14 Famous landmarks in Belize

There are many things Belize is known for, and some of them are pretty remarkable. This post will set aside everything else and explore the famous landmarks. Despite being small, it is a beautiful country with extraordinary natural landscapes, including caves, waterfalls, beaches, forests, and the barrier reef.

The land where we can find Belize has a long history and played an essential role during European colonization and Pre Columbian times. So, you will notice that most of the most famous landmarks in Belize are either natural landmarks or Mayan Landmarks.

Planning a trip to Belize? Have a look at the 50 things you need to know before traveling to Belize!

As usual in these World landmarks posts, we invited a few other bloggers to pitch their favorite landmarks in Belize and make this post as comprehensive as possible. Let’s explore the 15 most famous Belizean landmarks without further ado!

Famous landmarks in Belize – Human-made

Lamanai Ruins

By Jenn Lloyd from Sick Girl Travels

One of the most famous landmarks in Belize is the Lamanai Mayan Ruins. Lamanai comes from the Mayan words for “submerged crocodile.” The ruins were once part of a major Mayan city in the Orange Walk district of Belize.

The area was occupied for three millennia, dating back to the preclassical era and continuing into the 20th century.

Unlike other Mayan sites, Lamanai wasn’t abandoned at the end of the 10th century, making it the longest continuously occupied area in Mesoamerica. Lamanai outlasted many other Mayan sites due to its strategic focus on trade.

Lamania contains three important temples, the Mask Temple, Jaguar Temple, and High Temple. There is also a museum where visitors can explore a wide variety of artifacts, including masks, figurines, and pottery. The site lies on the west bank of the New River Lagoon.

To get there, it’s easiest to take a water taxi from Orange Walk or the Tower Hill Toll Bridge. Visitors may also opt to drive to Lamanai from Orange Walk to the town of San Felipe near the site. Though the road is dirt/gravel and tends to wash out in the rainy season, so taking a boat is preferable.

The best time to visit is during the dry season (November – March) Admission is $10 BZD.

Popular landmarks in Belize
Lamanai Ruins in Belize, one of the most famous Mayan landmarks in Belize | photo by from Sick Girl Travels

Caracol Ruins

By Brandon from Zimmin Around the World

Located deep in the jungle of the Cayo District in Belize are the ancient Mayan Ruins of Caracol. Caracol is considered to be the largest and most complex Mayan site in the country.

The largest structure at Caracol is Caana, which is also the tallest structure in all of Belize. During its prime, Caracol had a population of 150,000 people and rivaled other Mayan sites like Tikal in Guatemala. Caracol covers an estimated area of 25,000 acres, although today, only a tiny percentage of the site has been uncovered.

Getting to Caracol is no easy task, and a guide or guided tour is highly recommended and required. There are tour companies throughout Belize that offer day trips to Caracol. The jungle town of San Ignacio is a great place to stay and book tours.

Caracol is about 25 miles south of San Ignacio. Surprisingly it can take several hours to reach the Mayan ruins by car, mainly due to the poor conditions of the road getting to the site.

Once at Caracol, visitors can easily spend an entire day here exploring the ruins, taking photos of the wildlife, and learning about the Mayan history of Caracol and the surrounding area. Just know that Caracol closes daily at 4 p.m., and visitors must leave the area for safety reasons.

what to do in Belize
Caracol Ruins – Popular landmarks in Belize | photo by Zimmin Around the World

Atun Ha Ruins

By Chantelle from Flannels or FlipFlops

The Mayan ruins of Atun Ha are a great destination to explore and experience the mysteries of a past civilization.

Atun Ha was once an important trading center for the Maya people from 900 BC until 1000 AD. It is believed that this site was once home to more than 10,000 people. Altun Ha was a significant site for agriculture and trading for the Mayans. They traded jade and obsidian and grew corn.

The ruins are located just 33 miles south of Belize City and were discovered in 1963 when a bush pilot was flying over. The restoration of the site began shortly after. Today, there are 2 plazas and 13 structures.  

There are 2 main structures that you can climb to the top of at Altun-Ha, the Temple of the Green Tomb and the Temple of the Sun God.

