Arguably, the Cayo District in Belize is one of the most adventure filled districts in the entire country. It’s littered with glorious Mayan Temples, mysterious caves, meandering rivers that make the best canoeing and tubing, lusciously green trails for hiking and horseback riding and the list goes on! Bet you’re thinking all these adventures sound a little expensive, right? Not entirely. We’ve put together a list of 5.5 free things to do around San Ignacio Belize that will prove the saying that the best things in life are free. Here they are:
1. Big Rock Falls*
Bring your appetite for adventure! A bumpy road and steep hike are by far worth it when you arrive at this 150 ft waterfall. It’s about a 20 mile drive from San Ignacio Town into the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. You’ll hear the water gushing long before you see it but the view is breathtaking, and so is the water. Make sure you take the plunge! Stand under the falls, relax in the pool and simply enjoy life’s wonders. With several other free stops, Big Rock falls could easily be made into a day trip if you pack your own picnic lunch and couple it with Rio On Pools.
Tip: The hike down is steep. Take your time, pick up a strong stick along the way to use as support.
2. Rio On Pools*
These gorgeous pools are not too far away from the stunning Big Rock Falls. It’s a series of granite pools and small waterfalls connected by gushing water. You can sit under a waterfall for a natural massage, claim your own personal pool for soaking or slide down the natural falls for a bit of adventure. The view is incredible! And we’re not kidding. With the pine forest in the background and the gorgeous shades of greens, blues and whites from the pools, you can most certainly expect beautiful photos and memories to last a lifetime.
Tip: Be careful, these granite rocks are slippery!
3. Barton Creek*
Transport yourself to another era, where there are no machines and people live off the land. This little village, not too far away from San Ignacio Town, is a great way to experience the Mennonite Culture. You’ll see horse buggies transporting people and produce, cows hauling large logs to the horsedrawn sawmills, families working hard together and moms and sisters preparing meals from scratch. here’s no electricity, TV’s or internet but you’ll find a quaint little Mennonite store where you could pick up fresh produce and maybe even some donuts. While the Mennonites are a little shy, Barton Creek is definitely something to experience!
Tip: Ask politely before you take pictures and make friends, you might just be invited into a home.
4. The San Ignacio Market
The San Ignacio Market is arguably the biggest most vibrant market in Belize. The hustle and bustle starts before the sun rises when all vendors begin to set up their displays. The vibrant colors from the produce from local farmers, the enticing smells from home-cooked Belizean dishes, and the hum of people bargaining for good deals, make this the perfect Belizean experience.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to try some local breakfast tacos, ducunu(little corn cakes), or the traditional El Salvadoran Pupusas. Look out for unique gifts to take back home, like spices from Ricky’s Spice Shack and crafty knickknacks, for great prices.
5. Free Entertainment at the Welcome Center
The Cayo Welcome Center is at the heart of San Ignacio Town and something is almost always happening, especially on weekends. Free concerts and shows are held on stage and at the little businesses around the center. We suggest you stop in at the information booth, ask for a list of events taking place while you’re here. Also, check out the San Ignacio/Santa Elena House of Culture to keep abreast of special events. Pick one you think you’d like, sit back and enjoy!
Tip: If there’s a special date coming up, like Christmas, Valentine’s etc. it’s almost a certainty that there will be free entertainment at the park. Just ask your hotel concierge!
5.5 Xunantunich Unguided
While this one isn’t entirely free, we still had to put it on the list because it’s a great chance to see one of Belize’s infamous Maya Temples. In fact, the El Castillo Temple stands so tall it’s the second tallest building in Belize! If you have a car you can drive about 7 minutes away from San Ignacio Town or catch a local bus for only $1US. It’ll be hard to miss the hand drawn ferry on the side of the highway. Ask to crank the free ferry across the Mopan River. Once on the other side of the river, it’s 2 km walk until you begin to see glorious remnants of an ancient city hand built many years ago. The entrance fee is a mere $5US per person. Climb El Castillo and stop every so often stop to take in the view! From the very tip-top the panoramic views of Guatemala and Belize are absolutely spectacular!
Tips: Do some research so you’re more familiar with the site’s history and go early before the crowds arrive at around 10AM.
There you have it. Who says you can’t be on a budget and have fun too? These 5.5 free things to do around San Ignacio Belize can keep you and your pocket happy for days! Go ahead, try them!
If there are any other suggestions for free things to around San Ignacio, Belize we’d love to hear about them below!
*These sites require that you have your own means of transportation, preferably a 4WD.