Sunday, 15 April 2012

A Family Vacation in Placencia- Monkey River Tour

Choosing a fantastic vacation destination this year was a difficult decision for my family.  My two children Harry and Britney are turning 12 and 15 years respectively this year and we were all in agreement that a destination in the Caribbean and off the beaten path would be a good change from the usual yearly visits to well- known destinations.  After doing a bit of research, we found out about Belize and its many diverse offerings of reef and inland adventures in the tiny but lovely country of Belize which is literally in our backyard just two hours from our home state Florida. Little did we know then that we ever about to venture into of our best vacations ever while creating lifelong memories.
Our days were filled with dive and snorkeling visits to idyllic spots like the famous Blue Hole, Glover’s Atoll and countless inland tours as well as cultural experiences.

One particularly memorable trip was the Monkey River Tour.  This wildlife adventure started with an hour boat ride from Placencia Village on the Peninsula to the mouth of Monkey River where the excitement of the journey continues.  Our knowledgeable guide, a native to Monkey River Village, led our tour group through an interesting lesson on the history of Monkey River Village while he pointed out the surrounding abundant wildlife.
Cruising along Monkey River for approximately 30 minutes and relishing a short inland detour, our tour group was surely in for a real scenic treat in nature.  Lush tropical canopy dominated the river sides with occasional tall trees among the smaller plant life like mangroves, bamboo, palms and swamp cypresses.  The rich forest smell was invigorating and the view of the biologically diverse forest was breath taking. We were so pleased to learn that sixty percent of the country remains covered with such similar tropical ecosystems. Indeed the little Caribbean jewel appears to be serious about environmental protection.

Along the inland trail, Harry and Britney were intrigued by the exotic birds spotted such as the magnificent Osprey eagle, the enormous King Vulture, and even spotted the brilliantly colored Keel Billed Toucan hovering high above the tall empress palms as pointed out by our guide, James. Certainly a naturalist’s paradise, Monkey River was teeming with football-size turtles, crocodiles and many species of lizards such as the ‘Jesus Christ Lizard’ named locally for its ability to run across the water edges using its webbed hind feet. And just when we thought there was nothing more to see, our bodies cringed with goose bumps as a group of boisterous black howler monkeys swept pass a few feet above our heads howling and swinging.  The experience reminded me briefly of a scene in Indiana Jones shot in the depths of a mysterious neo-tropical rainforest. The setting was surely one to ignite the imagination. The path was filled with many exotic orchids in many sizes, shapes and colors.

My family and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip and Monkey River Village has certainly inspired us to appreciate nature in a differfleadent light. We are also thankful to our tour operator, Splash Dive Center for making all our tour arrangements and for contributing to us having a fabulous time in Belize!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Maya’s ‘Time of No Time’: A Call for a New World Age or a New World Fake?

On March 20 2012, the sun will be directly above the earth’s equator making the length of day almost equal to that of night. This occurrence is referred to as the March Equinox.  For many of us, day and night usually evoke certain feelings and affects our behaviors and activities.  For example, most people sleep at night time.  So by extension, it is possible that other astrological conditions perhaps have an unrecognized effect on our moods, or even on our evolutionary processes as human beings?
Splash Dive Center Maya Logo
These are indeed interesting questions to ponder on and the concept of ‘Time of No Time,’ really challenges us to think about the realm of possibilities.  In Maya Prophecy, the Time of No Time began in 1992 and ends December 2012.  According to the Maya this 20 year (Katun), is a period of enlightenment that humanity prepares to enter a Golden Age of higher consciousness and harmony with all that surrounds us as planet earth, within our solar system, is about to complete a galactic day (26,625 years). Just as earth rotates on its axis around the sun in a 365 days cycle, the Mayas discovered that our solar system similarly rotates within its ellipse around the center of the grand galaxy completing one cycle in 26, 625 years.  On this day, the earth aligns with the center of our solar system and with the center of the galaxy.  This must be an immensely important time that ushers in an equally important evolutionary process from the perspective of the infinite universe.

