A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers San Ignacio vs. Santa Elena for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit San Ignacio or Santa Elena?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

If you're trying to decide where to visit between San Ignacio or Santa Elena, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Where Should I go: San Ignacio or Santa Elena?

San Ignacio

So you want a tropical getaway, but also don't want to lay around with nothing to do. You want an adventure! You want relaxation and exploration.

You want to visit the small town of San Ignacio, Belize.

This section of the Cayo region is really more of a jungle than a typical Belize beach getaway. Located close the ancient Mayan ruins on the western and inland side of Belize, this town is most popular for its many outdoor adventures including hiking, climbing, and caving!

Santa Elena

Santa Elena is a cute town, and the closest to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. It's one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica, and is a great place to experience the cloud forest and see some of country's unique wildlife.

In the Monteverde Cloud Forest you have a good chance of seeing rare quetzals which are the national bird of Costa Rica. Other common animals include white-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, orange-kneed tarantulas, any of 8-9 species of hummingbirds, and sloth.

Santa Elena is about 1,400 meters above sea level and has a humid and damp environment. The average yearly temperature is 64 degrees Fahrenheit and the average rainfall is 3,000 millimetres. Humidity can be anywhere between 74% and 97%.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best G Adventures Tours to Belize, The Best Adventure Tours to Belize, The Best G Adventures Tours to Costa Rica, and The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in Costa Rica.


Which place is cheaper, Santa Elena or San Ignacio?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in San Ignacio is $72, while the average daily cost in Santa Elena is $92. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for San Ignacio and Santa Elena in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    San Ignacio $19
    Santa Elena $55
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    San Ignacio $38
    Santa Elena $110
Compare Hotels in San Ignacio and Santa Elena

Looking for a hotel in San Ignacio or Santa Elena? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in San Ignacio


Hotels in Santa Elena


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: San Ignacio Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    San Ignacio $3.11
    Santa Elena $11

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Ignacio

Some specific examples of transportation prices in San Ignacio:

  • From Van Transfer To Flores Peten in Guatemala: $20
  • San Ignacio Hotel to Belize City Transfer: $20

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Elena

Also for Santa Elena, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Direct transfer from Monteverde to San Jose, English Speaking Driver: $183
  • One Way Private Transfer from Monteverde - Liberia: $276
  • Peñas Blancas to Liberia Airport (LIR) Departure Private Transfer: $39
  • Private Transfer From Monteverde To La Fortuna From 1 to 6 passengers: $270
  • Private Transfer Lake crossing from Monteverde To Arenal From 1 to 6 passengers: $249
  • Shuttle Transfer Lake crossing from Monteverde To Arenal: $27

Is it cheaper to fly into San Ignacio or Santa Elena?

Prices for flights to both Santa Elena and San Ignacio change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    San Ignacio $21
    Santa Elena $24

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Elena

For Santa Elena, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Night Walk in Monteverde with Dinner Included: $55

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    San Ignacio $100
    Santa Elena $30

Tours and Activities in San Ignacio

Here are a few actual costs in San Ignacio for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • ATV Excursions in Cayo with Waterfalls Experience: $174
  • Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave Tour and Picnic: $125
  • Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave Tour from San Ignacio : $125
  • Actun Tunichil Muknal with Local Tour guide & Belizean Lunch: $120
  • Barton Creek Tour: $98
  • Belize Cave Tubing Adventure from San Ignacio: $90
  • Caracol Maya Ruins Tour Including Rio On Pools, Rio Frio Cave and a Picnic Lunch: $125
  • Cave Tubing Adventure at Nohoch Che'en and Jaguar Paw : $115
  • Cave Tubing and Zip line Adventure from San Ignacio: $144
  • Cave Tubing with local tour Guide and Belizean Lunch: $90
  • Crystal Cave with Local Tour Guide and Belizean Lunch: $130
  • Farm Ride plus Xunantunich tour: $90

Tours and Activities in Santa Elena

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Santa Elena.

  • Admission Ticket to Las Pumas Rescue Center : $20
  • Selvatura Park: Herpetarium Tour in Monteverde: $22
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Tour: $25
  • Wildlife Tour in Curicancha : $25
  • Guided Butterfly Conservatory Tour in Costa Rica: $26
  • Monteverde Butterfly Gardens Tour: $26
  • Adventure Day - Outdoor activities for Family and Friends Special Package.: $29
  • Monteverde: Kinkajou Forest Night Walking Tour: $30
  • Kinkajou Night Walk Tour: $30
  • CuriCancha Reserve Admission Ticket: $33
  • Curicancha Birdwatching Tour: $34
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Tour: $35

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    San Ignacio $17
    Santa Elena $6.19


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between San Ignacio and Santa Elena, we can see that Santa Elena is more expensive. And not only is San Ignacio much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to San Ignacio would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in San Ignacio and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Santa Elena would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Santa Elena than you might in San Ignacio.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is San Ignacio Expensive? and Is Santa Elena Expensive?.



When is the best time to visit San Ignacio or Santa Elena?

Both destinations experience a warmer climate most of the year. Instead of summer and winter seasons, they usually have a rainy season and a dry season. Although in the rainy season, it doesn't necessarily rain every day.

