In early June I found myself in the heart of Belize, a small town called San Ignacio. I had a huge plan filled with things I wanted to see and do but because I only had a few days there so I had to reduce my list (just a little bit). I ended up hitting only a few places that were on my list and some that were totally off my radar! In this article, I’ll include some that we couldn’t fit in but are worth checking out!
Let’s start off with the tour company we used called Explore inland tours. The owner of the company, Sergio Sr, had a chat with us the day we booked our tour. He was so friendly and our tour guide Sergio Jr was very helpful and went above and beyond! They had so many options to choose from such as ATM cave tours, Caracol, Tikal and Xunantunich (Mayan ruins) as well as Mountain Pine Ridge nature preserve. The reason we went to San Ignacio in the first place was to do the Cave Tubing. We really did our research for this one and it seemed like a once in a lifetime experience to float through a cave system that the ancient Mayans used as a temple. We heard from fellow travelers that the ATM cave tour was also exceptional, the one thing that deterred us from it was the fact that you couldn’t take photos. (One tourist always ruins it for everyone).
Click the link to see my full article on Cave Tubing!
Check out the tour company’s website for more information: https://www.exploreinlandtours.com/
The next place that was on our radar was Xunantunich (shoo-nan-too-nich). This is a moderate size archaeological site, just a stone’s throw away from the Guatemalan border. It’s also very accessible from San Ignacio using the public transit. You can also book a tour, just to the site itself or as part of a day trip. If you just want to see Xunantunich it’s better to go by bus and avoid the high cost of a tour. (bus there and back =max 10BZ, entrance fee 10BZ). Cave tubing tuckered us out so sadly we didn’t make it to Xunantunich, but instead, we checked out a smaller site called Cahal Pech.
Cahal Pech was not at all what we assumed it would be and we were pleasantly surprised! We originally planned not to go due to its size and we wanted to opt for Xunantunich but ended up going anyways! Cahal Pech is a smaller Mayan ruin in the town of San Ignacio and it’s very walkable from the city center. It too has a reasonable entrance fee (10BZ) and a little museum to brush up on your Mayan history. We went just before closing (around 4pm) and the place was almost deserted! I would recommend going at this time to avoid crowds and you can stay after the office closes. I wouldn’t recommend staying past dark because the light is limited and you would have to walk through some not so nice neighborhoods to get back (worse comes to worse you can take a taxi!). Due to high traffic at this site, some stones are coming loose so please be careful and respectful when visiting!
Sadly we only visited the Nohoch Che’en cave systems on our tour but there are many options for adventure so close to San Ignacio. Take some time and check out Rio on Pools, Rio Frio cave, Mountain pine ridge and Blue hole national park (not that blue hole though!). All of these were recommended to us by travelers we met in our hostel but we were very strapped for time so we couldn’t explore them!
For a place to stay, we chose Bella’s Backpackers Hostel just north of the town center. It was a very quaint hostel with really friendly staff. The multi-level building was built around a huge tree that runs through the center of the hostel. The private room has its own balcony and the adjacent room was a loft!. It boasts laundry service, eco shower (as well as a regular one) a full kitchen and many places to hang out and relax. We loved the hammocks on the top floor and the view of the town from the second-floor landing!
We almost didn’t stay here due to some negative reviews online (beg bugs… AH!) but we found it to be very clean. We saw staff cleaning the bathroom every day and our room was decently clean. The beds are typical of a hostel (not the best night’s sleep) but what do you really expect staying at a hostel?
Shortly after arriving in San Ignacio we headed to the nearest restaurant for food. It was just a random place on the main strip and one of the workers who was standing outside convinced us to come in. We sat down and ordered a Belikin Bucket (7 beers) and perused the menu. It’s one of those places that has something for everyone. We ordered a traditional Belizean meal (rice, beans, and chicken) and I quickly became addicted!
We were pleasantly surprised to find all the staff to be very attentive and friendly, they jumped to help us with our requests and we ended up returning here later in the night for the best chicken wings I’ve ever had, as well as the next night for another bucket! (they knew us by name by the time we left!).
Check out Tandoor Indian restaurant and bar! https://www.facebook.com/tandoorbelize/
For breakfast, we had an amazing burrito from a small stall just up the street from our tour companies office. I can’t rave about these burritos enough! It was the best burrito I’ve ever had in my life and it was only 4BZ! (writing about it now is making me crave one) Sadly I can’t give much information on the place as they have no location on google map or social media accounts. If you walk up the street the opposite way from the previous restaurant it is the second food stall that you see (or you could just ask a local for the best burrito!)
We also checked out Ko-Ox-Han-Nah (Let’s Go Eat) and I have to say it’s all in the name! We managed to slip in just before the entire restaurant filled out. Despite being busy the staff was amazing and the food was even better! I enjoyed an unsweetened iced tea and the best version of the Belizean traditional meal that I had on our trip. We were famished after Cahal Pech and we were so happy to have come across such an amazing place.
Our stay in San Ignacio was filled from start to finish with once in a lifetime experiences, amazing people, and delicious food. Even though it wasn’t exactly to plan it was more than I could have ever hoped for. If you are planning a trip to Belize, don’t miss this small inland town, you may just find yourself pleasantly surprised by all it has going on.
Did you visit Belize or San Ignacio? Tell me about your experiences in the comments!