Maya Prophecy claims that the center of our Milky Way Galaxy beams a powerful source of light every 5,125 years allowing for greater synchrony and evolutionary processes among the stars and planetary systems contained within.  They believe, that this beam of a powerful source causes our sun to respond with intense solar winds affecting earth’s magnetic fields triggering a series of changes that impacts humanity’s evolution on earth.
Consequently, the concept of Maya 2012, tells us that as our solar system prepares to complete this cycle around the galaxy, that a New Age or a new World Order is about to be unveiled. In this enlightenment, people will recognize their deep interconnectivity with all that exists in his environment forming a minute part of the massive cosmic universe.  The Maya claim that in this progressive state, the people will better appreciate the important role they must play in maintaining and preserving the delicate ecological balance of mother earth before continuing as the dominant specie.  The people will rid themselves of destructive behaviors: obsession with worldly possessions, destruction of the environment and of the human spirit. It is in this context that the Maya belief that the newly naturally selected stewards of earth will evolve to higher levels of consciousness where respect for all, peace and harmony prevail.  So in essence, the Maya’s ‘Time of No Time’ is a colossally important transitory period to usher in a new age of positivity among mankind.

Maya Temple Lamanai-Belize

Either way, humanity is at important crossroads in its development especially noting critical changes in the climate, global economic landscape, technology, warfare, world views and paradigm shifts in power structures.  These global trends are timely and important reminders that the powerful messages from the Maya in relation to 2012 are worth listening to.

Regardless of what we choose to believe from the Maya, science is now affirming astounding discoveries shared thousands of years ago by this astronomically astute civilization that far exceeds any other.  Belize is very proud to be home to this mystical and advanced civilization that is now causing heightened global attention.  Most recently, the tiny Caribbean jewel hosted Prince Henry of Wales for a personalized tour of one of Belize’s foremost archeological sites.

Splash Dive Center, your personalized destination management company, invites everyone to witness first-hand the magic of Maya culture as well as Belize’s other unique and mesmerizing experiences and adventures.

Belize Whales Shark Season is near at Gladden Spit Marine Reserve

Diving and snorkeling enthusiasts anxiously await the whale shark 2013 season at Gladden Spit Marine Reserve from March to June. During these months the gentle giants of the ocean migrate to this corners of the world about an hour boat ride from Placencia, to feed on the spawn especially from mutton, cubera and dog snapper.

Whale Shark
These snappers thrive in the open waters of the marine reserve and are  relatively abundant in Belize where Mother Nature has been generous in her distribution of a vibrant reef system and ecological diversity.  Unlike its Caribbean counterparts whose diminishing fisheries are constrained by commercial exploitation, marine life still flourishes in Belize’s pristine marine reserves. 

Belize Barrier Reef
The spawn from the snapper takes place near the time of the full moon  are an irresistibly rich source of food for the whale sharks. April and May are the best months for sighting whale sharks at Gladden Spit.  The best days for spotting and interacting with the giant yet friendly whale shark are shortly after the full moons. Although neither chasing nor touching is allowed for safety and regulatory purposes, diving or snorkeling with them is an experience to be relished for a lifetime.

A combination of unique dive packages is available with arrangements that include the world famous Blue Hole, atolls, barrier reef marine reserve, and island beach and tropical jungle escapes. The diving experience is remarkable and attracting a growing number to this Caribbean jewel known as Belize.

So for all you diving enthusiasts, treat yourself to the experience of a lifetime in the underwater world of Belize with a break or two to explore the tropical world known as Nature’s Best Kept Secret.  Call  Splash Dive Center at 501 523 3080 or e-mail

Saturday, 18 February 2012

“Even Jacques-Yves Cousteau Admits that Belize Contains Top Ten Scuba Diving Sites in the World!”

Many people spend the better part of our lives working hard to survive and to save a bit more for the amenities needed in life. When we take a moment to think of all the great things around us that is available for consumption and pleasure, we realize how seldom we take advantage of them. It is not often that we appreciate our families, the good friendships and relationships we enjoy nor the many countless gifts that Mother Nature has bestowed people with to appreciate, protect and utterly enjoy. Belize is one such destination, where apparently Mother Nature favored a notch above many others. This tiny Caribbean tropical jewel, although only 8,866 sq. miles with roughly 318,000 people boosts the hemisphere’s largest barrier reef, three out of four atolls, an abundance of natural wealth of rich biodiversity from reef to rainforest and a multi-ethnic society of fascinating cultural heritage. Belize is the Maya heartland where three Maya ethnicities continue to flourish in their traditional ways. And if this were not enough evidence, the tiny bio-mass continues to unveil the discovery of oil deposits in commercial quantity across the country further affirming that Mother Nature offered this secret Caribbean getaway an unparalleled mix of natural riches.

