The caves in Belize are world famous, many of them are consistently featured in articles and Maya documentaries by National Geographic and other international media organizations. The reason is that aside from having beautiful characteristics, most of the caves till this day have ancient Maya artifacts, including sacrificial remains.
Of course, this means that you should definitely visit a cave when you’re in Belize–the question should be, which one, first? Below I’ll list the best caves in Belize based on their popularity and accessibility. I hope you enjoy your cave adventure!
The Best Caves in Belize
1. Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave
Deep within the forests lies a wonder of both ancient and natural Belize. Following a 45-minute drive from San Ignacio and a 45-minute hike through the beautiful Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve with numerous jungle stream crossings, visitors find a crystal-clear stream flowing from the cave opening. Take a short swim into the cave and a guided hike through the passage to one of the most impressive Maya sites in Belize. Also known locally as “Xibalba,” you’ll find evidence of ceramics, stoneware, and skeletons. One artifact named the “Monkey Pot” is one of just four found in Central America. One skeleton, known as “The Crystal Maiden,” is the calcified bones of a teenage girl, giving the skeleton a sparkling appearance.
2. Caves Branch
Flowing west of the Sibun River, Caves Branch River carves into limestone walls deposited by ancient reefs to form a massive cave system. The river dips in and out of these caves, allowing guests to float on tubes through the filtered light of the jungle foliage. Fertility gods, 1,000-year-old pottery shards, and embedded human footprints can be seen along the way.
3. Barton Creek Cave
Hidden in the small Mennonite community of Barton Creek, along the Chiquibul Road in the Cayo District, are the cool, dark caverns of Barton Creek Cave. This cave was used by the ancient Maya for rituals such as human sacrifices, bloodletting, and fertility rites.
4. Rio Frio Cave
Rio Frio Cave is located in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve and reveals an impressive 65-foot arch at its opening. Just about a half a mile in length, this is a great choice for the first-time caver. From the cave’s opening, visitors have a striking view of the entire cave and stream running through it.
5. Che Chem Ha Cave
Che Chem Ha Cave is located 16 miles from San Ignacio and offers an extraordinary experience. The cave entrance is decorated with Maya motifs and is guarded to prevent looting of hundreds of fully intact ancient Maya pots. Beginning with a 45-minute uphill hike through farmland and beautiful forest, guests are escorted to the cave by an experienced guide.
6. St. Herman’s Cave
One of the most accessible caves in the country, St. Herman’s lies among the dense tropical forest on the Hummingbird Highway, just 12 miles southeast of the capital city of Belmopan. As part of the Blue Hole National Park, established in 1986, this cave holds important cultural and archaeological significance evidenced by its use by the Maya during the Classic Period.
7. Hokeb Ha Cave aka Barton Creek Cave
On a shady hillside near the village of Blue Creek is Hokeb Ha Cave. According to archaeologists, the discovery of several ceramic and ceremonial altars reveal that the Maya used this cave in the Late Classic Period.
8. Tiger Cave
Also referred to as the San Miguel Cave, given its proximity to the Maya village of San Miguel in the Toledo District, the nature hike to this cave offers an opportunity to learn about the diversity of the Toledo rainforest and a firsthand view of Maya farming practices
Source: Belize Tourism Board