Cerros Ruins: See the Longest-Occupied Mayan Site in Belize
To the untrained eye, the Cerros Mayan compound may look like every other ancient Belize ruin, but don’t let first impressions deceive you. Cerros is a unique gem of a location located near the Bay of Chetumal and in close proximity to Corozal, a town that has become one of Belize’s favorite places to settle down for retirees and North Americans who wish they could retire!
Cerros Mayan Ruins
There are secrets to be found at Cerros Mayan ruins, but you would require diving gear to unearth them! This waterfront historical site is now partially underwater, but no worries—there’s lots explore if you wander the 40+ acres of hillside to take in two ball courts, a central plaza, pyramids and the piece de resistance, the main, towering temple standing 64-feet above ground level. See painted masks and stucco walls that have retained traces of splendid decorations, despite erosion and time.
Why you should visit Cerros Mayan Ruins
Cerros is a great example of land occupied continuously for centuries and not every Mayan site can make this claim. Archaeologists speculate that this community thrived between 400 BC and AD 400, during which time distinct cultures emerged and are today classified as examples of both the Late Pre-classic Period and the Classic Period. Study the architecture, art and symbolism left behind by generations of indigenous people who turned this area into a trading hub for merchants moving across Central America. Look for signs of the primitive canal system used by the Mayans to water the terraces on which the community’s crops were grown.
Where in Belize is it located?
Cerros is located 84 miles north of Belize City at the mouth of the New River and near the Bay of Chetumal in Corozal District, the northern-most Belize territory.
When is the best time to go?
This depends upon your willingness to put up with a wetlands environment during the green season when rains turn the area into a lush landscape. If you’ve no fear of flying insects, wear proper clothing, use insect repellant and neither the bugs nor rain will bother you.
Best way to get to Cerros
Your lodging host can arrange a private boat or book a tour that may also include land transport to and from the dock. This journey is fairly fast; it only takes about 15 minutes to reach the ruin. A ferry departs Orange Walk Town for Cerros, but first, you must drive 55 miles along the Northern Highway from Corozal, traveling past villages like Chunox, Progresso and Copper Bank, and then another couple of miles inland. Your best bet is that boat!
Best way to experience Cerros
Almost 2,000 people occupied this land before it was abandoned circa 400 AD, but before that time, this area was a bustling crossroads populated by farmers, merchants, warriors and priests plus traders of jade, obsidian and other goods. Your opportunity to experience Cerros and its pyramids, residential buildings, ball courts and smaller temples was made possible by the Belize government who saved the area from being developed by an American builder eager to construct a resort in close proximity to the ceremonial center, considered sacred ground. Until new excavations are undertaken, there’s plenty to see, and since it’s easy to navigate the area by foot, there’s no reason not to visit this amazing, unique site.