This Caribbean gem with a barrier reef spanning across most its offshore, three atolls, hundreds of white sand beach and mangrove islands, pristine waters, thriving reef systems that includes the iconic Blue Hole are the perfect ingredients for superb sports fishing and diving. It is no surprise that informed travellers come from all corners of the globe for world class sports fishing and diving in Belize and appreciate why renowned diver, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, regarded some sites in Belize among his favorites in the world.

There are many must-see diving and fishing hot spots, but Glovers Atolls must be highlighted. This reef ecosystem, of ring corals 54 miles in circumference, offers spectacular diving and snorkeling experiences.  The southern end of Glover’s Atoll, also recognized as a UN World Heritage Site in 1997, is national marine reserve.

Just one hour south of Glover’s Atoll is Gladden Spit where the world’s largest fish - the whale sharks gather to feed during the months of March to May. During these months there are high chances for divers and snorkelers to see these amazingly passive sea mammoths. These gentle giants of the sea may grow up to 65 feet and weigh several tons are seen near the full moons feeding on the spawn from dog snappers. Splash Dive Center holds the gold standard in customized services to divers and snorkelers in a variety of diving options and locations for an optimal experience in Belize’s very best dive packages available.

Life is easy in Belize! So whether you are looking for a unique adventure, or exceptional fishing or diving, a close encounter with wildlife, an unforgettable cultural exchange or utter pampering and relaxation at a resort  – chances  you may very well get more that what you bargained for!  Life is short, there is just too much to be enjoyed in Belize! Call Splash Dive Center today, Belize’s premier Destination Management Company, to start planning your dream vacation. If you can conceive it, we can make it a reality. Live a bit, live a lot in Belize!

“Falling in Love in and With Belize”

Little did I know that twenty years later I would be returning to the tiny paradise of Belize were Mark (my husband) and I spent our honeymoon.  Despite the many changes I see now, mostly for the better, I still remember my first trip back in 1992 as if though it was merely a year ago.  We spent most of that one week vacation in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye at Victoria House.  The entire experience was magical. Coming from Chicago, a honeymoon in the tropics is quite a treat.

I first landed at the San Pedro Airstrip on a small flight from the international airport and was taken aback with the quaint fisherman image of this sleepy town.  I was initially concerned whether the town or the hotel would even have the amenities or facilities it claimed to have. Well, even then, Victoria House exceeded my expectations. Mark and I are as much in love today as we were back then but with the intense butterfly feelings that newlyweds often have. Every moment and every second was glorious. The room was impeccable and elegant. The ocean view was break-taking. The food was exquisite, the indoor dining hall was superbly elegant and private dining on the beach with torch fires was beyond romantic. The service was exceptional and all staff members seem so genuinely happy to be providing a superior service. Going to the outer cayes and snorkeling in Hol Chan Marine Reserve with the overly abundant marine diversity reminded me of Brook Shields in the Blue Lagoon. I could not have been any happier, if I could only hold on forever to that fairylike feeling of overwhelming happiness.  Beyond any doubt, the island represented great memories for Mark and I. So much so, we swore that one day we would bring our kids one day to visit Belize.

This year, my son Andrew completed twelve years and my daughter Jessica will turn 16 and I thought that perhaps this year my family is much deserving of a vacation. Surely enough my husband and I made well on the promise to introduce our kids to Belize- the place where we consummated our marriage. Indeed, twenty years was plenty time to bring about serious changes in a destination we visited two decades ago.  I was elated to note that the country had since grown substantially since our trip in 1992. The small town of San Pedro is now booming with several more resorts, restaurants and even more people.

Placencia was a top priority this time around.  Mark is very fond of sports fishing and my two children are huge diving enthusiast.  Jessica and Andrew took intermediary diving lessons with our local dive and tour operator, Splash Dive Center, who also arranged our family excursions to Caracol Maya, Monkey River, horseback riding and to the Belize zoo.