The Temple of the Green Tomb was the burial site of the Mayan Priest-King and is the oldest structure on the site. It is also where the Mayans made blood sacrifices, as evidenced by stingray spines within the tombs.

The Temple of the Sun God is the largest and most famous structure at Altun-Ha. Its image is even featured on the Belikin Beer Bottles. This was the religious center for the Mayans that lived here. Many tombs here contain the remains of high priests, along with treasures of jade and animal skins.

The most remarkable artifact discovered at this Mayan ruin site is a large jade head sculpture estimated at 9 pounds!

Visitors can take guided tours or self-guided tours through Atun Ha’s grounds.

Famous ruins in Belize
Atun Ha Ruins in Belize | photo by Flannels or FlipFlops

Cahal Pech ruins

The Cahal Pech ruins are probably the least impressive Mayan ruins on this list. However, they are located right in San Ignacio, making them very easy to reach and thus more popular and well-known.

Cahal Pech was a palatial hilltop home for the Mayan elite. The superior location rests above the Macal river, promoting views over a large area. The tallest temple of Cahel Pech is about 25 meters high and is situated around the central acropolis. The site holds a group of 34 structures, some of which are different from other Mayan ruins.

Most of the constructions in Cahal Pech are from the classical period, but the earliest ruins found are from 1200 BCE. As the site was only abandoned in 900 CE, it was inhabited for more than 2000 years.

The ruins are very well maintained and worth visiting. As they are not as famous as other Mayan ruins, usually there are not many people around. Furthermore, as they are easy to reach independently, the experience ends up being very different from any other Mayan ruin we visited.

Famous landmarks in Belize
Cahal Pech ruins in Belize

Baron Bliss Lighthouse

By Ruma Dey Baidya from The Holiday Story

The famous Baron Bliss Lighthouse in Belize City, Belize, was constructed in memory of Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss. He was a Portuguese baron who died in his yacht Sea King before he could even set foot in the country. He left a trust fund of about two million Belize dollars for the betterment of Belizean citizens. The lighthouse we see today is the tomb of Baron Bliss.

The Baron Bliss Lighthouse was built in 1885. This striking monument is painted in white and red colors. There is a balcony on top encircling the whole pillar. Entry to the lighthouse is open and free to all.

You can visit the tower by road or water anytime, but the rainy season in Belize may be a hazard. There are plenty of shuttles, rental cars, and even water cabs in downtown Belize. The significance of this monument is quite great among the citizens of Belize. 

They are forever thankful to Baron Bliss for his kindness. They acknowledge this by holding a regatta yearly on his death anniversary to honor him. His death day, March 9, is a public holiday in this country.

Must visit landmarks in Belize
Baron Bliss lighthouse in Belize City

Xunantunich ruins

Xunantunich ruins are one of Belize’s biggest and most important Mayan Archeological sites. It is located by the border, only 11km from San Ignacio and 124 km from Belize City.

Xunantunich ‘s name means ” Maiden of the Rock” in the Mayan language. Evidence suggests that the ruins started being inhabited from 1000 BC to 250 AD. It is thought to have lived 200,000 people in the Belize Valley.

The Archeological site has six plazas surrounded by more than 26 temples and palaces. In which the most impressive is the “El Castillo” pyramid. The second tallest structure in Belize with 40 m tall.

It is definitely a place you should visit. One of the coolest things to do is climb to the top of the El Castillo pyramid and enjoy the view of the several temples and luxurious tropical forest that extends to the horizon.

Famous landmarks in Belize
The view from the top of El Castillo in Xunantunich ruins – A landmark in Belize you can’t miss

Famous Natural landmarks in Belize

Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve

 By Kylie from Between England and Everywhere

Another famous landmark in Belize is the Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve. Belize is said to have the most extensive cave system in Central America. The caves were created over 1000s of years by the Caves Branch River, which cuts through the limestone rocks. 

It’s approximately 1 hour from both Belize City and San Ignacio. Visitors can drive themselves to the site, but a popular way is to book a tour that offers pick-ups from all over Belize. One of the most popular activities at Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve is cave tubing. Still, it can also be combined with zip lining, ATV riding, or a trip to Altun Ha Mayan ruins.

