Xunantunich Mayan Ruins

xunantunich

Xunantunich Mayan Ruins in Belize

Pronounced shoo-na-too-nitch by most people, this ancient Maya site is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Belize. With an interactive museum on site, visitors can learn about this majestic city that was once a luxury residence for Maya elites. Today, visitors approach the site by crossing the Mopan River using a hand-cranked ferry and then climbing to the top of one of the site’s fabulous temples to be rewarded with an amazingly panoramic view of the countryside.

About Xunantunich

In modern Belize, Xunantunich is located just a short distance from the town of San Ignacio in Cayo District and one mile north of the border with Guatemala at Benque Viejo. Built on a natural limestone ridge, the site was constructed to serve elite nobles and their retinue during the Classic Period.

With a central area measuring just 300 square meters (3,230 square feet) in size, Xunantunich isn’t the largest Maya ruin in Belize, but it’s unique residential structures and ceremonial center make the site one of the top attractions in the country. One of the first lost cities rediscovered in the modern era (excavations first began in 1892), archeological renovations at Xunantunich have revealed three ceremonial plazas, houses, and a large palace decorated with friezes and masks.

The most famous building in Xunantunich is “El Castillo” (The Castle), a pyramid soaring 130 feet above the main plaza. El Castillo was the tallest man-made structure in the country until the Sky Temple at the Maya site of Caracol was discovered a few decades ago. El Castillo is remarkable due to its large stucco frieze on its eastern side that details stories of the gods and stories from Maya creationist myths. Xunantunich was heavily populated until an abrupt event in the Classic Period that left the top of “El Castillo” partially damaged.

Although no one knows the original name of the city, today the site is called the “Stone Lady” (Xunatunich in modern Mayan) due to persistent stories of a woman in white that haunted the original British archeologists and has been regularly seen even up until modern times.

Chabil Mar in Placencia Belize & Xunantunich

The lovely 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 Xunantunich as part of one of Chabil Mar’s fantastic Belize Reef & Jungle vacation packages.


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.

Belize Whale Sharks – 8 Fascinating Facts You Need to Know

belize whale sharksDespite its massive size, Whale Sharks are the “Gentle Giants” of the ocean. Unlike their other shark relatives that are meat-eaters, these giants are filter feeders.

Every year, huge schools of migrating whale sharks arrive in the waters off of Belize in order to feed on fish spawn and plankton. These enormous creatures normally cruise a depth beyond the reach of most divers. It is only when they rise to the surface to feed that humans can get the rare and wonderful opportunity to interact with these friendly and inquisitive creatures.

Below are eight fascinating facts you need to know about whale sharks:

  1. The name “whale” shark refers to their size, not their biology. Whale sharks are fish, not mammals.
  2. Whale sharks have been swimming in the Earth’s oceans for approximately 60 million years.
  3. Whale sharks have teeth but never use them. They feed by filtering the water for microscopic bacteria and algae.
  4. Whale sharks travel approximately 30,000 miles around the globe every year.
  5. The largest whale shark ever caught weighed more than 47,000 pounds.
  6. Despite weighing several tons, whale sharks feed almost exclusively on tiny plankton virtually invisible to the naked eye.
  7. In Asia, whale sharks are called “tofu fish” because the meat is said to taste and look like tofu.
  8. Scientists have never observed whale sharks mating and know very little about their biology.

Although whale sharks circumnavigate the globe every year, it is only in the waters around Gladden Spit off the coast of Placencia in Belize that divers can get the rare chance to interact and photograph these magnificent animals. Drawn to the enormous concentration of fish spawn and plankton in the area, whale sharks arrive in the waters off of Belize between March and June.

Because whale sharks are carefully protected by Belizean conservation laws, divers who want to dive with whale sharks must use a licensed tour operator. If you’d like to partake in a truly special diving adventure to get close to and interact with the gentle giants of the deep, sign up for this complete Belize whale shark diving package. It includes three limited slots to dive with whale sharks and accommodations at the world-class Belize resort of Chabil Mar.


For information about diving with whale sharks in Belize, 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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Placencia Has the Best Diving Spots in Belize

Find The Best Diving Spots in Placencia Belize
Find The Best Diving Spots in Placencia Belize

Thanks to a combination of nature’s richness and a history of being protected from boats and commercial fishing, the waters off of the Placencia Peninsula have some of the best diving spots in all of Belize.

The southern part of the Belize Barrier Reef offshore from Placencia is farther away from the mainland and is formed of a large patchwork of different coral channels. Some of these channels are 80 feet deep or more and form a maze of underwater canyons that rise to the surface in the form of shoals, atolls and cayes (islands). This mixture of deep and shallow offers easy access for snorkeling while divers can easily access the deeper areas nearby.

The Inner Barrier Reef

The inner reef serves as a sheltering home where juvenile animals are spawned and spend the early part of their lives. Divers can see juvenile drum fish, barracudas, eagle rays, and sting rays. Adult animals who call the inner reef home include sea rods, seawips, cleaner shrimp, arrow crabs and giant hermit crabs in waters ranging between 60 and 80 feet deep.

The Outer Barrier Reef

Deep underwater canyons start around 35 feet deep and drop off to approximately 3000 feet, giving divers plenty of room to see a startling array of marine life. Diving in this area is restricted to 120 feet due to visibility, and it is possible to see sea turtles, moray eels, lobsters and manta rays. Outer reef diving spots includes Silk Caye, Ranguana and Tarpon Cayes, along with approximately 40 other nearby islands.

