered a tomb with human remains, possibly those of a leader, as well as jade beads and other artifacts.

Getting to the park is half the adventure! You have the option to walk, drive, or go on horseback up the 1.6-kilometer trail to the entrance of the park. But before you get there, you will cross the Mopan River by hand-cranked ferry. The ferry is free and runs daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Once at the park entrance you will find a visitor center with artifacts and displays about Mayan culture, restrooms, and small gift shops. Many hotels and outfits offer guided tours of the site or you can explore it on your own. Either way you will feel like you’re walking back in time to another world. Be sure to wear good shoes and bring plenty water.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Admission Fee

Pros

Ancient ruins. Impressive views.

Cons

Bugs.

Features

Historically significant
Flushing toilets
Picnic tables
Covered picnic areas
Horseback riding
Bird watching
Wildlife

Location

Field Guide

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.