Sharks in Belize

Posted on Monday, August 21st, 2017

The warm waters of the Caribbean Sea make Belize an ideal home for sharks. More than 350 different species of sharks can be found along the barrier reef, coral atolls, and mangrove estuaries, including the elusive hammerhead shark, black tip shark, bull shark, nurse shark, reef shark, lemon shark, nurse shark, and the enormous whale shark, the largest fish in the world’s oceans.

Southern Belize and the area of the reef near Placencia is an ideal place to see sharks. Underwater formations such as estuaries, the roots of mangrove forests, upwelling currents, fore reefs, and deep walls are all excellent places to have a safe and exciting encounter with sharks.

The hammerhead is rarely found in the oceans, but it’s not uncommon to see one when diving in Belize. Hammerhead sharks are very peculiar about the areas of the ocean that attract them, but the edge of the continental shelf of the Atlantic Ocean where it meets near Placencia attracts large schools of hammerheads. Named for their unique T-shaped head, hammerheads are peerless hunters, twisting their bodies to turn and chase prey. Hammerheads cruise the seafloor in search of crabs, lobster, octopus, and fish, using special sensors on its head to detect faint electrical signals.

Another interesting shark that inhabits the shallower areas of the reef near Placencia are lemon sharks. Named for their yellow skin that serves as excellent camouflage, lemon sharks like to park themselves on the sea floor while waiting for prey to cross their path.

But perhaps the most popular shark in Belize is the nurse shark. Once hunted nearly to extinction, nurse sharks are now a protected species in Belize. Generally docile towards humans, nurse sharks have a distinct mouth with two barbels on their upper lip.

Other kinds of sharks you may encounter in Belize include black tip sharks which often leap out of the water in pursuit of fish and reef sharks that gain their name from their penchant for hugging the shallow waters of the reef. Tiger sharks can be found in Belize, but these are far rarer.

Perhaps the most famous shark to visit the waters of Belize are whale sharks. Every spring, vast schools of migrating whale sharks visit the outer part of the reef, consuming enormous quantities of fish spawn and plankton.

Travelers interested in diving with sharks, including nurse sharks and whale sharks, can book their Belize snorkeling and diving vacation with Chabil Mar.

For more information about sharks in Belize, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: concierge@chabilmarvillas.com or contact our Reservations Manager at: reservations@chabilmarvillas.com. Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.

20 Amazing Facts About Belize

Posted on Monday, August 21st, 2017

In this blog post, we bring to you 20 amazing facts about beautiful Belize.

belize facts

Belize Fact#1

Belize is the only Central American Country where English is the official language. Apart from English, there are many recognized regional languages: Kriol, Spanish, Garifuna, and Mayan.

Belize Fact#2

September 10 in Belize is celebrated as the National Day or St George’s Caye Day. On this day in 1798, Spanish forces were repelled by the British in the Battle of St George’s Caye, with no reported casualties on either side.

See also: 7 Reasons Why You Have to Travel to Belize this Summer

Belize Fact#3

Belize has a private enterprise economy that is largely dependent on agriculture, agro-based industry and merchandising. However tourism and construction and the recent discovery of oil field have presented new prospects for the country. The estimated GDP of the country is 1.354 billion dollars and the major trading partners are the United States of America, Mexico, Central America and the European Union.

facts about belize

Belize Fact#4

Belize obtained its independence from the United Kingdom on September 21, 1981. George Cadle Price was the first prime minister of Belize and he served from 12 September 1981 to 17 December 1984.

Belize Fact#5

The currency of Belize is Belize dollar and its ISO 3166 code is BZ. Since 1978, the official value is pegged at 2 BZD = 1 US dollar.

See also: Chabil Mar, Placencia’s Only Guest Exclusive Resort

Belize Fact#6

Belmopan is the capital of Belize and its name derives from the union of two words: “Belize” and “Mopan”. After the devastating Hurricane Hattie destroyed the former capital, Belize City, in 1961, the government was shifted to Belmopan in 1970.

Belize Fact#7

Belize has the only Jaguar reserve in the world which is known as Cockscomb Basin Wildlife sanctuary.

Belize Fact#8

The islands in Belize are called Cayes (pronounced “keys”) and total around 450 including those on the outer atolls.

belize facts and information

Belize Fact#9

Belize has around 900 Maya temple sites.

Belize Fact#10

The largest city of Belize is located at the mouth of the river Belize River and is known as Belize City. It has an estimated population of 79,600 and is the main port and the industrial hub of the country. It was discovered in the mid-17th Century by British lumber harvesters and was the capital of British Honduras.

important facts about belize

Belize Fact#11

The total land area of Belize is 8,867 square miles or 22,700 square kilometers.  The country’s greatest length, north to south, is 170 miles (274 km) and its greatest width, east to west, is 68 miles (109 km).  Using an offshore territorial limit of 20 km, the country covers 46,620 km2 (18,000 sq mi), of which only 49% is land.

