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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Discover Scuba Diving in Belize

Every year, thousands of professional divers from around the world come to Belize to plum the biodiverse waters of the Caribbean. Belize is blessed to have more than 200 miles of offshore reef, part of the second-largest barrier reef system in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although coral reefs form just 1% of the ocean, they are home to a staggering 25% of all marine life, and Belize is home to a wide variety of fish, shark, ray, sea turtle, and dolphin species who use the reef as a nursery and feeding ground.

Some of the top dive spots in Belize include:

The Great Blue Hole

Sometimes known as the Belize Blue Hole, this natural phenomenon is a perfectly circular stretch of deep azure water measuring over 300 meters (984 feet) across and 108 meters (350 feet) deep.

Nestled on the inner side of Lighthouse Reef, the Great Blue Hole was known only to local fisherman until famed French marine biologist and documentarian Jacques Cousteau visited the area in 1971 and declared that the Great Blue Hole was one of his top 10 dive sits in the entire world.

Turneffe Atoll

Located approximately 32 kilometers (20 miles) offshore of Belize City, Turneffe Atoll is just one of three coral atolls in the Western Hemisphere. Using the coral and thick vegetation for cover, thousands of aquatic species spawn here, making it a natural feeding ground for predators. The shallow waters, bright white seafloor, and thick density of marine life make this one of the best places to enjoy a “color” dive in Belize.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Located just offshore from the tourist island of Ambergris Caye, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve contains a natural cut in the reef that many different species use to transit between the outer and inner portion of the reef. As a result of all this “traffic,” the area is a diver’s paradise where it is easy to find large schools of nurse sharks and rays on the hunt for prey.

Gladden Spit

One of the furthest points of the reef from the mainland of Belize, Gladden Spit is part of a larger marine reserve that also contains the three Silk Islands. The islands plus the spit itself contain a gentle underwater slope that gives divers a chance to explore every layer of the active biosphere that contains more than 25 different species of fish.

Chabil Mar has a complete set of scuba diving vacations that include expeditions to all of the locations listed above.

For more information about diving 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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Caracol Mayan Ruins

The Maya Ruins of Caracol

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 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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Best Place in Belize for a Destination Wedding in Summer

get married in belize

A wedding should be a once in a lifetime event. After all, a wedding signifies you pledging your eternal love to another person, and that’s an event remembering forever. And while destination weddings have become increasingly popular, that also means that there many of the most popular destinations have become exceedingly rote. Mexico, the Bahamas, and Hawaii dominate social media feeds of happy couples, Belize deserves to be on your radar.

The country of Belize is known for both the gregariousness and hospitality of its English speaking residents and for the untapped beauty of its landscapes. Beaches, jungles, and ancient Maya cities are all within reach in Belize, and the low population density ensures that the bride, the groom, and their wedding party can have a level of privacy that would be hard to find in more crowded wedding destinations. Of particularly worthy note is the Placencia Village. Located on the southern Placencia Peninsula, the village is a sedate settlement, offering plenty of tourist amenities despite still holding the trappings of a humble fishing village. Being only a quarter of a mile wide at its longest points, the peninsula is a picturesque stretch of land dominated by sandy beaches and easy to navigate. All these factors combine to make it an ideal spot for a wedding.

caribbean-weddings-belize

Then there’s Chabil Mar. Our resort accommodates travelers from all walks of life, but it’s particularly well suited for weddings. Chabil Mar is conscientious about pampering couples to an exceeding degree. Wedding packages include a romantic candlelit dinner for two, an intimate reception on the beach, and a luxurious honeymoon suite. Couples can indulge in massages, champagne, and on-site amenities like fine dining, an expansive pool, and a lush garden.

There are plenty of practical reasons for getting married in Belize. The whole process is a simple affair. Couples merely need to have been in the country for three days to apply for a marriage license, and the approval process simply takes a day. The license cost is just $100. But if you have any questions, the helpful staff at Chabil Mar can help expedite the process for you.

That gets to the heart of what makes Belize and Chabil Mar such an ideal choice for a destination wedding: convenience. Once you decide to stage your wedding on Placencia, you can put aside many of the traditional stresses of planning a destination wedding and instead focus on enjoying yourselves.

 
The beaches are readily accessible, the staff friendly and well-versed in the intricacies of planning weddings, and the opportunities far cheaper than more commercialized destinations. And once you’ve said I do, you won’t even need to board a plane for your honeymoon.
 
Belize has widely been recognized as one of the top honeymoon destinations around the world, and Chabil Mar will be happy to host you for the first few weeks or months of your wedded bliss.