This Secret Cave with ancient Maya artifacts is less than an hour from San Ignacio — and you can see it from a canoe.

by Gisselle Hernandez
barton creek

A tropical country full of surprises, Belize has no shortage of spooky caves and mysterious artifacts hidden within them. While the world-renowned Actun Tunichil Muknal may have graced the cover of National Geographic in 2019, there are still some off-the-beaten-path caves worth exploring. Take Barton Creek, a ceremonial wet cave that can only be fully explored while on a canoe or kayak. This cave network allows you a glimpse into the past, with ancient relics and even a skeleton waiting inside. Spelunkers will have the thrill of a lifetime here, unearthing ancient mysteries archaeologists would kill for. The best part? Barton Creek Cave is less than an hour away from the historic San Ignacio Resort Hotel. 

A Base For All Your Adventure Needs 

Western Belize is already considered the adventure hub of the country – when you pair it with an iconic hotel that caters to thrill-seekers and nature lovers, the exhilaration doubles. San Ignacio Resort Hotel is more than a tranquil haven shrouded in greenery while still being minutes from downtown San Ignacio. SIRH stuns guests with its sleek and elegant interior, but the true beauty lies beyond its lobby doors. 

San Ignacio jungle view resort

Enjoy the jungle view from your private balcony. Image courtesy San Ignacio Resort Hotel

Stepping onto the veranda, you’ll be welcomed by towering trees, low-flying toucans, and skittering iguanas playing hide-and-seek. Indulge in as much as you can at SIRH – including the state-of-the-art food at Running W – before preparing for the adventure you’ve been waiting for: a day at Barton Creek

Unearthing Secrets at Barton Creek 

Rouse bright and early from your luxury sleep for a day of exploring Barton Creek. Your guide that SIRH so kindly booked will advise you to don your most comfortable attire and shoes, and some bug spray. If you’d like to snap pics of the entrance of the cave (it is a breathtaking blend of dark green and blue), bring a waterproof camera. Once you arrive, you’re in for a fascinating yet educational experience. While wading through the entrance of the almost five-mile-long cave, keep your eyes peeled for artifacts or skeletal remains.

You’ll pass beneath cathedral-like chambers and marvelous natural rock formations. While gently paddling through, your guide will fill you in on the cultural and historical stories that make the cave so special. Some of which include sacrificial rituals and fertility rites from centuries ago. There is also evidence of the site acting as a burial chamber. Once you’ve had your fill of Indiana Jones-ing, make your way back to SIRH for a hot bath and a to-die-for plate of grilled lobster. 

When to Visit

Barton Creek Cave’s easy accessibility from San Ignacio makes it a must-do for any type of traveler, no matter your fitness level. However, keep a lookout for any unusually high amount of rain from June to November before your visit. You may need to postpone your exploration depending on how much rainfall affected the cave. But outside of the rainy season, the cave is as stunning as ever to visit. 

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