Caracol is one of the most interesting and well-preserved ancient Maya sites in Belize. Previously known as Uxwitza (“Three Water Hill”) to the ancient Maya, the current name of the site was coined in 1938 when the local British head archeologist dubbed it Caracol (Spanish for “Snail Shell”) on account of the curving access road that leads to the site.
Far bigger than even Belize City, Caracol once housed up to 180,000 people at the height of the city’s power. Caracol dominated the ancient Maya geopolitical world, variously allying or fighting against other city-states, including Naranjo and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tikal that is currently located just across the border in neighboring Guatemala.
The most famous building in Caracol is the Canaa (“Sky Palace). An enormous period that contains four palaces and three temples, Canaa is still the tallest building in the country at 141 feet (43 meters) high. Other important buildings and items discovered in Caracol include 24 religious altars, three large ball court, five big plazas, 24 carved stelae, reservoirs, causeways, and a very advanced astronomical observatory. A total of 35,000 lesser buildings have also been identified in Caracol along with more than 100 tombs.
Due to its enormous footprint (some 75 square miles), much of Caracol is still awaiting further excavation. A 2009 aerial survey was used to create a 3D map of how the city stands, including large sections of causeway and agricultural terraces that still lie buried in the jungle. The remote location of Caracol in the foothills of the Maya Mountains in southwest Belize also add to the difficulty of performing large-scale archeological work.
Caracol rose to the height of its power during the Maya classic period but the city seems to have been abandoned around the year 1050 for unknown reasons relating to the wide scale collapse of Maya civilization in the area. Once reclaimed by the jungle, the city was accidentally rediscovered in 1938 by a local logger named Rosa Mai who was in the area searching for mahogany trees.
Today, Caracol is located approximately 25 miles south of San Ignacio in the western Cayo District of Belize. The site of Caracol is within the Chiquibul Forest Reserve and is surrounded by both primary and secondary tropical rain forest. The abundance of carved stelae, altars, markers in ball courts, walls, and capstones have allowed archaeologists to accurately document the history of the city, including a monumental military victory of Tikal in the year 562 AD.
Chabil Mar in Placencia Belize & Caracol Mayan Ruins
Chabil Mar resort on the Placencia Peninsula is close to all of the most exciting mainland destinations in Belize. Guests of the resort can include a visit to Caracol Mayan Ruins as part of one of Chabil Mar’s fantastic Belize Reef & Jungle vacation packages.
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.
The cake is history. So are champagne toasts. Even the bridal bouquet has a new home. What began with a kiss, ended with “I do,” and as you two head for your Belize honeymoon, you’re probably so tired, all you want to do is sleep! Give it a day. You’ll both be eager to make memories—especially if you booked your romantic stay at Chabil Mar Villas, where honeymooners go for seclusion, pampering and superior hospitality. Once you’ve caught your breath, the Chabil Mar team stands ready to send you off on adventures that turn ordinary honeymoons into spectacular ones.
Swim with the fishes
Marine reserves throughout Belize amaze honeymooners eager to see so many undersea wonders. Observe them from a boat or jump into the water, especially around the Belize Barrier Reef where you can swim with giant Tarpon, flirt with stingrays and Eagle Rays and introduce yourselves to dolphins and barracuda if they happen to swim by. There’s a manatee refuge, too. With hundreds of species of marine life, the only witnesses to your undersea hugs, Belize’s underworld adventures could be the highlights of your stay!
Meet the animals
Not every honeymoon couple is eager to roam jungles and rainforests in hopes of spotting Belize’s big cats, howler monkeys and other animals indigenous to this region so opt for a Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center experience. Wear good shoes to explore all 29 acres of savannas and exhibits and do ask your guide to point out the orphans, critters born at the zoo, lovingly rehabilitated creatures and animals received as gifts from other zoological societies. Identify all 125 of Belize’s indigenous animals housed at the zoo and impress your new spouse.
Experience Belize’s past
Long before Belize became a melting pot of diverse peoples and cultures, generations of Mayans roamed the land. They disappeared without a trace, leaving behind spectacular vestiges of palaces, temples, ball courts and artifacts that are mysterious, exotic and priceless. If you’re both curious and eager to learn more about the Mayans, explore some of Belize’s best ruins, caves and compounds. The Chabil Mar team recommends Xunantunich, Lubantuum and Nim Li Punit and can make arrangements to get you to one–or all three.