Cave tubing tours start with a 20-minute hike through the rainforest. The guides share their knowledge of various fruits and plants and how they are used for medicinal purposes and eating. 

Using an inner tube, the cave float lasts approximately 1 hour 30. The caves are dark, but everyone must wear a helmet with a head torch. The guide points out stalactites as well as Mayan cave paintings. The area was used for important Mayan rituals, and the paintings depict different myths and stories.

Cool attractions in Belize
Tubing in Belize in Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve | photo by Between England and Everywhere

Big Rock Falls

By Nina Ragusa from Where in the world is Nina

When thinking of where to go and the things to do in Belize, you’ll likely stumble upon one of its most gorgeous waterfalls, Big Rock Falls. This iconic Belize landmark is probably its most famous waterfall—the one you’ll see everywhere!

And this is undoubtedly one waterfall worth chasing after. Located outside of San Ignacio, you’ll have to drive around 45 minutes to get here if you rent a car, or you’ll have to pay for a taxi to take you out here for the day.

Alternatively, you can book a tour to Caracol Ruins, and on the way back, tour operators often stop at this waterfall if you want to knock out a few landmarks in one day!

Once you get to Big Rock Falls, you’ll have to hike down steep steps. The walk is short, but remember, you’ll need to hike all the way back up! They are a bit rickety and are full of nails, so do take care. Once you make it down, you’ll get a clear view of the falls! To get closer, you’ll have to clamber around rocks. After that, you have all the time in the world to float and play around the falls, which is super refreshing after being in the hot Belizean sun all day.

There are no amenities, stores, or gas stations around here. If you plan on continuing exploring for the day, just past this waterfall are the Rio Frio Cave and Rio on Pools, both worth visiting, but note that the road gets pretty rough after Big Rock Falls.

Belize landmarks
Big Rock Falls in Belize | photo by Where in the world is Nina

Rio On Pools

By Allison of Eternal Arrival

One of the more unique landmarks of Belize is the Rio On Pools. They are located in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve area, which is part of Cayo District, Belize’s jungle interior.

Getting here is a bit tough, so most people go on a guided tour. Most tours include the Rio On Pools, the Rio Frio Cave, and the Mayan ruins of Caracol, as a popular thing to do in San Ignacio, Belize, on a day trip.

You can also get here by rental car if you’ve decided to rent a car in Belize – it’s located about 15 miles off the main highway.

This natural landmark is famous for having beautiful natural pools that are quite cool and refreshing to jump into on a hot day, including natural waterfalls that form almost a staircase of pools.

The On River formed the pools, which rushed over the granite landscape over the centuries, creating little pools to dip in and waterfalls to bathe yourself under.

It can be slippery here as the rock is rather wet and worn down, so it’s a good idea to bring water shoes so you don’t slip and fall. Also, the stairs down to the Rio On Pools are a bit wonky, with uneven stairs and no railing, so be cautious when walking down!

Cool landmarks in Belize
Rio On Pools – unique landmarks of Belize | photo by Eternal Arrival

Belize Barrier Reef

By Zoe Schafer from Zoe Goes Places

The Belize Barrier Reef is part of the larger Mesoamerican Reef that starts in Cancun, Mexico. The reef runs along the eastern coast of San Pedro and Caye Caulker, past many smaller islands until it ends in Honduras. 

With 100s of types of fish, coral, and other species, the reef is well protected to defend its biodiversity. Because of this, in many parts, you cannot enter the area without a guide. 

Although you can see the crystal-clear water and some animals from above, the best way to see the reef is by heading underwater. Weather permitting, Snorkeling tours from Caye Caulker and San Pedro run all year. 

Once you get below the waves, it is truly like an underwater paradise. Fish and corals of all colors, turtles, sharks, and rays, usually are easily spotted. And manatees aren’t too rare a sight, either.

The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is one of the reef’s most visited and famous parts. Here, you’re required to always be with your guide. They’ll lead you around different parts of the reef as you snorkel along behind.

Another popular spot is the Great Blue Hole – a huge 124-meter-deep underwater sinkhole that is easily visible from above. You can take a flight over it or go scuba diving with excursions from many parts of Belize. 

