Belize With Kids: A Guide

Belize is a lot of things to a lot of people: a tropical paradise where newlyweds can connect, a living obstacle course for outdoor adventurers, a natural spa for rest and relaxation. But this Central American country is a great destination for families as well. Here are some of the best activities in Belize that are also suited for vacationers with kids.

Silk Cayes and Laughing Bird

laughing bird and silk cayes

Snorkeling is a great low-intensity way for kids to experience the tropical fish and other sea life off the coast of Belize safely, and there’s no better spots in Belize than Laughing Bird and Silk Cayes. The gentle, shallow waters are ideal for first-timers, but there’s still an abundance of life occupying this stretch of the Caribbean Sea. Both cayes are accessible as day trips.

Monkey River Tour

Monkey River Tour

Monkey River is aptly named. The habitat is home to a vibrant population of mischievous howler monkeys, and the popularity of this region has made them hospitable to strangers. Whether your family is looking to cruise the river by boat, experience the hiking trails, or do a little light spelunking, there are plenty of options. And your kid can go back with stories of meeting wild monkeys up close and personal.

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Belize-Jaguar

Looking for something a little more fierce? Cockscomb Basin is home to the world’s first jaguar preserve, but don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe for visitors of all ages. It’s also known for its gorgeous waterfalls, and its biodiversity extends well beyond the local jaguar population. It can double as a learning experience as well, instilling in kids the complicated balance of life that makes up the natural world.

Maya King Waterfalls

Maya King Waterfall in Southern Belize

Maya King Waterfalls is a great place for a relaxing and laidback afternoon with the family. Your kids can go splashing in the cool pool at the foot of the waterfall while you bask on the nearby rocks. The surrounding jungle is a true sight to behold.

Nim Li Punit and Lubantuum

Nim-Li-Punit-Maya-Site

Belize is home to a wealth of natural beauty, but it was also once home to one of the most expansive empires in history. If you’re looking to expose your kids to the importance of history and the experience of immersing themselves in other cultures, you owe it to yourself to make a visit to Nim Li Punit or Lubantuum. Located in the south of the country, these remarkably intact ruins are a testament to the extraordinary engineering skills of the Mayan people.

A Golf Cart Stroll on the Placencia Peninsula

placencia village belize

The Placencia Peninsula is a beautiful stretch of territory where the beach is never more than a few miles away. That means that it’s a great region to explore by golf cart. A leisurely journey through the peninsula is an ideal way to soak up the local habitat and have some quiet family bonding time.

If you’re thinking about bringing your family to Belize, don’t wait to call Chabil Mar. We offer a variety of jungle and sea packages, and we can work with you to create an itinerary your family will love.

The Baird’s Tapir, the National Animal of Belize

With so many interesting and exotic animals living in Belize, choosing to see the Baird’s Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) may seem a little unusual. Baird’s tapirs are the national animals of the country and are rarely seen in the rainforests and jungles of Belize primarily because they are only active at nighttime and spend most of their lives completely alone.

But there’s a lot to appreciate about these creatures, the largest indigenous land mammal in Belize. Baird’s tapirs are named for Spencer Fullerton Baird, an American naturalist who first observed the animals in Mexico in 1843 but are known as “mountain cows” by Belizeans.

These mammals can grow up to six feet long (two meters) and weigh up to 500 pounds (225 kilograms). Baird’s tapirs are entirely vegetarian, usually feeding on fruits, leaves, grasses, and aquatic vegetation but they are happy to snack on corn and other crops when they get a chance. But don’t let their size fool you. Despite their big size and ungainly appearance, they are fantastic swimmers. In Belize, Baird’s tapirs range across vast territories, often having to cross rivers, creeks, and wetlands. These land mammals are also excellent at climbing steep terrain even in the thickest jungle.

It takes approximately 13 months for a Baird’s tapir to gestate and three years to grow to full maturity. During those three years, young tapirs will stay close to their mothers, the only time in their lives when they will live in proximity to their parents. It is estimated that they can live 30 or more years in the wild.

Baird’s tapirs don’t actually look like a cow. Their appearance is more of a big, gray anteater or elephant due to their long, prehensile nose. These mammals are actually most closely related to horses and rhinoceroses. Although it’s hard to spot a tapir in the wild, the tracks they leave behind are easily identifiable, a deep, splayed hoofmark with four toes in front and three in the rear.

Baird’s tapirs were once found all throughout Central and South America, but their numbers have dwindled due to poaching and the encroachment of human developments. Today, Belize is home to some of the biggest populations of these mammals. Baird’s tapirs don’t pose any risk to humans. When surprised, they usually like to flee to the nearest body of water, but on occasion, they will emit a loud whistle and stamp their feet.

If you’re interested in seeing a Baird’s tapir up close and personal, be sure to book your visit to the Belize Zoo with Chabil Mar.

What You Should Know About the Placencia Belize Airport

Photo by Wikipedia

The Placencia Airport (three digit code: PLJ) is a small airport that serves the Placencia Peninsula in southeastern Belize. The airport is located directly on the Placencia Peninsula about three miles from Placencia Village on the southern tip of the peninsula.

Placencia Airport has a single paved runway that currently only handles domestic flights, although there are plans in the works to expand an airport in the area in order to receive international flights. Currently, all flights to and from the Placencia Airport are served by the Belizean air carriers Tropic Air and Maya Island Air, both of which have multiple daily connections to Belize City and other destinations across the country, including Punta Gorda and Dangriga.

From Belize City to Placencia, the flying time is around 45 minutes in the air. The Placencia Peninsula measures about 16 miles from north to south and just a quarter mile wide at the widest point. The unofficial capital of the peninsula is Placencia Village, still largely an idyllic fishing village with a population of around 1,000 residents. The Placencia Peninsula is located in the southeastern corner of the Stann Creek District.