It’s time to find out how daring each of you can be by visiting The Big Blue Hole, a natural wonder comprised of collapsed undersea caves that left a perfect circle in the ocean that’s 1,000 feet across and 412 feet deep. Maintained by the Belize Audubon Society, it was a favorite of iconic marine biologist Jacques Cousteau and a world-class dive experience that attracts people from around the world. If just the thought of dropping into this vast hole is scary, have Chabil Mar staff book a helicopter so you two can see it from the air instead.
Still recovering from wedding shopping? You may have told friends you’ve had enough, but you’re sure to change your mind if you visit Placencia Village, an epicenter of fun that is part of the reason Placencia took a prestigious travel award for being a top Caribbean destination. Because Chabil Mar is close to the village, you won’t have to go far to discover quirky shops, indulge in world-famous Belize chocolates, tour art galleries, check out pubs and indulge in delicious local foods. If you haven’t yet thanked your parents for throwing you the wedding of your dreams, pick out gifts for them here in Placencia Village to show them you were raised right.
Get your romance on
We think Belize sunsets are extraordinary. Our beaches are pristine. Belize’s sultry shoreline begs couples to stroll hand-in-hand along Placencia’s 16 miles of sand. You’re here for romance, so take full advantage of intimate moments and lush enclaves on Chabil Mar grounds or sail along the shoreline in a private boat provisioned with picnic foods, cold beer, rum punch and anything else you desire. Since Chabil Mar staff specializes in romance, find out why so many honeymooners recommend this resort to friends after they return home!
If you took a helicopter ride over Belize’s lush mainland and cayes, you might notice what looks like Hawaiian hula skirts fanned out into circles on the ground below. Upon closer inspection, you’ll discover that those circles are actually skillfully-woven roofs made of palm fronds that are so tightly wrapped, layered and interfaced, rains can pour down but anyone standing beneath this umbrella of vegetation will stay dry.
At the end of the resort’s long pier stands a serene palapa that invites guests to relax and de-stress (see pic above). Not far away is Chabil Mar’s other palapa: it tops a gathering place considered the epicenter of Chabil Mar Resort’s social scene. Finding a seat at the Kaleidoscope Bar & Lounge (see pic below) isn’t easy as the night moves on and stars come out, so get out from under the bar’s palapa if you want to see them!
Why are palapas frequently a part of Belize’s landscape? Because they represent history and the clever use of natural resources, pairing tropical charm with practicality: Mayan settlers built thatch-roofed huts thousands of years ago for shelter and to this day, their ancestors still craft them. If you’d like to follow in their footsteps, our instructions can help. Chances are, you’ll finish faster than they did since you’ve probably got some nice tools!
1. Acquire five bamboo poles—four poles of equal height that are tall enough for people to stand under, and one that’s at least 12-inches longer for the center. Use a table saw to trim one or more to make lengths uniform.
2. Decide where to build your palapa. Dig a post hole in the center of that area. Next, dig four post holes at equal distances from the center pole and from each other. They should be at least 6- to 8-feet apart.
3. Follow package instructions to mix cement with water so it resembles thin pudding. Fill each post hole half-way with cement mix. Use a large funnel to direct the liquid cement into the holes.
4. Put one pole into each hole and then verify all heights to be certain they’re uniform; make adjustments before the cement sets if necessary. Fill each hole to the top with the remaining cement mix.
5. Craft makeshift supports of scrap wood to brace the poles. You can nail or screw one to the bamboo if necessary. Use mounds of earth to brace other scrap wood so poles don’t budge while the cement hardens. Wait at least 24-hours before removing supports.
6. Make a frame. Measure the distances between the outer four poles. Cut lumber to size and attach them to form a square. Next, measure the distance from the four outer poles to the center. Cut wood to size and attach with screws. When you look up at the finished frame, you should see spokes radiating to the center.
7. Cover the frame with pre-cut sections of plywood so there’s a solid base for attaching palm fronds.
8. Use an industrial stapler to attach palm fronds, starting at the outer edges and moving into the center by fastening layer upon layer of fronds. Work in a circle. As space decreases, you may have to cross, weave or prune fronds for a good fit. The overlap should be so solid, you can’t see an inch of frame or plywood.
9. Hold a palapa-warming party. Invite friends and neighbors over for tropical drinks beneath your work of art.
Visit our website www.chabilmarvillas.com for more information about 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.
