- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
- Spanish Phrases
Lamanai ("submerged crocodile")
Lamanai ("submerged crocodile") Review
Lamanai ("submerged crocodile" in Yucatec Maya) is Belize's longest-occupied Mayan site, inhabited until well after Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in 1492. In fact archaeologists have found signs of continuous occupation from 1500 BC until AD 1700.
Lamanai's residents carried on a lifestyle that was passed down for millennia, until the Spanish missionaries arrived. You can still see the ruins of the missionaries' church near the village of Indian Church. The same village also has an abandoned 19th-century sugar mill. With its immense drive wheel and steam engine—on which you can still read the name of the manufacturer, Leeds Foundry of New Orleans—swathed in strangler vines and creepers, it's a haunting sight.
In all, 50 to 60 Mayan structures are spread over this 950-acre archaeological reserve. The most impressive is the largest Pre-Classic structure in Belize—a massive, stepped temple built into the hillside overlooking the New River Lagoon. Many structures at Lamanai have only been superficially excavated. Trees and vines grow from the tops of temples, and the sides of one pyramid are covered with vegetation. On the grounds you'll find a visitor center with educational displays on the site, and pottery, carvings, and small statues, some dating back 2,500 years. Local villagers from the Indian Church Village Artisans Center set up small stands on the grounds to sell handmade carvings, jewelry, and other crafts, along with T-shirts and snacks.
Free Fodor's Newsletter
Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Go List: Fodor's Top 25 Places to Go in 2013
- Hotel Awards 2012: Fodor's 100 Top Hotels
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
- Radisson Fort George and Marina in May: $180 & Up Expedia
- Book Now & Save! Belize City Fr $151+/Nt Travelocity
- The Great House Biggest Sale! 7 Nts + Air Fr $1,287 Travelocity
- Belize City Savings! Book at Princess & Casino Fr $109+/Nt — $109 Expedia
- 2% OFF Radisson Fort George and Marina! 3 Nts + Air Fr $1,053 — $1,053 Travelocity
My fiancee and I are planning our honeymoon. Read more
2 weeks in Belize was not enough to explore the entire country, but we got a taste of it and we know we will go back for more!
I will not go into a lot of details, but I got a lot of help from this forum Read more
Planning a 8 day trip to Belize in August with 2 teens (16 and 19). Read more
· News & Features
Honeymoons are the chance to take the adventure of a lifetime.... Read more
Planning a trip to Belize, you'd expect all manner of outdoorsy and water activities.... Read more
Chock full of ruins, boutique hotels (two owned by Coppola), great food, and barefoot-minded beaches,... Read more