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Lamanai - lah-mah-NA-I - (North central Belize)

Lamanai site map J. KellyMaya for “submerged crocodile” (loose translation)

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Lamanai is located on the west bank of the New River Lagoon in Northern Belize. The Maya were the primary inhabitants of the area but there was also Spanish and British occupation. This ancient Maya city has an amazing occupational span of over 3,000 years. This is one of the most unique features of the site since many Classic period city-sites suffered from a decline starting around AD 850. Lamanai continues to thrive during this time as archaeological investigation by D. Pendergast (1981) indicates. He shows that there is enough presence at Lamanai at this time to warrant fairly large-scale buildings to be both improved and newly constructed. The population estimate for the site at its peak is approximately 50,000 Maya residents both in the main site center as well as the periphery. The site was mapped during the original excavations and approximately 720 structures were located, more then likely there are closer to 900 structures. The dynastic history of Lamanai has been a bit difficult to discern due to the existence of only one stela. Stela 9 is located in the main ceremonial center of Lamanai and depicts a young ruler who was originally identified as Lord Smoking Shell (Closs 1988). Current decipherment by Simon Martin may indicate a somewhat different story. The date panels found on the stela have been partially translated and indicate that the young lord began ruling at Lamanai around AD 608. It is believed he may have taken over rulership of the area from his father or may have been under the rulership of another lord from a different site.

Aside from the unusual feature of over 3,000 years of occupation the site has a unique construction effort. The structures were built along the banks of the New River Lagoon from north to south through time in what D. Pendergast refers to as a strip settlement pattern (Pendergast 1981).

Aside from the archaeology of the area the site has beautiful trails that wind through broad leaf forest with wonderful views of the lagoon and wildlife consisting of birds and howler monkeys.

"We certainly had a wonderful experience, I thought Chichen Itza was great but it doesn't compare, thank you so much Laura, we highly recommend this day trip."

Gail W., Florida

 Lamanai Day Trip:
  • Private (only your party no other cruise ship or day tours)
  • Knowledgeable guides & drivers
  • Site Maps & Information Provided Prior to Departure
  • Preclassic through Spanish Colonial Period Maya Ruins in northern Belize
  • Site located directly on the New River Lagoon
  • Boat Safari/Transfer up New River 
    to reach ruins
  • Maya ruins, tropical forest, birding, Black Howler Monkeys
  • Operator serving Belize for over 20 years.

Call Laura, Toll Free from the U.S.:  




Lamanai Second Spanish Church Circa  AD 1600 Lamanai Structure N10-27 Stela 9
Lamanai Structure N10-43 Plaza Lamanai Structure N10-43 - two phases 100 BC and AD 600 Lamanai Structure N10-43 Plaza1
Lamanai Structure N9-56mask AD 500 after recent restoration1   Lamanai Structure N10-27, Stela 9


Full Day - Northern Belize

Lamanai Archaeological Reserve offers one of the most interesting archaeological sites in the entire Maya world, not only are the ruins fun to explore the chronological history is fascinating because the Maya living there did so right through the Spanish Colonial period (almost all the other major city-states collapsed). There are tropical birds, winding trails, large dense forest, and Black Howler Monkeys.

1) Pick-up in Belize City from the Cruise Ship Port, Tourism Village (just outside at store within 1 block of area called Mirabs)

2) 1-Hour Road Transfer from Belize City to Orange Walk Toll Bridge (& Return)

3) 1-Hour Boat & River Transfer ** south up the New River to Lamanai area (& Return)

4) Fully Guided Tour - Lamanai Maya Ruins, Visitor Center, Artisan Store, & Trails

5) Lunch - On-Site Packed picnic lunch with drinks

* This tour is done by the operator that has been doing Lamanai since the 70's, they do not rush the tour and provide in-depth information, I am one of the archaeologists that works at Lamanai and we provide Antonio, Wilfredo and Ignacio with first-hand knowledge of our recent research.

** The river safari & transfer up the New River is really nice, even if you do not see a ton of wildlife it is just nice being outside on the river.


1 - 2 people: $165.00 US *

3 - 5 people: $155.00 US *

6 - 8 people: $145.00 US *

Children: 3 - 12 years: $90.00 US*

2 year old: Comp

* Does not include the $5 US Lamanai Archaeological Site Fee



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