The Little Known ‘Big Hat’ in Belize: Nim Li Punit in Toledo

by Larry Waight
Nim Li Punit btb toledo

The ancient people who lived in the Nim Li Punit Maya site took advantage of a convenient location between the mountains and the sea. This allowed for a healthy trade between inhabitants of the city and communities around them. Nim Li Punit people grew cacao and corn crops among many others. A wide variety of stones like obsidian and jadeite have been found at the site as well as ceramics and shells from the sea. This ruin site is one of the lesser-known ones in Belize, but it’s worth the trip for the fascinating history and beautiful view of the Caribbean on a clear day.

Getting to Nim Li Punit

You can find Nim Li Punit in the Toledo District, which is about 25 miles from Punta Gorda. It’s just off the Southern Highway near the Indian Creek and Golden Stream villages. Site access is found by traversing a steep dirt road through the towering palms and other jungle trees. This leads up to a ridge that is 220 feet above sea level. If you visit on a clear day, you can see the Caribbean Sea from this ridge. Once you get to the top of the ridge, you’ll find a parking lot and the visitor center. The two visitor center buildings are made with white concrete, stone blocks, wooden doors and corrugated iron railings. The old-fashioned look matches well with the surroundings. Inside, you’ll find a museum of sorts with various precious artifacts and information about the Maya people. 

Plaza of the Stelae & more

Nim Li Punit belize

Nim Li Punit, Toledo. Photo by ROEming Belize

The Nim Li Punit ruins are mainly known for a large number of stelae found within its area. The most famous one is the Plaza of the Stelae, which includes 26 carved stelae monuments. One of the monuments is the largest in Belize. The monument tells a unique story. Also in the site are the ruins of an ancient ball court, plus royal tombs and a group of buildings that may have been astronomy observatories. The grounds at the Nim Li Punit site have been well-kept, but they still evoke a sense of wildness with layers of green moss covering the stones and a canopy of thick trees towering overhead. Visitors often spend hours exploring the serene beauty of the ancient site. It’s a great place to pack a lunch and go back to the past as you explore the ruins and the surrounding grounds.  

Plan a trip to the Nim Li Punit ruins for your next Belize adventure! 

All photos courtesy of the Belize Tourism Board.

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