Last Updated: November 26, 2019

San Ignacio Belize: 12 Reasons To Visit (2022)

san ignacio belize farmers market

Here are 12 Reasons to Visit San Ignacio Belize

I think you'll agree with me when I say:

It's REALLY hard to decide on where to visit when planning your trip to a certain country.

Well, we want to make it easier for you to decide on why you should visit San Ignacio Belize with 12 reasons.

In fact, these are the only 12 reasons you may need, guaranteed! So here are the reasons:

1. Majestic Belize Mayan Ruins around San Ignacio Belize

Some of the most visited and most scenic Belize Mayan Ruins are located in and around San Ignacio Belize. Cahal Pech Mayan Ruin for example, is located on a hill that overlooks the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena. The name translated from Maya to English stands for "Place of Tick", named after the pastures that were located in this area in the 1950's.

Just a 10 minute drive from San Ignacio you will find Xunantunich, the most visited Mayan city in Belize and home to "El Castillo" that offers stunning 360 degree panoramic views of the area.

And lastly, an hour drive from San Ignacio the ancient Mayan metropolis of Caracol can be visited, it is the largest Mayan city in Belize.

2. San Ignacio Farmer's Market

san ignacio belize farmers market

Where can you find fresh fruits and vegetables, authentic Belizean food, hardware, clothing, livestock, retail outlets and meat shops under one roof? The San Ignacio Farmer's Market, of course! The largest market day in the country of Belize, with the busiest days being Friday and Saturday.

It's also the best way to experience the multicultural society that is Belize; you will be able to interact with Mayas, Mestizos, Mennonites, Garinagus, Creoles, East Indians, Asians, among others.

3. Chocolate Making Classes at AJAW Chocolate

san ignacio belize chocolate making classes at AJAW chocolate

Did you know? Chocolate was the preferred food of the Mayan Gods. The name chocolate was derived from the Maya word Xocolatl. So with some help from history, you will be able to appreciate and enjoy a local chocolate making class based in San Ignacio. This is not a chocolate factory - you actually get to make real chocolate using a traditional Mayan stone to grind the organic Cacao bean.

Chocolate is a well known aphrodisiac, and boasts many health benefits in its raw, organic form. So much so, that it's said to be one of the best antioxidants.

Make your own chocolate, drink your own chocolate drink, and take home a craft rooted in cultural roots many centuries ago. How cool is that!

4. San Ignacio Restaurants

San Ignacio has long been hailed as the "culinary capital" of Belize and with good reasons. For the past 5 years, the Belize Tourism Board has awarded 4 restaurants in the Cayo District and 3 in San Ignacio Town to be specific, the title of "Restaurant of the Year".

Insider tip: Best place for dinner would be The Guava Limb Restaurant & Café or Ko'Ox Hannah; Minchos, Cenaids or Ervas for lunch; Pop's restaurant is a classic for breakfast.

If you want something more authentic, try the San Ignacio Farmer's market as highlighted above - look for popusas, Belizean barbecue, cochinita pibil, bollos, among others.

5. The ATM Cave - Actun Tunichil Muknal

san ignacio belize actun tunichil muknal cave crystal maiden

Considered one of the Top 12 Most Sacred Caves in the World by National Geographic - visiting this cave is an adventure on its own! Located 45 minutes away from San Ignacio Town, the ATM cave is an artifact-rich cave that feels of adventure and mystery to its greatest lengths.

The ATM Cave is home to the famous "Crystal Maiden" - the intact skeleton of a young Maya female that, due to it being covered in calcium carbonate, shines bright under lamp light.

In Belize, this cave is considered the mother of all caves - prioritize it accordingly.

6. Canoeing the Macal River

san ignacio belize canoeing with family

A great escape from the bustling town of San Ignacio & Santa Elena - row your canoe up or down the meandering Macal River and enjoy the flora & faun and wildlife found along its banks. It is a great way to spend a relaxing morning.

