Barton Creek Cave in Belize 

by Larry Waight
barton creek cave

Belize is filled with well-known caves that draw adventurers and explorers every year. Among them is Barton Creek, one of the most beautiful and mysterious caves in the country. Here’s why you should put this intriguing attraction at the top of your list.

Barton Creek cave

Photo Courtesy: A.S

Learn About Ancient Maya Traditions

Caves were sacred to the ancient Maya and were considered a passage to the underworld. The Maya referred to the underworld as ‘Xibalba’ which translates to the ‘the place of fear’ in the Mayan language. The Maya people used caves to conduct important religious ceremonies and Belize’s caves are filled with the relics and artifacts of these ceremonies.  

Barton Creek Cave consists of massive passages covered with several large speleothems over a navigable river, and these features of the cave have made it a popular cave tour in western Belize. Archaeologists have found artifacts inside Barton Creek Cave that date from the years 200 AD to 900 AD.

They also found the remains of 28 people who were buried in the cave during this period. Archaeologists are not certain if the people were part of a human sacrifice or if they were buried there after their death. Today, archaeologists continue to unearth more information about the Cave’s importance to the Maya. When you visit, you may see signs of ongoing work as you travel through the cave.

Canoe inside Barton Creek Cave

The only way to see Barton Creek Cave is by water. You can rent a canoe and paddle yourself through Barton Creek. Once inside the cave, you’ll have a lot to see. Barton Creek is the largest river cave in Belize and is more than five miles long. Along the way, you’ll enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery in Belize. Your guide will probably point out the 10 ledges in the rock faces. These are not natural formations as the Maya carved them to create staging areas for their rituals.

barton creek cave

Photo courtesy David Diaz

Meet the Mennonites on your way to Barton Creek Cave

You might think Mennonites only live in North America, but there are several Mennonite communities in Belize like Spanish Lookout, Shipyard, and Barton Creek. The Mennonites of Barton Creek live a simple life that eschews most modern amenities and they are Belize’s premier farmers. You can visit their tropical farming community on your way to Barton Creek Cave.

How to Visit Barton Creek Cave

Barton Creek Cave is a 45-minute drive from San Ignacio in the Cayo District. As with most excursions in Belize, the easiest way to visit is through a local tour company such as Jaguar Adventures. They can make the arrangements and drive you there comfortably and safely. 

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