Cayo District


Photo of Cayo District

About Cayo District

If you are intending to go to Belize for adventure or ecotourism, you will undoubtedly wind up staying in one of the lodges or jungle resorts in Cayo District. There are some stunning places to stay here, from the luxury to the more basic, and below we have listed the best of them.

The largest of Belize's provinces, Cayo is also one of the less populated — at least by humans. However this region teems with wildlife, from spectacular butterflies to a huge variety of bird life, in primeval rainforest and thick jungle surroundings. Twitchers and birders come from all over the globe to birdwatch in this stunning region of Belize.

Many centures ago the Mayan civilisation was here too, and one of the other highlights of Cayo district are the Mayan ruins — notably the Mayan city of Caracol — surrounded by thick jungle near the Guatemalan border. Originally housing a population of over 100,000, it's well worth the 2-3 hour drive from San Ignacio to get there.

Many of the lodges are located near the main town in Cayo District, San Ignacio, which is second only to Belize City. It's a great base from which to explore the Mayan ruins of Caracol and Xunantunich, as well as the forest reserves to the south — Chaa Creek Nature Reserve, for example, or the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. There you will find a number of jungle lodges ready to welcome you and give you an authentic rainforest experience, though you can also visit on a day trip to go ziplining, or hike to see the spectacular waterfalls. Also popular among adventure travelers are the caves in this region — we recommend the cave canoeing!

If you're planning to visit in peak season between December and May, don't forget that the best places to stay in Cayo District are extremely popular. They're also quite small properties, so if you want to guarantee your room, get organised and book well ahead.

The Best Places to Stay in Cayo District

Around San Ignacio

  • The family run Chaa Creek, a 'wildly civilized luxury resort', provides a great blend of jungle setting in a 400 acre nature reserve, and proximity to the town. The deluxe cottages offer complete privacy, and yet they are surrounded by exotic birdlife. The river Macal is nearby, great for canoeing.
  • A short distance downriver, overlooking the water, is the Mystic River Resort, a family friendly 'get away from it all' luxury resort without TVs or mobile signal (or a/c), which offers a number of adventure packages run by their own in-resort guides. They have a great spa and restaurant as well as some rooms with plunge pools for those looking for a bit of extra comfort.
  • For those who want to be a little closer to civilisation, and out of the jungle, the Ka'ana Resort on the highway out of town is a quiet oasis that makes a great base for day tours around the area, whether to the Mayan ruins, horse riding in the surrounding countryside or to the caves or jungle nearby. Small cottages are dotted around delightful tropical gardens. Elegant and tasteful.

In the jungle

  • The intimate 12 cottage Hidden Valley Inn is a secluded sanctuary in its own unique 7000 acre forest reserve in the Maya Mountains. It's an awesome place to get away from it all and to explore nature on a truly exclusive basis. There are miles of trails and crystal clear creeks and waterfalls to explore, with over 81 species of wild orchids. Paradise...
  • In the middle of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, Blancaneaux Lodge offers 20 luxurious thatched cabanas in a riverine setting. Formerly the home of Francis Ford Coppola, it's in a stunning location, and if you really want to push the boat out, you can book Coppola's private two bedroom villa with its own plunge pool and sweeping views over the forest.
  • In another part of the reserve is the romantic Gaia River Lodge perched on top of the magnificent Five-Sisters Waterfalls. Go to sleep to the sounds of the water, eat food from their organic garden, enjoy the abundant local bird life or take a trip to caves nearby. There's a great spa here too.

For a rustic vibe

  • If you want to get close to nature but with less of the trappings of modern life (such as cappucino machines...) consider the safari style Pooks Hill. Guests tend to mingle here in communal style, it's off the beaten track, the small thatched cabanas are basic but comfortable, and the birdwatching is spectacular. But don't come here if you're the sort of person who needs a spa. It's more swimming in the river style...

For a self catering holiday apartment or villa

  • If you'd prefer the privacy of a self-catering option then browse through the wide variety available online with our partner, Booking.com.

Travel Information

  • December to May is Belize's dry season, when you can expect clear blue skies and sunny days that aren't too hot, with temperatures in the 27-30°C range. However, prices are at their highest in this period, so for the best deals you might want to consider visiting in the off season. While August to October can be muggy and wet, it tends to rain only for one to two hours a day in the mornings and early afternoons.
  • San Ignacio is about 70 miles from Belize City airport, which can be driven in two hours. Alternatively there is an airstrip just south of San Ignacio for you to fly into from Belize City or Placencia.

Still not sure?

  • Check out all of our Belize recommendations.
  • If you are planning to hire a car, take a look at what our partner Rentalcars can offer.
  • Feel free to call or email one of our gurus for advice.

