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Xunantunich is an archaeological site outside the town of San Jose Succotz, in the Cayo District of Belize.


It is known for the 9th century Maya ruins, which are Belize's most-visited Mayan site. Set on a hilltop overlooking the Mopan River, they form six groups with about 25 temples and palaces.

Get in[edit]

Map of Xunantunich
  • To get there by bus, catch a bus toward Benque Viejo del Carmen at the main terminal. Tell the conductor that you are heading here, and they will drop you off for BZ$1. If you don't want to wait for the bus, flag down a taxi (indentifiable by its green license plate). The fare to the ferry should be BZ$2-3, depending on where the cab is from (plates starting with "SVO" are rumoured to be the cheaper ones). Cross via free hand cranked ferry, and then walk 1 mile to the site. It is also easy to hitch a ride from the San Ignacio vicinity. Admission to the park is about BZ$10. Park closes at about 4PM. The ferry takes only two-three cars at a time, so sometimes there is a line up to leave (if you wait until 4PM). It is the only way across the river.
El Castillo at Xunantunich

Get around[edit]


  • 1 El Castillo. The tallest building in Xunantunich. It stands 40m (131') tall, with a 360° view at the top of jungle, ruins, and Guatemala.
  • 2 Tropical Wings Nature Center (The Trek Stop). Located on the outskirts of San Jose Succotz, a 10-minute bus ride from San Ignacio going towards Benque. Includes a butterfly farm & small educational museum, 9-hole disc golf course (the first in Belize & Central America) and a restaurant located on site.



  • Expensive souvenirs at the onsite gift shops
  • If you're interested in buying some slate artwork, there are some vendors selling pieces at the hand-cranked ferry for very reasonable rates.


Follow the signs to Benny's Kitchen for a relaxed meal, and read the local newspapers while you enjoy Pibil (delicious pork) or stewed chicken with rice and beans.



  • In the border town of Benque Viejo del Carmen (you can walk there from Xunantunich) you will find a burgeoning tourism industry that includes a variety of river and jungle adventures, stunning Mayan archeological ruins, horseback riding excursions, bird and wildlife watching and more. Otherwise Xunantunich makes a good halfday trip from San Ignacio. Consider spending the day and night relaxing in Benque before heading to Guatemala and Tikal.
  • 1 Benque Resort and Spa, 22 Riverside Street, +501 823-2323. Situated in the mountainous Benque Viejo Del Carmen (on the way from San Ignacio to the Guatemalan border). Built in 2008 and freshly renovated in 2014, situated along the Mopan River, the hotel offers Wi-Fi, big verandah. Away from San Ignacio, listen to the Succotz Marching Band practice while you sit on your deck overlooking the river and quiet jungle. Benque Resort is a popular destination due to its proximity to Xunantunich ruins being right outside your door, and the river tubing from the dock at Benque Resort. Actun Chapat cave and Che Chem Ha cave and numerous waterfalls and grottoes. There's a Mayan Spa, the first of its kind in Cayo, with such treatments as ancient cave mud facials, and Mayan massage. From BZ$111 for double room with AC, BZ$36 for dorm.
  • 2 The Trek Stop, Mile 71½ Western Highway (on the outskirts of San Jose Succotz), +5018232265. It's next to the highway but with approximately 22 acres (9 ha) of land, you won't feel so close to civilization. Shared and private cabins available, composting toilets; spots for camping as well. Restaurant on site, disc golf course, butterfly farm, trails. Lots of birds and different wildlife on site.

Go next[edit]

  • Guatemala and Tikal. Getting across the border is quite the experience.
  • To return to San Ignacio, simply catch any bus from the other side of the street. They will all head to San Ignacio.
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