Adventure-seekers, this is the district for you: Belize’s westernmost towns of San Ignacio, Santa Elena, and even Benque Viejo are often overlooked for the more popular Ambergris Caye, but no more. As this summer heats up (beyond just temperatures!), so does the itch to explore! After all, the Cayo District is known for its dense forest filled with ancient archaeological wonders and natural beauty. This summer, spend it from your Belizean home base in San Ignacio doing any (or all) of these ten tours and adventures.
Uniquely, Barton Creek Cave is “wet” subterranean spelunking, only explored by canoe. Your headlight’s glare races ahead as you glide about a mile deeper into the earth, although the total cave’s distance is estimated at around seven miles. It’s quiet, exhilarating, and awe-inspiring with every swoop of your paddle.
Across the Mopan River on a hand-cranked ferry lies Xunantunich Maya Site, the Maiden of the Rock on the outskirts of Succotz Village. “El Castillo” (the Castle), the largest pyramid at 130 feet above the plaza for a vantage point like no other.
Despite being native to Belize, green iguanas continue to be threatened due to habitat and hunting pressures. It’s why the Green Iguana Conservation Project, run by the San Ignacio Resort Hotel, shares more about their importance to Belize’s ecological balance in a very hands-on experience: holding, feeding, and posing with the green iguanas themselves!
Enjoy a slow and sunny afternoon on this guided or self-guided tour down the Macal River! Load up your canoe, water, and of course, sunscreen. Cayo Gial Tours can organize your transport for you for the 2-hour float ahead.
Large swaths of wild jungle envelop you on La Capitana, the river pontoon that docks at one of three pristine waterfalls on the Macal River. Despite exploring the man-made reservoir of Vaca Lake, you can count on spotting a slurry of birds or even tapirs, spider monkeys, and more on this easygoing lap. It’s especially refreshing for a summer spent in San Ignacio!
Swim at Big Rock Falls
Hidden away inside the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, this 150-foot waterfall is the gem that awaits at the bottom of a wooden staircase through nature. Magnificient and massive, its name becomes obvious with one glance at this popular swimming hole.
Get mesmerized at Green Hills Butterfly Ranch
A slurry of magenta flutters around you at this butterfly ranch, although Blue Morpho butterflies are just one of 30 native species at Green Hills. You’ll see the full metamorphosis, from egg to adult, in a 4,000 square feet walk-in flight area.
Shop the stalls at the Saturday Farmer’s Market
A little less adrenaline-inducing than some of the other tours on this list, but it’s a must-do when in San Ignacio. Plus, it’s the fastest way to feel like a local as you shop for seasonal fruits and vegetables, plus get some of the best street food fresh from the stalls.
Day trip to Guatemala (and Tikal!)
Being so close to the Guatemala-Belize border, staying in San Ignacio allows you a short 2-hour drive to Tikal National Park — an outstanding example of the art and human genius of the Maya that doubles as a UNESCO World Heritage Site too. Tikal is expansive, so this is a full day’s adventure from San Ignacio, Belize.
Take a Critters of the Night Tour at San Ignacio Resort Hotel
Wolf spiders, cicadas, scorpions, tarantulas, opossums, owls, and maybe a lucky sighting of the sly Kinkajou — there’s no telling what’ll turn up during your Critters of the Night tour on the grounds of San Ignacio Resort Hotel. Led by an expert naturalist guide, now’s no time to be afraid of the dark!
Where To Stay in San Ignacio
San Ignacio Resort Hotel will give you the jungle feel with the luxury of a modern resort, without leaving the town at all. You’ll be within walking distance of some of the destination’s best restaurants, besides the onsite Running W Restaurant. Add faves like Crave House of Flavor, Guava Limb Cafe, and even the Ice Cream Shoppe to your list! Not to mention, cooling off during San Ignacio’s 85°F summer temps are far sweeter when poolside with a margarita. If you’re ready for your eco-adventures in Belize, you can even book direct through San Ignacio Resort Hotel’s Cayo Gial Tours to make things even more carefree.