Everything You Need to Know About Visiting San Ignacio Belize
No visitor departs Belize without leaving a piece of their heart behind, and this is particularly true of travelers who have found their own version of paradise in San Ignacio, a glorious, friendly destination that’s so close to Guatemala, you can get a second stamp on your passport if you insist on leaving Belize. But, why bother? There’s so much to see, do, taste and learn in the district known simply as “Cayo,” your time and energy are much better spent in this intriguing area of Belize. Need to plan your trip so you don’t waste a minute of time? Start with our suggestions and you’ll be ready to fly.
How to get to San Ignacio/Cayo
Thanks to not just the friendly skies but the crowded skies of Belize that are home to an expansive number of airliners now making nonstop flights between North America and Belize, you’ll have your pick of departure times and rates courtesy of the competition that’s arisen on this route. Your flight to Belize City may only take hours if you depart from the southern U.S., and once you land, getting to Cayo is a breeze. If your airport pickup isn’t sorted by your resort host, flag a taxi and have the driver take you to the bus terminal (about $50 BZD) and then complete your travels via a $10 bus ride to San Ignacio. Want a custom ride? Choose from six transport services happy claim you from the airport and take you directly to Cayo for around $75 BZD (this eliminates the cab ride, by the way). Obtain shuttle recommendations from your lodging host or pick a sentimental favorite: Eva’s, Nine Belize Shuttles or Roam Belize Shuttles and Transfers. They’ve all been around awhile!
Lodgings for every budget in San Ignacio Belize
Lest you think that only luxury resorts await you and your wallet in San Ignacio, you’re in for a surprise. Not only will you have your pick of four-star luxury hotels that pamper guests like crazy, but there are perfectly nice budget hotels ready to cater to your needs if you’d rather spend your cash on experiences rather than snoozing! No matter what you can afford, you’ll be accommodated. Book a nice double room at a hotel for between $100 and $120 BZD per night. Package rates for longer stays save money and if they’re not booked, you might even prefer one of Cayo’s bed and breakfasts. Cutting corners? We hear you: check into a hostel for between $25 and $30 BZD per person, per night. As you can see, San Ignacio is delighted to host travelers from all walks of life, so whether you require a palatial mansion, a single hotel room, a tropical hideaway with Mother Nature as your roommate or modest digs, you’ll find plenty of choices here.
Getting around San Ignacio Town
Visitors like to say that San Ignacio has a wonderfully spirited vibe that reminds them of a rough and tumble jungle, but in fact, it’s got just enough balance in terms of old and new to offer character you won’t find elsewhere in Belize. Stay in town and walk to plenty of places on your own, or book excursions to see the sites by checking in with your lodging concierge or by patronizing any of the licensed tour guide services in and around town. If you’re the independent sort and prefer being on your own, you can work through bus routes to take you anywhere you wish to go. Since bus ticket rates are calculated by destination, do check at the depot to find out how much the route you require costs before you buy your ticket(s). Don’t be shocked to see hitchhikers thumbing rides along roadsides as you travel the district and beyond. It’s common practice here. Of course, if you rented a car in Belize City after your plane landed, your transportation worries are solved.
What to eat and where in San Ignacio Belize
A better introduction to this section might be, “Why you should sample everything you can put on your fork!” Even upscale eateries are affordable (between $10 and $12 BZD per person) and if you follow tradition by patronizing street vendors and small eateries, you can expect hardy portions of tasty food that make Cayo the capital of good eating on a shoestring. Culinary diversity is on display here, so sample dishes representing many ethnic cooking traditions. It only costs about $3 BZD for a beer and at Cayo bars; find out when happy hour takes place and order two beverages for the price of one. By the way, the Belize happy hour is more likely a happy three hours. Where to dine? Try Ko-Ox Han-Nah for awesome bites and fabulous service, Belize fast food as you’ve never tasted it at Mincho’s, Erva’s rice and beans with red snapper will send your spirit soaring to food heaven and if you’re a stickler for organic produce, dishes cooked at the Cahal Pech Village Resort Restaurant are sourced at San Ignacio’s farmers markets. Get your fine self to Mr. Greedy’s if you can’t survive without pizza.
Which Mayan ruins should you see?
Nobody leaves Cayo without seeing at least one Mayan ruin. The most often-visited in the district are the following three, though if you cross into Guatemala, you can add Tikal to your journal, too.
–See Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) if trekking through jungle and traversing a
river before disappearing into a cave housing skeletal remains of long-dead Mayans doesn’t spook you.
–Cahal Pech is a small but impressive ruin featuring restored temples and plazas.
This site comes with a caveat: The climb to reach Cahal Pech is steep, so make sure you’re in good shape before you lace up your sturdy shoes.
–Xunantunich hosts the tallest building in Belize: the spectacular El Castillo pyramid. Gaze down at the Mopan and Macal rivers after climbing 130 feet to the top and prepare yourself for the breathtaking views below.
What to see outside of San Ignacio Town
-Visit the Green Hills Butterfly Ranch, a 2,700 square foot enclave filled with butterflies in flight. They’re friendly creatures, so don’t jump if one or more lands on your shoulder or hand. The colors of these winged wonders will astound you. This is no time to forget your camera.
-If you prefer living things that stand still rather than hovering over your head, you must see the Belize Botanic Gardens. Wear comfy shoes because this vast swath of nature spans 50-acres of indigenous trees, flowers and greenery. Improving and restoring these gardens is a labor of love for Belize. Visit and you’ll understand why.
-Learn about the origins of botanical medicines by visiting Belize’s Medicinal Jungle Trail. Cover 14 acres of plants while guides fascinate you with information about the medicinal properties of plants that may already be used in your meds! Spot “gardeners” along the way: iguanas, anteaters and birds.
What to see by canoe in San Ignacio Town
-The Macal River is an aquatic marvel, so if you hire a canoe and explore this area, the four-star show along the banks is guaranteed to amaze and delight. Paddle through waters bounded by jungle vegetation as you spot birds and wildlife. Travel further upstream and you can swim in a wonderland of pools and waterfalls
-Okay, so it doesn’t constitute a boat trip, but if you go cave tubing at Jaguar Paw, a sacred underground Mayan enclave that sends you sailing beneath stalactites and past pottery and artifacts that are at least 1,000 years old, you will have to take to the water. Re-start your engines after your tube ride by riding the Jaguar Paw zip line.
What to see in San Ignacio Town town
–The Saturday morning open air market in Cayo is a tradition. Farmers throughout the district bring their wares to town that include dairy products, vegetables, jams and fruit. Planning a picnic? Pick up your provisions here.
-The San Ignacio & Santa Elena House of Culture is the district’s homage to Belize creativity. Within the small museum, the work of local artists are on display but you can also attend a performance or participate in activities. This little museum even holds classes to make sure Cayo’s creative wellspring never dries up.
-Forgive the pun, but we’re going out on a limb here to introduce an attraction that isn’t exactly “in town”: the Green Iguana Exhibit headquartered at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel. If iguanas fascinate you, this 14-acre conserve that’s referred to lovingly as “the only jungle in town” is going to wind up as your favourite memory. While iguanas are the stars of this preserve, nature puts on quite the show thanks to the variety of trees, plants and wildlife here. This attraction is a metaphor for San Ignacio: A luxury resort that showcases Belize’s most precious natural assets!
Contact us if you have any questions or need assistance in planning your Belize vacation.