Most visitors to Belize head directly to the beaches of Ambergris Caye or Placencia, but San Ignacio is rapidly becoming a favorite destination for travelers with an adventurous spirit.
San Ignacio is the top destination to visit in the Cayo District. In recent years, this quiet, town has transformed itself into Belize's eco-tourism capital. Today, it's a lively, bustling community that's the perfect place to start your inland explorations of Belize.
Tour the ATM Cave
The Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave is one of the best-known caves in the world. It is historically important as one of the major ceremonial sites for the ancient Maya. Archaeologists have found important Maya artifacts and the skeletons of people buried there.
Visiting the ATM is a challenging adventure that will test you physically. It's located in the Mountain Tapir Reserve about an hour's drive from San Ignacio. The hike to the cave takes about 45 minutes. You'll have to swim through parts of the cave during your exploration.
Because of the ancient artifacts, you can't take photographs or wear shoes in the cave. You can only visit with a specially licensed guide.
Hike or Walk at Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
Although most of Belize is rainforest and jungle, Mountain Pine Ridge protects more than 160,000 acres of pine forest. The evergreen trees, rock formations, and water features create a scenic park in the shadow of the Maya Mountains.
The reserve is a wonderful place to take walks that immerse you in nature. The trails are clearly laid out and well-marked. They're easy enough for children and beginners. Best of all, the Mountain Pine is known for the many pools, waterfalls, streams, and lakes where you can take a cooling dip during your hike.
Cruise the Mopan River
You won't miss the beach when you're in the Cayo District. The Mopan River is a relaxing ride. The temperature is always perfect for swimming, canoeing, fishing and inner tubing. As the river reaches a gorge in the valley of the Maya Mountains, it turns into mild rapids that are fun to ride.
Visit the Maya Ruins at Cahal Pech and Xunantunich
San Ignacio is close to two important Maya ruins. The small, well-preserved settlement at Cahal Pech is walking distance from San Ignacio. The ruins at Xunantunich are located in a valley of the Mopan River. The most impressive feature at Xunantunich is the tower of El Castillo. At 130 feet, it is the tallest structure in Belize.
Spend Time in San Ignacio
Spend a day in San Ignacio. You'll find a wide range of restaurants, bars, resorts, and other enjoyable places. The town's services including tour companies, ATMs, drugstores and gift shops. Don't miss the weekly farmer's market, where vendors from all over Belize bring their freshest produce.
The Cayo District Is Special
The Cayo District is a scenic region filled with forests, rivers and mountain views. If you're visiting Belize, San Ignacio is an ideal place to start your vacation.