Cerro Maya in 2012
On the coast of northern Belize, Cerros, or Cerro Maya (“Maya Hill”) as it is officially called, lies on a peninsula called Lawry’s Bite. It is across Corozal Bay from the tranquil little port town of Corozal, a stone’s throw from Mexico.
Cerros archaeological site is a principal attraction for travelers staying in Corozal Town, near the border. The ruins of Cerros rise over sea and forest. The place served as an important coastal trading center during the Late Preclassic Period (350 B.C.–A.D. 250) and was occupied as late as A.D. 1300.
Magnificent frescoes and stone heads were uncovered by archaeologist David Friedel, signifying that elite rule was firmly fixed by the end of the Preclassic Period. The tallest of Cerros’s temples rises 70 feet, and because of the rise in the sea level, the onetime stone residences of the elite Maya are partially flooded.
It would appear that Cerros not only provisioned oceangoing canoes, but also was in an ideal location to control ancient trade routes that traced the Río Hondo and New River from the Yucatán to Petén and the Usumacinta basin. A plaster-lined canal for the sturdy, oversized ocean canoes was constructed around Cerros. Archaeologists have determined that extensive fishing and farming on raised fields took place, probably to outfit the traders.
Visiting Cerro Maya
Cerro Maya is open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily. Entrance costs US$5 per person. Be prepared for vicious mosquitoes at Cerros, depending on the time of year—especially if there is no breeze.
A cycling race, the Pablo Marin Classic, and associated festivals and events are planned for October 12–14. The town will also sponsor trips to Cerros and Santa Rita.
Getting to Cerro Maya
Cerros is reachable by boat from Corozal Town. Hire a boat from Tony’s Inn and Beach Resort (tel. 501/422-2055 or 501/422-3555, www.tonysinn.com) in Corozal or check with a travel agent to arrange transportation.
If you are traveling during the dry season (Jan.–Apr.), you can get to Cerros by car. The drive from Corozal takes up to 45 minutes, and you’ll have to employ the hand-cranked Pueblo Nuevo Ferry.
Guests at Cerros Beach Resort (tel. 501/623-9763 or 501/623-9530, www.cerrosbeachresort.com, US$40–60) can bike to the ruins; keep an eye out for jaguarundi, gray fox, and coatimundi along the way.
More Travel Information
For more travel information on things to see and do at Cerro Maya and in the surrounding area, please visit the Cerro Maya section of our Moon Belize travel guide.
© Josh Berman from Moon Maya 2012