Altun Ha, site of the ruins of an ancient Mayan city, covers about 3 square miles (8 square kilometers) of Belizean countryside. The central area has more than 500 historic structures, mostly built during the Maya Classic era (AD 200 to 900). Join a private or group tour to learn how the city’s 10,000 inhabitants lived.
Located about 31 miles (50 kilometers) north of Belize City, Altun Ha is divided into two main clusters, Plaza A and Plaza B, each with its own special attractions. Plaza A features the mysterious Temple of the Green Tomb, where jade, jewelry, flints, and other artifacts were found.
Plaza B is home to the biggest structure on the site, the Temple of Masonry Altar, which rises more than 60 feet (18 meters) above the plaza. Thought to be the main religious center of the civilization, the temple houses the famous head of Kinich Ahau: a 10-pound (5-kilogram) jade stone carved into the head of the Mayan sun god; this national treasure is depicted on the local currency. Guided tours are available from Belize City, and many combine a trip to the ruins with other nearby attractions and activities.
Things to Know Before You Go
- No one is allowed to climb the steps of the actual ruins, but there is a walkway to reach the top.
- Remember to bring insect repellent and water.
- Restrooms, souvenirs, and food and drink are available on-site.
How to Get There
Located near Rockstone Pond Village, Altun Ha is very difficult to reach without a car, as the area is not served by public transportation. The easiest way to get there is by joining a tour in Belize City, Crooked Tree, or another nearby city. Visitors can also walk 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the village of Lucky Strike.
When to Get There
Altun Ha does not usually attract large crowds, but it can get very hot, especially in the summer months. To beat the heat, plan to arrive early in the day, or schedule your trip for some time between late November and mid-April; this is Belize’s dry season and its peak season, which means better weather and more tourists. Altun Ha is open from 8am to 5pm daily.
After visiting Altun Ha, many guided tours make a stop to go cave tubing in Caves Branch River in Blue Hole National Park. Designed for almost any age and fitness level, the tubing adventure takes you along the river, floating through an underground world filled with enormous chambers and cathedral-sized rooms decorated with crystal formations and stalactites.