"But there is a different Belize that we set out to find: its lush interior, thick with rain forests, Mayan ruins, tiny villages, intense wildlife..." -Dwight Garner
San Ignacio is the epicenter of Western Belize and the largest town in the Cayo district, located on the banks of the Mopan and Macal Rivers is an easy transfer from Belize City. 67 miles of modern roadway and the only suspension bridge in the country leads to a magically lush jungle full of truly special wildlife, breathtaking waterfalls, rushing rivers and ancient culture. Generational hospitality and unique resorts make this a truly special part of a trip to Belize.
San Ignacio has become a cultural hub, combining the history of the surrounding local Maya ruins with modern cultural influences. This region has an authentic and contagious vibe, teeming with life and positivity. Residents are mestizos, Maya and Garifuna, as well as a bunch of free-spirited expats from Europe and North America. Most travelers come to San Ignacio as a base for the adventures of the jungle and rivers as well as the ancient history of the Maya.
Attractions and Unique Experiences: San Ignacio Market, Xunantunich and Cahal Pech Maya Sites, Barton Creek and Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves, Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve, 1,000 Foot Fall and Big Rock Waterfalls
Restaurants and NightLife: Ko-Ox Han-nah's Local Restaurant, Guava Limb, Burns Avenue
Just a short walk from the present-day town of Cahal Pech, also known as "The Place of Ticks" in Yucatecan Maya, this Maya site is very convenient to visit. Located in San Ignacio along the banks of the Macal River in the Cayo District, Cahal Pech was a ceremonial center, with temples, palaces and a ball court. The site offers you a spectacular panoramic view of San Ignacio and the Belize River Valley.
Rio on Pools
Getting here is only part of the fun! Located within the magnificent Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, the Rio On Pools is scenic, with its granite rocks and ledges that form the most aesthetic waterfalls and fresh-water pools. The river-banks feature the perfect picnic locations with excellent views of the area.
San Ignacio Market
Stop by the San Ignacio Market where you will find a unique opportunity to experience true culture and life of Belize. There are farmers, traders and vendors all selling their goods. You’ll also hear a blend of German, English, Spanish, Creole and Maya languages. Don’t forget to pick up some delicious local fruits, veggies, and maybe even local medicinal herbs for muscles sore from too many hiking adventures. Every Saturday, the San Ignacio Market comes alive with tourists and expats browsing the local vendors. You can buy arts and crafts, clothing, and household goods. Take note that some of the vendors show up on other days as well, but Saturday has by far the largest market and the best chance to swoop something truly unique as a token of your stay in Belize!
Barton Creek Cave
Tucked away in the Mountain Pine Ridge area is Barton Creek Cave, a wet cave that offers canoeing and a chance to see Maya ceramics and calcified skeletons of ancient Maya. If you want adventure, the drive here alone should get you ready for this cave expedition.One of the most interesting discoveries was a necklace composed of perforated animal finger bones and a carved bone. The carving depicts a seated figure with his hands across his waist and legs facing forward.
Actun Tunichil Muknal
Deep within the forests lies a wonder of both ancient and natural Belize. Following a 45-minute drive from San Ignacio and a 45-minute hike through the beautiful Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve with numerous jungle stream crossings, visitors find a crystal-clear stream flowing from the cave opening.Take a short swim into the cave and a guided hike through the passage to one of the most impressive Maya sites in Belize. Also known locally as "Xibalba," you'll find evidence of ceramics, stoneware and skeletons. One artifact named the "Monkey Pot" is one of just four found in Central America. One skeleton, known as "The Crystal Maiden," is the calcified bones of a teenage girl, giving the skeleton a sparkling appearance.
Established in 1976 by a hardworking Lebanese immigrant, this Belizean family owned and operated hotel has long been the centerpiece of San Ignacio town and Cayo Society. Dubbed The Only Jungle in Town, charm and hospitality ooze from the very pores of this heartfelt hotel. 27 guest rooms and suites are set in the midst of a 17-acre private estate with close proximity to some of the most notable Mayan Ruins in Central America, comfort and peace may be found while adventure abounds in all directions.