Best Hotels in Cayo District

  • Gaia River Lodge San Ignacio, Cayo District 18 rooms from £129

    Romantic Break  -  The private cabanas and waterfall setting are perfect for a romantic break.
    Birdwatching  -  Excellent place for birdwatching with regular visitors including Orioles, Oropendolas, and Kites.
    Great walks  -  Superb walking trails leading through the forest from the hotel.
    Kayaking  -  Take a canoe ride down the Macal River.
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith

    A sublime secret retreat on the banks of the Gaia River. The luxury rooms are housed in private cabanas that ensure optimal privacy and intimacy. After a day's exploring the staggering natural surroundings return for a meal of Belizean specialities at the lodge's restaurant. A hidden gem. See More

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  • Pooks Hill Lodge Belmopan, Cayo District from £156

    Back to Nature  -  Set within 300 acres of private reserve and surrounded by jungle; experience the call of the wild.
    Birdwatching  -  Bird Walk Cabbanas across the creek, 20 ft up, great for observing the humming birds, Spectacled Owl, Emerald Toucanet
    Restaurant  -  Belizean and European dishes are served up buffet style.
    Sights nearby  -  Take a guided tour of the Mayan site of Tikal.
    RestaurantGardenViewsParkingNo pets

    A rustic chic lodge deep in the Belize jungle. Traditionally styled lodges feature thatched roofs, large terraces and local textiles. Spend evenings dining on regional classics in an atmospheric lantern lit restaurant and days exploring the forest and Mayan ruins. An adventurer's paradise. See More

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  • Ka'Ana Resort San Ignacio (Western Highway) 17 rooms from £185

    Great walks  -  Excellent walking opportunities in nearby national parks.
    Local markets  -  Browse the local San Ignacio Farmers' Market.
    Kayaking  -  Kayaking down the nearby Macal River.
    Secluded setting  -  For escaping.
    Air conditioningSpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGarden

    A delightful collection of small cottages set amidst sprawling tropical gardens. The rooms carry a simple elegance with tasteful, comfortable furnishings. Relax by the infinity pool or go horse riding through the surrounding countryside. A secluded oasis. See More

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  • Mystic River Resort San Ignacio 15 rooms from £195

    Great walks  -  There are several miles of well marked trails, with something for everyone from leisurely ambles to challenging hikes
    Spa  -  Jasmine Spa offers a wide range of massage and beauty treatments using products inspired by the surrounding nature.
    Birdwatching  -  There are over 160 different species of bird to be spotted in the vicinity of the resort
    Back to Nature  -  No air-con or TVs here, just a relaxed jungle experience with all the other mod cons!

    Wonderful eco-lodge with just eight cabins overlooking the Macal River. Large studios and one-bedroomed lodges provide comfortable accommodation with mahogany furnishings, tiled floors and private balconies with river views. Jasmine spa offers relaxation after a day's adventure in the jungle. See More

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  • Hidden Valley Inn Cayo District 12 rooms from £207

    Back to Nature  -  The Inn is set amid its own private nature reserve. Over 7000 acres of jungle to be discovered during your visit!
    Great walks  -  Over 90 miles of well marked trails for all abilities, from short treks to all day excursions
    Birdwatching  -  Try and spot one of Hidden Valleys "Big Five" - a list of extremely rare birds.
    Spa  -  The spa offers various treatments including a range of massages, facials etc
    SpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenParking

    A fabulous property hidden away amid its own 7000 acre reserve. With just 12 rooms and suites, there is an intimate vibe. Luxury has not been sacrificed despite the remote location, and the food is excellent too. But Hidden Valley Inn is all about the nature - come for a truly immersive experiene. See More

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  • Blancaneaux Lodge Cayo District 20 rooms from £226

    Back to Nature  -  Set in the stunning Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, it's a real retreat to nature.
    Birdwatching  -  The surrounding natural environment is home to an abundant wildlife collection.
    Great walks  -  Some beautiful walking trails to nearby waterfalls and caves.
    Remote  -  Off the beaten track.
    SpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenParking
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet

    A hidden haven of luxurious cabanas with a gorgeous river setting. The charming river huts are stylish and atmospheric, showcasing local art and antiques. After a day exploring the abundant natural beauty, enjoy Belizean specialities in the lodge's restaurant. An exotic tropical paradise. See More

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  • Chaa Creek San Ignacio (PO Box 53) 23 rooms from £304

    Local exploring  -  Ideally situated for exploring the Maya Mountains and San Ignacio.
    Romantic Break  -  Deluxe cottages offer complete privacy.
    Birdwatching  -  Observe wild parrots and hummingbirds in the surrounding area.
    Kayaking  -  Go kayaking down the nearby Macal river.
    SpaRestaurantSwimming PoolGardenDisabled accessNo pets
    Recommended by  -  CN Traveller

    Delightful family-run eco lodge just outside of San Ignacio in the Maya Mountains. Each room takes the form of a palm-thatched cottage, featuring elegant furnishings and traditional artwork. Perfect for those looking for abundant bird and animal life. A riverside gem. See More

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