Should I visit San Ignacio or Santa Elena in the Summer?

Both Santa Elena and San Ignacio during the summer are popular places to visit. Plenty of visitors come to San Ignacio because of the warm climate and sunshine that lasts throughout the year. Warm weather and sunshine bring visitors to Santa Elena year-round.

Santa Elena gets a good bit of rain this time of year. It rains a lot this time of the year in San Ignacio. San Ignacio usually gets more rain in July than Santa Elena. San Ignacio gets 243 mm (9.6 in) of rain, while Santa Elena receives 164 mm (6.5 in) of rain this time of the year.

It's quite sunny in San Ignacio. In the summer, San Ignacio often gets more sunshine than Santa Elena. San Ignacio gets 226 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Santa Elena receives 164 hours of full sun.

In the summer, San Ignacio is around the same temperature as Santa Elena. Typically, the summer temperatures in San Ignacio in July average around 28°C (82°F), and Santa Elena averages at about 28°C (82°F).


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    San Ignacio 28°C (82°F) 
    Santa Elena 28°C (82°F)

Should I visit San Ignacio or Santa Elena in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both San Ignacio and Santa Elena. Warm weather and sunshine bring visitors to San Ignacio year-round. Santa Elena attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and sunny climate.

Santa Elena receives a lot of rain in the autumn. San Ignacio gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In October, San Ignacio usually receives around the same amount of rain as Santa Elena. San Ignacio gets 255 mm (10 in) of rain, while Santa Elena receives 254 mm (10 in) of rain each month for the autumn.

San Ignacio usually receives more sunshine than Santa Elena during autumn. San Ignacio gets 196 hours of sunny skies, while Santa Elena receives 169 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, San Ignacio is generally around the same temperature as Santa Elena. Daily temperatures in San Ignacio average around 26°C (80°F), and Santa Elena fluctuates around 27°C (81°F).


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    San Ignacio 26°C (80°F) 
    Santa Elena 27°C (81°F)

Should I visit San Ignacio or Santa Elena in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to San Ignacio as well as Santa Elena. San Ignacio attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and sunny climate. The warm climate attracts visitors to Santa Elena throughout the year.

San Ignacio receives a lot of rain in the winter. San Ignacio usually gets more rain in January than Santa Elena. San Ignacio gets 138 mm (5.4 in) of rain, while Santa Elena receives 8 mm (0.3 in) of rain this time of the year.

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Santa Elena. In the winter, San Ignacio often gets less sunshine than Santa Elena. San Ignacio gets 199 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Santa Elena receives 264 hours of full sun.

San Ignacio is cooler than Santa Elena in the winter. The daily temperature in San Ignacio averages around 24°C (74°F) in January, and Santa Elena fluctuates around 27°C (81°F).


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    San Ignacio 24°C (74°F) 
    Santa Elena 27°C (81°F)

Should I visit San Ignacio or Santa Elena in the Spring?

Both Santa Elena and San Ignacio are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. The warm climate attracts visitors to San Ignacio throughout the year. Plenty of visitors come to Santa Elena because of the warm climate and sunshine that lasts throughout the year.

In April, San Ignacio usually receives more rain than Santa Elena. San Ignacio gets 52 mm (2 in) of rain, while Santa Elena receives 28 mm (1.1 in) of rain each month for the spring.

It's quite sunny in Santa Elena. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in San Ignacio. San Ignacio usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Santa Elena during spring. San Ignacio gets 256 hours of sunny skies, while Santa Elena receives 255 hours of full sun in the spring.

In the spring, San Ignacio is around the same temperature as Santa Elena. Typically, the spring temperatures in San Ignacio in April average around 27°C (80°F), and Santa Elena averages at about 29°C (85°F).


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    San Ignacio 27°C (80°F) 
    Santa Elena 29°C (85°F)

Typical Weather for Santa Elena and San Ignacio

San Ignacio Santa Elena
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 24°C (74°F) 138 mm (5.4 in) 27°C (81°F) 8 mm (0.3 in)
Feb 24°C (76°F) 73 mm (2.9 in) 28°C (83°F) 2 mm (0.1 in)
Mar 26°C (78°F) 25 mm (1 in) 29°C (84°F) 4 mm (0.2 in)
Apr 27°C (80°F) 52 mm (2 in) 29°C (85°F) 28 mm (1.1 in)
May 28°C (82°F) 105 mm (4.1 in) 29°C (83°F) 226 mm (8.9 in)
Jun 28°C (82°F) 258 mm (10.2 in) 28°C (82°F) 226 mm (8.9 in)
Jul 28°C (82°F) 243 mm (9.6 in) 28°C (82°F) 164 mm (6.5 in)
Aug 28°C (82°F) 187 mm (7.4 in) 26°C (79°F) 289 mm (11.4 in)
Sep 28°C (82°F) 287 mm (11.3 in) 28°C (82°F) 328 mm (12.9 in)
Oct 26°C (80°F) 255 mm (10 in) 27°C (81°F) 254 mm (10 in)
Nov 25°C (77°F) 183 mm (7.2 in) 27°C (81°F) 121 mm (4.8 in)
Dec 25°C (76°F) 138 mm (5.4 in) 27°C (81°F) 33 mm (1.3 in)