National Geographic Declares Belize a “Must-Go” Destination for 2019

Every year, the esteemed travel publisher National Geographic unveils its recommendations for the top “must go” destinations in the upcoming year, and Belize was included for the first time ever on their 2019 list.

The editors of National Geographic declared Belize a “must go” eco-tourism destination as a way to reward the Belizean government’s proactive efforts to protect the environment. Just this year, the government turned down lucrative petroleum contracts and imposed a complete ban on all offshore drilling. And the Belize Cabinet pledged to phase out all single-use plastic by Earth Day 2019.

National Geographic also gave high marks for recent steps to protect mangrove forests and the creation of new wilderness corridors to help preserve the environment on the mainland as well. And all this hard work has paid off as the offshore reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, was removed from the “endangered” list. The reef is now divided into marine reserves and national parks where fishing and other activities are heavily regulated. National Geographic also mentioned other places to visit in Belize besides the reef, including the colossal city of Caracol built by the ancient Maya more than 3,000 years ago.

This highly coveted recommendation from National Geographic is just part of the flood of positive articles about visiting Belize from top publishers like Lonely Planet, Fodors, and the New York Times’ travel section. Indeed, Lonely Planet rated Belize as a top 10 destination in Belize, and the Discovery Channel will be hosting a live broadcast from the Belize Barrier Reef on December 2, 2018.

And Belize is ready to welcome new visitors. 2018 saw a flurry of new agreements with airlines like COPA, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Southwest, and Sun Country for non-stop flights to Belize from destinations such as Mexico City, Toronto, Ft. Lauderdale, Denver, and Minneapolis. All seven of the largest airlines in North America now have non-stop flights to Belize as well as flag carriers from several Central American nations.

“Belize is a wonderful place to visit thanks to its biodiversity and natural beauty,” said Larry France, marketing manager of Chabil Mar. “We are delighted to be included on National Geographic’s must-go destinations for 2019 as this will give more travelers the opportunity to discover Belize.”

Chabil Mar is an award-winning resort located on the Placencia Peninsula close to all of the top attractions on both the mainland and the reef.

For more information about visiting Belize, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: or contact our Reservations Manager at: Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.

Rice University Professor André Droxler to Lead Scientific Team to Map the Belize Blue Hole

Belize will become the focus of attention for millions of television viewers around the world this December 2 when the Discovery Channel will be broadcasting live direct from the Belize Blue Hole.

Rice University Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences Professor André Doxler will be part of an unprecedented scientific mission to create a three-dimensional map of the Belize Blue Hole located some 40 miles off the coast of mainland Belize. Joining Dr. Doxler will be an eclectic crew of entrepreneurs and celebrities, including Sir Richard Branson (CEO of the Virgin Group) and Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of legendary French filmmaker and marine biologist Jacques Cousteau who led the first and only previous attempt to map the depths of the Belize Blue Hole.

This historic scientific expedition will be using high-resolution sonar and advanced underwater vehicles built by Aquatica Submarines to create a detailed analysis of the Belize Blue Hole. The team will also be taking soil and water samples in order to better understand the marine environment in the Belize Blue Hole and help better understand climate change in the region.

The Discovery Channel will be broadcasting a live special from the Belize Hole Hole on December 2, 2018, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern (1:00 p.m. Pacific). However, the scientific expedition will also be live streaming their progress throughout their mission which is scheduled to wrap up on December 14, 2018.

The Belize Blue Hole measures approximately 1,000 feet (300 meters) across and some 400 feet (125 meters) deep. The Belize Blue Hole is a natural phenomenon, formerly a huge cave system on dry land that became submerged following the end of the last great Ice Age some 100,000 years ago. The mysteriously gothic depths and complex underwater cave passages have been attracting divers for years. The Belize Blue Hole is one of the country’s most iconic natural landmarks, easily visible from space.

If you’d like to visit the Belize Blue Hole yourself, it’s now very easy to get to Belize thanks to more airlines flying to the country from major cities across the United States including Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Newark.

