The 2018 SI Swimsuit edition was shot on location in Belize in November 2017, and excited locals greeted famed photographer Yu Tsai and six models, Tabria Majores, Iyonna Fairbanks, Olivia Jordan, Haley Kalil, Camille Kostek, and Allie Ayers, as they traveled across the country to shoot photos for the legendary publication.
The models were chosen following an open casting call by Sports Illustrated on Instagram. More than 5,000 women applied, but only 35 were chosen for the final round. Ultimately, only six women were chosen, including both first-time models and women with previous pageant and modeling experience.
The models were chosen to showcase women of all colors and sizes. Model Haley Kalil, age 25, won the Miss Minnesota pageant in 2014 and has graduated with honors from St. Cloud State University with a degree in biomedical sciences. She is currently married to Matt Kalil, an offensive tackle with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
Olivia Jordan, age 29, is originally from Oklahoma but now works in Los Angeles as a full-time model. She won the Miss USA pageant in 2015. Tabria Majors, age 27, was formerly a movie production assistant in Los Angeles but has been modeling full-time since 2015. Allie Ayers, age 23, is a former real estate investor who has never worked a professional model before but plans to launch a size-inclusive line of swimwear later this year.
Camille Kostek, age 25, is a former New England Patriots cheerleader. Iyonna Fairbanks, age 25, grew up in Cincinnati and now works as a security guard. Although she modeled as a teenager, she felt pressured to straighten her hair and never thought she could pursue a full-time career in modeling. She has praised Sports Illustrated for its commitment to diversity.The photos shot in Belize appear in a section of the Swimsuit Edition entitled “Beauties, Beaches, and Bikinis.” Several islands and beach locations across Belize were used for the photoshoot, including areas in and around the town of San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye. The 2018 Swimsuit Edition is the first time that the magazine has featured Belize since 1972. It is estimated than more than 23 million people will read the 2018 Swimsuit Edition.
Chabil Mar congratulates all of the models and the wonderful photographs of Belize that appeared in the 2018 Sports Illustration Swimsuit Edition.
Right now, winter is wreaking its wrath all across the United States and Canada. But there is one place where the sun is shining and the weather is perfect for T-shirts and sandals. Best of all, it’s just a short flight away from major cities across North America. That magical destination is the country of Belize.
In Belize, it never snows. In fact, the “winter” months in Belize are when the weather is at its finest. Refreshing trade breezes combine with long, sunny days for perfect weather to enjoy outdoor activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, or hiking.
Belize may be a small country, but it has everything you need to enjoy an amazing vacation: beaches, offshore islands, lush rainforests, thick jungles teeming with wildlife, waterfalls, and lots of exotic animals, birds, and plants. No matter where you go, you’ll discover just why Belize is nicknamed “The Jewel.”
For many people, all that’s needed is a quick visit to Google Flights or their favorite travel website, plug in the Belize airport code (BZE), and find a great price on a flight to this lovely Caribbean paradise. Depending on where you live, round-trip tickets can be as low as $300.
Once you’ve got your ticket, all you’ll need is a valid passport, a pair of flip-flops, a few pairs of shorts and T-shirts, a beach towel, swimsuit, and your suntan lotion. And it’s all just 2-3 hours’ flying time away!
The Placencia Peninsula
The best place to escape the winter doldrums is the Placencia Peninsula in southeastern Belize. Located on the Caribbean coast, Placencia is called “The Island You Can Drive To” because of it’s laid-back charm, gorgeous beaches, and narrow isthmus connecting it to the mainland. In fact, Placencia stretches for more than 16 miles from north to south but is just half a mile wide.
One of the finest luxury resorts in Belize is located in Placencia, the fabulous Chabil Mar, which means “Beautiful Sea” in the local Maya dialect. Chabil Mar is a multiple award-winning resort and a perennial TripAdvisor favorite due to its lovely villas, freshwater infinity swimming pools, tropical garden, and a gourmet restaurant. Chabil Mar also has a lovely seafront pier that’s perfect for al fresco dining.
Belize is a country with a low population density, home to dazzling natural landscapes such as beaches, islands, jungles, rainforests, and mountains. The vast majority of Belize is still virgin country where unusual, exotic, and interesting wildlife flourish, including rare and endangered species found nowhere else on the planet. This eco-diversity is one reason why Belize is nicknamed “The Jewel.” The diverse habitats offer a flourishing environment for hundreds of species of birds and interesting animals such as jaguars, monkeys, and giant iguanas.
Because of this incredible diversity, it’s often easier to think of the jungle and rainforest in terms of layers. At ground level, you can find interesting animals like peccaries (wild pigs), gibnuts, deer, crocodiles, and Baird’s tapir (Belize’s national animals). And there are five different big cat species that prowl the rainforest floor, including pumas, margays, ocelots, jaguarundis, and the king of the jungle himself, the elusive jaguar.
Farther up, a completely different group of animals and birds thrive. Flocks of scarlet macaws, toucans, and giant iguanas make their home on the tree branches. And further up still, it’s easy to spot birds like the enormous harpy eagle and animals like the black howler monkey, one of the loudest animals in the world. Indeed, black howler monkeys produce louder sounds than your average rock concert and can be heard up to three miles (five kilometers) away, even through thick jungle foliage.
On the coast, a completely different ecosystem can be found. Shorebirds, frigate birds, and Jabiru storks hunt in the rich coastal waters. Just offshore, enormous tracts of seagrass are home to manatees and dolphins. And the islands of the Belize Barrier Reef are home to a colorful array of fish, sharks, five kinds of sea turtles, and rays. The islands are also home to interesting birds like kites, kingfishers, and frigate birds.