My family and I spent the final two days of our vacation in Toledo District at Machaca Hills lodge.  The property itself is rustically divine and chic. The view from the exquisite and award winning restaurant perched on a hill top was just stunning.  Mark and I made much use of the sunsets and sunrise from the balconies of our private cottages looking at the dense Machaca Forest hills and the sea in the backdrop. It was the perfect setting for us to re-commit our vows to each other and we did!
These are memories that my family and I will cherish forever. I am very happy that we decide to visit Belize a second time and I know that every member of my family has gained so much more from the experience. Thank you Belize for a wonderful time, it truly was a perfect and indelible family vacation! 

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

You Better Belize it! Paradise Is Here

Just 22 miles off the coast of Placencia, in the Central part of Belize’s Barrier Reef, lay three tiny picturesque islands – Silk Cayes with white sand beach, swaying coconut trees and crystal clear emerald seas.  These Silk Cayes, also known as Queen Cayes, are the perfect postcard images that lure thousands of visitors each year for stunning snorkeling and sunning.

Silk Cayes, along with the Gladden Spit, was declared as a Marine Reserve in May 2000. Since 2003, this reserve has been established as a no take zone, a conch restoration zone, a whale shark and reef – fish spawning conservation zone and a general use zone.

Whalesharks, in the nearby Gladden Spit coming to feed on the spawning eggs between March and June, are seen in the large numbers. The reserve undoubtedly contains some of the healthiest parts of the reef due to its relative elevation and superior water quality. This reserve falls under the auspices of the Government’s Fisheries Department but managed by a community based organization – Southern Environmental Association (SEA).

With all these regulations and smart reef management practices, it is easy to see why the zone continues to enjoy abundant diversity of reef fish species. So whether you come to this postcard island to soak all the fun in the sun, B-B-Q on the beach, explore the marvel under the great reef,  watch the stunning whale sharks, or explore Belize’s vibrant culture, you will  experience a unique Paradise – Belizean style!

For a totally enhanced experience, Splash Dive Center offers guests upon request at this Island Snorkeling tour an exhilarating performance by Garifuna Dancers with heart-pounding drum rhythm while enjoying their exquisite BBQ. 

Exploring Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret in the Maya World…Belize Stands Ready in 2012

Mundo Maya is the place to visit in 2012 with all the ongoing global excitement of the beginning of a new cycle in the Maya calendar.  Belize, as the heartland of the mysterious ancient Maya, is poised to welcome world travelers for a memorable and mystical moment to experience firsthand the mesmerizing splendor of this truly fascinating civilization.

In commemoration of this part of Belize’s vibrant history and culture, an exciting calendar of events has been developed.  One such initiative and a first of its kind is the Maya 2012 Passport to be stamped at each of Belize’s main archaeological sites including Caracol, Lamanai, Xunantunich, Barton Creek Cave, Altun Ha, Lubaantun, Nim Li Punit, Cerro Maya, El Pillar and many others. The passports are available at a cost of $25 USD and include background information and maps of all relevant sites.

Belize boosts a high concentration of significant archeological sites with as much as 10% of its population of Maya decent where old traditions are still alive. The only English speaking country within the Mundo Maya, Belize offers visitors an extensive experience of Maya culture and a taste of the ancient past.

Towering Maya temples surrounded by lush rainforest and abundant wildlife; pristine caves with vivid remnants of the ceremonial and astonishing Maya; guided tours by culturally knowledgeable locals; intriguing Maya homestead programs of the south are just a few vibrant reminders of why the tiny country of Belize is the key destination for Maya 2012 travels. In addition to its rich and diverse culture, Belize proudly boosts a magnificent reef and cave system, picturesque islands, a host of accommodations suitable for a wide range of budgets – all incentives that lures the adventurous, inquisitive, and demanding traveler.  For inspiration, enlightenment, or just simply rejuvenation, paradise off the beaten path welcomes visitors for a truly unique Maya 2012 experience.

Splash Dive Center joins other partners in the celebration of Belize’s cultural highlight of Maya heritage and offers its client base a number of Splash Maya Tours that include packages to archeological sites spanning from Toledo to Cayo.  For list of available tours please click on Splash Maya 2012 logo.