Experience the history and culture of the ancient Maya with a shore excursion that explores the Altun Ha (Water of the Rock) Mayan Ruins. As a bonus, you’ll also get a historical tour of Belize City.
As the archaeological record proves, Belize was near the center of ancient Mayan civilization. More than 2000 years ago, the Maya began to build magnificent cities and ceremonial centers in the region. Altun Ha, erected during the Classic Period (200-1000 AD), is the only Maya ruin located in the Belize District.
Once a splendid city spanning nearly 5 square miles, Altun Ha was until recently completely overgrown by jungle vegetation. As is the case elsewhere in Central America, historians and archaeologists are only beginning to uncover evidence of the remarkable achievements of the Maya. Mayan breakthroughs in math and science are gradually being documented. The Mayan alphabet (one of only a handful of complete writing system in human history) required nearly a century of scholarly work before linguists were able to decipher its meaning.
In the Mayan world, Altun Ha served as an important trading hub and connection to the Caribbean Sea, which is located seven miles away. The city was also a major religious ceremonial center and is believed to have housed more than 10,000 people. The complex contains more than 275 structures, and at least 250 mounds have yet to be excavated.
The Altun Ha tourist site focuses on the ancient central city, featuring thirteen temples in a pleasant park-like setting. The tallest structure, the Temple of the Masonry Altars, stands 59 feet high. It is the site’s most well-preserved temple and home to one of the largest jade carvings ever found in the Maya world, a head of Kinich Ahau, the sun god. (Representations of the carving today serve as a national symbol of Belize.) The top of the temple also offers visitors a panoramic view of the lush jungle canopy that surrounds the site.
Your exploration of the Mayan past begins at the Belize Tourism Village, where you will be met by your tour guide and escorted to one of our comfortable passenger vans.
Along the way to Altun Ha, you will be exposed to some of the architectural highlights of Belize City’s British colonial era. Beyond the urban area, you will pass through quaint Creole settlements and small farms. Your guides will share their deep knowledge of Belize’s history and cultural diversity.
Once you arrive at Altun Ha, your guides will lead you through the plazas and temples, offering historical insight and tidbits of ancient Mayan folklore. After your tour, you will have time to visit a gift shop selling Maya artifacts and Belizean collectables before your return trip to the Tourism Village.
Your tour departs near Terminal 4 inside the Tourism Village in Belize City (the dock area where the cruise ship tender boats drop off their passengers). As you disembark from your tender boat, turn left and walk along the boardwalk toward Terminal 4. Just past the Village Pharmacy storefront, you will see a sign for Coral Breeze Adventure Tours (our local operations partner) and will be met by your guide. Please ask for Ivar or Star if you cannot find your guide.
Our tours are scheduled to fit within the port time of the cruise ships arriving in Belize City. We monitor the cruise ship tender schedules and plan our tour itineraries to give you plenty of time to return back to your ship.
In general, Altun Ha is consider to be one of the most accessible Mayan ruins. The plazas of the complex are mostly flat and park-like. A few monuments, however, feature steep steps. Several covered pavilions provide shade, although the plazas are generally exposed to the sun. Visitors seeking to avoid physical exertion or prolonged exposure to the sun may wish to bypass some areas of the complex.
Your deposit is fully refundable if you cancel your reservation at least 4 days before your tour. In addition, you will receive a full refund if your cruise ship does not stop in Belize for any reason, or if weather conditions or other factors force us to cancel your reservation. Balance payments in Belize must be paid in cash with U.S. dollars. If you wish to pay your balance in advance by credit card, a surcharge of 4 percent of the payment amount will be charged to your credit card.
Reserve a group of 10 or more and get a 10 percent discount on your total price. Please note that groups formed online to qualify for the discount (e.g., “roll-call groups”) are not eligible.
Infants under five years of age are free
What to Bring
Tour guests should wear comfortable walking shoes and light clothing. Biodegradable reef-safe sunscreen and bug spray should be worn for comfort. Tour prices do not include gratuties. US dollars are widely accepted throughout Belize. Smaller bills should be used, as change provided for smaller purchases will be given in Belize dollars.
The timetable below represents the tour activities from start to finish. Our daily departures are scheduled to fit within the port time of all ships arriving in Belize.
Meet Tour Leader
Guest check-in and review of itinerary
Belize City tour and travel to Altun Ha
Tour of Altun Ha complex
Return trip to the Tourism Village
Upon completion of your reservation, you will receive a detailed confirmation message by email. (Please check the “spam” folder of your email account if you don’t receive it within a few minutes.) In addition, we will email you a message containing meeting instructions and other suggestions as your tour date approaches.
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