See also: 25 Things You Need to Know Before You Travel to Placencia Belize

Belize Fact#12

Belize is in the Central Standard Time zone and does not observe daylight saving time.

belize resorts facts

Belize Fact#13

Belize is subtropical, with a mean annual temperature of 80o F.

Belize Fact#14

The first people to inhabit Belize were the Maya around 1500 B.C.E. As shown in archeological records, they established a number of settlements such as Caracol, Lamanai and Lubaantun.

belize information

Belize Fact#15

Belize’s Black Howler Monkeys are one of the top 10 loudest animals in the world.

See also: 12 Incredible Belize Vacation Photos

Belize Fact#16

Some of the exotic names for Belize’s natural wonders include the Owl-Eye Butterfly, the Blue Morpho Butterfly, the Swallow Tail Cattle Heart Butterfly, the Peanut-Head Lantern Bug, the Red-footed Booby Bird, the Lady-of-the-Night Orchid and the False Vampire Bat.

things to know about belize

Belize Fact#17

Close to 1 million tourists’ visit Belize annually of which 70% of are Americans.

Belize Fact#18

Belize is one of the least populated countries in the world.

belize things to know

Belize Fact#19

Ambergris Caye, which is 25 miles long, is Belize’s largest and most developed island.

belize fact

Belize Fact#20

More than 400 species of fish live in the waters of Belize’s 185-mile long Barrier Reef.

For more information about travelling to Belize, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: concierge@chabilmarvillas.com or contact our Reservations Manager at: reservations@chabilmarvillas.com. Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.

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The Music of Belize

Posted on Monday, August 21st, 2017

rp_belize-music-1024x683.jpgOften described as a true melting pot, the modern-day nation of Belize is a rich blend of different cultures, including the Maya, Garifuna, Creole, and Mestizo people.

During its earliest history, Belize was briefly under the dominion of Spain but then became Britain’s only mainland colony in the area. Later emigration of Mennonites from Germany and Switzerland added to the many European influences in Belizean music, including polkas, quadrilles, schottisches, and polkas.

Primarily from the Garifuna culture, local styles feature musical instruments like drums, banjo, accordion, guitar, and a donkey’s jaw bone (played like a saw or zither). The Mestizos, immigrants from Guatemala and Mexico, brought the marimba, double bass, and drum sets.

These various influences have created a number of distinct styles of musical expression in Belize. Cumbia, related to salsa and merengue, is a popular type of music played by troupes in areas where Mestizos live. Probably the most famous musical Creole style is known as “brukdown” (breakdown), a melodic mix of calypso featuring percussion and rhythms from a donkey’s jawbone, drums and banjos. Newer forms of brukdown are called “boom and chime” and feature the use of electric guitars, congas, and bass guitars.

Two related genres of music created in Belize are known as punta and punta rock. Developed by Garifuna musicians, punta and punta rock mix traditional rhythms and dance steps from African melodies and add modern lyrics to create a style somewhat similar to reggae. Punta and punta rock were developed for parties and social events where dancing is just as important a component as the music and singing.

Probably the most iconic component of Belizean music is Garifuna drumming. Whether as an accompaniment to other instruments or played solely, Garifuna drums are traditionally made from local hardwoods covered with a skin from peccaries (a kind of wild pig) or deer. Garifuna drumming preserves the flavor and intensity of its African origins, and is often played along with “siseras”, a kind of maraca.

The award-winning luxury resort of Chabil Mar on the Placencia Peninsula is an excellent place to stay in order to experience all of the rich musical heritage of Belize. With close access to Dangriga, the culture capital of Belize, and other towns and villages with a rich heritage of Maya, Creole, and Garifuna music, Chabil Mar features well-appointed villas, a lush tropical garden, and its own gourmet restaurant featuring elegant beachfront dining, with live garifuna drummers and dancers during our Friday night beach-side grill nights (in-season), where our chefs prepare your dinner for you on open grills adjacent to the dining area, outside.

Visit our website www.chabilmarvillas.com for more information on Belize, and don’t hesitate to send us an email, or call US/CAN Toll Free: 1-866-417-2377, Local: (011-501) 523-3606, if you have questions or need help in planning a Belize vacation.

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Fall in Love with Belize’s Placencia Peninsula

Posted on Monday, August 21st, 2017

placencia peninsula belize

Is it possible to fall madly in love with an entire peninsula? The answer is yes–if that finger of land is named Placencia. Mother Nature must have loved her handiwork when she finished this gorgeous sliver of land because she included every sort of topography a visitor could desire: 16 miles of sandy beach, mountains that hug the horizon, a tranquil lagoon and the Caribbean Sea. The area’s first settlers and descendants have nurtured this land over time by putting down deep roots so the peninsula is a perfectly-balanced mix of tropical green space, natural wonders and enough bistros, guest houses, luxury resorts and other amenities to satisfy anyone in search of a paradise.

The Placencia Peninsula

Feel free to circumnavigate the entire peninsula riding a beach cruiser bike because a car isn’t necessary to take in every inch of scenery. Visit the Garifuna Village in Seine Bight if you’re traveling from north to south. This cultural enclave is filled with color, music, food and fun courtesy of a distinct lifestyle established by residents whose ancestors settled here so long ago.

