San Ignacio travel guide

San Ignacio Tourism | San Ignacio Guide

You're Going to Love San Ignacio

A jumping-off point for adventurers and nature lovers from all over the world, San Ignacio is a perfectly positioned village with ruins, caves, and rivers within striking distance.

While it's surrounded by jungle, this town is only a short drive from the stunning beaches of the coast. In few other places will you find history, archaeology, and natural beauty that matches that of San Ignacio.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit San Ignacio

1. Beautiful Environments

If you're a lover of color, you'll find plenty in the jungle that surrounds this small town.

2. Mayan Ruins

San Ignacio sits on the edge of protected historical sites such as El Pilar that bear witness to the region's ancient and medieval heritage.

3. Caves

It wouldn't be a true escape without a cave. Visitors will be happy to note that the area surrounding San Ignacio is home to large cave networks.

4. Horseback Rides

The rural nature of San Ignacio is such that it's possible to ride a horse right out of town and into the surrounding hills.

5. Mayan Culture

Not all as old as the ruins: local artists continue to fashion clothing and art in the manner of the Maya.

What to do in San Ignacio

1. Ancient Mayan Ruins Perched High Above The Hotels

One of the stellar attractions of visiting San Ignacio is the huge number of Mayan sites within a few miles of the resort. In fact, Cahal Pech is the oldest of all, and it's a short (but steep) climb from the town center. Built 3,500 years ago, this is a seriously old archaeological site, and the Visitor's Center gives a good picture of what's gone on since then. The centerpiece is the 25 meter tall temple and the Mayan Ball Game court, but the views over the Macal River are just as appealing.

2. Worth Sacrificing A Day To See

Often shortened by locals to ATM, Actun Tunichil Muknal is an extensive cave system and sacred Mayan site in the Tapir Mountain Reserve, around 10 miles east of San Ignacio. To get there, you'll need to hike a short way across some thick jungle, giving it a bit of an Indiana Jones feel. And when you get there, the feeling is confirmed by the sight of skeletons of victims sacrificed over a thousand years ago to appease the Mayan gods. In the surrounding reserve, look out for howler monkeys and Baird's tapirs as well.

3. San Ignacio's Freshest Attraction

Back in Cayo itself, the market is probably the town's central attraction. Be there every Saturday when farmers across western Belize converge on a plaza next to the football stadium, complete with wonderfully fresh fruit and vegetables, homemade jams stuffed with tropical fruit, and plenty of wholesome street food. If you want a panade (corn dough stuffed with meat) to take on a hike, or just some freshly baked tacos, there's no better place to be.

4. San Ignacio's Stunning Stone Maiden

Perhaps better known by the name "the Maiden of the Rock", Xunantunich is half an hour to the southwest of San Ignacio, and completely unmissable. One of the most photogenic and impressive of all Mayan sites, the courtyards are lined with stunning friezes depicting Mayan life, and their sometimes brutal religious rites. Much more than just a temple, Xunantunich is a fully-excavated city, and its main temple is still classed as Belize's second tallest building. Join tours that uncover fascinating details of life in the Yucatan 500 years before Columbus arrived.

5. Iguana Have A Great Time

Aside from Mayan ruins and vibrant markets, nature is one of western Belize's calling cards, and the Belize Iguana Project is the place to get your biodiversity fix. Located in the San Ignacio Resort Hotel, the center cares for a community of charismatic green iguanas, and educates visitors about their lives, and their endangered status. Tours of the center are a delight, but don't miss the Medicinal Jungle Trail next door, where guides provide an absorbing primer on traditional Mayan medicine. You won't look at the rainforest in the same way ever again.

1. Ancient Mayan Ruins Perched High Above The Hotels

One of the stellar attractions of visiting San Ignacio is the huge number of Mayan sites within a few miles of the resort. In fact, Cahal Pech is the oldest of all, and it's a short (but steep) climb from the town center. Built 3,500 years ago, this is a seriously old archaeological site, and the Visitor's Center gives a good picture of what's gone on since then. The centerpiece is the 25 meter tall temple and the Mayan Ball Game court, but the views over the Macal River are just as appealing.

2. Worth Sacrificing A Day To See

Often shortened by locals to ATM, Actun Tunichil Muknal is an extensive cave system and sacred Mayan site in the Tapir Mountain Reserve, around 10 miles east of San Ignacio. To get there, you'll need to hike a short way across some thick jungle, giving it a bit of an Indiana Jones feel. And when you get there, the feeling is confirmed by the sight of skeletons of victims sacrificed over a thousand years ago to appease the Mayan gods. In the surrounding reserve, look out for howler monkeys and Baird's tapirs as well.

3. San Ignacio's Freshest Attraction

Back in Cayo itself, the market is probably the town's central attraction. Be there every Saturday when farmers across western Belize converge on a plaza next to the football stadium, complete with wonderfully fresh fruit and vegetables, homemade jams stuffed with tropical fruit, and plenty of wholesome street food. If you want a panade (corn dough stuffed with meat) to take on a hike, or just some freshly baked tacos, there's no better place to be.

