Lamanai in Belize • Why You Should Spend a Day at These Mayan Ruins

If you’re like me, you might be obsessed with visiting ancient ruins. When I travel to places that have archeological ruins nearby, it’s almost a guarantee that I’m going to visit them. Belize is no different, and this small country actually has a lot different ruin sites to choose from. So, how do you decide where to visit? Well, continue reading this love letter to the Mayan ruins of Lamanai in Belize and then decide.

The Short Version

What makes Lamanai in Belize special when comparing against other Mayan ruins in the area:

  • Proximity to Belize City; this means if you’re out on one of the islands (I spent my Belize trip in Caye Caulker for example) this is an easy jumping off point for a day trip. Take the ferry into Belize City and your tour guide will pick you up at the marina.
  • Lamanai has super unique face carvings that I had never seen anywhere before. They reminded me of Legends of the Hidden Temple, a classic American kids’ show from the ’90s.
  • The jungle river cruise was another amazing added element I was excited to go on.
  • In my research, it appeared to be a less popular destination when compared against other Mayan ruins in Belize. This felt accurate, as once we arrived our small group felt like the only people there. It was pretty magical.

What your day will look like:

  • Depart from Belize City at 7am and drive to jungle river
  • Boat down jungle river until you arrive at Lamanai for 1 – 2 hours
  • Explore ruins for about 2 – 3 hours
  • Eat lunch
  • Explore for a little bit longer; check out shops
  • Leave around 3pm back on river cruise

Want my full recap of the day? Keep reading!

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The Long Version of Lamanai in Belize

I’ve been to a handful of ruins from Mexico to Morocco; hell, even in Ireland. So I have seen a lot, but these were really, really magical. The civilization felt completely untouched still. The archeological reserve is preserved so well, that you feel like walking into history.

Our tour was through Tsunami Adventures, and the tour name itself was Lamanai Mayan Ruins and Jungle River Cruise. I highly recommend this tour; our guides were amazing and provided a pickup service from the ferry dock in Belize City out to the launch point for our Lamanai adventure. Our driver gave us a ton of history of the area and the country itself, and I truly enjoyed my time listening and discussing the country’s history and culture with him.

Jungle River Cruise

To get to the archeological site, you must take a jungle river cruise which is fantastic. You get to hear a lot of history of the land, its people, and learn about the wildlife that surrounds the area. It reminded me a little bit of when I did an airboat tour through the Everglades, so you know that means I had a great time. No alligators, but we did see plenty of birds and our guide was able to point out some bats on a tree. Like honestly, he must have had spidey-vision to see them. I used a super zoom lens. He’s a superhero and no one will convince me otherwise.

Enter the Archeological Reserve

From there, you land at the entry point and wander around the grounds for a few hours; there are LOTS of ruins to explore. You can hear and see howler monkeys at every turn. You get to climb up many of the ruins to see these amazing views of the surrounding areas. It’s truly spectacular and though I was sweating my you-know-what off – because hiking up steep stairs in the jungle is not exactly chilly – I had the absolute best time.

As far as what you need to wear, I’d say comfortable walking shoes. Everything is pretty accessible, so just be comfortable and don’t be afraid to get dirty/sweaty.

You’re going to work up an appetite climbing up different pyramids, so lucky for you a delicious, traditional Belizean lunch is provided. 10/10 would recommend; so good. Once lunch is over you’re free to roam for a bit longer. Definitely check out the shops if you’re looking for tangible memories or gifts!

After you’re all explored out, it’s time to head back. You take the boat back to the cruise launch point and are then taken back to Belize City, where you can head back to where you’re staying. Lamanai in Belize is truly the perfect day trip to see amazing Mayan ruins.

So there you have it. Have I convinced you that you need to go to Lamanai in Belize yet? Because I think I have officially convinced myself to go back. 😉

As always, check out my Instagram story highlight for some real-time footage, or give me a shout with any questions. You know I’m here!

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