Belize is very popular for its coast – the beaches and world class diving draws people from all over. However, there is also a variety of wonderful inland attractions. For example, the Cayo District is gaining traction for eco-adventures such as trips to caves, Maya temples and hiking nature reserves. San Ignacio town serves as a hub for these adventures but travelers are overlooking the many activities that can be done right in the downtown core.
Here are a few exciting things to do in San Ignacio.
Sample the Local cuisine
San Ignacio has several good downtown restaurants and they are all near each other. These restaurants principally offer an amazing Mestizo, Maya, and Garifuna infusion, but also available are Indian, Chinese, and American style restaurants. The best spots are Ko-Ox Hannah, Cenaidas Belizean Food, Serendib, Minchos and Maxims Chinese Restaurant.
Insider’s Tip: Best for Dinner is Ko’ox Hannah and Cenaida’s. Try Minchos, Serendib or Maxims for lunch.
Related: Where to Eat in San Ignacio
The Green Iguana Conservation Project
Have you ever heard the term ‘Bamboo Chicken’? In Belize the Green Iguana is prized as a special treat during specific months and this has lead to it becoming an endangered species. As a result, the government and private sector have invested in making sure this unique species is protected via educational awareness and conservation efforts. By visiting the interesting Green Iguana hatchery at the San Ignacio Resort, you can witness the life cycle of this creature and also contribute to the protection of this reptile.
Insider’s Tip: Also found on-site is a short rainforest medicinal trail.
Try Restaurante Tipico Salvadoreno’s Milk Shakes
Located in Santa Elena (the twin town of San Ignacio) on the Western Highway across CP Gas Station, Restaurante Tipico Salvadoreno specialises in Central American cuisine. The highlight of this place is their unbelievably good milkshakes so make sure to try the Papaya, Mango, Melon or Strawberry shake.
Insider’s Tip: Try the Melon milkshake, you’ll not be disappointed! The Papaya shake gets second place.
Cahal Pech Maya Site
Found in walking distance from downtown San Ignacio, Cahal Pech has a small visitor centre/ museum and a couple large Maya temples which are really exciting to explore. This site usually surprises everyone who visits since as you leave the visitor centre and enter the site’s main plaza, you are overwhelmed by the contrasting environment and thick jungle that surrounds the temples. The charming natural atmosphere and the fact that you can find yourself at many times being the only person there, makes Cahal Pech a personal favorite archaeological site of mine.
Insider’s Tip: Early morning visits provides a great opportunity for bird watching.
Canoeing the Macal River
Lazily glide up or down the Macal River spotting wildlife and enjoy a brief departure from San Ignacio’s busy downtown. Canoeing the river is a great way to spend a relaxing evening since it tends to be quiet. A definite plus is the fact that the river doesn’t have any rapids.
Insider’s Tip: Hire a guide if you are interested in spotting wildlife. Their experience has garnered them a keen eye for catching stuff you would miss.
Downtown booze bender with midnight snack
Everyone enjoys drinking and if you’re on vacation, there’s no excuse not partake in bar hopping. The best place to start is either Eva’s or Greedy’s Pizzeria and Bar, and ending the night at Next Lounge at the Princess Casino. Don’t forget to go to San Ignacio’s main street – Burns Avenue to eat a plate of Rice & Beans with Stew Chicken, Gunners, or Cowfoot soup before going to bed.
Insider’s Tip: Greedy’s offers a happy hour from around 3 – 6PM. I mentioned Cowfoot soup above, make sure to try it with lots of hot sauce to avoid a hangover the following day.
San Ignacio Farmers’ Market
The San Ignacio Farmers’ Market is a great place to see locals mingling together and witness firsthand why Belize is considered a melting pot of cultures. The best time to visit is Saturdays when people from all over Cayo come to either sell their produce or stock up on groceries for the week. Here you can find just about anything. Food, vegetables, jewellery, and clothes, to name a few items.
Insider’s Tip: Eat lunch at the market, the tacos or pupusas are my favourite. Yum!
Head to Sweet Ting for a sweet delight
The foodie in me is making this list turn into a San Ignacio best eats article. Sweet Ting is exactly what you’re guessing: it’s a dessert shop. It has the widest variety of homemade desserts in Cayo, or probably Belize as a whole. If the sweets don’t call your attention, the smell of freshly brewed coffee will lure you from afar. However, what draws me there is their yummy Tres Leches.
Insider’s Tip: You can also find a large assortment of international pre-packaged gourmet delicacies and the occasional Victoria Secret panties and bra. It’s definitely an interesting place.
I hope you enjoyed these tips, they are great for both budget backpackers and luxury travelers.