4. San Ignacio's Stunning Stone Maiden

Perhaps better known by the name "the Maiden of the Rock", Xunantunich is half an hour to the southwest of San Ignacio, and completely unmissable. One of the most photogenic and impressive of all Mayan sites, the courtyards are lined with stunning friezes depicting Mayan life, and their sometimes brutal religious rites. Much more than just a temple, Xunantunich is a fully-excavated city, and its main temple is still classed as Belize's second tallest building. Join tours that uncover fascinating details of life in the Yucatan 500 years before Columbus arrived.

5. Iguana Have A Great Time

Aside from Mayan ruins and vibrant markets, nature is one of western Belize's calling cards, and the Belize Iguana Project is the place to get your biodiversity fix. Located in the San Ignacio Resort Hotel, the center cares for a community of charismatic green iguanas, and educates visitors about their lives, and their endangered status. Tours of the center are a delight, but don't miss the Medicinal Jungle Trail next door, where guides provide an absorbing primer on traditional Mayan medicine. You won't look at the rainforest in the same way ever again.

Where to Eat in San Ignacio

Popular local favorites serving up Belize specialties include Ko-Ox Han nah and Mincho's. A meal at a laid-back restaurant will set you back by about BZ$7.

When to visit San Ignacio

San Ignacio in June
Estimated hotel price
C$ 111
1 night at 3-star hotel
San Ignacio in June
Estimated hotel price
C$ 111
1 night at 3-star hotel

As with much of Belize, San Ignacio has a tropical climate with heavy rainfall in summer. For this reason, February and March may be the best months to visit.

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Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
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How to Get to San Ignacio

Plane

Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) in Belize City and as well as airports in Guatemala are good options for flying in to the area. Bus services can be arranged ahead of time for about BZ$10 to take you to San Ignacio.

Car

San Ignacio is conveniently situated by the Western Highway, easily the best road in Belize. Car rentals can be arranged for about BZ$20 a day in any major city.

Bus

Numerous buses leave Belize City for San Ignacio each day. Buses cost about BZ$10.

Airports near San Ignacio

Airlines serving San Ignacio

Lufthansa
Good (1,372 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (2,464 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (3,899 reviews)
KLM
Good (291 reviews)
Air France
Good (295 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,659 reviews)
British Airways
Good (940 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (928 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (640 reviews)
Finnair
Good (449 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (1,938 reviews)
Frontier
Good (1,439 reviews)
Copa Airlines
Good (446 reviews)
Southwest
Good (1,473 reviews)
WestJet
Good (295 reviews)
Sun Country Air
Good (121 reviews)
TAG Airlines
Excellent (1 reviews)
Tropic Air
Excellent (1 reviews)
Maya Island Air
Mediocre (1 reviews)
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Where to stay in San Ignacio

There are many hotels in town catering to all sorts of visitors. Cheap options include J & R Guesthouse. More upscale options include Martha's Boutique Guesthouse, which is locally owned and decorated in traditional fashion.

Popular neighbourhoods in San Ignacio

Cahal Pech - The Cahal Pech Archaeological Reserve offers guests a taste of Mayan ruins within city limits. The reserve has pyramids and a small museum.

Hawksworth Bridge - the town's highest concentration of restaurants is found just north of the Hawksworth Bridge.

Macal River Park - a quiet area surrounded by several local eateries.

Where to stay in popular areas of San Ignacio

Most booked hotels in San Ignacio

Ka'ana Resort & Spa
Excellent (9.1, Excellent reviews)
C$ 224+
San Ignacio Resort Hotel
Excellent (9, Excellent reviews)
C$ 291+
The Lodge At Chaa Creek
Excellent (9.3, Excellent reviews)
C$ 434+
Venus Hotel
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
C$ 63+
Cahal Pech Village Resort
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
C$ 124+
Midas Belize
Poor (0, Poor reviews)
C$ 111+
See all hotels

How to Get Around San Ignacio

Public Transportation

There is no public transportation in San Ignacio, and everything in town is reachable on foot.

Taxi

Taxis can be found in San Ignacio, with a BZ$5 pickup fee and a BZ$8 fee per mile after that.

Car

Car rentals are possible both within town and at major cities in Belize. They will typically cost about BZ$150 a day for a small SUV.

The Cost of Living in San Ignacio

Shopping Streets

While the town doesn't have a shopping street, there is a JNC mall in the downtown area. Most local items can be found at the foothills of the Mayan ruins.

Groceries and Other

Several grocers serve the town. You should be able to find eggs for BZ$3 a dozen and bread for BZ$2 a loaf.

Cheap meal
C$ 4.82
A pair of jeans
C$ 38.36
Single public transport ticket
C$ 5.76
Cappuccino
C$ 3.87
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