And there’s no better place to stay once you’re in Belize than the award-winning Chabil Mar Resort. Located just steps from the beach on the beautiful Placencia Peninsula, Chabil Mar has a wide range of diving vacation packages for travelers interested in diving the Belize Blue Hole and other sites on the nearby reef.

For more information about Belize, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: or contact our Reservations Manager at: Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.

What Winter Looks Like in Belize

When many people return home from a winter vacation in Belize and share their photos with their friends, the pictures are often mistakenly believed to have been taken in summer. That’s a pretty common mistake to make because winter in Belize is a time of long, sunny days and warm temperatures.

Indeed, the “winter” months are when the weather in Belize is at its finest. Rain is very rare, and most days are long and filled with liquid sunshine. And warm temperatures mean that winter in Belize is a great time to enjoy activities such as swimming, snorkeling, sailing, fishing, and scuba diving.

The average dress code for Belize in winter is a T-shirt, a pair of shorts, and a comfortable pair of sandals or flip-flops. Dining outdoors is yet another pleasure that visitors can enjoy in Belize, tasting some of the country’s fantastic seafood, organic produce, and delicious culinary influences from the country’s different ethnic groups. And since English is the official language, it’s easy to get around and talk to locals.

Airlines have certainly taken note of the fantastic weather in Belize during the winter. The six biggest airlines in North America now fly non-stop to Belize throughout the winter. The latest addition is Sun Country, which will begin flying from Minneapolis to Belize City on December 22, 2018.

Other popular activities to enjoy in Belize during the winter include touring ancient Maya sites such as Xunantunich and Cahal Pech, exploring the vast Cockscomb Basin Wilderness Refuge (home to the world’s only jaguar conservation project), watching endangered manatees play in mangrove-lined lagoons, bird watching, zip lining, hiking through pristine rainforests, and boat safaris along the aptly named Monkey River.

“Winter truly is a great time to visit Belize,” said Larry France, marketing manager at Chabil Mar. “When snow is falling across much of North America, Belize is enjoying sunny, blue skies and warm temperatures, perfect weather for swimming, snorkeling, diving, or simply enjoying a walk along the beach.”

Chabil Mar is an award-winning luxury beachfront resort located on the Placencia Peninsula in southernBelize. Chabil Mar offers guests well-appointed villas with a full range of modern amenities, a private seafront pier perfect for enjoying gourmet dining, a lush tropical garden, freshwater swimming pools, and easy access to all of the top destinations in the country, including the Belize Barrier Reef.

Visit our website 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.

10 Most Interesting Caves in Belize


Caves were used by the ancient Maya for performing spiritual rituals like sacrificing to their Gods and bloodletting. In the enigmatic Maya religion and mythology, caves were considered to be the home of gods and an entrance to the ever mysterious underworld. The underworld was called ‘Xibalba’ and its literal translation from Mayan language is ‘the place of fear’. In the Popol Vuh, it has been described as a court that lies beneath the earth’s surface and is often associated with death. In Maya religion, Xibalba is also thought to be dead’s realm and the lowest among the 9 underworlds.

The Maya were Belize’s first inhabitants and caves were fundamental to their religion which is why Belize’s history with its caves is like the fate of soul mates, you can’t pull them apart.

Today, because of the lime rock matrix that occupies a majority of the landmass of the country, it is spattered with caves and one can’t think of Belize without thinking of its majestic caves. Some of the most extensive cave systems in the world are found just beneath the surface of this country.

If you want to travel back through time and enter the realm of Xibalba, then you have to explore any (or all) of the below 10 caves to learn about the enigmatic and ancient Maya civilization –

1. Black Hole – The Black Hole drop in Belize is for those people who seek the real thrill of adventure. The descent is 300 feet deep, starting with the first 10 feet and providing an unforgettable rush in the next 200 feet. The final 100 feet will take you through the canopy of the Belizean rainforest and this entire experience is definitely not for those who were expecting a vanilla holiday. Ladder climbing, hiking and some rock climbing skills will definitely be needed to get in and out of the Black Hole but even when it is done, the adrenaline will take a long time to come down.

