Nim Li Punit “The Big Hat”

 

Nim Li Punit may be one of the smallest Maya sites ever discovered in Belize, but its name translated from the local Mayan dialect means “Big Hat.” Although no one knows its ancient name, the city of Nim Li Punit is named after a carved figure found at the site wearing a big headdress.

Nim Li Punit is located in southern Belize in the Toledo District. To get to Nim Li Punit, take the Southern Highway 25 miles north from Punta Gorda or 50 miles south of Belmopan until you reach the turnoff at the villages of Indian Creek and Golden Stream. Follow the dirt road about 5 kilometers until you reach the turn off for Nim Li Punit.

For visitors arriving by ground transportation, you’ll be dropped off at the visitor center. Inside, you’ll see an elegant building made from local materials along with artifacts found at the site. The visitor center also has displays depicting the language, food, dance, and other cultural characteristics of the Maya.

Some of the most interesting monuments found in Nim Li Punit are the 26 stelae or large columns of stone, many of which are intricately carved with Maya hieroglyphs and pictures. Most of the stelae were found in an enormous square now called the Plaza of the Stelae.

Nim Li Punit was founded more than 2,500 years ago. Today, the remains of three plazas have been excavated, including several pyramids, one of which reaches 12.2 meters (40 feet) in height. Other interesting attractions include one of the best-preserved Maya ball courts ever found, completely intact and ready for a game.

Closer examination of the buildings in Nim Li Punit will reveal that they are precisely aligned according to Maya beliefs about the order of the universe, with the earth at its center. To the north, a collection of shrines and funerary monuments represents the sky world.

At the end of the terrace called Structure One, the ancient Maya built a series of monuments that were used to take incredibly precise astronomical calculations. The Maya calendar consisted of 365 days divided into 18 months, each with 20 days, and an “extra” month that had just five days.

Archeologists believe that Nim Li Punit was once part of the territory belonging to an ancient Maya dynasty that also ruled nearby cities like Uxbenka, Pusilha, and Lubaantun.

Chabil Mar offers tours to Nim Li Punit and other popular Maya sites in Belize.

For more information about 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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8 Must do Activities in Placencia Belize

Top Things to See and Do in Belize

Top Things to See and Do in Belize

Placencia Village on the southeastern coast of Belize is a popular holiday destination for North American expats and tourists. The village is located on the southern tip of the 16-mile long narrow Placencia Peninsula, a relaxed “barefoot friendly” community that bills itself as the caye (island) that you can drive to as it is easily accessible by automobile via a paved 27-mile road that branches off from the Southern Highway.

Placencia is a popular destination for vacationers but each tourist brings their own expectations to the kind of experience that they have in the area. Many enjoy the laid-back barefoot atmosphere where you can wander up and down the public beaches or mosey into some of the best bars and restaurants in the area. Others visitors looking for a more pampered experience can stay at top-rated luxury resorts like Chabil Mar located just a few minutes’ walk from the village.

The high season in Placencia starts in mid-December and lasts until after Easter, although any time of the year is a good time to visit. There’s always a bump in the number of visitors during the full moons of the months of May and June as that’s when the whale sharks come to feed in the waters just offshore.

Here are 8 must do activities/tours in Placencia.

Explore Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary - Things to do in Placencia BelizeLocated in the Stann Creek District and not far from Placencia Village, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is globally recognized as the world’s first jaguar preserve and is home to cascading waterfalls to swim in, panoramic mountain views, nature trails, furry mammals, colorful insects, scaly reptiles and a variety of neotropical birds. In addition, river tubing is a favorite adventure for the many visitors to this unique tropical paradise. Tours leave daily from Chabil Mar.

Although the jaguar (the largest spotted cat in the world) is what the reserve is famous for, you are unlikely to see one as the cat is nocturnal. However you will see its tracks along with tracks of tapir, deer, and other wildlife that inhabit the nature reserve. Cockscomb Basin is also home to one of Belize’s highest points — Victoria Peak and many travelers who vacation in Placencia go on this tour.

Go on a Kayaking expedition at Laughing Bird Caye

laughing bird caye belize - things to do in placencia belize

Kayaking in Placencia is a joy! The crystal clear waters, tepid sunshine and balmy Caribbean breezes that Belize offers make for an ideal kayaking expedition. As you glide across the warm waters, you will observe untouched coral reefs, white sandy beaches and abundant marine wildlife like the amazing sea turtle.