The eastern side of the Placencia Peninsula is composed of beautiful white sand beaches fronting the Caribbean Sea while the western border is a mangrove-lined lagoon teeming with fish and wildlife. Placencia Village holds a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the town with the smallest “main street” in the world, a pedestrian-only 4,000-foot long sidewalk measuring just four feet across. From south to north, there are loosely-defined communities that begin with Placencia Village and continue on to Maya Beach and then a Garifuna village named Seine Bight.

Popular local events include the End of the World Marathon that first began as a humorous reference to a date on the Maya calendar that supposedly predicted the apocalypse in December 2012 and Lobsterfest, a multi-day beach party and culinary competition held every June to celebrate the opening of the lobster fishing season.

Placencia is rapidly becoming one of the top visitor destinations in the country, with many lovely resorts and inns giving guests access to both the nearby islands on the Belize Barrier Reef and top destinations on the mainland. Nearby attractions include the Cockscomb Basin Nature Reserve (home to the world’s first dedicated jaguar conservation mission), boat tours up the eponymous Monkey River, and the enormous ruins of ancient Maya cities such as Lubantuum and Nim Li Punit.

For more information about visiting Placencia, 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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St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park

inland blue hole belize

Located in Belize’s western Cayo District near the capital of Belmopan, St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park is a site of natural beauty spanning more than 500 acres (2 square kilometers) in size. Three of the principal attractions are the inland Blue Hole, St. Herman’s Cave, and the Crystal Cave.

Visitors to the park usually enter off the Hummingbird Highway. Located about 200 yards from the visitor center is St. Herman’s Cave which was used for centuries by Maya priests to conduct ceremonies and to collect water dripping from stalactites that they considered to be holy. St. Herman’s Cave is an enormous underground structure but it is possible for unguided visitors to make their way approximately 200 yards into the cave before they will need a trained guide to go further. At the rear of the cave is a stream, allowing visitors to float their way back to the cave entrance using an inner tube.

St. Herman’s Cave is connected by an underground stream to the Blue Hole, often referred to as the Inland Blue Hole to prevent confusion with the Belize Blue Hole located offshore in the Belize Barrier Reef. The (Inland) Blue Hole is where the underground stream comes to the surface, providing visitors with a source of cool and refreshing water for swimming. Formed by the collapse of a cavern, the Blue Hole measures about 8 meters (26 feet) deep and is almost perfectly round with a diameter of 100 meters (330 feet).

Beyond the Blue Hole lies the Crystal Cave, sometimes called the Mountain Cow Cave. Visitors will need the assistance of a trained guide to explore spectacularly beautiful stalactites and caverns shimmering with accumulated crystalline structures. Just as with St. Herman’s Cave, the Crystal Cave was a sacred cite for the Ancient Maya who believed that it was a nexus to the world of the gods.

During the path to the country’s independence, Belize acquired the land in and around St. Herman’s Cave, declaring it a park on November 23, 1986. In order to maintain and preserve the natural beauty of the park, foreign non-profit organizations were brought in. Currently, St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park is maintained and operated by the Belize Audubon Society.

The park is located approximately 12 miles southeast of Belmopan and both entrances are located immediately adjacent to the Hummingbird Highway. The principle entrance leads to a visitor center, gift shop, hiking trails, a picnic area and the path to St. Herman’s Cave. The second entrance leads to a picnic area, hiking trails, washrooms and leads directly to the Blue Hole.


Visit our website 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.

 

Tikal Mayan Ruins in Guatemala

tikal

Although today Tikal is an isolated site located deep within the jungles of Tikal National Park in Guatemala’s El Peten department, more than 1,400 years ago Tikal was a powerful city-state that dominated the Maya world.

Tikal was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979 in recognition of the superb public squares, palaces, and enormous temples that have survived intact for more than a millennia in the jungle. Probably the most famous building in Tikal are the five enormous temples that dominate the landscape. Temple IV (four) is the the largest pyramid ever built by the Maya and measures more than 230 feet (70 meters) tall. The adjacent Temple V (five) is nearly as tall, measuring 187 feet (57 meters) tall. All of the principal pyramids and temples were built to honor special dates in the Maya calendar and were used for special religious ceremonies.

Tikal was first founded in the Preclassic Period (around 800 BC) and grew to be one of the dominant city-states in the Maya Empire before it was abandoned around 900 A.D. The greater Tikal complex is a protected bio-reserve of more than 57,600 hectares (142,000 acres) of wetlands, forests, and jungle that harbor a wide spectrum of plants and animals including 300 species of birds, a half-dozen species of monkeys, and five great cat species, including the Jaguar and Puma.

Beyond the impressive temples and pyramids that have made Tikal such an iconic location, visitors can explore more than 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of roads, terraces, public squares, ball game courts, and residences, many of which are covered in elaborate stone carvings or painted with Maya hieroglyphics that describe the history of the city. One of the most popular attractions in Tikal is known as the “Lost World” complex (“Mundo Perdido” in Spanish) that sits just southwest of Temples I and II. Many of Tikal’s ruling elite were buried in the cemetery adjacent to the site.

During its long history, Tikal had an active relationship with such important sites as Teotihuacan (later the Aztec capital) and Calakmul in Mexico, Copan in Honduras, and Caracol in Belize. Tikal is widely recognized for its wealth of art, unparalleled architecture, and large-scale engineering that demonstrate the genius of the ancient Maya.

Sanctuary of the Nine Maya Gods

To experience Tikal and a Guatemala/Belize holiday at its finest, Chabil Mar offers a complete vacation package that includes seven nights at luxury resorts, transportation, and a boat trip across the fabulous Mystic Lake Peten Itza to the see Tikal and the surrounding area.

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