The Allure of Western Belize: What Makes These Twin Towns Two Beloved Favorites

by Khaila Gentle

The journey to Belize’s Twin Towns—San Ignacio and Santa Elena—may not be as picturesque as the journey down the Hummingbird Highway, or as adventurous as a trip down the Chiquibul Road, but it is just as exciting. That’s because many who make their way West know that what awaits them is a gorgeous patchwork of sights, sounds, and experiences.


From the rushing Macal River and the plazas of Xunantunich to wide open farmland and streets dotted with small eateries, there’s an entire world of discovery awaiting in Belize’s Cayo District. And at the heart of that discovery sits two small towns that continue to capture the hearts of travelers both from Belize and beyond. The twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena are a testament to what makes Western Belize just so alluring. 

Similar: Why You Should Spend Your Next Vacation Visiting These Two Small Towns

Belize’s Twin Towns Are Calling 


Connected by a historic suspension bridge – the Hawkesworth Bridge that crosses the Macal River – San Ignacio and Santa Elena both hold within them plenty of memorable adventures. Combined with the fact that they act as the perfect base for exploring the greater Cayo district, this makes them a Goldilocks destination within Belize. 

Santa Elena Town. Photo by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash

Not as popular as her sister, Santa Elena is a burgeoning town filled with unique experiences. The Sarita Drive-Thru Ice Cream Shop is a crowd favorite for families. Meanwhile, chic and modern cafes – like Bambu Tea and Love Town – are a draw for younger crowds. Beyond that, riverside eateries like Gillys Landing in Esperanza Village and thrilling adventures like Barton Creek Cave make for great day trips from town. 

Puffy fry jacks are a Pop’s Restaurant signature. Image via Belize Tourism Board

Meanwhile, for some, San Ignacio could hold her own against popular destinations like Placencia and Hopkins. Offering everything from eco-adventures to nighttime fun, it’s sure to be a good time no matter the budget. Stumble upon household names in town like Pop’s and Guava Limb. Venture over to Cahal Pech – the Maya site found right in town. Or, visit San Ignacio Resort Hotel. It’s a destination within a destination – with can’t-miss tours like all-spice tea tasting, bird watching, and night walks.  

Make Cayo Your Forever Place With This Hillside Home in San Ignacio 

Photo by Vista Real Estate

If, like many other visitors to the district, Cayo has won your heart, you might be entertaining the idea of one day calling it home. If so, the good news is that there are plenty of homes on the market, no matter your desired price point. 

One such home sits perched on a hill in charming San Ignacio. Listed by local realtor Vista Real Estate, the two-bedroom, two-bathroom abode is newly refurbished and waiting for the right person to make it theirs. A neatly manicured lawn and sloping grey picket fence bid welcome, giving way to a two-story, modern home, complete with elevated ground floors, a laundry room, and even a caretaker’s quarters. 

Make your move and schedule a viewing with Vista Real Estate here.  Belize’s western frontier awaits. 

Featured Photo courtesy of the Belize Tourism Board. Cayo Hillside Cottage Photos courtesy of Vista Real Estate

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