Belize has numerous cayes that can be explored on a kayak. Laughing Bird Caye National Park for example, is a mini atoll and is a favorite stopover for reef kayakers.

Pay a Visit to the Resident Howler Monkeys

Howler Monkey - things to do in Placencia Belize

Take a boat to Monkey River Village and head up Monkey River and into the jungle to pay a visit with the resident howler monkeys. Complete your adventure along the ride to observe crocodiles sunning along the river banks, along with exotic birds, iquana hanging in the trees, a few bats and lizards and enjoy a lunch with the villagers in Monkey River. On the way back to Placencia you may even see a few manatees along with their pups.

Explore Maya Temple Sites

belize mayan ruins - things to do in placencia According to archeologists, over 1 million Maya people lived in present day Belize. Today there are a range of Maya temples scattered throughout Belize. If you are vacationing in Placencia, you might want to explore Maya Temples like Nim Li Punit and Lubantuun in the Toledo District or Xunantunich and Cahal Pech in western Belize. While visiting some of these sites, maybe even add on a swim up river and into a cave! That is a thrill of a lifetime.

Dive or Snorkel – even with Whale Sharks

whale sharks in belize - things to do in placencia

Home to the second largest barrier reef in the world, Belize is a diver and snorkeler’s dream come true. In addition, over 100 islands dot the coastline, just offshore from Placencia, providing endless opportunities for diverse diving and snorkeling opportunities.

During the months of March, April, May and June around the full moon, giant whale sharks will emerge in the turquoise clear waters of Gladden Spit and Silk Caye Marine Reserve near the Placencia Peninsula. This marine reserve is used by over 30 species of tropical fishes to release their eggs and it is the eggs of the cubera, mutton and dog snappers that the whale sharks munch on.

Both divers and snorkelers can swim with these giant whale sharks in the pristine and warm waters of southern Belize without any risk from these magnificent creatures as they do not pose any significant threat to humans.

Fishing is Extraordinary

fishing in Belize - things to do in PlacenciaAs a traditional fishing Village, Placencia is the residency of some of the finest fishing captains in Belize. And, due to its location on a peninsula, the lagoons to the west, the Caribbean to the east and the barrier reef 18 miles offshore, while being dotted with multiple islands (cayes, pronounced “keys”), fishing is inherent in the population and history of this beautiful Village of 1500 residents. A grand slam is a definitely a possibility while visiting Placencia.

Enjoy delicious Belizean Cuisines

belize food - things to do in placencia Placencia Village is a traditional fishing Village with a tourist element. It is this small tourist exposure that has encouraged its residents to populate it with amazing restaurants like Tipsy Tuna, Rum Fish, Barefoot, La Dolce Vita, Secret Garden, Yoli’s, Pickled Parrot, Purple Space Monkey and Wendy’s (no not the fast food restaurant) and these well known restaurants offer a variety of fresh sea food at a reasonable price. Dotted along the streets are many vendors serving some of the best Belizean dishes in the country, passed down from generations and prepared with local ingredients. Rum Fish for example, sells the best fish tacos and if you are into gourmet burgers you’ll have to try Barefoot Restaurant & Bar which is located right on the beach.

You can also check out the Italian Gelato Shop that offers incredible and authentic fruit gelatos. Gelato in Placencia? Yes, and we dare say among the best you will ever have the pleasure to put to your palate.

Placencia Beaches

placencia village belize

In a country with more than 180 miles of beaches, the Placencia Peninsula truly stands out. Lovely white sand, refreshing tropical breezes, and the sight and scent of the sparkling waters of the Caribbean combine for a truly unforgettable tropical beach experience.

While many people partake in organized adventures on both the mainland and nearby Belize Barrier Reef, one of the truly special joys of a Belize vacation is relaxing and exploring the beaches of the Placencia peninsula.

Below are a few ways to make the most of Placencia’s golden beaches:

