Are you planning a visit to San Ignacio during your Belize vacation? This small town has lots to offer for all travellers and is a hub to explore the diverse cultural and adventure tours in the Cayo District of Belize.
Here's our guide on the best things to do in San Ignacio, Belize:
1. Visit the Mayan Temple at Xunantunich
The ancient Mayan ruins of Xunantunich are a must do when visiting San Ignacio. It’s just a short drive from the town where you’ll cross the Mopan River on a hand-cranked ferry. The ruins are situated on the banks of the river, where you will travel back through the centuries to the world of temples, plazas and the renowned ball courts of this ancient city.
2. Take A Day Trip to Guatemala to See the Tikal Mayan Ruins
The Mayan ruins at Tikal are one of the most famous ruins in Guatemala and one of the major sites of the Mayan civilization. It's easy to access this Mayan site from San Ignacio, as it's only a two hours drive away.
3 Shop Local at the San Ignacio Farmers Market
The San Ignacio Market is open from 6 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday but Saturday is the best time to visit (opens at 5 am) when farmers arrive with seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables. The market is also a great place to try some Belizean street food favourites such as quesadillas, burritos, salbutes, empanadas, tamales, and pupusas.
4. Visit the Chaa Creek Butterfly Farm
The Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm at Chaa Creek is a must-do - marvel at the splendid iridescent wings of these magnificent butterflies. The butterfly farm is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm and guided tours are offered in conjunction with tours of the Natural History Centre and begin on the hour every hour with the last tour starting at 4:00 pm.
5. Take a Day to Explore the Belize Botanic Gardens
Within the gardens’ 45 acres are several miles of trails and pathways open for visitors to explore. The Belize Botanic Gardens welcomes visitors from daily from 7 am-4pm. Round trip shuttle service is available and you can make your reservations at the Garden Shop in San Ignacio.
6. Adventure in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is known for its unique landscape, rushing rivers and waterfalls, caves, Maya temples and teeming wildlife. Make sure you see the cascading waters of the Rio On Pools, explore the Barton Creek cave system, Francis Ford Coppola’s Blancaneaux Lodge, Big Rock Falls, the immense Rio Frio Cave and Caracol Maya Temple.
7. Visit The Green Iguana Conservation Project
Located at the San Ignacio Resort hotel, the Green Iguana Conservation Project gives visitors a unique look at the lives and life cycle of these incredible, yet endangered creatures. The project aims to conserve and look after the endangered Green Iguana species in Belize.
8. Watch The Sunset then Dine in San Ignacio
Must-try restaurants in San Ignacio include:
- The Guava Limb Cafe - just a short walk from downtown this restaurant & cafe specialises in using farm-to-table fresh ingredients.
- Erva's Restaurant - don't miss the pizza and supersize burritos! Erva's uses fresh, natural, Belizean ingredients in their dishes.
- Ko-Ox Han nah - a long time San Ignacio favourite with Belizean favourites including coconut rice, stew beans and chicken! Great for breakfast too - order a side of fry jacks.
- Mincho's- Belizean version of good fast food specializing in tacos and fresh juice.
9 Take a Special Guided Tour to the Che Chem Ha Cave System
Travel off the beaten path to explore the underground archaeological site of the Actun Chech’Em Ha cave system. Hike into the multi-chambered series of caves rich with geological formations and ancient ceremonial altars, Maya artefacts and relics. The cave is on private family land, and an authentic lunch is prepared and served by the mom - it's a great local experience.
10. Learn the Mayan Art of Making Chocolate
Visit this authentic cacao farm which includes chocolate making tours, chocolate history center and a gift shop. AJAW Chocolate is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm.
Where to Stay in San Ignacio
Here are a few recommendations for places to stay in San Ignacio
The Lodge at Chaa Creek - this family-friendly luxury eco-lodge near San Ignacio offers a health spa, an eco-friendly swimming pool and unique accommodations.
Cahal Pech Village Resort - this San San Ignacio resort is perfect for families and adventure travellers, offering easy access to several Mayan Ruins. The resort can arrange day trips to the Tikal Mayan Ruins in Guatemala as it's only a 2-hour drive away.
We stay in San Ignacio on our Glover's Reef and Mayan Caves and Cayo Caves Temples Adventure trip. On both these trips, we visit the archaeological site of the Chech’Em Ha Cave system, the ancient Mayan ruins of Xunantunich and include time to explore San Ignacio.
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