Lamanai is Belize's longest continuously inhabited site; pollen evidence places first habitation around 1500 BC. Located on the shore of the New River lagoon, Lamanai is upstream from Cerros and the two cities traded extensively. Submerged Crocodile is the ancient Mayan name of the site; the name was recording by two traveling Spanish priests.
The city occupies 950 acres and 700+ structures have been mapped, but only 70 have been excavated. Many tombs have been discovered during excavation, and the "Temple of the Jaguar" has two jaguar masks flanking the stairway. The stelae at the site are in excellent condition and are spectacularly carved. This ruin is most easily accessed by a boat ride up the New River, through a bird reserve. The birding is a fantastic addition to a wonderful day spent at this site.