In close proximity to Belize’s acclaimed barrier reef, Garifuna Village is just the first stop on a journey to more populated areas further down the coast where sports enthusiasts can use the coastline as a jumping off point for kayaking, snorkeling, saltwater fly fishing, diving and other aquatic fun. No matter what your itinerary may include, you’ll find so many guides, dive shops and other commercial enterprises on the Placencia Peninsula, all you need do is pack shorts and leave the work of organizing your gear to everyone else!

placencia belize
The wonder of Placencia Village

Founding fathers made it easy to remember the name of what might be called “the capitol” of Placencia Peninsula: Placencia Village. Located at the south tip of the isthmus, it’s so perfectly designed for fun in the sun, the area lacks for nothing. Indulge your sensibilities with rainforest hikes, mountain trails, Mayan ruins, the Belize Barrier Reef and deserted atolls perfect for exploring.

Placencia offers fast access to protected spots like Laughing Bird Caye, Gladden Spit, Monkey River, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and cave tubing opportunities, yet the village is a perennially popular social hub known for island cooking that ranges from local fare to gourmet delights. Shop ‘til you drop. Load up on Belize’s signature chocolates, wines and beers. It’s not unusual for visitors to say that they spent a week in Placencia Village and plan to return because they missed so much!

where to stay in placencia belize

Where to stay in Placencia Belize: Chabil Mar Resort

 Lodging at a beautifully situated resort elevates a good vacation to a perfect one, and if the folks at Chabil Mar Resort have anything to say about your experience, it’s a promise kept. One frequent guest said: “I only gave Chabil Mar 5 stars because 6 weren’t available!” What prompts such remarks? An experience that includes 400-feet of private beach, 19 fully-appointed luxury villas, a world-class gourmet restaurant–and every single suite offers complete privacy and a spectacular view of the turquoise Caribbean Sea.

Spread out and relax in a 1,000 sq. ft. suite or book everything from tours to golf carts if Chabil Mar’s sea-facing infinity pools aren’t of interest. Roam tropical gardens and enjoy award-winning service that consistently wins awards from travel experts that range from Fodor’s to TripAdvisor. There’s a reason Chabil Mar is consistently on “Best Luxury Hotels in Central America for Luxury and Service” lists!

Some say that visiting Placencia Peninsula is no ordinary vacation, a sentiment echoed by Chabil Mar guests. Visit the website http://chabilmarvillas.com/ for a taste of what you can expect from the moment you wiggle your toes in the sand upon your arrival. And feel free to bring home some sand in your shoes as a reminder that paradise, in the form of Placencia Peninsula and Chabil Mar, really does exist.

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Common Languages Spoken in Belize

Posted on Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

As a former British colony, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language. The vast majority of people in Belize speak standard English, but a variety of dialects and other languages are often spoken at home.

These include:

Creole/Kriol

Traditionally spelled Creole, the Kriol dialect (preferred modern spelling) is not a different language than English but a distinct dialect that can be difficult for non-speakers to understand. Many Kriol speakers “code switch,” speaking the Kriol dialect with friends and family and standard English in public.

Approximately one-third of the population speaks the Kriol dialect as their first language.

Spanish

Located in Central America, Belize has been strongly influenced by Spanish, including groups of self-styled Mestizos (literally “mixed race”) who emigrated in the early 19th century following a civil war in neighboring Mexico.

Today, many people in Belize speak Spanish as a native language, particularly near the Mexican and Guatemalan borders. In addition, some Belizeans speak a “kitchen Spanish,” a simplified version of the language used by people whose first language is English.

Mayan

The descendants of the ancient Maya that built the impressive pyramids, palaces, and ceremonial sites that dot the Belizean landscape, the Maya in Belize speak three different dialects: Kekchi (various spellings), Mopan, and the increasingly rare Yucatec.

Maya communities tend to be located in rural areas, but most Maya speakers are bilingual in either English or Spanish.

Garifuna

An Afro-Caribbean tongue, Garifuna is a unique language spoken by approximately 4% of the population. The Garifuna tongue is a blend of indigenous Caribbean languages and West African languages and was recognized in 2001 by the United Nations as a valued contribution to the intangible heritage of humanity.

German

Different than standard high German (Hochdeutsch), the German spoken in Belize is predominantly the Plautdietsch or Mennonite Low German variety similar to the Pennsylvania Dutch spoken by Amish communities in the United States. Belize has a well-established Mennonite community consisting of several villages and towns.

Most German-speaking Mennonites in Belize are also bilingual in English.

Chinese and Arabic

Belize has a small but well-established community of Chinese communities located primarily in urban areas. Originally brought into the country as an unskilled labor force, the Chinese community of Belize soon expanded into more entrepreneurial activities.

Predominantly hailing from Lebanon, there is also a small Arabic-speaking community in Belize.

For more information about Belize, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: concierge@chabilmarvillas.com or contact our Reservations Manager at: reservations@chabilmarvillas.com. Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.

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