Go west, young traveler.
Witold Skrypczak, Getty Images
The Cayo District in Western Belize is blessed with a little bit of everything. Here, you’ll discover new heights throughout Western Belize. This area is known for its spectacular caving systems, waterfalls, rivers, ancient Maya archaeological sites, and lush jungle. This region beckons travelers to take hikes, swim in caving systems, or take a truck or boat ride to experience ancient Maya sites. Epic journeys are made here. Visit ancient Maya sites, such as Caracol, Xunantunich, and Cahal Pech. Trek into the jungles and explore the magnificent cave of Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM Cave), or get acquainted with nature during a tour at Noj Ka’ax H’Men Eljio Panti National Park. Get to know the predominant Mestizo culture as you indulge in local dishes, such as: pibil, and relleno.
Located 67 miles from Belize City is San Ignacio Town, connected by the Hawksworth Bridge to its twin town Santa Elena, San Ignacio is the largest town in the Cayo District and is a base for tourism activities throughout Cayo. Whether you’re visiting ancient Maya temples, caving, hiking, kayaking or horseback riding, San Ignacio is a great place to chill out, grab some food and drinks, and get ready for another day.
Western Belize Rural
Nestled within the jungles or along the roadside, you’ll discover the strong cultural appeal of the Mestizo and the Maya in these rural areas. These little scattered communities can be found atop the mountainous terrains and along the riverbanks. Out here, take the hand-cranked ferry over the river to Xunantunich, which sits atop a hill overlooking the Mopan River and the Cayo District. The area was a major ceremonial site built on a natural limestone ridge during the Classic Period and is composed of six major plazas with more than 25 Maya temples and palaces. On a clear day, you can see across into nearby Guatemala and near Caracol in the Pine Ridge Mountain Reserve. It’s a site on its own.
Benque Viejo del Carmen
Going to see Xunantunich? Check out Benque Viejo del Carmen while you’re there. With the motto "Where History and Nature Meet," this Spanish-influenced town is located just a mile from the Guatemala border and offers a peaceful, riverfront setting with little shops and restaurants. It makes for a great place to discover something new, which is really what a vacation is all about.