The 2017 World Happiness Report published by the United Nations gave Belizeans a lot to smile about. Although Belize was only ranked 50th on the list out of 155 countries, this is considered a positive achievement locally in the face of a sluggish economy.
The World Happiness Report broke down measurable happiness into six categories, GDP per capita, social support, healthy life, generosity, perceptions of corruption, and freedom to make choices. Belize gained its strongest scores in the categories of social support and GDP per capita. Unfortunately, Belize lost points in the categories of perception of corruption and healthy life.
Many Belizeans responded by reinforcing their belief that they are very happy in their country, remarking on their gratefulness to live in a free country that has ample natural resources. Belizeans are renowned for maintaining a positive outlook on life even in the face of social and governmental challenges. Reinforcing this idea, John Helliwell, a lead author of the report and an economist at the University of British Columbia, stated that happiness and “human things” matter more to people than monetary gain that comes at the price of losing trust in relationships with other people.
Norway was the clear winner in the 2017 World Happiness Report alongside neighboring Scandinavian countries such as Iceland and Finland. The United States, a country with close ties to Belize, was ranked 14th on the list. Although Belize came in 50th on this year’s UN World Happiness Report, it was ranked the fifth happiest place in the 2014 Happy Planet Index published by the MoveHub company.
The United Nations’ World Happiness Report was first published in 2012 and is designed to provide a tool for the private sector, civil societies, and governments to help focus on improving the wellbeing of citizens, according to Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network division of the UN that published the report.
Some of the happiest people in Belize are the guests of the Chabil Mar resort on the Placencia Peninsula. Located just steps from the Caribbean, Chabil Mar is an award-winning resort featuring luxury accommodations set amidst a lush tropical garden. Known for its world-class customer service, guests of the resort can also improve their happiness from the onsite pool, fresh cocktails made to order at the bar, and delicious gourmet meals that can be enjoyed al fresco on the resort’s seafront pier.
The finest resort on the Placencia Peninsula is Chabil Mar. The summer season begins on April 22, 2017, thanks to the gorgeous weather that makes vacationing in Belize so special. Whether you just want to relax on the beach and sip on a cocktail or head out for adventures and fun under the sun, Chabil Mar is the perfect base of operations for an unforgettable summer vacation in Belize.
Testimonials – Our Guests Love Us!
Chabil Mar truly believes that customer satisfaction is their number one priority. The resort has a 98% rating on TripAdvisor (out of 716 reviews and counting). Here are just a few of Chabil Mar’s latest reviews:
Pictures do not do this property justice. It’s covered with beautiful flowers and super close to the water. The staff are extremely friendly and go above/beyond to make your stay comfortable and memorable. We used the complimentary kayaks to chase dolphins and the in-room washer/dryer to clean our clothes before flying home.
Wonderful, romantic, relaxing vacation. Our villa was large, comfortable, clean and had everything we needed. The grounds are beautiful, we loved the beach and the pier. The staff was very attentive and kind. We will be back!
It was our first visit to Belize, and we will never stay anywhere else because Chabil Mar is perfect. This resort exceeded all of our expectations from immaculate, beautiful villas to al fresco dining anywhere on the flower and vine filled grounds, this is where you want to be for the ultimate in relaxation. But what we loved maybe the most was the staff starting with Chris, the GM. Everyone is so engaging, friendly, efficient, knowledgeable and funny! To everyone at Chabil Mar, we will be back to celebrate our 1 year anniversary with you!
We stayed at Chabil Mar for 6 days and couldn’t have been happier with the accommodations. The villas are all extremely clean, updated, comfortable, and stocked with everything you need (coffee maker, blender, food processor, juicer, mixer, etc). The rooms are spacious and housekeeping does an incredible job sneaking in after you’ve left for the day to make everything nice again (even washing dishes and loading/unloading the dishwasher). The staff are all genuinely friendly and personable and the grounds are well maintained. There are beautiful bright colored flowers all over the place, climbing up the balconies, and lizards and iguanas hanging around for some good entertainment. Our villa had a hammock on the patio as well as chairs and a table to enjoy the gorgeous ocean breeze. Sheldon and Nikita at the front desk were amazing- helping us with reservations for dinner, taxis, and excursions each day. Highly, highly recommend Chabil Mar for a place to stay that doesn’t feel like a big resort but comes with all the creature comforts of one!