On September 7, 2017, the Washington Post published a story entitled, “How to be a socially conscious traveler,” describing the growing trend of travelers who are more mindful of how their actions affect the local economy and environment. Best practices include spending money on locally-owned restaurants, buying handicrafts, and cultural tours that help indigenous people preserve their traditional knowledge.
As part of the Washington Post article, a special mention was made of the Ethical Travel Guide published by Tourism Concern, a British charity. The Ethical Travel Guide lists countries that are working hard to promote sustainable and responsible travel, including Belize.
Ethical Traveler has listed Belize as one of the top 10 countries in the world that are doing the most to promote human rights, protect the environment, and support sustainable social programs that are elegantly integrated with community-based tourism. One such program in Belize is the Community Baboon Sanctuary (CBS). Established in 1985, it brings seven local villages together to protect and preserve the environment. Today, the CBS has one of the largest black howler monkey (known locally as “baboons”) populations in all of Central America.
Other popular eco-tourism destinations in Belize include the Placencia Peninsula in southeastern Belize. This narrow strip of golden beaches on the Caribbean coast has several pedestrian-only zones, and golf carts and bicycles are the dominant modes of travel. And the nearby Cockscomb Basin Nature Reserve is a vast, trackless wilderness home to beautiful mountain vistas, waterfalls, gorgeous flora such as orchids and exotic wildlife including crocodiles, tapirs, and jaguars.
Other socially conscious travel destinations in Belize include boat tours up the Monkey River which cuts through the heart of a large section of pristine jungle in southeastern Belize. Dotted along the banks of the river are many traditional villages that offer home-cooked refreshments and souvenirs to tourists. Other sites in Belize that integrate socially conscious tourism practices include several ancient Maya sites like Caracol and Xunantunich where the living descendants of the Maya serve as tour guides, site custodians, and artisans that sell handmade handicrafts and artwork to visitors.
Chabil Mar resort located on the golden sands of the Placencia Peninsula offers award-winning accommodations for socially conscious travelers wanting to experience the best that Belize has to offer, including cultural tours. Chabil Mar is now offering special prices on accommodations, including a permanent 15% discount for members of the military and one free night for every four-night booking made before December 20, 2017.
On September 12, 2017, TravelPulse.com posted its list of the trendiest travel destinations to visit this autumn. One of the top destinations listed in the article was Belize, describing it as the country with the “world’s best dive sites.”
Belize was also favorably mentioned thanks to a growing interest in Maya culture. As the former heartland of the vast Maya civilization that stretched from El Salvador to Mexico, Belize is home to more ancient Maya sites than any other country in Central America, including Xunantunich where the world’s largest Maya royal tomb was discovered in 2016 and Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave, rated by the Discovery Channel as the world’s number one sacred cave, a vast underground labyrinth once used by Maya priests to sacrifice human beings.
Just a few decades ago, Belize was largely unknown to the outside world due to its remote location and limited access. Now, all four of the biggest airlines in the United States – Southwest, Delta, America, and United – offer non-stop flights to Belize. Canadians, too, are increasingly visiting Belize thanks to non-stop flights from Toronto and Calgary, making Belize attainable in just 2-5 hours’ flying time from major cities across North America.
Located in Central America just south of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Belize is the only country in the region where English is the official language. This former British colony has a strong Caribbean vibe thanks to hundreds of miles of coastline as well as picturesque tropical islands along the Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to the amazing dive sites mentioned in the TravelPulse.com article.
“As the weather begins to turn chilly in North America, we welcome all travelers to come visit Belize where it’s always warm and sunny,” said Larry France, marketing manager at Chabil Mar. “With beautiful offshore islands and a pristine mainland teeming with wildlife, there is truly something for everyone to do and see here in Belize.”
Chabil Mar is an award-winning luxury resort located on the golden shores of the Placencia Peninsula in southeastern Belize. With elegantly appointed villas, a lush tropical garden, onsite gourmet restaurant, and fully stocked bar, Chabil Mar is the perfect place to stay for trendy visitors wanting to experience the best that Belize has to offer.
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November may be cold, dark, and foreboding in North America, but not in Belize! This lovely Caribbean country just south of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula enjoys blue skies, golden sunshine, and deliciously warm temperatures all throughout November, making it the perfect getaway vacation destination.
Some of the exciting activities occurring in Belize include:
The Belize International Film Festival
Between November 9-12, 2017, the Bliss Center in Belize City will play host to the 12th annual Belize International Film Festival (BelizeIFF). Featuring both long and short-form films from Belize and around the world, BelizeIFF is one of the best ways to see the unique creativity and worldview of Belizean and other independent film directors.
In 2017, attendees will get to see the country premiere of Hogan, a film directed and produced by Belizean natives and brothers Jah and Faron Smith about a local bare knuckle boxer who puts everything on the line for a shot at the championship.
The Battle of the Drums
The town of Punta Gorda will rock through the night to the rhythms of Garifuna percussion instruments during the annual Battle of the Drums. Starting at 7:30 PM on November 11, 2017, local bands will compete to get the crowds on the dance floor, demonstrating their skill in local musical styles like Chumba, Wanaragua, Punta, Hungu and Paranda.
