Archaeologists affirm that Belize was once the center of the Maya civilization because of the country’s varied flora and fauna and abundance of marine life which was favorable to the growth of the population.
Between 250 AD to 900 AD for example, over one million Maya people lived in present day Belize, and today a treasure trove of sacred caves, beautiful palaces and ball courts can be found throughout Belize.
Here are the top must-see Maya temple sites in Belize:
Xunantunich Maya Temples
In Maya dialect, Xunantunich means “Stone Woman” or “Maiden of the Rock” and this archeaological site is an impressive and magnificent Maya temple that is located outside San Ignacio in the Cayo District. During the Classic period (300-900 AD), Xunantunich was a major ceremonial center and home to 25 temples and palaces.
See also: 12 Incredible Belize Vacation Photos
The largest structure is El Castillo which rises 130 feet from the Plaza floor and provides a breathtaking panorama of the Macal, Mopan and Belize River Valley.
Note: Xunantunich is one of the most visited Maya temple sites in Belize and can be reached by ferry between 8am to 5pm.
Ancient Maya City of Caracol
Caracol is the largest Maya City in Belize and is located on the western edge of the Maya Mountains deep within the Chiquibul Forest Reserve.
The site was discovered in 1938 by loggers and holds the tallest man made structure “Canaa” or “Sky Place” at 140 feet.
Read also: 20 Amazing Facts about Belize
Archaeologists estimate that at its highest peak, Caracol was home to 150,000 people. Caracol is 2.5 hours drive from San Ignacio Town and is open from 8am to 5pm.
Cahal Pech Maya Ruins
Located outside of San Ignacio Town, Cahal Pech sits on the crest of a steep hill on the west bank of the Macal River and was first settled sometime around 1200 B.C. and abandoned around 800 -900 A.D.
Cahal Pech means “place of the ticks” and is made up of 34 structures with the tallest being about 25 meters in height and is one of the oldest sites in western Belize.
The site can be visited daily from 8am to 5pm.
Located 31 miles out of Belize City, Altun Ha meaning “rock stone water” was an ancient Maya city that dates back to 200 B.C. At its peak, over 10,000 people inhabited the area with around 3000 individuals living in the central core of the city.
Altun Ha is comprised of two main plazas and 13 structures including the Temple of Sun God.
Read also: The Ancient Maya of Belize
The area where the site is located is rich with a vast array of flora and fauna and is open from 8am to 5pm every day.
Lamanai meaning “submerged crocodile” in Yucatec Maya was occupied as early as the 16 century BC and is located in the Orange Walk District of Belize.
The archaeological site is surrounded by dense rainforest overlooking the new river lagoon and its temples are known for its elegant architecture.
The site opens from 8am to 5pm everyday and the best way to travel to the location is by means of water taxi up the river since an abundance of birds, iguanas and even crocodiles can be spotted on the river banks.
Another way to reach Lamanai is via the dirt road which is approximately 28 miles and runs from Orange Walk through several villages including San Felipe and Shipyard.
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Chabil Mar Resort in Placencia Belize Earns Fodor’s Choice Award
BELIZE, May 19, 2014 — Fodor’s Travel, one of the world’s leading providers of travel information has bestowed the prestigious “Fodor’s Choice Award” for the best hotel in southern Belize to Chabil Mar, the only guest exclusive resort in Placencia Belize. The award recognizes Chabil Mar as a leader in its field for service, quality, and value.
Chabil Mar means “beautiful sea” in Ket’chi Maya and is located along the 26-mile-long beautiful Placencia Peninsula in southern Belize. The luxury resort sits between an indigenous Garinagu settlement and the former Creole fishing village of Placencia.
The editors and experts of Fodor’s have been selecting only the top fifteen percent of their listed properties and activities as Fodor’s Choice award recipients since 1988. Every year, Fodor’s writers experience, examine and evaluate thousands of hotels, restaurants and attractions in their travels across the globe. While every business included in a Fodor’s guide is deemed worth a traveler’s time, only those offering a truly remarkable experience are given the Fodor’s Choice designation.
Speaking about the Fodors Choice Award, Larry France, Marketing Manager of Chabil Mar said that he and his team are delighted and thrilled to see Chabil Mar listed once again on the Fodor’s list as one of the best resorts in Placencia and Southern Belize. “The superb service from our staff definitely played an instrumental role in obtaining this recognition”, he added.
For more than 75 years Fodor’s has presented travelers with the very top recommendations from hidden-away restaurants to can’t-miss museums, to make sure they’re making the most of their travels.
Written by a vast team of global correspondents, Fodor’s provides travelers with engagingly written, locally reported, and absolutely indispensable travel guidance.
Chabil Mar is a luxury, boutique resort that appeals to the discerning traveler looking to combine adventure and cultural experience with stylish, upscale and guest exclusive accommodations in Placencia Village, Belize. The resort is comprised of 19 spacious villas and 1 honeymoon suite, free Wi-Fi, a bar, an outdoor restaurant with great food and views of the turquoise Caribbean Sea, two outdoor pools, 400 feet of private beach, a pier for swimming and reserved dining and a fleet of kayaks and bikes.
