So you’ve found yourself in the quaint Belizian border town of San Ignacio. Maybe you’re contemplating shelling out the money for the ATM caves (which we fully recommend). Or maybe you’ve just gone on your cave tour and have decided to hang around the area for a bit longer while the water dries out of your shoes. Either way, you’re probably on a strict budget considering the cave tour runs at about $85+. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. There’s a lot more to discover in the area that won’t break the bank. Check out our list of cheap & free things to in San Ignacio Belize.
1) Cahal Pech Ruins – $5 / Free if the guard on duty is snoozing
Compared to the nearby Mayan giants at Tikal, these small ruins may feel a bit underwhelming. But for a relaxing afternoon adventure they do the trick. We wandered in on a late Saturday afternoon and literally had the whole place to ourselves. These ruins are located just on the outskirts of town, taking you quickly from an urban street to an ancient historical site. Contrary to some recommendations, you don’t need to take a taxi here and the site itself is flat and easy to navigate. The ruins cost a reasonable $5, which we do recommend paying, but you may have to wake the sleeping guard to do so.
2) Local Farmer’s Market – Free
The market is a buzz of activity everyday but the big turnout is saved for Saturdays. You’ll find everything from fresh fruit & veggies to handmade crafts to pretty much whatever people can rummage up and sell. Compared to the rest of Latin America, produce in Belize is pricey. So if you’re coming from Guatemala, brace yourself for a price jump. The market houses a couple of clothing stalls with super cheap and fun second hand clothing. Everything from cargo pants to “Jefferson High Senior Waterpolo Champs ’99” shirts. We managed to haggle two shirts for $3. Score.
3) Butterfly Farm & Natural History Museum – $5
On the grounds of the super fancy Chaa Creek eco lodge is a small natural history museum that details the local flora and fauna dating back to the ancient Mayans. Outside the museum is the butterfly farm. The farm breeds the gorgeous Blue Morpho butterfly to sell around the word. Check out the different stages of the metamorphosis cycle while these blue beauties flutter around you.
4) Rainforest Medicine Trail – $5 unguided tour
After you get your butterfly fix, check out the Rainforest Medicine Trail. Also on the Chaa Creek grounds, the trail is a hike just above the bank of the Macal River. Check out all the medicinal plants used throughout Mayan history. Pay an extra $5 for a guide to get the low down on all the medical uses, or skip it and just enjoy the colorful biodiversity for its beauty.
San Ignacio doesn’t have to drain your savings just because of the pricey ATM caves. We recommend spending a few days in the area to explore. Come for the cave tour, stay for these cheap and free activities.