The festival continues on the following night with an impressive display of musical stamina as the very best bands demonstrate their prowess with energetic bouts of drumming that are scheduled to last until 6:00 AM the following morning. Enthusiastic dancing is most definitely welcomed!
Garifuna Settlement Day
Every November 19, the entire country celebrates Garifuna Settlement Day to commemorate the arrival of the Afro-Caribbean Garifuna people to the shores of Belize more than 200 years ago. Honored by the United Nations, the Garifuna are renowned for their drumming, dancing, music, and food. Throughout the country, people celebrate with music, traditional Garifuna fare, and street dancing.
Residents of western Canada and the upper northwest of the United States can now enjoy the beauty and sunshine of Belize starting this November as WestJet will begin flying from Calgary, Alberta (code: YYC) starting on November 1, 2017. WestJet already operates non-stop flights from Toronto, joining the four biggest airlines in the United States – American, United, Delta, and Southwest – in serving the burgeoning Belize travel market.
One of the best places to stay in Belize is the beautiful Placencia Peninsula. Located right on the Caribbean coast in southeastern Belize, Placencia is 16 miles of golden sand beaches, luxury resorts, and small cafes. Placencia is also the gateway to the southern Belize Barrier Reef, a mecca for snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and sailing. And the Seine Bight village, one of the centers of Garifuna culture, is located on the Placencia Peninsula.
Chabil Mar (Maya for “beautiful sea”) is an award-winning luxury resort located on the Placencia Peninsula. With luxury beachfront villas, a lush tropical garden, a gourmet restaurant, and world-class customer service, Chabil Mar is the perfect place to stay when visiting Belize in November.
Belize is blessed by the presence of the Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the second-largest barrier reef in the world. A complex marine ecosystem that is home to nearly one-quarter of all the marine species in the world’s oceans, understanding the difference between the atolls and the reefs is quite subtle.
Reefs are made from a living animal, the coral, which regularly produces a hard exoskeleton of calcium carbonate, the same substance that composes the shells of mollusks and other kinds of shellfish. Over time, the exuded exoskeleton begins to build up until it appears like an underwater hedgerow or stony “bush” that serves as the home for a multitude of aquatic creatures, including fish, juvenile mammals, sharks, and a wide variety of flora that use the coral for shelter, as a nursery, or as a feeding ground.
It is the entirety of this coral exoskeleton and its attendant marine life that makes up the coral reef. An atoll, however, is a specific kind of coral reef. All atolls are reefs that form around the mouth of an underwater volcano, growing in a circular pattern. Due to the temperature changes and other ejecta from the volcano, atolls are generally lifeless, sometimes referred to as “underwater deserts.” Generally, coral reefs, on the other hand, are the complete opposite – home to some of the densest and most biodiverse collections of marine lifeforms.
Coral reefs can grow anywhere there is a hard foundation like limestone sea floors or sunken ships that are close enough to the surface of the water to allow access to sunlight. Coral reefs grow slowly, taking hundreds, if not thousands of years, to achieve their immense size. Indeed, the Belize Barrier Reef is easily visible from outer space. And marine biologists estimate that some coral reefs are up to a million years old.
Atolls, predominately found in the Pacific Ocean, are circular in shape, growing as they do around a lagoon created by submarine volcanos. When a volcano erupts, much of the ejected material settles on the sea floor. As these deposits continue, they can create enough material that the solid material rises above the surface of the water to create islands. After the material has cooled, coral reefs can begin growing on this material, eventually covering it completely and forming true atolls.
Autumn may mean chilly nights and trees changing colors in North America, but it’s the perfect time to visit balmy Belize. The sun is shining with temperatures in the high 80s, ideal for enjoying one of the many fabulous activities in Belize like snorkeling and scuba diving the offshore reef, horse back riding through the jungle, or climbing to the top of an ancient Maya pyramid.
Best of all, autumn is part of the “low season” in Belize, meaning there are fewer tourists and great discounts on lodging and organized tours. And there are plenty of colorful national events to enjoy in fall such as St. George’s Caye Day (September 10), Independence Day (September 21), and Garifuna Settlement Day (November 19).
Here are four other great reasons to visit Belize in the fall:
With beautiful, pristine rivers and the spectacular Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the waters of Belize are a rich source of fish and seafood. Few experiences can compare to a meal of fresh-caught snapper, shrimp ceviche, or delicious lobster.
A vast unspoiled wilderness measuring 150 square miles (400 square kilometers) in size, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect place for a day hike or a multi-day expedition. With mountains, valleys, waterfalls, and a coastal area brimming with wildlife, the Cockscomb Basin Sanctuary is also home to the world’s first jaguar preservation site where scientists study some of Central America’s last remaining big cat populations.Other popular activities include boat safaris up the well-named Monkey River, learning about the vast cornucopia of indigenous plants that are still used to make traditional medicines as well as stopping off at a riverside village to enjoy a home-cooked meal.
Once the heartland of the vast Maya civilization, Belize has more ancient Maya sites than anywhere else on the planet. Popular destinations include the giant palaces of Caracol, the legendary lost city of Xunantunich, and the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave, a spooky underground labyrinth once used by Maya priests to perform human sacrifices.
The Belize Barrier Reef
With hundreds of gorgeous islands, the Belize Barrier Reef is a mecca for snorkeling, sailing, scuba diving, and fishing.