MUSIC OF BELIZE

Throughout the Caribbean and Latin America music plays a pivotal role in ceremony, culture, and daily life. Belize is no exception. In any small village you will hear music playing through open windows, music coming from churches, processions, the corner store. And the music is as diverse as the people of this country. Belize is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities which bring their own unique history and musical traditions.

Music permeates society, from listening to music in your living room, to the clubs and bars, to variety shows, music is a critical element to everyday Belizean life. The range is broad. In Belize, the rule of thumb is that if it has a good beat most people will spontaneously dance to the rhythm. It is not unusual to find a karaoke machine at most gatherings, with family and friends showing off their vocal skills (or lack thereof) to anything from country music to bachata to rock & roll and everything in between.

Prince Harry Dancing with Locals on a Royal Visit to Belize

The Government of Belize is promoting local talent and production in a now annual music week, filled with performances, interviews, and collaboration between artists to promote the growing industry.

Music Week Feature

The Office of the Music Ambassador is hosting the 3rd Annual Music Week on May 17th, 18th &19th. Our Belize Now team found out more about the upcoming event. Here’s more..

Posted by Government of Belize Press Office on Monday, May 14, 2018

PUNTA, PARANDA, and PUNTA ROCK

Based in an Afro-Caribbean tradition, the Garifuna culture stems from escaped slaves and the native Carib Indians of St. Vincent. In the 1800s this new mixed culture went to seek broader horizons and fled to the Caribbean coast of Belize, where the British colonialists at the time allowed them to land and make a new home. Along with their own language, food, and traditions, came their music.

Punta music is the traditional music of the Garinagu people, who settled in Dangriga, Hopkins, and some small southern villages in Belize. It is based on drums made of mahogany and deer skin and they are played in a group in a fast-paced rhythm that is often accompanied by dancers and vocalists. These drum sessions make an important part of milestone events such as weddings, birthdays, wakes, funerals, baptisms, and any special occassion. A derivative of this genre of music is paranda, which adds guitar and other elements to the traditional beats. Come experience the Hopkins Village Annual International Paranda Fest on April 1, 2019.

Modern day “punta rock” combines electronic sounds with traditional drum beats. Many legendary punta artists including Aurelio Martinez, Andy Palacio, Mohobub and more come from the Stann Creek District, specifically Dangriga, where Blue Marlin main office is located. Dangriga is known as the “Cultural Capital of Belize”. The younger generation of punta rockers were heavily influenced by these original founders of the recording tradition and include Lloyd Augustine, Vida Magdaleno, and other rising young punta stars.

Drums of Our Fathers Monument Dangriga

REGGAE, REGGAE SOULS, and REGGAETON

Hailing from Jamaica, reggae is universally loved throughout the world and especially in the Caribbean. The most iconic reggae legend, Bob Marley, is still leaving his mark having influenced a whole new generation of reggae artists such as Chronnix and Protege. The roots of reggae come from the rastafarian culture and have spread to become embedded in Belizean culture. The reggae genre came into to being in the 1960’s as an evolution of the Rocksteady and Ska musical style. Reggae can be heard coming from bars and restaurants throughout the islands, from people’s cars, and homes.

Reggae music at Placencia Arts Festival

A blend of Latin American and Caribbean traditions and rhythms, reggaeton is a more hard and upbeat version of reggae influenced by hip hop with lyrics in Spanish. On the other end of the spectrum, reggae souls often accompany a Sunday afternoon on the beach or a karaoke session and these soul songs harken back to the simpler times with romantic rhythms and lyrics.

CARIBBEAN DANCEHALL

Belizeans love a great party and often dance late into the night at the local bars and nightclubs and at beach parties. A staple of any good dance party is a great DJ and a great dancehall mix. Dancehall, which originated in Jamaica and spread throughout the world, represents not only a musical genre, but a lifestyle of Caribbean vibes and culture of music and dance.

SOCA and CARNIVAL

Steel Drum Band at Carnival Time

September is a very important month in Belizean history, as it marks the anniversary of its independence on September 21, 2019. This is a month of celebration and patriotism. Along with independence comes the infamous Carnival, where the beat of steel drums, elaborate costumes, and extravagant street parades dominate the season. This is a week of excess with endless parades, dance contests, carnival troops, singing, drinking, eating, and late night festivities. The heart and soul of Carnival is the music.

