Belize is a travel destination offering a richness and range that makes it an irresistible choice for adventurers and nature lovers. This small Central American coastal nation is multiethnic, with Mayan, Creole, Garifuna peoples living peaceably in together in a natural paradise of rain forests, and coastal island. Up to 60% of Belize is in forest which combined with a low population density makes it a major ecological destination.
Placencia to the south of the country is sited on the long ribbon of beaches which runs parallel to the mainland. It is a popular destination for visitors wanting to dive, fish and swim around the atolls and reefs teeming with some of the highest marine diversity in the world.
Getting to Placencia is a breeze with Mayan Island Air. Flights are available almost hourly from Belize International and it will take you around 30 minutes to get to the destination. Mayan Island Air will save you time and money!
Chabil Mar is an award winning small luxury resort which rejoices in and reflects the Belize experience. Close to the fishing settlement of Placencia Village, the Chabil Mar is built right on 400 feet of ocean front with stunning beach and sea views of the Caribbean from each of its 19 luxury villas. There is nothing cookie cutter or generic about Chabil Mar, rather it is a colorful lively environment. Each of the villas have been created using local materials and architectural influences and are decorated with flair using local artifacts and artwork.
Set in luxuriant tropical gardens with two infinity pools, the options include one bedroom and spacious two bedroom, two bathroom villas between 92 to 110 square meters, at both ground level and second floor levels for optimum sea views. There is a sumptuous honeymoon suite for a once in a life time experience while families have a loft option for children. Each suite has a generous and shady veranda providing a welcome retreat.
The vibe is laid back, understated efficiency, with a knowledgeable concierge service who are able to arrange experiences tailored specifically to suit your interests. Each villa comes with a fully equipped kitchen but if you do not want to cook (and who can blame you) there are private chefs who will deliver a meal to your veranda dining table. The Cafe Mar has a beautifully delicious no fuss menu based on local cuisine, seafood and produce. They will even cook your daily catch for you.
If you want to explore local culture, head to the nearby village of Placencia which has an eclectic collection of eateries and bars.
Belize offers world class ocean diving and there are trips organized to the famous Great Barrier Reef which runs along the coast. Divers are spoilt for choice with numerous dive or snorkeling options. The marine diversity is mind boggling with a myriad of remarkable species. The Turneffe Atoll is the largest atoll with fascinating mangrove and seagrass habitats; its waterways a nursery for fish, shellfish and crocodiles. Gladden Spit is a marine reserve 22 miles (35 kilometers) off the coast and during March April and May it is visited by whale sharks who come to feed on fish spawn. The spit which is the tip of a sunken atoll is home to up to 25 reef fish species.
As well as diving the area is perfect for kayaking and sailing and fishing. Local sailors hire their sailboats out for cruising on the crystal clear waters around the network of cayes. If you want to learn to sail then there is no more beautiful setting to pick up the art. Out from the Silk Cayes is the untouched Laughing Bird Caye National Park around the southern most atolls. It is the most established marine park and is World Heritage listed. The park has been named for the noisy gulls who have traditionally nested on here.
The natural abundance of the marine environment is mirrored on land where there is rich biodiversity in the rain forests. Belize is part of the Meso American Biological Corridor which runs through Central America to Panama supporting 5000 different species of wildlife. To experience this close up visit the Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve, which can be found inland in south central Belize around the Maya Mountains to the north of Placencia. There are guided jungle treks providing information on the flora and fauna. It is also possible spend several days here and include some climbs in your itinerary. There are indeed jaguar within the forest but they avoid humans and blend into the forest environment so unfortunately they are rarely seen.
For the adventurous it is possible to tube trip down the river through a reserve. A day boat trip leaving from Chabil Mar travels up the coast to the mouth of the Monkey River, turning up the river it takes you through the forest. Hiking trails run through the forest with iguana, birds and howling monkeys.
Belize was originally part of the Maya Empire and remnants of this ancient civilization remain in the forests. One of the largest Maya settlements from the late Classical Period in the south is Lubaantun in the Toledo district. Approximately 1300 years old, it dates from the late classical period and has the 14 of the characteristic stepped pyramid shaped structures all made from stone blocks pieced together without mortar. There are guided tours available which tell you about the life lived by people here so long ago.
For a small nation Belize really does punch above its weight in the spectacular richness of its natural environment. On sea or land it offers the curious and adventurous visitor the travel experience of a lifetime.