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Coxcomb basin is an area of subtropical rain forest nestled between the Maya mountains. It's name comes from the cockscomb profile of the nearby mountains. The area is a protected jaguar reserve and is home to over 250 kinds of orchids, tree fern, air plants and vines, almost 700 varieties of trees, more than 290 species of birds and 5 species of wild cats.
The park has an equiped interpretative centre with guides on hand to lead a light tour down some jungle paths, the chances of actually seeing a jaguar are slim to none but it does get the adrealine going.
There are additional heavier hikes over trails full of cutter ants carrying their loads off to unknown destinations.
When we were there you could rent a tube for around 5 bucks and float down the river listening to the tucans and howlers off in the dense foliage. The river is basically slow moving with the biggest risk being scraping your butt on the rocks in the shallow areas.
At one time (and I believe is still available) you could spend a night in one of the cabins at the park.
At the entrance to the park is a fairly comprehensive Mayan centre selling the typical but beautiful Mayan wares.
** remember bug spray!!!
Updated Nov 2, 2004
Address: Located off the Hummingbird Highway
Phone: 523-4018 - Mary Troy
The belize zoo is well worth visiting. Happy healthy animals, knowledgable staff, easy access and safe.
Kids will love the spider monkeys, howler monkeys, a beautiful jaguar, crazy tapir (the national animal of Belize) and so on.
The zoo pays homage to Belizean culture and national treasures and is wonderful way to spend the day.
Updated Nov 2, 2004
Address: North from Belize City on the Hummingbird Highway
The Garifuna people are unique to the eastern shore of Central America, less than eight percent of the population are Garifuna. The religous practices are guarded and seem to be a combination of African, Indian with a scattering of Catholicism. Their music, known as punta or punta rock, involves maracas, drums and turtle shells (where the famous Turtle shell band derived it's name). The punta dance is a subtle movement below the hips, the upper body barely moves, it's all in the hips and it a LOT harder than it looks, very sexy.
Garifuna culture performances have sprung up around Placencia, though most of the singers and dancers live in Seine Bight, a small Garifuna village north of Placencia.
Ask with your hotel for information on seeing a performance, many of the north end hotels sometimes offer performances, Turtle Inn, Kitty's Place, Robert's Grove.
Updated Nov 1, 2004
A great inland adventure is the river-cave system about an hour away from Placencia. You climb up a mountain, get in to a hole that's maybe 2 feet wide, continue your way as you go deeper into the cave, surrounded by a multitude of bizarre formation of stalactite and stalagmites The you jump into the river inside the cave and float for around 15 minutes until you hit daylight again. Once we floated out of the cave, several Mennonite men and women in their traditional clothes were standing on the rocks above the river, looking at us. It was very surreal.
Written Jul 18, 2003
Visit the Mayan Ruins site of Nim Li Punit. If you have been to Palenque, Tikal, Copan, or Chichen Itza you won't be overly impressed with the ruins of Nim Li Punit but you will enjoy the silence and the absence of the tourist hordes. There are several tour operators in Placencia that offer trips to Nim Li Punit and other sites
Written Jul 18, 2003
Stop in at the Placencia Tourist Information Center if you're looking for someplace to stay or something to do. The people behind the counter are friendly and helped us with our hotel-finding strategy. They're closed for about 90 minutes at lunchtime.
Written Jun 9, 2003
There are several operations in town that will take you out snorkeling or scuba diving. We went diving with Advanced Divers, which has a small shack on the sidewalk. We were scratching our heads about the schedule of the trip. Two tanks would somehow take from 8:00 AM to about 3 or 4:00 PM. Usually 2 tanks only take up half a day.
Anyway, it was a pretty good day. The small boat fits 4 divers, a dive master and a couple of snorkelers. We sped out to the outer barrier reef to Pumpkin Caye (about 45 minutes out). There, we dropped off the snorkelers and took a few minutes to explore the island. Then we went back out in the boat for our first dive. I have to say the diving isn't as good as I was expecting. Visibility was only about 60 to 70 feet. By New England standards, that's fabulous. But having recently spent a week diving in Grand Cayman, we were somewhat underwhelmed. I'd compare the diving to the Bahamas or West Palm Beach, Florida (without the current). Maybe it's because the location we were at was not in a marine reserve, but we just didn't see a lot of diversity of wildlife.
After the first dive, we went back to the island and ate the lunch provided by Advanced, which was chicken, potatoes, corn & beans. We snorkeled around the island for a little bit before heading back out for the second dive. The snorkeling was excellent, although the water was downright hot!
The second dive was a bit more dramatic than the first because we dropped onto the top of a completely vertical wall, which was pretty cool. We saw a bunch of lobsters hanging out in the wall, and the usual bunch of parrotfish, squirrel fish, purple tangs & such.
After the dive, we went back to the island to pick up the snorkelers & headed back to Placencia. It was a very relaxing day, though I wish we could have squeezed a couple more dives in. A 2-tank dive to the barrier reef costs about $80 USD including lunch. I think snorkeling is about half that much.
Updated Jun 4, 2003
You can fish, snorkel, or just relax. We went to Ranguana Cay, which was lovely. I'll let this picture speak for itself...
Written Jun 10, 2006
This is a great place to hang out and get out of the rain or the sun! Food is great – see my restaurant tip for more details
Updated Nov 18, 2005
We made a daily ritual of walking the town - mid-morning and later afternoon, after the mid day heat.
Updated Oct 13, 2005