Belize is a true paradise for bird watchers with more than 500 species having been recorded in the country. Even first-time bird watchers can usually dozens different species with the help of local guides. Belize is home to beautiful birds of all sizes and types, including tiny hummingbirds, colorful toucans and macaws, the majestic blue-crowned motmot, and rare and endangered species like the ocellated turkey and the yellow-headed parrot.
Want to Trade Twitter for Real Tweets? Go Birding in Belize
Is Belize’s Placencia Peninsula for the birds? You bet it is. Bird watchers couldn’t choose a place with as much avian diversity thanks to plenty of green space, surrounding jungles and rainforests, and watersheds that act hospitably toward anything with wings that roosts here. If you’re a birding purist, you may want a taste of what you can expect to see here before you book your flight and accommodations, so may we take the liberty of introducing you to the Belize birding scene? Allow plenty of time to see as much as you can so you return home relaxed, refreshed and in possession of colorful photos that prove your amazing good fortune.
Do your homework first
How important is a little education? Important enough to morph a nice birding experience into a spectacular one. According to the Belize Audubon Society, 587 types of birds have been spotted here (though other resources insist that number exceeds 600). Most are indigenous, but about 20-percent of them come from North America, proving that humans aren’t the only species wild about flying south. Prepare for your trip by finding a copy of the book “Birds of Belize,” written by H. Lee Jones and published by The University of Texas. This book is loaded with illustrations, so even if you dislike reading, browsing the art alone can help you identify the birds you spot in Belize.
How to go birding in Belize
If you’ve never before visited this Caribbean hot spot, use an online aggregator to book a flight on any of the airlines now servicing Belize daily: American, United, Delta or Southwest. Competition has spurred price reductions, so go birding here even if you’re on a budget. Book accommodations where an impressive concentration of Belize birds can be found. We recommend Chabil Mar, an excellent lodging choice, because suites are luxurious and well-appointed, onsite amenities like swimming and dining are superior, and you’ll be right in the thick of the action, with easy access to places Belize birds frequent most often.
What to look for
If you’re a serious birder whose journals are tributes to your dedication and record-keeping, bring a large, new journal for your Belize expedition. Be on the looking for these species: In the trees, identify the Magnificent Frigatebird, Double-crested Cormorant, Turkey Vulture, Roadside Hawk, Eurasian Collared-Dove and Golden-fronted Woodpecker. Spot these species along beaches, in ponds and lagoons: the Brown Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Spotted Sandpiper and Mangrove Swallow. Search wooded areas for Cinnamon Hummingbirds, Social Flycatchers, Tropical Mockingbirds and Yellow Warblers. If you’re in Belize at the right time of year, you might also record these three in your journal: the Great Kiskadee, White-collared Seedeater and Great-tailed Crackle.
What to bring
A great set of binoculars and digital camera are essential, as is bug repellent and sunscreen, since you could find yourself waiting patiently in jungles and forests for the bird of your dreams to land on a nearby branch. Your birding journal should have room for your discoveries and don’t bring just one pen, because you know what’s bound to run out of ink at the most inopportune time, right? If you’re a stickler for efficiency, this guide (http://www.wildbirds.com/FindBirds/TripPreparation/TripPackingList/tabid/199/Default.aspx) is your ticket to excellent preparation, but for the best experience of all, ask your Chabil Mar host to handle logistics by booking this Belize birding package. You’ll still need those binoculars, but there’s no better way to enjoy a birding excursion than by letting others handle the details!
For more information about birding in Belize, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact our Reservations Manager at:email@example.com. Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.
Named for an infamous 17th-century English pirate (John Glover) who once used the area to stage attacks on Spanish galleons laden with gold, Glover’s Reef is the southernmost atoll in Belize.
There are only four atolls in the world that are located in the Atlantic Ocean, and Belize is home to three of them, including Glover’s Reef Atoll. Thousands of years ago, the area was home to an island surrounded by a ring of coral. Over time, the island eroded away, leaving behind the ring of coral with a large central lagoon in the middle.
The protected waters in that lagoon are why people come from around the world to scuba dive at Glover’s Reef Atoll. The lagoon measures some 15 miles (24 km) by four miles (six km) and is home to more than 700 patch reefs with dozens of different species of coral. This diverse landscape is home to a colorful underwater garden where schools of fish, sharks, conch, rays, lobsters, sea turtles, and even dolphins live, play, feed, and give birth to their young.
Scuba diving expeditions usually head to one of the islands located on the outer edge of the atoll. From there, several options await, including places for shelf diving, wall diving, and exploring the coral landscapes. Glover’s Reef has been a protected nature reserve since 1993, and the ban on commercial fishing has allowed the marine life in this area to thrive.
Don’t be surprised to see dozens of different fish species when you dive Glover’s Reef Atoll, including grouper, mackeral, barracuda, tarpon, angelfish, yellow jack, snapper, black durgons, parrotfish, and many more. The waters of the lagoon are incredibly clear, nearly transparent, making it feel like a gigantic aquarium.
There’s also plenty to enjoy on land as well. The islands around the atoll are home to mangrove forests, white sandy beaches, bright blue skies, and incredible views of the Caribbean. There are no full-time inhabitants on Glover’s Reef Atoll, but the Wildlife Conservation Society operates a research station that relies entirely on solar and wind energy. The research station is only open to marine scientists, but visiting the research station serves as a great introduction to the incredible beauty of the region.