For a number of reasons, Xunantunich (the stone maiden) is one of Belize's best choices for families touring the Mayan sites. Xunantinich is located on the edge of San Ignacio town, along the Mopan River. It is just off of the main roads of San Ignacio town and can also be accessed by canoe.
Getting to Xunantunich is part of the fun. If accessing the site from the road, your family will need to make the Mopan crossing aboard the hand-cranked car-ferry. If you ask, the ferry operators are happy to allow you children the chance to crank the ferry themselves. Once across, the walk to the ruin is along a road and not very long.
Xunantunich is one of the first sites developed for tourism. Its temples are uncovered and stand tall, with large green malls between. The guides will tell you how the Mayan Kings would enter the main temple, El Castillo, access secret passageways and appear like magic dressed on top. The illusion was god-like. Their people, who stood in the malls below would see this magical appearance and believe their King had special powers.
Xunantunich, the stone maiden, was believed to be a portal for feminine energy and power. This "feminine mystique" also is evident in the folklore legends of the Mesito people. Even today, the people of San Jose Succotz will tell you of the legend of Xtabay. Xtabay is a mythical maiden who lures men into the forest to their end. The tale was born from the tales of a jealous Mayan princess, and although it is not likely you will see Xtabay, but there are many who still believe in her.
Although you are not likely to see the legendary maiden at Xunatunich, sometimes beautiful macaws and howler monkeys light the surrounding the trees.
After your tour, spend some time in San Ignacio. Grab some lunch and return back to Hidden Valley for late afternoon in the pool.