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5 Amazing Day Trips from San Ignacio, Belize

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If you’re looking to fall in love with Belize, check out these top day trips from San Ignacio, Belize!

San Ignacio may be a small town, but it offers a lot of incredible things to see and do. Part of the adventure of visiting is the many incredible day trips from San Ignacio.

Spend a few days exploring the town, but don’t miss these adventure-filled day trips from San Ignacio, Belize!

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Xunantunich Mayan ruins

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Visiting San Ignacio

San Ignacio may be a sleepy, small town, but there are so many incredible things to do here.

From learning the traditional Maya chocolate-making techniques to supporting green iguana conservation efforts and exploring ancient Mayan ruins to shopping in the central market, there’s a lot to do.

But you won’t want to miss getting out of the center of town to explore. Though some of these are in/very close to San Ignacio’s center, they require some transportation, so I included them in the list of day trips.

Here are the top day trips from San Ignacio that you won’t want to miss!

Some of these trips are in or right outside of San Ignacio. However, they aren’t near the town center, and you’ll need to arrange a ride or rent a car to go to them. I included them in the day trips post because you do have to arrange transportation to get there.

The 5 Best Day Trips from San Ignacio, Belize

The center of San Ignacio, Belize, offers a lot of fun things to do. But there are a lot of truly incredible things to see and do nearby as well. So plan a few days for day trips you won’t want to miss!

Here are some of the best day trips from San Ignacio, Belize, to add to your busy agenda.

1. Explore an Ancient Mayan Cave, the ATM Cave

The Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave is an ancient ceremonial cave in the nearby Teakettle Village. It was used throughout the Mayan presence in the area.

At the end of the Mayan Empire, this cave was used in a desperate attempt to appease the gods and bring rain to the region for their survival. There is evidence of ceremonies being done, and in later years, over 15 people were sacrificed trying to appease the gods.

This trek is not for the faint of heart! You hike in for around 45 minutes on a flat hike that crosses a river three times. Then, swim into the entrance of the cave wearing helmets with lights.

It takes a couple of hours to get through the cave, climbing and wading through water. There are a few tight spots navigating through the rocks and a couple of climbs to get to the incredible area called the Cathedral.

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Here, you’ll find evidence of the ancient rituals and sacrifices. It’s also a stunning area in the cave with shimmering calcite, stalactites, and stalagmites.

If you’re up for a challenge, visiting is incredible. I was so glad we accepted this adventure!

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The “Cathedral,” in the ATM Cave, image courtesy of Benjamin Kim, Photographer

2. Go Tubing in the Local Caves

There are a number of different caves in the area worth visiting, and it’s another of the top places is the Barton Creek Cave. It’s a natural cave in the area and both a tourist area and an archaeological site.

There is evidence of cave use by the Mayan people dating back to 200 through 900 A.D. Unfortunately, there was extensive looting. However, it remains a significant cave.

There is also evidence of remains in the cave as well. So, it’s a spiritual area and essential to the local people.

The area is near some waterfalls, so tours often go to visit both. If you have the time, it’s well worth this adventure!

3. Visit the Ruins of Xunantunich

One of the largest and most incredible Ancient Mayan sites in this area is the ruins of Xunantunich. It’s an easy trip from San Ignacio, though you’ll want to arrange transportation.

You get to cross a small, hand-cranked ferry to cross the river. Then, drive up a fairly steep hill to the ruins. Don’t skip the visitor center to learn about the excavations, the area, and the civilization that once lived here.

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The highlight of the ruin is El Castillo, a pyramid that rises 130 feet over the area. You get incredible views of the climb and see the incredible frieze on two sides close up.

Amazingly, it’s not very popular with tourists, so you can see the ruins without the crowds you see at some other places. It’s definitely worth seeing, offering gorgeous grounds, incredible views, and truly unique structures.

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Xunantunich frieze

4. Take a Day Trip to the Incredible Ruins in Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal was one of the centers of Mayan civilization at its height. This tour is not to be missed if you’re a fan of history, ruins, and culture.

It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which in my opinion, is always worth seeing. Over 400,000 people once lived in this massive area, leaving behind a collection of temples, pyramids, and other structures.

The jungle has reclaimed some, but many have been excavated. You can climb a number of them, enjoying incredible views of the site and the surrounding jungle.

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San Ignacio is only a few miles from the Guatemala border. It’s an interesting experience to cross over into “no man’s land” and then into Guatemala. Taking a tour to help you navigate this is a great idea!

And the guides are amazing and knowledgeable. They must be certified to tour Tikal and need to keep up with their education. What you get is an in-depth view of this incredible area and the people who once lived here.

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5. Learn About Ancient Mayan Plant Medicine

It’s incredible to think about just how much the Mayans knew thousands of years ago. They were knowledgeable about math and science and knew a lot about the local forest plants and how they could help people.

The local plants that grow naturally in the area treat a lot of different maladies, from arthritis to diabetes. You can visit one of the local resorts and walk on a medicinal plant on their grounds to learn more.

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It’s an incredibly interesting tour and one that we enjoyed very much. Added bonus: the grounds of the resort are beautiful, and they have an incredible outdoor bar with tasty infused beverages.

There are a couple of options, but the easiest to get to is at the Lodge at Chaa Creek. Though it’s technically in San Ignacio, you do need to get a ride to get there from the town center.

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When Should You Visit San Ignacio?

The most popular time to visit San Ignacio is from January to May. It’s the dry season and the weather is beautiful, though humid.

May to December is also a good time to visit. It’s still in the dry season, so there isn’t a lot of rain, though temperatures are hotter.

How Much Time Should You Spend in San Ignacio?

You’ll want to spend at least a few days in San Ignacio and a few days going on day trips around San Ignacio. There is a lot to do in and around this small town.

Plan to spend as much time as you can to take advantage of the area. We spent a week in San Ignacio and easily could have spent more time there.

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Which of the Best Day Trips from San Ignacio Will You Take?

There is a host of fun day trips to choose from when you visit San Ignacio. Some are full days, but others are just a few hours and easy to double up.

There are a lot of fun things to do right in the town center of San Ignacio. For a sleepy town, it’s pretty amazing! You might be tempted to cut your time here short to enjoy the Belize beaches.

Though you can’t go wrong either way, I recommend you make sure you have at least a full week in the San Ignacio area. There’s a lot to do here that you won’t want to miss!

When you visit San Ignacio, you almost have to add on some time to go on one or more of these trips. From relaxation and learning to adventure, there is a little something for anyone!

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