When we bought our home here in Placencia it was already being run as a guesthouse and came with our lovely long-term tenants on the first floor and a few reservations for holiday makers. One reservation was for repeat snowbirds that had reserved our unit for 4 months. No problem! We still didn’t own much in terms of material goods- we came to Belize as suitcase minimalists! What a great excuse to get off the peninsula and experience a bit more of Belize living. First stop-
San Ignacio (and it’s “twin town” Santa Elena) is located in the Cayo District, in western Belize. We had a about 2 weeks in San Ignacio and at first, I thought that it was too much, too long of a stay. I expected to get bored. I thought: we’re beach people, what are we going to do for 15 days in a mountain town? Well I stand corrected- we are totally enamored with San Ignacio!
I LOVED the food. The chicken stuffed jalapeños are the best and cheapest I’ve found. There’s a Western Dairies shop in town churning out extra cheesy pizza and fully loaded ice cream Sundays. And the fresh veg! Loads more greens than you get down in Placencia.
I great place to grab a bunch of nibbles and a sack or two of fruit for later is the open air market place on Savannah street. Stall after stall of that lovely fresh veg and so much cheap than on the peninsula. Bananas are 10 for $1bzd there were as in Placencia it’s 7 and San Pedro 5 for a dollar. I use the cost of bananas as a benchmark to gauge the overall cost of living in an area and this litmus test pretty much holds true in Belize! For the mildly adventurous may I recommend trying a scoop of sweet corn ice cream?
I was also very impressed with how pedestrian friendly it was. Now don’t get me wrong- those hills are killer- you’re going to be feeling the burn in your quads, hammies, calves! But the drivers were so much more careful and courteous than they are elsewhere (yeah I’m talking about you Placencia! There’s no good reason to blast through the village at 40 MPH- we’re at the bottom of a peninsula- there’s nowhere else to go, you’re here! Slow the heck down!). And most roads had sidewalks or a healthy shoulder.
Lastly, I was pleasantly surprised by the kid- friendly activities. I thought San Ignacio would only be good for teen and adults- adventure seekers trekking to ruins, climbing through caves, paddling canoes for hours. Certainly, there’s no shortage of activities for the fit and active tourist but there’s also fun for little ones. San Ignacio has playgrounds. They aren’t North American super safety deluxe jungle gyms but they’re better than nothing.
Our favorite was Hodes Place- huge restaurant and bar set in an orange grove so that it’s SHADED! This is a super unique find in Belize- most parks are absolutely baking under direct Caribbean sun.
You have an easily accessible Mayan ruin at Cahal Pech. From the parking lot it’s an easy and safe 5-minute walk to the site over well maintained boardwalks and gravel paths. Not too high, not too much climbing required, safe enough for even young visitors.
Kids of all ages will love the Green Iguana Conservation Project at the San Ignacio Hotel Resort.
Even if they make an adult do the handling.