Belize Barrier Reef is the most famous natural landmark in Belize
Fish and Coral in the Belize Barrier Reef | photo by Zoe Goes Places

Rio Frio Cave

By Melissa from Parenthood and Passports

Located in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in the western district of Cayo, Rio Frio Cave is one of the most impressive caves in the country. The mouth of the cave is approximately 70 feet tall, making it the largest natural opening of any cave in Belize. 

Like many of the other caves in Central America, archaeologists believe Rio Frio Cave served as an ancient burial site for the indigenous Maya people. However, unlike most of the caves in Belize that require a guided tour, you can explore this Belize landmark on your own. 

After entering the cave, you can navigate around stalagmites as you make your way deeper into the darkness. A headlamp or flashlight would be beneficial if exploring this cave without a guide. The cave is approximately a quarter mile long, so after making a slight turn at the darkest part of the cave, you’ll begin to see daylight peaking through once more as you approach the exit on the other side of the cave.

While you can take a self-guided drive to Rio Frio Cave, many guided tours that take you from San Ignacio to the Caracol ruins also stop at the famous cave.

Attractions in Belize
Rio Frio Cave – Famous landmarks in Belize | photo by Parenthood and Passports

ATM Caves

The ATM Caves in Belize are truly an exceptional place. Hidden in the Belizean jungle, you will find a remarkable cave with a river full of preserved Mayan artifacts, and even human (Mayan) remains. It is easily one of the most spectacular landmarks in Belize, and visiting it is an unforgettable experience.

It is only possible to visit the ATM caves with a tour guide, and your best option is to join a tour from San Ignacio. During the tour, you’ll have to hike a short 30-minute trail to the cave entrance, swim inside the cave, climb a few rocks and ladders, and walk barefoot in the caves.

So, this isn’t for the fainted-hearted, but it is not really that hard, as long as you can swim and are reasonably fit.

Besides being an adventure, visiting the ATM caves is also going to sacred places of the Mayans. They used to make sacrifices in the caves, which is why one can still find human skeletons fully preserved in the caves. Plus, they are exactly as they were when rediscovered because the Belizean government didn’t allow them to be removed, even for studies.

 one of Belize's most famous landmarks
Inside the ATM caves in Belize | photo by blueice via Depositphotos

The Split, Caye Caulker

The split is the most popular site in Caye Caulker and one of Belize’s most famous landmarks. Initially created by Hurricane Hattie in 1961, the Split is a water canal that divides Caye Caulker into two parts.

Hurricane Hattie was ferocious, hitting the island at more than 160 miles per hour. After it passed, the island had a small canal devising it. Belizeans dredged the waterway, opening a boat passage as it was helpful to cross the island East/West. With time, the natural erosion of the water further deepened the canal.

Now, there’s a swimming area, rental shops, a seaway, and the legendary Lazy Lizard bar, one of the most famous businesses in Belize. Naturally, the split is usually filled with tourists, commonly backpackers, and young crowds, as that’s the main crowd in Caye Caulker.

The split is the place to go in Caye Caulker, as it has beautiful Caribbean waters to dive into and a really nice vibe. It is also a beautiful place to see the sunset and take sunbathe.

points of Interest in Belize
The Split in Caye Caulker, one of Belize’s most famous landmarks

Secret Beach

Secret Beach is located on the Northern part of Ambergris Cay Island in Belize. It is the best beach on the island, although it isn´t secret or secluded. It has crystal clear water and plenty of places to relax, sunbathe, and swim in beautiful waters.

The best way to get to the beach is to rent a golf cart. It will take you roughly 45 minutes from San Pedro, the main city of the island. The road is in bad shape, but the trip is fascinating. You will pass through swaps and wild tropical forests and plenty of birds.

Secret Beach is full of bars and restaurants that serve drinks and food. Each restaurant has plenty of sun loungers, sunshades, and tables for your convenience.

The beach doesn’t have sand, but it has several piers that make it easy to dive and swim in the sea. It also has a water park for kids. So you can relax while they have fun and play.

Well known landmarks in Belize
Secret Beach in Ambergris Cay Island in Belize

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