The District of Cayo in Belize, Central America

The District of Cayo

Rivers, waterfalls, caves, and mountains surround a tiny national capital and grand Maya cities.

The largest district in the country and home of the capital city of Belmopan, the Cayo District offers a plethora of ecotourism adventures. With an astonishing 880,000 acres of protected land in the form of nature reserves and national parks, this district is truly a nature-lover’s dream. The lively towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena and the quiet border town of Benque Viejo del Carmen provide a glimpse into the lives of the friendly residents. They also serve as a base from which to explore pristine forests, clean rivers, rocky plateaus, ceremonial caves, towering mountains, cascading waterfalls and ancient Maya temples.


In 1961, Hurricane Hattie swept over Belize City, destroying what was then the capital of the country. Ten years later, the government moved its offices and administrative buildings to the safer, new capital of Belmopan.

Guanacaste National Park

This 50-acre pocket of protected tropical forest is centrally located just east of the Roaring Creek Bridge at the junction of the Western and Hummingbird Highways.

Blue Hole National Park

Just 12 miles south of Belmopan along the Hummingbird Highway, is the Blue Hole National Park with a sapphire colored cenote and popular swimming hole. A well-maintained trail system leads through the forest and into St. Herman’s Cave.

Spanish Lookout

At Spanish Lookout, a modern sect of Belize’s Mennonite population reside in a landscape of rolling hills. Since arriving in 1958 they have become an integral part of the Belizean economy in a variety of ways – poultry and dairy farming, hardware and equipment supplying and efficient land clearing services. Belize’s first oil reserves were found here.

Aguacate Lagoon

About 20 minutes from “downtown,” Spanish Lookout is a quiet retreat near the large and refreshing Aguacate Lagoon. Amenities include trails for hiking and birdwatching and a thatched shed for picknicking.

San Ignacio & San Elena Towns

Located 67 miles from Belize City are the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena. San Ignacio is the largest town in the Cayo District and is a base for tourism activities throughout Cayo and the Guatemalan Maya site of Tikal. With its relaxing atmosphere and engaging ambiance, San Ignacio offers an exciting blend of ecotourism adventures and eco resorts.

Belize Botanic Garden

Hidden in a scenic valley, the 45-acre botanical gardens are alive with plants from Belize and around the world. Here, visitors can explore environmentally sound alternatives to agricultural trends, sustainable land use options, alternative crops and organic insect control.

Chaa Creek Butterfly Farm & Natural History Museum

At The Lodge at Chaa Creek visitors can observe the fascinating lifestages of the Blue Morpho butterfly, and visit the Chaa Creek Natural History Museum which offers interactive displays, research papers and imagery depicting Cayo’s rich ecosystem.

Other Attractions in Cayo District

Cahal Pech Maya Ruins

Caracol Maya Ruins

Xunantunich Maya Ruins

Barton Creek Cave

ATM Cave

Rio Frio Cave

St. Herman’s Cave

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