Xunantunich is dominated by the 130-foot-tall (40-meter-tall) El Castillo. At the top, you’ll have a fantastic view across the jungle canopy, the other ruins, and the Guatemalan border. While there, learn about the history of the Maya inhabitants, the excavations, and the environment on the site. Day trips to Xunantunich often combine a visit to the ruins with cave tubing, horseback riding, or other activities.
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Things to Know Before You Go
Xunantunich is fully excavated, and visitors are allowed to climb all the buildings on the site.
Look out for howler monkeys in the surrounding trees.
How to Get There
As Xunantunich usually closes around 4pm, get an early start on your roughly 3-hour trip from Belize City. The easiest way to get there on your own is by bus—which makes requested stops only, so inform your driver where you’re headed. Next, ride the free ferry across the river, then walk about a mile (1.6 kilometers) to the site. Buses sometimes run from San Ignacio, too. Alternatively, opt for a tour that provides transport.
When to Get There
If you’re traveling on your own, go to Xunantunich early to beat the tour buses—and the afternoon heat. Late November to mid-April (the dry season) is considered the best time to visit Belize.
Although not as popular as Xunantunich, Cahal Pech is worth a stop, especially if you’re into bird watching. The archaeological site is about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from Xunantunich, and visits are typically combined with activities like canoeing. Certain tours take in both Cahal Pech and Xunantunich on the same day.