  • Take a long walk – In some parts, it’s considered a cliche to say that you enjoy a long walk on the beach, but in Placencia the words won’t matter. Whether you’re strolling hand in hand with a loved one or simply admiring the view on your own, walking along the beach in Placencia is undeniably good for the soul.
  • Enjoy a fine meal – Whether you’ve packed a picnic basket filled to the brim with tasty local goodies or you’ve decided to enjoy a seafront view at one of the peninsula’s amazing restaurants, few experiences can compare to dining on delicious food and drinks on the beach.
  • Main Street – New York has Fifth Avenue and Paris has the Champs-Élysées, but the village of Placencia has its own unique claim to fame. Officially declared the smallest main street in the world, the central “boulevard” running through the middle of the village is actually a sidewalk just four feet across. No cars are allowed which makes it the perfect place to visit cute little shops, grab a coffee, or sit down for a delicious snack.
  • Relax! – Many people get so wound up trying to cram in as many activities and tours during their vacation that they forget the reason why they decided to visit Belize in the first place. The lovely golden dunes of Placencia are a great place to work on your tan, swing in a hammock, or dip your toes in the Caribbean while unwinding and relaxing.
  • Seine Bight – Heading north from Placencia Village, visitors walking along the beach have the opportunity to go see the village of Seine Bight. Home to Belize’s unique Garifuna culture, Seine Bight is a great chance to experience Garifuna music, dancing, and food.
  • Take unforgettable photos – Whether you want to impress your friends on social media with your amazing selfies or simply want to capture the happy memories of vacation, the beaches of Placencia are ideal for taking photographs.

Visit our website chabilmarvillas.com for more information on Belize and Placencia, 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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Where Is Belize?

Belize is located in Central America between Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Guatemala. Belize is the only English-speaking country in the region and has a long coastline on the Caribbean Sea.

Although relatively small, Belize has an incredibly diverse landscape, including misty mountains, enormous waterfalls, pristine rivers, savannah, jungles teeming with wildlife, massive cave systems, and hundreds of offshore islands along the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest barrier reef in the world.

Misconceptions About Belize

Is Belize an island?

No. Belize is on the mainland of Central America, although it does have hundreds of offshore islands.

Is Belize located in the Caribbean?

Belize has a Caribbean culture as well as a lengthy coastline along the Caribbean, but Belize is not technically “in” the Caribbean as it is located on the mainland of Central America.

Is Belize located in South America?

No. Belize is in Central America. For purists that only consider South and North America to be true continents, Belize would be located in North America.

Is Belize in Honduras?

No. Belize was called British Honduras back during the colonial days, but it got this name because the southern part of the country opens onto the Bay of Honduras. Today, Belize and Honduras are two separate nations separated by a narrow band of land belonging to Guatemala. It takes about two hours with a boat to travel from Punta Gorda in the south of Belize to Puerto Cortez in Honduras.

What’s the Right Way to Spell Belize?

Over the centuries, Belize has been spelled lots of different ways, including Belieze, Belise, Balize, and Beleez. The official name of the country in English is Belize, which you better “Belize” matters to the people who live there!

Facts About Belize

  • The official location of Belize is 17 degrees 15 minutes north and 88 degrees 45 west.
  • Belize has approximately 360,000 people.
  • English is the official language of Belize but other languages spoken in the country include Spanish, Mennonite German, Maya, and Garifuna.
  • Belize is about two hours flying time from Miami or Dallas/Houston.
  • Belize has 240 miles (386 km) of Caribbean coastline and hundreds of offshore islands.
  • Belize has a landmass of around 8,860 square miles (22,960 square km), just a bit bigger than the state of Massachusetts.
  • The highest point of land in Belize is Doyle’s Delight at 3,688 feet (1,124 meters).
  • Islands in Belize are known as “cayes” (pronounced “keys”).

Belize Maps

Map of Placencia Belize

Map of Placencia and Chabil Mar

Only about 2,000 year-round residents live in the village located on the southern tip of the Placencia Peninsula. The village is a fifteen-minute stroll along the beach or 5-minutes by bike, kayak or paddle board from Chabil Mar. (Click on the Map for Larger Image and to Zoom)

Belize Map in relation to Central America

Central America with Belize

Belize shares its northern border with Mexico and is bounded on the west and south by the nation of Guatemala.  (Click on the Map for Larger Image and to Zoom)

Placencia Reef and Dive Locations Map

placencia-dive-locations

Many of the best diving spots along the reef are just minutes from Chabil Mar. This map shows these, including Laughing Bird Caye and Gladden Spit. (Click on the Map for Larger Image and to Zoom)

Belize Diving Map

Belize Dive Map

Diving locations in and around the Belize Barrier Reef are numerous, and this map shows the best spots. (Click on the Map for Larger Image and to Zoom)

Belize Atolls Map

belize atolls map

Often described as a “coral atoll”, an atoll is a ring of coral that has a lagoon in its center. The circumference of the atoll is dry land, and Belize has hundreds of these atolls in the Caribbean up and down the Belize Barrier Reef. (Click on the Map for Larger Image and to Zoom)

