We have been to Belize several times on Western Caribbean cruises out of Tampa, Fl. and without a doubt the best excursion is cave tubing. The last trip we took we decided to try out the Xunantunich Mayan ruins excursion and it was a close second to cave tubing. If you have already done the cave tubing in Belize then I suggest you try this excursion the next go around.
About Xunantunich Ruins
The ruins were discovered in the late 1800′s and consists of over twenty structures covering a full square mile. The largest structure is El Castillo. The 130ft high pyramid is considered the second tallest structure in Belize. Most of the structures are thought to have been built between 200 and 900AD making this a historical site not to miss.
What makes this a must visit in Belize
We have done several Mayan ruin excursions in the Caribbean including the spectacular Tulum in Mexico. What sets Xunantunich apart from the other ruins we have visited is this is the first set of ruins we have been able to actually climb more than a few steps. Visitors are allowed to climb to the top of El Castillo. From there the views of the site as well as the countryside of both Belize and Guatemala are amazing.
Should you book your excursion with the cruise line
Nine times out of ten I will recommend that you book your cruise excursions outside of the cruise lines. Cruise lines will typically try scare tactics to get you to pay twice as much for their excursions. One of the biggest scare tactics is that you may miss the ship leaving port if you book with a third party tour company. While this is usually a bunch of hogwash, in the case of Xunantunich, there is a bit of a risk.
This is because Xunantunich is close to the Guatemala border which is about 80 miles west of Belize City where the ships are anchored. With traffic in and out of Belize City you are looking at about a two hour trip to and from the ship… not to mention the need to take a tender back to the ship. Trips to Xunantunich even when booked through the ship take all of your time in port. In fact you will probably be some of the last cruisers back on the ship. Because of this I say this is one excursion to book through the ship. While we did take the typical cruise line full size bus load to the ruins it still didn’t feel overcrowded. This is because most cruisers will be taking the cave tubing excursion.
Don’t be surprised by…
Because of its close proximity to Guatamala, the ruins have experienced artifact thefts from their neighbors. Because of this don’t be surprised by the armed guards. Sadly, armed guards are becoming quite common throughout the Caribbean as economies continue to struggle.
On a lighter note, also keep a lookout for howler monkeys and even tarantula’s…don’t stick your hand in those holes in the ground are you might grab a furry little spider.