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 to caves, Maya temples and nature reserves. San Ignacio town serves as a hub for these adventures but travelers are overlooking the many activities that can be done right there.
Here are things to do in downtown San Ignacio.
Sample the Local cuisine
San Ignacio has several good downtown restaurants and all are in walking distance from each other. Cayo restaurants principally offer an amazing Mestizo, Maya, and Garifuna infusion, but also available are Indian, Chinese, and American style foods. The best spots downtown 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.
The Green Iguana Conservation Project
Tour guide at the Green Iguana hatchery
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 its endangerment. As a result, the government and private sector have invested in making sure this unique specie is protected via educational awareness and conservation efforts. By visiting the interesting Green Iguana hatchery at the San Ignacio Resort you can witness the different life cycle of this creature and also contribute to the continuation of 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 (twin town of San Ignacio) on the Western Highway across CP Gas Station, this humble restaurant specialises in Central American cuisine. The true call to this place is the unbelievably good milkshakes though, they serve several fruit flavored shakes such as Papaya, Mango, Melon and Strawberry.
Insider’s Tip: Try the Melon milkshake, you’ll not be disappointed! The Papaya shake falls second.
Cahal Pech Maya Site
Jungle setting at Cahal Pech Maya site
Found in walking distance from downtown San Ignacio, Cahal Pech hosts a small visitor centre/ museum and a couple large Maya temples which are really exciting to explore. This site usually surprises everyone who visits because 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 populace. Canoeing is a great way to spend a relaxing evening as the riverbank tends to be quiet and is surrounded by trees. A definite plus is the fact that the river doesn’t have any rapids near San Ignacio.
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
Happy Hour One Barrel and Coke's are $1 USD
Everyone loves drinking and if you’re on vacation, there’s no excuse not partake in bar hopping. Best places to start off are either Meluchi’s or Greedy’s Pizzeria and Bar, and ending the night at the 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: Meluchi’s and Greedy’s offer a happy hour from around 3 – 6PM. Try the Cowfoot soup with lots of ‘peppa’ 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.
Insider’s Tip: Have a go at eating lunch at the market, try the tacos or pupusas. 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 in a whole. Entering this small shop is quite a surprise, but that is even so from outside. Its bright color paint makes it stand out from surrounding stores and the smell of freshly brewed coffee lures coffee lovers from afar. The Tres Leches cake is what draws me there every time I’m nearby.
Insider’s Tip: You can also find a large assortment of imported pre-packaged gourmet delicacies there and the occasional Victoria Secret panties and bra. Told you it was an interesting place.