The Mysterious Belize Great Blue Hole is a large underwater hole off the coast of Belize. It lies near the center of Lighthouse Reef, a small atoll 100 kilometers (62 mi) from the mainland and Belize City. The hole is perfectly circular in shape, over 300 meters (1000 ft) across, 3140 feet circumference and 125 meters (410 ft) deep.
It was formed as a limestone cave system during the last glacial period when the sea level was 400 to 500 feet below present time and was dry land. Last glacial period began about 120,000 years ago and end about 15,000 years ago. Reaching the maximum extension 26,500 years ago. At the end the ocean began to rise, the caves flooded, and the roof collapsed.
Believed to be the world’s largest feature of its kind, the Great Blue Hole is part of the larger Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a World Heritage site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The hole itself is the opening to a system of caves and passageway that penetrate this undersea mountain. In various places, massive limestone stalactites hang down from what was once the ceiling of air-filled caves thousand of years before the end of the last Ice Age 15,000 years ago. When the ice melted the sea level rose, flooding the caves. This process occurred in stages. Evidence for this are the shelves and ledges, carved into the limestone by the sea, which run the complete interior circumference of the Blue Hole at various depths.
The Blue Hole is a “karst- eroded sinkhole.” It was once a cave at the center of an underground tunnel complex whose ceiling collapsed. Some of the tunnels are thought to be linked right through to the mainland, though this has never been conclusively proved. Notable are the large population of sharks such as lemon, black tip, reef, hammerhead, and bull sharks.
Mysterious and legends always have been around the Belize Blue Hole.
This was the entrance to Xibalba?. It’s the kind of underwater geology that inspires speculation about aliens creating geometrically perfect anomalies, mermaids and monsters living in darkness.
I explored the bottom of the Blue Hole perimeter (3,140 feet circumference). To do this I dove down twice, reaching the depth of 375′ feet which took 4 to 5 hours of diving each day.
Start to 2:18 min. “Dawn From Four Sea Interludes” by Benjamin Britten
2:18 to 4:37 min. “300 Violin Orchestra” by Jorge Quintero
4:37 to End “Groove Armada” from Tomb Raider Soundtrack
Video and Blog courtesy of Ramon Llaneza
Placencia is a sleepy, bohemian fishing village located on the eastern coast of Belize. It’s the kind of place where the sun and the sea conspire to make everyone slow down. But on the last weekend in June, the entire town becomes one big, exuberant beach party during Lobsterfest, celebrating the beginning of the Belizean lobster season.
Here’s how to make the most of your time at Lobsterfest in Placencia:
While Lobsterfest is all about the great, clawed crustacean, there is no shortage of edible alternatives among the open-air food vendors. Placencia’s full rainbow of cultural diversity is reflected in the smorgasbord of Lobsterfest food offerings, which showcases Creole, Mayan, Garifuna, Caribbean, and Asian influences.
Should you seek a more refined dining experience, head straight to Rumfish y vino. Owned by a husband and wife team who honeymooned in Placencia, and just couldn’t leave, Rumfish y vino is pure food artistry served in a sophisticated setting. Alternatively, head up the peninsula to the Maya Beach Bistro, where only the epicurean creations will draw your attention away from the gorgeous, Gilligan-like beachfront setting. For authentic local breakfast fare, nurse your party hangover with stuffed fry jacks at DeTatch Cafe or have a breakfast burrito and a smoothie chaser at The Shak Beach Cafe.
The aptly named Tipsy Tuna is ground zero for imbibing among the Lobsterfest celebrants. But watch your back, Mr. Tuna, because the beloved Barefoot Bar has relocated to the beach. If you want to see how the moneyed set knocks ‘em down, you’ll have to put on your shoes before dropping in for a drink at Francis Ford Coppola’s Turtle Inn.
It just doesn’t get much better than Chabil Mar Villas, located on a peaceful beach, yet proximate to the Placencia action. Chabil Mar’s guest bicycles and a free van shuttle make getting to and from the village a breeze.
Chabil Mar features exceptional service, lush landscaping and expansive villas equipped with full kitchens and washer/dryers. I may be the only person in the world who relishes the sight of a washer and dryer on vacation. But let’s face it, lobster is messy, and I was mighty glad to have a clean shirt more than once during our stay.
The challenge will be tearing yourself away from your lounge by the sea. But Placencia is a springboard to the planet’s second largest barrier reef. The fishing, diving and snorkeling are world-class. The folks at Splash Dive Center are friendly, professional and totally in the know about what’s happening on, and under, the sea.
Lobsterfest, Placencia: sun, swim, eat, drink, sleep. Lather, rinse, repeat.
This article was published on www.globalgallop.com and the original copy can be found here.