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San Ignacio is a small town in the Cayo region of Belize. San Ignacio, or Cayo as it is called, is located on the Macal river, and makes a good and affordable base for exploration of the stunning regions around it, with plenty of day trips to be taken and several decent tour guides willing to take you. It's also an important transit town en route to or from Guatemala. Cayo is known for having a multitude of ruins, caves, and rivers.
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Points of Interest in San Ignacio
Many tour companies in San Ignacio, Pacz Tours being the best for safety and quality per outside evaluators, run tours to a wide variety of interesting caves, ruins, rivers, and jungle trails. K'in Winik is known for providing amazing tours and overnight jungle camping throughout Mountain Pine Ridge, including Caracol.
Best of Cayo tour page.
It's a good idea to read reviews for other tour companies on Tripadvisor.com before booking, just because some of them have treated guests poorly.
Most of these are day trips, leaving early in the morning and returning the same afternoon. Note that not all tours are available on any given day. Most tour companies require a certain minimum number of registrations before they'll make the run. Checking in the night before for which tours are available the next day is often the best option.
- Actun Tunichil Muknal (usually abbreviated to "ATM") is a Mayan sacrificial burial site near San Ignacio. The site is contained entirely within a cave system, and access to the relics is gained via some 500 metres of climbing over rocks, wading and swimming through water that is at times over 1.5 metres deep. The cave was a sacred site for the Mayans and it contains many examples of pottery, ceramics and stoneware, as well as several sets of human sacrificial remains, one of which (known as the "Crystal Maiden") has been almost entirely covered in limestone crystals by the water in the cave. The site is about 45 minutes drive from San Ignacio, and, due to the caving aspect, it may only be visited when accompanied by an official guide (who will provide appropriate safety equipment). Most tour companies in San Ignacio are able to offer officially guided tours.
- Barton Creek Cave Barton Creek Outpost: Take the road in Georgeville to Mountain Pine Ridge, drive 20-30 minutes and turn at the large brown sign on the left to Barton Creek Archaeological Reserve. Its about 4 miles from there. phone is 662-4797 Barton Creek Currently closed.
- Cahal Pech is the main attraction in the town. The name means literally "Place of the ticks" and Cahal Pech is a smallish set of Mayan ruins that were abandoned around 800-900 AD. There is an indoor museum displaying artifacts, a site plan, and putting the ruins in a regional context. The site is open 7 days a week during daylight hours. Admission is USD $2.50 but may change. There are, allegedly, guided tours but these are most unneeded as the site is easy to traverse. The entire site should take 1-2 hours at most for a thorough exploration. Once at the ruins the site is fairly flat, but Cahal Pech is at the top of the hill overlooking San Ignacio. The walk up hill to it from the main town is quite exhausting and is difficult even from the San Ignacio Resort Hotel on the hill. If you have any disability or are in poor physical condition you will want to drive.
- Caracol Biggest ruin in Belize, yet mostly unexcavated, so you really feel like you are in a national park on a ruin. Ca'ana, place of the sky, is one of the biggest and most massive temples in the Mayan world. Definitely a must see ruin, and it comes with stops at Rio On Pools and Rio Frio Cave too.
- Xunantunich (Maya Ruins)
- Tikal (in Guatemala)
- Visit the Iguana Conservation Project and the interpretive Medicinal Jungle Trail at the San Ignacio Hotel. Ranked as one of the best family excursions in San Ignacio. Iguana Hatchery
- Canoe or kayak on the Macal River.
- Rent bicycles.
- Green Hills Butterfly Ranch
- Catch a bus ($2B) to Succutz/Benque Viejo del Carmen and visit the amazing Mayan ruins Xunantunich. (Admission - $10B). Wear good shoes, bring water and plan to spend about 3-4 hours. There is a free water taxi in Succutz over the Mopan River--from there you can easily walk the 45 minutes to the site.
- Tropical Wings Nature Center Located On The Outskirts of San Jose Succotz, 10 Minute bus ride from San Ignacio going towards Benque. Butterfly Farm & Small Educational Museum, 9 Hole Disc Golf Course (First in Belize & Central America), Restaurant Located On Site As Well.
About San Ignacio
San Ignacio is one of the more tourist-friendly towns in Belize, with a variety of restaurants keeping longer hours than in many other towns. There are a wide variety of restaurants, and many have both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.
