Altun Ha, the Mayan TreasuryJust 45-minutes north of Belize City, Altun Ha is a complex of Mayan ruins dating back hundreds of years. Once the "treasury" for the Mayan people, Altun Ha is one of the most important Mayan sites in the country. Go on a tour of the place with Foolish Dreamzzz, a locally owned operator that will take your group at any size (and the price per person doesn't change, whether you're in a group of one or ten). Ask for Kendis Ferguson, the owner and a former history and social studies teacher. He and his company go above and beyond to make sure guests have all their questions answered, and he'll even make sure you get to climb to the top of the ruins—something not a lot of tour guides in the area make the time to do. The views from there, of course, are amazing.
One of the main territories of the ancient Maya, Belize is home to a vast number of well-preserved archaeological ruins. Several can easily be reached from Belize City, including Altun Ha, about an hour's drive north. First settled around 250 B.C.E., this city was an important trading and ceremonial center and is home to several large temples and tombs. It's also where the Jade Head of Belize (Kinich Ahau) was discovered during excavations in the 1960s; the head can be seen on most of the country's banknotes. Xunantunich is another important Mayan site, located about 123 kilometers (76 miles) west of Belize City in the Cayo District. The El Castillo pyramid stands around 40 meters (130 feet) high, and a climb to the top rewards you with panoramic views of the jungle, the ruins and neighboring Guatemala. And Lamanai, another Mayan city, is set deep in the jungle in the north of Belize and known for its High, Mask and Jaguar temples.