Birds, Tapirs, Iguanas, Howler Monkeys are only some of the wildlife you will be able to spot while canoeing on this river, and if you're paddling down to San Ignacio from the upper Macal River Valley, you will be astounded by the beautiful sight of the longest suspension bridge in Belize - the Hawkesworth Bridge.

7. Nightlife in San Ignacio Belize

Belize has been ranked one of the happiest nations in the world, and for good reason. Our people are generally happy-go-lucky, laid back and worry-free. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is the festive culture of the country - we are party seekers and goers.

And with many great places to party in Belize, San Ignacio is actually one of the TOP places for it! With a record of some of the best nightclubs in Belize and parties going up until 5am, it is no surprise why travelers and locals alike tend to love this town for its nightlife.

Insider Tip: try out happy hour on Burns Avenue any day between hours 4pm - 7pm for great bargains! Then bar hop until you end up at one of the nightclubs where you will be sure to dance the night away.

8. Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve

Home to the Rio On Pools, 1000 ft waterfall, Rio Frio Cave, the ancient metropolis of Caracol, Big Rock Falls, Los Pinos bathing pools, and other favorited spots by locals and travelers alike.

Driving along the dirt road throughout "Pine Ridge" as locals call it, you will be able to sometimes spot fresh tapir and jaguar footprints. The Mountain Pine Ridge is connected to the Chiquibul National Park - Belize's most important water source and the country's biggest protected area. One of the very reasons why the wildlife is so abundant, and jaguars can sometimes be spotted in this area.

If you're looking for a confined area with many activities to choose from - it would be this!

9. The Green Iguana Conservation Project

san ignacio belize green iguana conservation project

If you've heard the term "Bamboo Chicken" you probably already know that this refers to Green Iguanas in Belize.

And they're located here in San Ignacio - abundantly! As an endangered species, the government and private sector have made it a priority to fund educational and conservations efforts.

Get up-close to the green iguanas and capture an instagram-worthy moment with iguanas all over you - literally! Then coin the term "The Iguana Whisperer" - thank us later ;).

10. Cave Tubing and Zip-Lining

What screams adventure more than dashing through the dense rainforest of Belize at over 30mph with only a helmet and a harness to protect you? Zip Lining, of course! And Belize has become well-known for its Zip Lining offerings.

If you'd rather a softer adventure, then Cave Tubing is equally fun without the adrenaline of Zip Lining. Float your way through cave caverns and learn about the beautiful stalagmites and stalactites. Learn about how these caves came to be, and the history of Belize being under sea level thousands of years ago that resulted in limestone being spread across the country.

11. Immerse In Culture

san ignacio belize san antonio womens group cultural exchange

What is traveling without cultural immersion and the knowing of other people; their beliefs, food, music, folklore and traditions. San Ignacio Belize is a great hub for exploring the cultures of Belize.

A 30 minute private vehicle transfer will lead you to the village of San Antonio, a Maya settlement where the Women's Co-op is located. Here, some Maya women have came together to create a hands-on cultural experience that involves Maya cooking using the traditional "fogon" or "firehearth", making clay pottery (that you get to take home!) and also basket weaving.

Are you a foodie? Then you won't be disappointed! 20 minutes away from San Ignacio Belize will lead you to The Lodge at Chaa Creek that hosts an Open Hearth Cultural Culinary Courses. Each day of the week highlights a specific Belize cultural group - Maya Monday, Mestizo Tuesday, Garifuna Wednesday, you get the point. Great way to learn about Belizean cultures in a fun and authentic way!

12. La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge

One of the largest sporting events in the country of Belize takes place every year in San Ignacio Town, held in March. The La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge is a challenging 5-day canoe race that starts from the Hawkesworth bridge and makes overnight stops along the Belize River until it reaches its final destination; Belize City.

The race started off as an environmental awareness campaign by a local company that produced bottled purified water. The race began with about 15 canoes, and over the years reached all the way up to 130 canoes.

The race is followed by onlookers, support teams, families, and sponsors throughout the 5 days. The night before the race officially takes off, their is a cultural night that features music, food, dance, and story telling.