About San Ignacio
What you must know about San Ignacio, also know as El Cayo, is probably the number one stop for travelers looking to spend a few days on Belize’s mainland. It’s wealth of natural attractions, concentration of Mayan history sites, and its excellent display of local cuisine have earned Cayo District the distinction of being known as the cultural heart of Belize.
Located on the western side of the country, Cayo borders Guatemala and is geographically Belize’s largest district, spread over nearly a million acres. Towns like Santa Elena and San Ignacio are two of the most popular stops for travelers staying in Cayo. The border town of Benque Viejo del Carmen is home to many Mayan settlements as well.
Culturally, Cayo is one of the most diverse spots in Belize. The Mestizos, people of mixed Mayan and Spanish descent, were historically one of the largest ethnic groups in Cayo. Today, look for Mayan, Mennonite, Creole, and even pockets of Lebanese and Chinese
Things To Do
Like many travelers, If you are looking to split your holiday with a few days in the jungle and a few days on the beach, be prepared for a full itinerary while in Cayo. Adventure seekers and history buffs often find Cayo to be the most desirable spot in Belize with its abundant nature and high concentration of Mayan sites.
Whether it’s canoeing or tubing, Cayo has you covered. With its dynamic mountainous terrain, Cayo is also home to a number of spectacular waterfalls that travelers can hike to, especially in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. Here you can go hiking, explore caves or take a swim at Butterfly Falls.
Travelers interested in hitting a number of Mayan sites will find Cayo the perfect home base with Caracol, Xunantunich, and Cahal Pech within easy reach. Those wanting to visit Tikal in Guatemala on a day trip will find departing from Cayo is the best option as well.Go horseback riding or learn about Belize’s preservation efforts of the Blue Morpho Butterfly at the Natural History Museum, and about the Green Iguana at the San Ignacio Hotel. Bird watchers will want to keep Cayo on their radar as the region is home to some of the most endangered and rare species seen in Belize.
What to Eat
It’s more like what is there NOT to eat in Cayo? Some of the most traditional Belizean dishes can be found throughout Cayo, including garnaches, salbutes, black relleno, panades, “bollos”, and boil up, also known as “bile-up”. Cayo’s Saturday Farmers’ Market is an ideal spot to score fresh produce. As Cayo is home to a number of higher-end resorts, look for gourmet dining out options. Spots like our very own Restaurant here at Rumors, showcase local Belizean dishes with a gourmet twist and we feature some truly one-of-a-kind local cocktails and an impressive wine list.