Farmers’ markets, whether in an upscale neighborhood of San Francisco or among the poorest of the poor in Nicaragua, are one of my favorite sites to see when I visit a new area. I’ve been to more than I can remember, but I’m confident that the San Ignacio Farmers Market in Belize will continue to be one of my favorite memories of our time spent here. Some vendors have nicely built and aesthetically pleasing stalls while others simply spread their products or produce out on the floor. But regardless of how they display their treasures, they’re all friendly and eager to help without being pushy.
What Can You Buy at the San Ignacio Farmers Market?
From a product standpoint, the market in San Ignacio reminds me of a flea market in the U.S., except more heavily weighted on the side of fresh produce. Vendors sell:
- Vegetables, fruit, baked goods, spices and fresh cheese
- Handicrafts and souvenirs
- Freshly prepared local and regional cuisine
- Fresh fish and seafood
When’s the Best Time to Go to the San Ignacio Farmers Market?
As with many markets of this type, early in the morning is the best time to go. That ensures you’ll have the best selection and quality of goods available. It actually opens at 5:00 a.m. daily, even on national holidays! Saturday is by far the best day to go, as it has ten-fold the number of vendors and stalls. The market is open seven days a week, however, and if you’re looking for produce, you’ll probably still be able to pick up what you need for dinner, even on a Monday afternoon.
How Do I Get to the San Ignacio Farmers Market?
This market is located right in the center of town … you can’t miss it. We walked from our rental home so we just got our bearings using an online navigation app. Once we were pointed in the right direction it was a straight shot to the market. If you’re driving I suggest parking a few blocks away to avoid all the pedestrian traffic and continuing in to the market area on foot. That way you’ll also get to experience the street-side vendors who aren’t actually in the market-proper.
What Was My Favorite Part of the San Ignacio Farmers Market?
I loved the food stalls – surprise! After looking around a bit to see what our choices were, we settled on one that cooked up fresh pupusas and burritos. Originally we ordered three pupusas each, but half way into our second one we cancelled our third. Greg bought a bottle of juice but I had brought my water bottle and just drank that. So for four handmade pupusas and a bottle of juice, our tab was about $9 BZ, or $4.50 US. The meal was wonderful and we were stuffed!
What Else Do You Need to Know about the San Ignacio Farmers Market?
- Make sure you bring small denominations of Belizean currency. Nothing there is expensive and the vendors are not likely to be able to change large bills. There are no credit card machines, and unlike other places in Belize, I did not see any U.S. dollars changing hands.
- Brush up on your Spanish before you go. Although English is one of Belize’s official languages, we found that most of the vendors did not understand nor did they speak it. That resulted in me getting four pounds of beets rather than just four beets. Now I know better.
- Don’t buy from the first vendor you see. Take your time and look around. You might find something better or cheaper around the next corner.
- Although I don’t speak Spanish, I did not seem to witness any haggling at this market. I’m not suggesting you don’t do it, but you may want to quietly observe for a while before you give it a shot. Certainly the prices are fair as they are originally offered.
- Belize is – in general – very pet friendly. We take our Yorkie, Winston, with us almost everywhere we go. But I suggest leaving your pooch at home for this outing, as the pathways in the market are narrow and crowded and not conducive to dogs.