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Lamanai Mayan Ruins in Belize

Out of our 3 excursions on our family cruise, I wanted variety. In Cozumel we played with the dolphins on the beach, in Honduras we discovered a little island with exotic animals, the third day we had a history lesson viewing the Mayan ruins in Belize.

Lamani Ruins in Belize

I decided it was the best day to wear our matching anchor shirts that I made in the days before our departure. The port in Belize doesn’t allow big cruise ships to pull right up to land because it would damage the reef below. So we had to “tender” which meant we got off of our big boat, directly onto a smaller boat that held around 100 people, and taxi’ed in  20 minutes to the shore. That took a little while, and we were 40 minutes late for our 8:30 tour. Luckily, they waited for us, and within a few minutes, we were on our way.

It was quite a distance to the ruins. I knew that. I knew it would be an hour in the car and an hour on a speedboat. I figured we’d see the countryside and all would be well. It was ok, but looking back, I might have picked the closer ruins to tour. We went to the Lamanai ruins, the closer was Altun-Ha.

Anyway, probably my most favorite part of this day was chatting non stop with our driver and tour guide, Raymond.  I love immersing with locals wherever we go, and the first day didn’t lend itself to that much,  and the second day was so busy, I didn’t take the chance as much. But we were in a car, traveling the country, with free reign on questions, and Raymond was happy to share. He is starting his own tourist group called Foothills Adventures. I talked to him all about starting a website and said I’d help him get it started. In the meantime, email him at and he can help you on your trip to Belize!  He’ll run it with his siblings (he’s one of 13 kids) and his sweet mom (who lives in the country without electricity.

It was a warm day, my youngest fell and scraped her knee at the beginning of it, so emotions were a bit higher than normal. But that didn’t stop us from carefully hiking to the top of the ruins. It was steep, but there was a rope. My husband and girls stopped 2/3 of the way up, but my boys and I pushed on to the top. My husband has vertigo issues, so he was happy to stay behind.

Belize Mayan Ruins

Up at the top, you can see the tiny people below, and that we are far above the trees.

ancient mayan temple top of mayan ruins

Belize tourism

Once back at the tender station, it was cool to see 4 huge cruise ships off in the distance, waiting for their passengers to come back.

cruise ships tender

There were a few times during this trip that I felt a bit guilty for the luxuries that I enjoy. I wondered if the locals despised us and our traveling extravagant ways. Talking to Raymond, I realized how much these countries really rely on tourism, him and his family included. So keep traveling if you can. Help these countries thrive.

Interesting facts I learned while in Belize:

  • Cashews come from a fruit with one nut on each plant, they have to be dried for several days before consumed
  • All schools in Belize have uniforms, to account for the poor who can’t afford a variety of clothes
  • Sugar cane is their main farming, along with oranges
  • Iguana is a delicacy
Kristen Duke

Kristen Duke

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Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
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  1. How fun! I’ve never really wanted to do a cruise… all that open sea scares me a bit, but you went a loooong way towards convincing me it would be fun :)
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  2. I think that is very awesome that you took the time to learn more and connect with the tour guide. You never know how much that affects people. Love it!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I wish I had more of an opportunity to do that in the other two spots, we did have taxi drivers that we chatted with a bit, but this was the longest where we learned the most!

  3. lovely post. great to know you enjoyed your time in Belize! Hope you get to return to get to know more of our beautiful country! love the pics too!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Hi Leeah! It was so beautiful, so great to hear from you that you are from there!

      • thank you! Yes, Lamanai is one of my favorite Maya Sites in that district. The name itself means submerged crocodile. The waters around Lamanai are known for crocodile spotting, quite adventurous! Altun-Ha (which was your other option) is where they found the biggest Maya Jade head in Central America back in the 1960′s. There are many other interesting sites. If you do return, feel free to ask for recommendations. Nice to know you and your family had a great cruise vacation!

        • Kristen Duke says:

          I was bummed we didn’t see ANY crocodiles on the boat ride! It was my hope, but oh well…I saw there were sites all over the country, very fun!

  4. I love Belize. It is one of my favorite places. We went to Lamani Ruins in April. It was so hot. It was a fun day thought. We rode a riverboat in and I got to feed a monkey a Pringles potato chip. Maybe one of the coolest things ever. I will tell you this, because you are a photographer. I took the most wonderful picture of that monkey. It’s in my living room. Such a cool day!
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