When most people envision a vacation in Belize, is San Ignacio the first place that comes to mind? Maybe not. But I hope this 3 day San Ignacio budget itinerary will show you the value of trading the coastal beach towns for the lush jungles, vast ruins and vibrant markets of San Ignacio.
How to Spend 3 Days in San Ignacio, Belize
Map of San Ignacio
Introduction to San Ignacio
Official Language(s): English
Currency: Belize dollar
Emergency phone number: 911
When to Go to San Ignacio
Late November – early April
The best time to visit is during the dry season, although rain is still a possibility. Aim for the shoulder seasons (think, February and March) for lighter crowds and cheaper prices.
Where to Stay in San Ignacio
There are a few hostels in the area, but I’d recommend spending a smidge extra for the Venus Hotel. One main reason is this cute hotel has air conditioning, which can go a long way in alleviating the humidity.
Additionally, the location is perfect. It’s right on Burns Avenue, in the hubbub of downtown. You’re also located on the section of the street that doesn’t allow cars. So you’re free to stroll around as you please.
And, just a few steps away is Maya Walks, a tourist company that I highly recommend for a few excursions. It makes waking up early way easier.
If however, you’re a hostel kind of traveler, give Kawoq Hostel a visit. It’s just a few minutes walk down the same street and has all of the fun amenities you’d expect at a hostel.
Transportation in San Ignacio
Everything I’ll mention is well within walking distance. Traveling on foot is pretty feasibe.
Should you need a taxi, remember the official taxis will have a license plate with a green background and white lettering. Always agree upon the rate before your ride begins, and have cash on hand (U.S. dollars are accepted and it’s a 2:1 ratio).
Where to Eat in San Ignacio
The Guava Limb Restaurant and Cafe
This will be a splurge, but the Guava Limb is very worth it. The outdoor setting, for one, is gorgeous. And the food is so fresh and flavorful, you can’t get enough. Shout out to the generous portion sizes too.
This is a fun, casual stop for one of the best burgers you’ll ever have. It’s a local favorite, and not hard to see why.
Crave House of Flavour
Crave is a great happy hour stop as the sun is setting. They’ve got great drink specials and the location makes for some fun people watching at the outdoor bar.
Ko-Ox Han Nah (Let’s Go Eat)
This is the place for traditional Belizean cuisine. This cozy place fills up fast, so don’t be discouraged if you have to wait. The food is the fantastic and I promise it’s worth it
Day 1 in San Ignacio
Is there anything better than visiting a Mayan ruin just steps away from a major city?! I can’t believe this is just a stone’s throw away from downtown San Ignacio. What good fortune.
It’s the smallest ruin in this itinerary, but still worth a visit. I know waking up early is painful, but arrive as soon as it opens for two reasons…
1. You’ll likely have the whole place to yourself
2. Bird watching. Bring binoculars.
Green Iguana Conservation Project
This was a definite highlight. The San Ignacio Resort has dedicated part of their premises to fostering and raising the threatened green iguana. Visitors can come take a look at the sanctuary, and feed and hold the iguanas who have been adapted to humans. Doing good and feeding cute, smol animals. It’s a win-win!
AJAW Chocolate Tour
This tour was wildly different from other chocolate tours I’ve done, but in the best way. This tour is led by a Mayan family and shows you the traditional method of making chocolate in the Mayan way.
It’s quite educational. For example, I had no idea that chocolate bars were a relatively new production in Belize. The Mayans turned their cacao into a drink, and well, don’t fix what isn’t broken. Popular demand led to the production of chocolate bars about ten years ago. You’ll be able to try a sample, but here, the focus is on the drink and how it’s made.
San Ignacio Market
If you can, try to visit on a Saturday. That’s when there tends to be the most going on. You can buy fresh fruit, souvenirs, and even take a seat at a popup restaurant.
Day 2 in San Ignacio
Take a Tour of Tikal in Guatemala
There are so many Mayan ruins to visit in Belize, it’s hard to go wrong. My vote would have to go to Tikal, about two hours away in Guatemala. It’ll be your most expensive tour, but you’ll have the best time.
For starters, it’s massive. You’ll explore temple after temple and be stunned to learn this is only about 30% of what could be excavated.
It’s also not nearly as overcrowded as other Mayan ruins. Get there early enough and you may even have the place to yourself for a few minutes.
And finally, it’s gorgeous. I really can’t say enough about how stunning and impressive Tikal National Park is in person. It’s one of those things you’ll have to see for yourself.
I recommend taking Maya Walks tour of Tikal. The price is roughly the same as other tour companies, but they’re the only tour group I found that paid your border transfer fee into Guatemala. Information is listed below.
Day 3 in San Ignacio
Take a Cave Tour
Hiking a cave in Belize is is not what I thought it would be. I visited caves in Arkansas (which I loved) and there’s always been a carved path to walk along.
With the cave tours here, you climb with what nature made. There may be a rope to hold onto at points, but it will be a lot of crawling and maneuvering around. It’s fun, but man, is it exhausting. Not for the faint of heart.
The Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave is the most popular and perhaps the most strenuous. You’ll be hiking through waist-deep water and sliding through tight walls.
St. Herman’s cave is the less popular, but still beautiful option. Plus, you’ll get the visit the Inland Blue Hole afterward for a refreshing, cool swim. It’s still a challenging climb, but you won’t have to wade through ice cold water.
Both these places are stunning. I hiked through St. Herman’s and was spellbound by how enchanting it was. But it’s a doozy. Maybe you’re the type who doesn’t mind. If so, then go hike and have a blast!
But if that sounds like too much, or you’re a bit claustrophobic, there’s still a way to experience the beauty of the cave. Consider cave tubing; less intense, and still inside a cave.
Spend your last night in San Ignacio bidding a fond farewell to the creatures of the jungle. We’ll be back at the San Ignacio Resort for this tour, because the property is on an actual jungle (and it’s much cheaper than other tour options).
Know Before You Go
Please remember to tip your guides! It’s not an easy job and they take it quite seriously!
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