Actun Tunichil Muknal

Photo Credit: © Antti T. Nissinen CC BY

At once an adventurous site to seek out and an important spot in terms of Mayan culture, Actun Tunichip Muknal (or the Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre, Xibalba, or ATM) is a popular attractions near San Ignacio. The site is best seen with the help of a tour guide, so make sure to seek one out if you aren't already going on a tour of the area that includes a trip into the cave.

ATM is particularly interesting to visitors because of the numerous ceramics, stoneware, and skeletons found on site. The ceramics seem to mark "kill holes" which tells scientists that this was a ceremonial site for the Mayans were sacrifices likely took place, hence the skeletons. Once such skeleton, which has been calcified so that it has a crystallized appearance is known as the Crystal Maiden and has been found to be the bones of a teenage girl.

Many people also visit the cave for the wealth of animal life that exists within including tropical fish, freshwater crabs, crayfish, catfish, predatory spiders, agouti, otters, and Belize.


Situated in Central Belize, Actun Tunichil Muknal happily welcomes visitors who are lodging in this section of Belize. However, even if you aren't staying nearby, you are free to drop by to check out the sights. If you're wondering, Belmopan is 12 miles (19 and a half kilometers) to the northeast.

The cave is located on the property of the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve near San Ignacio, Cayo District.

Nearby Restaurants

And, one of the most exciting options while spending a few hours exploring the area could be enjoying food at a restaurant within traveling distance of Actun Tunichil Muknal. Calico Jack's, which serves Belizean dishes, will be of particular interest to visitors looking for a convenient meal. It's only about three and a half miles from the cave, so grab a table and dig in! Also within a short distance, you and your group will encounter restaurants such as Hidden Valley Inn Restaurant and Pine Ridge Restaurant where you can test out International food and enjoy the culture of Belize.

Nearby Attractions

There are a couple other places of interest nearby, including Hidden Valley Falls, which is five miles away Central Belize. Also think about heading over to Green Hills Butterfly Farm, which is another attraction in the area.

With the choice of exciting activities nearby, you'll never run out of ways to stay busy. The attractions closest to this location are found in the following table.

Attractions Near Actun Tunichil Muknal
Attraction Type Distance Direction Location
Hidden Valley Falls GeoFeature 5.1 mi. (22.7 km) SE 14.1 mi. South-Southwest of Belmopan
Green Hills Butterfly Farm Other Attraction 5.7 mi. (12.7 km) W 7.9 mi. East-Southeast of San Ignacio
San Antonio Waterfall GeoFeature 8.5 mi. (9.4 km) W 5.8 mi. Southeast of San Ignacio
Garcia Sisters Tanah Mayan Art Museum Other Attraction 9.1 mi. (10.0 km) W 6.2 mi. Southeast of San Ignacio

More Information


The cave often closes in the rainy season when rain causes the water level of the river to rise and there is a danger of flooding the cave.


In order to minimize the impact of people walking through such a historically significant plot of land, visitors are asked to remove their shoes and socks before walking through the upper dry chamber. Additionally, cameras are not allowed into the cave unless prior permission has been given since a tourist dropped a camera on a skill and broke it.

Location: Central Belize, Belize



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