Check out the Best of Cayo webpage for the best restaurants by category! Best of Cayo website
- Ko Ox Han-Nah: From the lamb quesodillas to the lamb curry to the omlettes, Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner are all covered here. They raise almost all of their own animals at their farm. Located at 5 Burns avenue, one block from downtown. Ko Ox Han-nah website
- Hodes Place: Great for kids of all ages! Everything under the sun can be found here. Video games, air hockey, pool tables, playground(in a small orchard), jukebox, and a small casino too. Try the burritos, they are big and cheap. Located next to Macaw park, one block from the market. Hodes website
- South Indian Restaurant: Try their ginger lime juice, it'll have you wanting a pitcher of it. This little hidden treasure is well worth seeking out for very tasty dishes including fish or chicken curries and several vegetarian options - their simosas are what they are known for, and must be tried. Located in the Plaza Del Rio mall, which is a 5 minute walk from downtown. Their menu can be found at: Menu
- Mr Greedy's Pizzeria: Best pizza in town, and a great burger too. Greedy's has been completely redesigned; they've added a great bar, giving the place a much more open look and feel. They have an excellent menu, with plenty of great appetizers - try the onion rings; they are the best in the country. They offer free highspeed wi-fi for customers, Located on Burns Ave.
- Maxim's: Maxim's Chinese Restaurant, one of the best chinese restaurants in San Ignacio, located about 2 blocks from downtown on Bullet Tree road, Menu including: Delicious Fried Chicken(what they are known for) ranging from $5 and above, fried rice, chao-mein, chop-suey, kun-pao, and etc.
- Vivian's: Vivian's Coffee and Ice Cream shop is great. Their coffee smoothies are always great to cool one off. Good ice cream too. All the local students go there, which is a good sign. Located on Joseph Andrews Drive, 3 blocks from downtown, next to Sacred Heart College, and across the street from Mom's Place. Vivian's website
- Mincho's: Mincho's is the fast food place of San Ignacio. They are only open for breakfast and lunch. They have all the Belizean fast food: tacos, burritos, salbutes, panades, and garnaches. They have the best fresh juice in San Ignacio, and it's only $1 per glass. Located on Burns Ave, downtown. Mincho's website
Check out the Best of Cayo webpage for the best nightclubs by category! Best of Cayo Nightlife
- Cappello's Up the Hill Bar and Grill: Best bar and restaurant in Cayo! Cappello's easily has 100 different drinks, and some of the best appetizers around. You can hang out under the steel palapas, enjoy the great view, and listen to mellow music like reggae, or hang out inside for more local music. Their happy hour goes from opening until 7:00pm every day! Located next to Cayo Twist, near the Cahal Pech hill. Cappello's on Facebook
- Meluchi's Taverna & The Grave Yard Lounge: Want to eat AND party with a grave yard experience? enjoy great drinks and good Belizean food? Meluchi's is the place. They do special events almost every weekend, including drink specials and either dj's or live music. Located on Joseph Andrews drive, in front of sacred heart college. The only place in town with the personal beer tower. Meluchi's on Facebook
- Club Rehab: Great club to start off at or end up at since they are usually open from 4PM until after 2AM. They usually play great music, and you can request songs most of the time too. Great happy hour from 4 to 7 when they offer half priced drinks. Thirsty Thursdays at Rehab is happy hour all day. They are located across the street from the casino.
- Mr. Greedy's Pizzeria and Bar: Greedy's has been completely redesigned; they've added a great bar, giving the place a much more open look and feel. Their happy hour runs from 3 to 6. They have an excellent menu, with plenty of great appetizers - try the onion rings; they are the best in the country. They offer free highspeed wi-fi for customers, Located on Burns Ave.
- Remo's Roadhouse: Many of the ex-pats start at Remo's because of the great conversation and stories provided by the owner - he can tell you stories that even locals don't know. The Roadhouse Grill is top notch too: try the hot dogs or buffalo wings there while watching a game! Located in Bullet Tree Falls, just 3 miles from downtown - the first building on the right as you enter Bullet Tree Falls.Roadhouse website
Best of Cayo Shopping page
- Belize Gifts: Located in the JNC mall. They have a huge selection of great gifts and souvenirs.
- Back to My Roots: Located on Burns Avenue across from the JNC mall. Back to My Roots website
- Indita Maya: Located in the Venus Hotel bottom floor.
- Tropicool Gift Shop: Located on Burns Avenue next to Pacz Tours. Tropicool giftshop
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article San Ignacio (Belize) on Wikivoyage.