Gladden Spit

whale sharks in belizeThis tiny patch of land is the best place in the world to see migrating whale sharks when they arrive in Belizean waters between March and June. The largest species of fish in the oceans, some whale sharks can weigh up to 15 tons and measure more than 50 feet long. Because of the whale sharks’ unique feeding habits, they rise to the surface following a lunar cycle and can only be seen three days prior to the full moon until three days following the last quarter moon. Diving to see the whale sharks is done in relatively shallow water of 60 feet or less. Snorkeling on the surface gives a great chance to get close to the whale sharks as they feed on fish spawn.

Snorkeling is also spectacular in Placencia

Off the coast of Placencia, you can find a number of small cayes that are great for snorkeling. Laughing Bird Caye and Silk Caye are two tropical and beautiful cayes that offer amazing snorkeling experiences. Adventure travelers will enjoy swimming with trumpet fish, rays, parrot fish, angelfish and many varieties of tropical fish at both of these cayes.

For more information about scuba diving and snorkeling in Placencia Belize, 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.

Sharks in Belize

The warm waters of the Caribbean Sea make Belize an ideal home for sharks. More than 350 different species of sharks can be found along the barrier reef, coral atolls, and mangrove estuaries, including the elusive hammerhead shark, black tip shark, bull shark, nurse shark, reef shark, lemon shark, nurse shark, and the enormous whale shark, the largest fish in the world’s oceans.

Southern Belize and the area of the reef near Placencia is an ideal place to see sharks. Underwater formations such as estuaries, the roots of mangrove forests, upwelling currents, fore reefs, and deep walls are all excellent places to have a safe and exciting encounter with sharks.

The hammerhead is rarely found in the oceans, but it’s not uncommon to see one when diving in Belize. Hammerhead sharks are very peculiar about the areas of the ocean that attract them, but the edge of the continental shelf of the Atlantic Ocean where it meets near Placencia attracts large schools of hammerheads. Named for their unique T-shaped head, hammerheads are peerless hunters, twisting their bodies to turn and chase prey. Hammerheads cruise the seafloor in search of crabs, lobster, octopus, and fish, using special sensors on its head to detect faint electrical signals.

Another interesting shark that inhabits the shallower areas of the reef near Placencia are lemon sharks. Named for their yellow skin that serves as excellent camouflage, lemon sharks like to park themselves on the sea floor while waiting for prey to cross their path.

But perhaps the most popular shark in Belize is the nurse shark. Once hunted nearly to extinction, nurse sharks are now a protected species in Belize. Generally docile towards humans, nurse sharks have a distinct mouth with two barbels on their upper lip.

Other kinds of sharks you may encounter in Belize include black tip sharks which often leap out of the water in pursuit of fish and reef sharks that gain their name from their penchant for hugging the shallow waters of the reef. Tiger sharks can be found in Belize, but these are far rarer.

Perhaps the most famous shark to visit the waters of Belize are whale sharks. Every spring, vast schools of migrating whale sharks visit the outer part of the reef, consuming enormous quantities of fish spawn and plankton.

Travelers interested in diving with sharks, including nurse sharks and whale sharks, can book their Belize snorkeling and diving vacation with Chabil Mar.

For more information about sharks in Belize, 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.

Enjoy a Fabulous Jungle and Beach Vacation in Belize This Summer

Belize is a small Caribbean nation sandwiched between Guatemala and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula but the country has been blessed with fabulous weather and incredibly diverse natural landscapes. Ranging from unfathomably beautiful tropical islands in the east to lush jungles, majestic waterfalls, and pristine rivers in the west, Belize truly has something for everyone.

The best way to see and experience all the best that Belize has to offer is with a jungle and beach vacation package from Chabil Mar. You can choose from exciting offshore activities like fishing, snorkeling, sailing, and scuba diving the islands and atolls of the Belize Barrier Reef and mix it with adventures on the mainland, including hiking through vast, trackless rainforests, zip lining through the jungle canopy, and exploring ancient ruins left behind by the Maya more than 1,000 years ago.

Belize’s small size makes enjoying a day out on the water one day followed by an exciting tour of the mainland the next simple and easy. Some beach and jungle packages offered by Chabil Mar include staying at the famous Caves Branch Lodge, home to five-star luxury tree houses and exciting nighttime explorations of the jungle.

Other options include heading to the heart of Belize’s western Cayo District and staying at The Lodge at Chaa Creek while enjoying trips to see butterfly farms and exploring ATM Cave, rated by the Discovery Channel as the number one sacred cave in the world. You can also choose to visit the gorgeous Gaia River Lodge located in the heart of the vast Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve where you’ll get a chance to see the tallest waterfalls in Central America.

Chabil Mar is a multiple award-winning luxury resort located right on the golden sands of the Placencia Peninsula in southern Belize. For the beach portion of your vacation, you can choose from sea kayaks to explore the nearby islands, boat safari trips up the pristine Monkey River (where yes, you will definitely see plenty of monkeys), and hiking tours of the Cockscomb Basin Nature Preserve, home to all five of Central America’s big cat species, including jaguars.

Chabil Mar’s jungle and beach vacation packages have everything you’ll need to enjoy an unforgettable vacation in Belize. Packages include transportation, accommodations at Chabil Mar as well as a partner jungle resort, exciting tours, meals, and other exciting amenities like professional massages, special nature events, and complimentary use of all of the resorts’ facilities.

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.

 

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