Sailing in Belize waters is an experience of natural beauty amid deserted isles reminiscent of the South Pacific, where the snorkeling and scuba diving is second to none, the white-sand beaches beckon, and small, laid-back resorts perch on sandy cays studded with swaying palms. To be sure, Belize sailing takes you to one of the world’s most beautiful and yet less traveled cruising grounds, but inland there are adventures too. The Mayan people called Belize home beginning at least 4,000 years ago, and probably much earlier. They built amazing cities of stone, some using the dry masonry style that didn’t require mortar. They didn’t need it, obviously, because the engineering behind Mayan architecture (with or without mortar) has withstood the test of time, allowing you to walk where the Mayans did thousands of years ago through streets, into buildings, and atop the great pyramids of the Americas. The Mayan ruins of Belize are inland, in the foothills and heights of the Maya Mountains, and they are truly spectacular.
Located 20 miles inland on a ridge in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, the Lubaantun pyramids are fascinating examples of Mayan culture. In Mayan, Lubaantun means place of fallen stones. At around 730 A.D., Mayan builders constructed immense stone platforms (pyramids without points) on which they subsequently built wooden buildings to serve many purposes. At the heart of Lubaantun is a ceremonial center with 11 major structures, all of which are situated around five plazas. Climbing to the top of the highest point at the site presents fabulous views of the nearby Maya Mountains. The Plains of Toledo are also clearly visible.
Nim Li Punit is another Mayan city. It’s most famous for the 25 stelae discovered on the extensive grounds. A stela is a freestanding stone slab or pillar carved with intricate artwork often depicting religious figures or individuals, and it’s an amazing sight. Nim Li Punit, which means the big hat, was named for a stela carved to form an enormous Mayan headdress. Throughout Belize you will find Mayan cities that will seemingly transport you back in time as you walk the plazas and admire the temples and pyramids. Planning an inland tour of the ruins is definitely worth consideration either before or after a Belize yacht charter.