There is something indescribably alluring about the capital of Belize’s western district. Maybe it’s some remnant Maya magic trickling downhill from the ruins of Cahal Pech, or maybe it’s the soft mist itself, quieting the village on rainy-season mornings and blanketing the floodplains to the east.
Maybe it’s the raw vitality of the surrounding wilderness that bumps right up against the town and breathes so much healthy energy through San Ignacio’s streets—or maybe it’s what happens when all of these factors combine with a kind, good-hearted, diverse community of people.
There is budget lodging galore in San Ignacio, as well as a broad range of food—from rice and beans to curried lamb, from veggie burgers to pork ribs. And, of course, there is more to do than anyone—even permanent residents—has time for, with all manner of active expeditions leaving from Burns Avenue each and every morning.
Getting to San Ignacio
All resorts can arrange for a transfer from the international airport in Belize City, from US$125. A shared shuttle to the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Terminal can be arranged at a number of tour operators, for not much more than an express bus ticket if you have enough people. Belize San Ignacio Shuttle & Transfer (tel. 501/620-3055, belizeshuttle [at] yahoo [dot] com, US$95 for two people, price drops to US$30 pp for six people) can arrange rides anywhere, including both airports; the owner, William Hoffman, is accommodating and flexible.
Westbound buses from Belize City and Belmopan run through the middle of town, stopping at the park as part of the daily runs to Benque. The street next to the main park is the de facto bus station. Expect limited service on Sunday. Expresses take about two hours between Belize City and San Ignacio, including the quick stop in Belmopan. Regular buses leave every hour, and there are a handful of daily expresses 7 a.m.–7 p.m. Check on the express departure times the day before your journey, as the schedule changes from time to time. Bus schedules are constantly changing as companies battle it out over routes and turf. Ask the locals, who will know what is best.
Downtown San Ignacio is tiny and entirely walkable, though there are a few steep hills, including the trek to Cahal Pech. Taxis there or anywhere else within the city limits cost US$3–4 per person. Cheap colectivo taxis run from San Ignacio in all directions throughout the day, making it easy to get to towns and destinations in the immediate vicinity (including Bullet Tree, Succotz, and Benque).
In addition to the main buses running back and forth on the Western Highway, village buses come into Market Square from most surrounding towns, returning to the hills in the afternoons. To the south, buses only run as far as the village of San Antonio—perhaps someone will think to start public transportation to Caracol once the road is improved.
© Joshua Berman and Avalon Travel from Moon Belize, 9th Edition