The Best Maya Temple Sites to Visit in Belize

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

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

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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

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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

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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.

Altun Ha

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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

lamanai belize maya ruins site

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.

For more information about things to see and do 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.

Chabil Mar Resort in Placencia Belize Earns Fodor’s Choice Award

Posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Chabil Mar Resort in Placencia Belize Earns Fodor’s Choice Award

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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.

What It’s Really Like To Dive The Great Blue Hole

Posted on Saturday, May 17th, 2014

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.

Read also: Dive the Great Blue Hole of Belize with this Vacation Package

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.

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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.

Read also: Scuba Dive the Great Belize Barrier Reef with this Vacation Package

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.
Video Music:
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

5 Things to do in Belize this Summer 2014

Posted on Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Last week we shared with you 7 Reasons Why You Have to Travel to Belize this Summer and today, we are delighted to bring to you 5 marvelous tours you can do in Belize during the summer months of June, July and August.

From diving the great blue hole of Belize to exploring Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, one of the most sacred caves in the world, these 5 Belize tours will certainly immerse you in the beauty and wonder of Belize.

Great Blue Hole of Belize

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The world famous Blue Hole is an incomparable natural wonder in Belize. It is located at the center of Lighthouse Reef and measures 1000 feet across and 412 feet deep. Giant stalactites, dripstone sheets and columns, and colorful marine life are the enchanting geological wonders that will fascinate you if you decide to dive this site this summer.

See also: 12 Incredible Belize Vacation Photos

It is interesting to note that Jacques-Yves Coustea, the popular ocean explorer revealed the secrets of the Blue Hole to millions of viewers in 1971 through the television serious The Undersea World of Jacques-Yves Coustea.

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Globally recognized as the world’s first jaguar preserve, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is a top rated nature reserve to visit in Belize this summer. Cascading waterfalls, panoramic mountain views, nature trails, furry mammals, colorful insects, scaly reptiles and a variety of neotropical birds are just a few of the things you will experience at this sanctuary.

See also: Belize Family Vacation Package

Although the jaguar, the largest spotted cat in the world is what the reserve is famous for, you are unlikely to see one as the cat is nocturnal. However you will see its tracks along with tracks of tapir, deer, and other wildlife that inhabit the nature reserve.

Cockscomb Basin is also home to one of Belize’s highest points — Victoria Peak.

Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave (ATM Cave)

ATM cave in belize

Actun Tunichil Muknal or the ATM Cave as it is locally known is one of the most breathtaking caving experiences you will have in Belize. The cave is located in the karstic limestone terrain of Roaring Creek Valley in the Cayo District and is approximately 5 km long and contains a perennial stream that runs through it including a ledge with two stelae and a large chamber full of intact human remains and Maya pots.

See also: Belize Beach and Jungle Vacations

According to Director of Archeology Jaime Awe, Actun Tunichil Muknal was a sacred place to the Maya who utilized the cave during the classic period AD 250-909. Thousands of people are attracted to this cave annually due to its remarkable history, elegant stalagmites and stalactites and the Crystal Maiden, the intact skeleton of a young woman who was sacrificed to the gods.

Annual Placencia Lobsterfest

lobsterfest in placencia 2014

If you will be visiting Belize in June, it is a must to attend the Placencia Lobsterfest. This year, the festival is scheduled from June 27-29, 2014 and is organized by the Placencia Village Council and the Placencia Chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association. Thousands of local and international visitors are expected to attend this event.

Kayaking in Belize

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Crystal clear waters, tepid sunshine, balmy Caribbean breezes, thousands of coral reefs, and colorful marine life are just a few of the things that make kayaking in Belize a joy. With more than 200 stunning islands, Belize makes an idyllic kayaking destination and cayes such as Glovers Reef, Half Moon Caye and Laughing Bird Caye are favorite destinations for reef kayakers.

For more information about traveling to Belize this summer, 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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20 Amazing Facts About Belize

Posted on Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

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

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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

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

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

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Belize has around 900 Maya temple sites.

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.

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

650 Pier with Flowers in Foreground - Chabil Mar Belize Resort

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

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.

Howler Monkey Chabil Mar Belize Resort

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

See also: 12 Incredible Belize Vacation Photos

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.

Tipsy Tuna Beach Bar Chabil Mar Belize Resort

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

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

Children of Placencia Belize Chabil Mar Resort

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

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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.