San Ignacio, Belize is more than just an “off the beaten path” location for adventurous souls; it’s also a cosmopolitan hub cloaked within the charming environment of the Cayo District, often referred to as Belize’s breadbasket. It’s got everything a traveler craves, including diversity and beauty, but for those who consider themselves direct descendants of the Indiana Jones spirit, it’s the adventure they crave during a stay that keeps bringing them back for more of the same!
1. Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave
If just the word cave piques your curiosity, start your exploration tour at one of the nation’s most visited underground destinations: The ATM cave. This fascinating destination is best described as intriguing since you’ll hike, wade, and swim into this Maya underworld wearing a headlamp so you don’t miss a thing. Your reward? Behold the crystalized remains of a sacrificial maiden.
2. Big Rock Waterfalls
Arrange your schedule properly and make a day of it by pairing the exploration of Caracol, the world-famous archeological wonder, with a stop at the Big Rock Falls. If you’ve expended lots of energy seeing all there is to see at Caracol, a refreshing dip in the water that pools at the bottom of Big Rock Waterfalls is just what the doctor ordered.
3. Canoe the Macal River
Everything you need for a day on the Macal River will be provided by your tour guide, so take this occasion to exercise your body during a relaxing adventure where you’ll be surrounded by wildlife frequenting the river banks that include monkeys, bats, birds, and a few surprises that will make you want to bring binoculars and your best observation skills along for the day.
4. Explore the San Ignacio Market
Can market day be adventurous? The answer is yes if you show up on any day – but especially Saturday – to feast your eyes on this huge repository of just-picked produce, crafts, household items, clothing, souvenirs and so much more. Don’t be surprised if your market excursion leaves you exhausted.
5. Visit Xunantunich Maya Ruins
Having already paid your respects to the crystal maiden lying in repose within the ATM Cave, you can introduce yourself to a cousin: The Stone Woman, a fantastical apparition that shows up on occasion having lent those who named this once-thriving community her name. Spectacular and impressive Xunantunich was constructed on an artificially leveled limestone ridge that dominates the four major architectural points of interest including El Castillo, one of the highest points in Belize.
6. Meet Iguanas at the Iguana Conservation Project at San Ignacio Resort Hotel
Headquartered within the confines of the San Ignacio Resort Hotel, this lively conservation project won’t require you to exert much energy, but interactive exhibits and programs to help educate and create awareness are fascinating enough to keep visitors spellbound. Headquarter at the hotel and every one of the adventures on this list can be booked through the concierge.
7. Take a day tour to Caracol Maya Ruins
As the nation’s largest excavated Maya city, this intriguing site offers a breathtaking assortment of majestic temples, all of which can be climbed to reach the summit that gives visitors spectacular vistas of the Chiquibul forest reserve. It’s still an active archeological dig, so you could run into a scientist hard at work revealing even more.
8. Go cave tubing
Having walked, swum, and hiked into caves revered by Maya ancients, you may wish to try a different approach to viewing these exciting caverns by floating into the chambers perched atop a large inflatable. Cave tubing has become one of the trendiest adventures in Belize, so you can’t go home before you try it out!
9. Try zip lining
Whether or not you’ve already tried this hair-raising experience, you owe it to yourself to see how it feels to glide over Belize jungle canopies for a different take on this aerial adventure. Skilled guides and state-of-the-art harnesses, lines, and safety precautions offer assurances that your Belize experience will be unique.
10. Spend a full day on Vaca Lake Pontoon
Vaca Lake, a man-made destination located in the upper Macal River Valley offers visitors a different perspective than the one you enjoyed while cave tubing. You’ll drift along what scientists call a biospheric junction of waterways, spot Tapirs, Spider Monkeys, and Ocelots who may or may not make their presences known and there are three waterfalls on this itinerary that invite you to swim, picnic and just take in Mother Nature’s majesty.
11. Go canoeing inside the Barton Creek Cave
Your final water-bound adventure must be Barton Creek Cave. You’ll travel about a mile into the recesses, experiencing the wonders of chambers that may remind you of cathedrals. Observe artifacts and ritual items left behind centuries ago by indigenous people who sacrificed to the gods within these cavernous walls. You’ll thank the gods that you said yes to this adventure.
These 11 sites are just a start. Keep going if you can’t get enough and you need only turn to your San Ignacio Resort Hotel host for as many other suggestions as your time in-country allows!