Belize Geography Map

belize geographical map

Belize has a varied geography, with rolling hills and higher elevations in the southwest and west to lush agricultural flat lands in the north and southeast. Rainforest and jungle occupy much of Belize, and the country has a long coastline on the Caribbean with hundreds of offshore islands. (Click on the Map for Larger Image and to Zoom)

Map of Placencia, Belize

placencia-village-map

This 16-mile long finger of land is located on the coast of southeastern Belize in Stann Creek District. Chabil Mar is located just north of the village on the eastern side of the peninsula. (Click on the Map for Larger Image and to Zoom)

For more information about 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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When is the best time to visit Belize

Best Time To Travel To Belize

Unlike temperature countries farther north like Canada and the United States, there are no change of seasons in Belize. The weather is warm and sunny all year round. The only seasonal variations are denoted in terms of the amount of rainfall, usually divided into the “dry season” and the “green season”.

High and Low Seasons

Because tourism is an important mainstay of the economy, many people in Belize divide the calendar year into the high season and the low season which roughly correspond to the greener and drier months. The high season runs from December to April when the weather is drier and many people from temperature latitudes flock to Belize to escape the icy clutches of wintry weather. Because these are the most popular months to visit, accommodation rates are usually higher during this period.

The low season runs from approximately May to November. Rainfall is higher during this period but it is usually restricted to early morning showers and overnight storms, keeping most days clear and sunny. With fewer crowds to deal with and lower tour and room rates, many travelers prefer to visit Belize during the low season.

Visiting Belize in January – March

One of the most popular times to visit Belize, the first few months of the year are marked by plenty of warm temperatures and sunshine. The fabulous weather makes it easy to enjoy mainland attractions like nature tours or relaxing on the beach as well as trips to the islands and reef to enjoy snorkeling, sailing, fishing, and scuba diving.

Visiting Belize in April and May

This is a transitional period as sunny skies remain dominant while humidity levels begin to climb a bit. Easter is one of the biggest holidays in the country with many lodges, resorts, and beach hotels booked up.

Visiting Belize in June and July

The beginning of the green season when brief afternoon showers and overnight rains replenish nature’s vitality. Lobster fishing is strictly regulated in Belize, so the opening of lobster season in mid-June is celebrated in places like Ambergris Caye and Placencia with lobster festivals.

Visiting Belize in August – October

The height of the green season sees abundant rain overnight and the jungles and rainforests bursting with life. With fewer visitors, this is the best time to take advantage of off-season discounts on accommodations, airfare, and guided tours to the top attractions in the country.

Visiting Belize in November and December

This is the beginning of the dry season with lots of sunny skies and low humidity. One of the most popular times to visit, resorts, beach hotels, and jungle lodges are usually booked several months in advance during the holidays.

Belize Festivals and Events

Belizeans are a fun-loving people and there are plenty of festivals and events throughout the year.

Lobster Festivals – The island of Caye Caulker, the town of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye and the Placencia Peninsula each host a popular festival to celebrate the mighty lobster. These events are held in June to coincide with the beginning of the lobster fishing season.

The International Costa Maya Festival – A mixture of a beauty pageant and event to celebrate the cultural heritage of the Maya, this lively week-long celebration is held in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.

September – Throughout the country, important holidays like Independence Day (Sep 21), St. George’s Caye Day (September 10 in honor of an important naval battle where the British defeated the Spanish on St. George’s Caye) and Carnival (similar to but different than the springtime Carnival held before Easter) keep September lively.

Toledo Chocolate Festival – Held in the heart of the cacao-growing part of Belize, it’s a mouthwatering celebration of all things chocolate (dates vary).

La Ruta Maya River Challenge – Held every March, La Ruta Maya challenges canoe crews to navigate hundreds of miles of river on a four-day race to get to the finish line in Belize City.

Garifuna Settlement Day – Every November 19, the Garifuna people re-enact their perilous boat voyage across the Caribbean to arrive in Belize with plenty of music, dancing, drumming, and food.

Where to Stay in Belize

where to stay in belizeOne of the finest resorts in the country is Chabil Mar on the Placencia Peninsula in southeastern Belize. Just a short distance away from the Belize Barrier Reef and the most popular mainland attractions, Chabil Mar offers guests unparalleled luxury with several tastefully appointed villas with a full range of modern amenities, an onsite restaurant, bar, and a gorgeous infinity pool.

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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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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