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best ruins in belize


kilndude
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I recommend Altun Ha for starters. It's the cheapest. It's the shortest ride. It's the least amount of walking. You have two different temples you can climb. One small one and one big one. And it's really significant because you get to see and climb one of the most important structures in Belize. The one that's on the Belikin Beer bottles. That said I've been to all three. I think El Castillo at Xuntunich is the most impressive structure. And the masks on the mask temple at Lamanai  are very cool. You also get a boat ride with that one.

 

https://www.saintgregtravel.com/altun-ha-mayan-ruins/

 

https://www.saintgregtravel.com/belize-xunantunich-mayan-ruins/

 

https://www.saintgregtravel.com/belize-lamanai-mayan-ruins/

 

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For any tours out of Belize or Costa Maya, make sure to do the tours via Carnival. Why?

#1 - My experience is that Carnival has been significantly reducing the time in port (usually by 1-3 hours) for the last 6 months on a lot of its trips (Alaska and East Carribean especially but had it on the Western Carribean as well). Some of the ruins can be a fairly long travel time so that 1-2 hours may make the difference of making it back to the ship or not.

#2 - Since some of the ruins require bus and/or boat, anything can happen. I was on one trip to Belize where the speed-boat they use to go up the river broke down (I think they had to fly those folks to the next stop). On another cruise, there was a farmers strike outside of Costa Maya where the farmers barakaded the roads causing two bus-loads of cruisers to be stranded until the military (with additional busses) showed up. In that one, the cruise-ship just waited in port for another 3-4 hours until everyone got back. It was really interesting talking to the folks on that trip 😉  

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Laminai gets another vote here!  The boat ride was fast and fun, and the ruins were really interesting and the view over the River from the top of the ruins was amazing!   Its quite a climb!  Also been ro ruins in Progresso and Costa Maya so we have something to compare to.  This was a great Carnival excursion with very nice tour guides.  

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Either Lamanai or Xanantunich.  Both are all day affairs, large grounds with several buildings, huge temples to ascend with wondrous views.  It was easy to imagine a bustling town below the temple when gazing out.  Bus ride in, water ferry out. lunch included,

 

I would dismiss Altun Ha as insignificant and small, and was poorly "patched" when I visited 15 or more years ago.  Seeing Altun Ha as representative of Mayan ruins IMO, is like visiting Peoria to get a sense of America's metro cities.

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This question may end up moving to the Ports of Call area, where there may be a lot more similar threads, since it isn't Carnival-related, per se.

 

18 minutes ago, evandbob said:

Seeing Altun Ha as representative of Mayan ruins IMO, is like visiting Peoria to get a sense of America's metro cities.

Having been to Peoria, I grok your analogy.  It's a nice small city, but it ain't Chicago, NY, or LA!

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I enjoyed Lamanai, but I echo the comment about purchasing the excursion through Carnival.  On our excursion, we didn’t have any issues such as mechanical breakdowns but got back to the ship more than an hour after sail away time.  There were about 50 of us on several buses, so luckily the ship waited on us.

 

I did enjoy the provided lunch and the boat ride to the ruins.

Edited by DanvilleCruiser
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2 hours ago, evandbob said:

Either Lamanai or Xanantunich.  Both are all day affairs, large grounds with several buildings, huge temples to ascend with wondrous views.  It was easy to imagine a bustling town below the temple when gazing out.  Bus ride in, water ferry out. lunch included,

 

I would dismiss Altun Ha as insignificant and small, and was poorly "patched" when I visited 15 or more years ago.  Seeing Altun Ha as representative of Mayan ruins IMO, is like visiting Peoria to get a sense of America's metro cities.

 

That's kind of funny considering Altun Ha has the most significant structure in all of Belize. You actually see more structures there than you do in Lamanai. They're just less spread out. The longer bus ride and the boat ride don't move the needle for me. I don't see how staying on a bus longer is a positive. I liked the Xuntunich hand crank ferry more than the lamanai speed boat. As of a recent review they no longer climb the high temple at Lamanai. They climb the mask temple which isn't very tall. So you actually get better views from the temples at Altun Ha and Xuntunich. Xuntunich would be better if they covered it all. The ride to get there was so long we skipped over half of the main plaza. But I would still pick it over just seeing the three temples at Lamanai. All three excursions get the same lunch.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Honestly... having done all 3 in the past 6 years, I would say Xunantunich and Lamanai are both EPIC.  Both are an all day event but worth it.

And I would say Altun Ha is a cute little brother just to say you did ruins.  Its only a half day event.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 7/21/2022 at 10:58 AM, Saint Greg said:

 

That's kind of funny considering Altun Ha has the most significant structure in all of Belize. You actually see more structures there than you do in Lamanai. They're just less spread out. The longer bus ride and the boat ride don't move the needle for me. I don't see how staying on a bus longer is a positive. I liked the Xuntunich hand crank ferry more than the lamanai speed boat. As of a recent review they no longer climb the high temple at Lamanai. They climb the mask temple which isn't very tall. So you actually get better views from the temples at Altun Ha and Xuntunich. Xuntunich would be better if they covered it all. The ride to get there was so long we skipped over half of the main plaza. But I would still pick it over just seeing the three temples at Lamanai. All three excursions get the same lunch.

I hadn't seen a review that mentioned this change.  We did the high temple a few years ago at Lamanai and are booked on a similar cruise with friends next summer who were very excited about our pics from the first trip?  So it's always the mask temple?  That might convince me to try the other options then.  Thanks for the info!  And how hot was "hot" in the summer there?   We are usually spring and winter cruisers but our friends don't have very flexible schedules so July it is.  

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