Planning a Trip
Getting There & Departing
By Plane -- While there is an airstrip in San Ignacio (SQS), none of the local commuter airlines has regular service here.
By Car -- Take the Western Highway from Belize City. It's a straight shot all the way to San Ignacio. You'll come to the small town of Santa Elena first. Across the Macal River lies San Ignacio. If you're heading to San Ignacio and points west, a well-marked detour will lead you through the town of Santa Elena to a Balley bridge that enters San Ignacio towards the north end of town. The more prominent and impressive Hawksworth Bridge is solely for traffic heading east out of San Ignacio towards Santa Elena, Belmopan, and Belize City.
By Bus -- San Ignacio has very frequent bus service from Belize City. Buses to San Ignacio leave roughly every half-hour from the main bus station on West Collet Canal Street between 5am and 8pm. Return buses to Belize City leave the main bus station in San Ignacio roughly every half-hour between 4am and 6pm. The fare is BZ$10 (US$5/£2.65). The trip takes 2 1/2 hours. Most of the western-bound buses continue on beyond San Ignacio to Benque Viejo and the Guatemalan border.
The downtown center of San Ignacio is quite compact and easily navigated by foot. If you want to visit any of the major attractions listed below, you'll probably have to find transportation. Frequent buses will take you to the entrances to most of the hotels listed below on Benque Viejo Road, as well as within walking distance of the Xunantunich ruins. Infrequent buses (ask around town or at the bus station; tel. 824-3360) do service the Mountain Pine Ridge area. However, if you don't have your own vehicle, you will probably need to take some taxis or go on organized tours.
As in the rest of Belize, roads are minimal, and almost everything can be found on or just off the Western Highway, or the road through Mountain Pine Ridge. Numerous buses ply the main road between Belmopan and San Ignacio, continuing on to the border town of Benque Viejo del Carmen. If you want to drive yourself, particularly anywhere off the main highway, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended.
You can rent a car from Cayo Rentals (tel. 824-2222; www.cayoautorentals.com) or Matus Car Rental (tel. 824-2005; www.matuscarrental.com). A small four-wheel-drive vehicle here should run you around BZ$150-BZ$200 (US$75-US$100/£40-£53) per day.
If you need a cab, call the Cayo Taxi Association (tel. 824-2196) or San Ignacio Taxi Stand (tel. 824-2155). Taxi fares around the Cayo District should run you as follows: BZ$6 (US$3/£1.60) around town, BZ$18 (US$9/£4.75) between San Ignacio and Bullet Tree Falls, and BZ$55 (US$23/£12) between San Ignacio and Chaa Creek or duPlooy's. Collective taxis run regularly between downtown San Ignacio and the border at Benque Viejo; the fare is BZ$6 (US$3.20) per person.
San Ignacio is on the banks of the Macal River, on the western side of an old metal bridge across from its sister city of Santa Elena. Across the single-lane Hawksworth Bridge is a traffic circle and a Shell gas station. Downtown San Ignacio is to the north on Burns Avenue, and the San Ignacio Hotel is located south up a steep hill on Buena Vista Road. Most of the hotels and restaurants in town are on or within a block of Burns Avenue. The road to Benque Viejo del Carmen, Xunantunich ruins, and the Guatemalan border branches off Buena Vista Road. This is actually a continuation of the Western Highway.
Fast Facts -- There are several banks located right in the heart of downtown San Ignacio: Atlantic Bank, at Burns Avenue and Columbus Park (tel. 824-2347); Scotiabank, at Burns Avenue and Riverside Street (tel. 824-4190); and Belize Bank, 16 Burns Ave. (tel. 824-2031).
To reach the police, dial tel. 911 or 824-2022; for the fire department, dial tel. 824-2095. The San Ignacio Hospital is located on Simpson Street, on the western side of town (tel. 824-2066). The post office (tel. 824-2049) is located on Hudson Street, near the corner of Waight's Avenue.
For film or developing, head to Belicolor Photo Service on Hudson Street (tel. 824-3549). If you need eyeglass repair or help, head to the Hoy Eye Center, 4 Far West St. (tel. 824-4101). The succinctly named The Pharmacy (tel. 824-2510) is located on West Street. If you need laundry done and your hotel doesn't offer the service or charges too much, you can drop off your dirty clothes at Martha's Guesthouse, 10 West St. (tel. 804-3647), for same-day service at about BZ$12 (US$6/£3.20) per load.
If you need to log on, head to Eva's Restaurant, 22 Burns Ave. (tel. 804-2267); or the Café Sol, Far West St. (tel. 824-2166). Both offer a few computers with high-speed Internet connections. Eva's is one of the most popular restaurants and meeting places in town, while the Café Sol also offers free Wi-Fi.