Belize may be well-known for its sparkling barrier reefs that attract many travelers to the coast, but if you’re looking for serious adventure travel, you’ll need to take a deep dive into the jungles to the west. Driving two hours inland from the Belize City Airport, you’ll reach the small city of San Ignacio. With plenty of exciting excursions and day trips leaving from the city every day, San Ignacio is a fantastic home base. You’ll even be close enough to cross the border to Guatemala, just twenty minutes away by car, and visit Tikal, the world’s largest Mayan ruin, and be back in time for a late-night dinner and a drink in town.
Here’s the best of everything to do while traveling in San Ignacio, Belize.
Where to Stay in San Ignacio, Belize: The San Ignacio Resort Hotel
The San Ignacio Resort Hotel has been a fixture of Belizean hospitality since it opened in 1976 and is the place to stay when visiting Belize’s wilder side. Like many resorts you’ll find in the Cayo District, this hotel is a great starting point for your jungle adventures, but unlike the other resorts, it also offers unbeatable proximity to the culture and cuisine of San Ignacio.
With rooms starting at $180 during the low season (May to November), this hotel is a luxurious retreat perched above a private jungle. It’s the perfect place to do a little birdwatching while eating breakfast at the terrace and if you plan on spending a lot of time by the pool, you can even spot a wild iguana sunning in the branches of the overhanging trees. Also, don’t forget to take advantage of the spa, tennis court, and private hiking trails!
And if you’re looking to book an extra special trip to Belize, check out one of the hotels three suites, the only guest rooms located on the second floor of the main building, and enjoy the buzz of the jungle while indulging in a hot salt soak in your personal outdoor hot tub.
Where to Eat in San Ignacio, Belize
- Crave House of Flavors: Treat yourself to Belize’s creative side in this intimate San Ignacio restaurant. Chef Alejandro’s small restaurant packs in the flavor with next level dishes from short rib risotto to locally-sourced beef carpaccio.
- Ko-ox Han Nah: If you’re looking for good food at a good price, check out this hard to pronounce, but delicious local favorite. Go for the quesadillas or the cayo bollos for a hearty meal in this laid-back San Ignacio staple.
- Trey’s Barn & Grill: At Trey’s, you’ll find the freshest cuts of meat grilled to perfection. Slightly off the beaten path, you’ll want to make sure to pack your appetite for an incredible feast in the countryside just outside San Ignacio.
What to See in San Ignacio, Belize
- Green Iguana Conservation Project: Located on-site at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel, this project provides rehabilitation for injured and sick iguanas while allowing guests to interact closely with them. This is a great chance to learn more about (and even hold) these incredible reptiles while supporting a good cause.
- Cahal Pech: On the top of the hill, this little-visited Maya site is a must-see in San Ignacio. Though not as large as some of the other well-known sites in Belize, you’ll feel like you’ll have the place all to yourself as you wander through the stairways and climb the mossy steps of temples. There is also a very thorough museum at the entrance and you’ll have the option to take a guided tour or explore on your own.
- San Ignacio Market: If you’re in San Ignacio on a Saturday, don’t forget to stop by the market to peruse the local fruits and vegetables of the Cayo District. This is also a great opportunity to pick up some souvenirs.
What to Do in San Ignacio, Belize
- Actun Tunichil Muknal: The world-famous ATM cave is what brings most travelers to Western Belize. This ancient Maya burial site still has ceramics, stoneware, and even skeletons left behind by the region’s ancient inhabitants. This is the perfect tour for anyone ready to embrace their inner Indiana Jones with plenty of hiking, caving, and even wading through underground rivers. However, due to conservation purposes, no cameras are allowed in the cave.
- Black Hole Drop: If you’re looking for something to really get your heart racing, sign up for the Black Hole Drop; this short excursion involves a short hike through the wild jungle of the Maya Mountains and a 300-foot rope rappel into an ancient sinkhole.
- Tikal Day Trip: With the Guatemalan border just twenty minutes away from San Ignacio, Belize you’ll be in the perfect spot to take a day-trip to one of Central America’s most magnificent sights—the Maya city of Tikal. This huge complex has hundreds of temples to climb and explore.
[viator_tour destination=”5083″ tours=”6219ATM,6219TUBE,6219TIKAL”]
More from SmarterTravel:
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- 5 Ways to Wreck a Bucket List Trip
- 9 Places That Aren’t on Your Bucket List (But Should Be)
Jamie Ditaranto traveled to Belize as a guest of the San Ignacio Resort Hotel. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto and Instagram @jamieditaranto.
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