Whether you’re looking for adventure activities in the rainforest, local punta music and authentic comida in town, or simply some WiFi-free time in a hammock with a book, you can do it all in San Ignacio, Belize.
1. Where to Stay: San Ignacio Resort Hotel
Only a scenic 90-minute drive or 30-minute flight from the Philip Goldson International Airport, San Ignacio Resort Hotel is the ideal getaway spot for travelers looking for a true Belizean holiday since it’s the only luxury hotel located in the jungle. They also just celebrated their 40th anniversary with a major remodeling to include the addition of a Baroque-themed lobby bar, formal dining room, extended outdoor seating area, and renovations to existing suites (AKA they now have in-room jacuzzis). Speaking of those impressive suites…you’ll be greeted with unparalleled views of the rainforest (and all of its wildlife inhabitants) along with local art and furnishings upon check in and should you need anything at all, there’s daily butler service to remind you of the perks of being on vacation.
2. Where to Eat and Drink: Running W Steakhouse, Benny’s Kitchen, Crave and Ko-Ox Han-Nah
For an unforgettable dinner, Running W Steakhouse & Restaurant is definitely where you want to go when you’re in the mood for a great cut of carne. Their premium options include black angus rib eye or 21-day aged NY strip and you can also try the Lebanese sample platter of lamb kebabs, vegetables, pita bread and the family's own hummus recipe. If you’re lucky enough to be there on a Wednesday when Trey is hosting “Steak Your Claim Night,” he will grill everything right on the deck in front of you using his own sauces and techniques. For the pescatarians or vegetarians in your group, they have grilled shrimp skewers, pan seared grouper and a “Bounty of Belize” salad. Other dinner options include the popular Ko-Ox Han-Nah restaurant or Crave in the town of San Ignacio. At Crave the menu changes daily as everything is based off the freshest ingredients at the farmer’s market and at Ko-Ox Han-Nah the lamb chops with coconut rice and the curries are the highlights. Make sure to wash it down with ice cream from Molly's Ice Cream Shoppe next door (vanilla with Brazilian nuts is the way to go). As for a casual lunch, swing by Benny’s Kitchen for specialties such as cow foot soup and Pibil (pork meat cooked underground served with vegetable sauce and corn tortillas) and wherever you go for breakfast, make sure you order the Belizean signature: fry jacks, eggs your way, refried beans, fried plantains, ham and Gouda cheese.
3. What to Do: Connect With Nature
The Green Iguana Conservation Project is an interactive exhibit where you can get up close and personal with Belize’s favorite reptile, thanks to this self-sustained project, which began in 1996. You can even participate in their “Adopt an Iguana Program” and the “Iguana Kids Club” and after snapping a pic or two with the scaly guys, you can also take a tour of medicinal plants and herbs found within the hiking trails of the rainforests. Learn about the natural remedies that were used by the Mayan community to heal illnesses and follow that up with bird watching, to meet the feathery friends of the Belize Jungle. There are no shortage of outdoor activities when planning your trip as tours to the Maya Ruins (like Xunantunich, Tikal and Caracol) are an option, as is caving and tubing, zip lining and Macal River canoeing, a visit to the Howler Monkey Sanctuary or the Belize zoo, and horseback riding along the Mopan River Valley, where you can stop at the market for local souvenirs, such as handmade hammocks and secret boxes carved by the locals. One last thing to check off your Belizean bucket list has to be paddling in the dark in the Barton Creek Caves, however. After strapping on your helmet with a headlight attached, your tour guide will highlight the history of the cave and its many archeological findings. Definitely, a must do!