2. Rio Frio Cave – The signature of this cave is its massive mouth and it is also the largest cave you will come across in Belize. Located in Mountain Pine Ridge, the arched entrance is miraculous and in the rainy season, you might get to experience the river that runs through the paths of the cave. The cave tour is not that strenuous or difficult and you should carry a flashlight to experience it properly.

3. Barton Creek Cave – This ceremonial cave can be explored with the help of licensed guides on a canoe. It might take up about half a day but the cultural and natural wonders you come across is well worth the sweat. The canoe will glide along the river cave and will take you through chambers that will remind you of cathedrals and wide roomy passages. It is interesting to note that Barton Creek Cave was part of a recent list of ’9 most unusual and beautiful caves in the world’, and when you are in your canoe exploring this cave, you will know why.

4. Chem Chem Ha Cave – A lot of Maya artifacts and artworks can be found in this cave which was discovered by a farmer. The entrance itself is riddled with Maya motifs which would appeal to the archeology hobbyists among you. The chamber walls are lined with ‘ollas’ or storage jars and you can reach the high chambers through ladders inside the cave. You can only explore this cave with a licensed guide since it is carefully monitored to stop looting of artifacts.

ATM cave in belize

The Crystal Maiden at Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave

Photo by Demian Solano

5. Actun Tunichil Muknal – This ceremonial cave is so rich in Maya artifacts that you will never experience so much first hand cultural knowledge anywhere else. You can see bloodletting altars and more than 1400 other artifacts. There are both dry and wet chambers in the ATM cave and some sacrificial remains might also be found, particularly the ‘Crystal Maiden’ artifact which is the remain of a young human female but because of calcium carbonate covering, sparkles in the lamp light, giving the experience a rather grim memento mori. There is also a hike of 45 minutes where you will cross 3 streams.

6. Caves Branch Cave System – There are about three caves in the Caves Branch cave system – Petroglyph, Waterfall and Footprint. The names of the caves have been taken from the objects you will find on the walls inside. There are embedded footprints on the walls of the Footprint, about six waterfalls in Waterfall, and Maya’s ancient rock drawings from 300 to 900 A.D. in Petroglyph. The humongous cave system has been formed by the Caves Branch River that goes through these caves and has many a squeezes to make your heart skip a beat.

7. Laguna Cave – There is a wooden ladder about 4m long which can be used for climbing over the steep slope over which the entrance of the cave is situated. Then you will go through two entrances, through a slope of 8m depth and into a lower chamber which has an exquisite skylight filtering to the center. Some crevices of the cave are home to bats and speleothems, and further in, you will see a wooden bench through which the village of Laguna, after which the cave has been named, can be seen.

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Belize Jaguars Defeat Puerto Rico Blue Hurricane

In a thrilling match held before thousands of cheering fans at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, the Belize national soccer team defeated the Puerto Rico national team by one goal in the Nations League qualification round of the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The Belize team, nicknamed the Jaguars, initially struggled to find their footing against a tough Puerto Rico team, nicknamed the Blue Hurricane (El Huracán Azul). However, with 30 minutes left to go before the end of the match, Belizean midfielder Denmark Casey, Jr. landed a long shot from just outside the penalty box. Despite several close calls, Belize managed to hold on for the rest of the game and eke out a 1-0 victory.

Belize’s record in the 2019 CONCACAF Nations League qualification round is two wins, one loss, and zero draws for a total of six points, leaving them well positioned to qualify for next year’s Gold Cup championship. After defeating Puerto Rico, Belize has moved up to seventh place from 18th place in the Nations League qualifying table. Belize will next face off against Guyana with an away game on March 23, 2019.

The CONCACAF Gold Cup is held every two years, the next one being in 2019. To qualify, teams play off in what’s called a National League round with the top 10 teams (after playing four games) advancing to the final round that also includes the six teams which qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The Gold Cup championship will be held in the United States between June 15 and July 7, 2019.

Belize’s national team has never qualified for a FIFA World Cup, but the team did make it to the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2013. Unfortunately, they were eliminated early in the group stage after losing three straight matches.

Chabil Mar congratulates the Belize national football team and wishes them all the best in their upcoming games.