Soca music originated in Trinidad, but has developed its own flavor here in Belize. Soca artists lead the way in the parades and every year there is a Soca song contest with the most well-known Belizean artists vying for the prize of Best Song. Ms. Ernestine Carballo, Belize’s Soca Queen, is at the forefront of the art movement and giving the youth an opportunity to participate in the arts.

MARIMBA and the MAYA TRADITION

Marimba musicians at Caracol Maya Site

One of the original Belizean musical genres stems from the indigenous Maya communities. “Marimba is a type of music that refers to a percussion instrument made of wooden bars and keys and musical sounds are produced from it by striking with mallets. This music originates from Africa and pre-Colombian Mesoamerica (current day Central America).”

Hollywood has had a long-running love affair with our beautiful country of Belize. Some of Hollywood’s finest celebrities have travelled to Belize for vacation partly due to the lack of crowds, the outstanding and genuine hospitality of our people, and the natural wonders which inspire both the eye and the soul.

Movie legends such as Francis Ford Coppola and Leonardo DiCaprio have gone even one step further and made Belize their home away from Hollywood. Both of these entertainment industry powerhouses have found a peaceful escape in Belize and both frequent as visitors and as hosts to other visitors, as owners of high end eco-resorts in Placencia, the Mountain Pine Ridge, and the Belize Cayes. Madonna even wrote a song about her love affair with our Jewel in the Caribbean, La Isla Bonita.

Leonardo DiCaprio and his private island eco-resort

Even prior to independence, Belize, formerly British Honduras, was the stuff that movies are made of, with its diverse scenery, Caribbean culture, wild wild West appeal, and mysterious history deep in the jungles. The movie, “The Mosquito Coast”, although based on a book by Paul Theroux set in the Amazon, was actually filmed in Belize and shows some of the scenery of Belize City shortly after achieving independence from British rule in 1981. This movie stars legends such as Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, Andre Gregory, and River Phoenix . It is the story of one man’s dream to overcome the forces of nature by moving his family deep to the jungle in search of a new life and is driven to near death by his unrealistic obsession to tame the jungle and build an ice factory.

The Maya culture of Belize, which back in the ancient Maya days from 2000-5000 years ago, was a flourishing civilization with a population in the millions (today the population is just close to 400,000), has inspired more recent movies such as “Apocalypto”. Filmed in neighboring Tikal and in the original Maya dialect of the region, this is a controversial movie showing the day-to-day struggles of the ancient Maya world. “The Curse of the Xtabai”, a locally produced supernatural thriller, is also based on the Maya world. Filmed in Cayo District with local actors in the Kriol language, this is a tale of the supernatural, Maya superstitions, and ancient spirits.

More recently, with the reality TV show trend booming , what better place to set a show about romance and love at first sight ? In one episode of “The Bachelor”, the contestants experience both love and adventure on the high seas and in the rainforest. Contestants enjoyed lobster diving, helicopter rides, romantic sunsets, and exciting jungle adventures as a way of bonding and getting to know eachother better. Or, how about a show about survival and the elements, such as “Naked and Afraid”? In the Belize episode, participants are forced to survive, much like the ancient Maya, with few tools and resources in the depths of the jungle.

Ellen parodies The Bachelor in Belize episode

On the darker side, some documentaries highlight the social and economic growing pains of Belize as a small Caribbean country in the heart of Central America and the Colombian drug trafficking routes. Ross Kemp made a powerful episode of the show “True Crime” about the gangs of Belize City, which attests to the real-life problems facing the society. Thankfully, eco-tourism and the amazing diversity of the country overrides this darker side. Belize is a safe destination for those coming to enjoy the reef and jungle, with a strong Belize Tourism Board and Tourism Police presence keeping the country’s visitors safe to enjoy the plethora of activities at our front doorsteps.

Belize also has a small, but growing, local film and entertainment industry and this is highlighted every year at the Belize International Film Festival which shows the best of the Caribbean in music videos, documentaries, and movies. Included is another locally-produced film, “Stranded N Dangriga”, filmed right in our neighborhood in Dangriga near our boat launch and near the airstrip where most of our Blue Marlin guests arrive at check-in. This movie was presented at the Belize International Film Festival in June, 2013. One of the judges, Erika Alexander, an American actress best known for her roles as Pam Tucker on the NBC sitcom “The Cosby Show” and as Maxine Shaw on the FOX sitcom “Living Single”, called this Belizean movie “The Hangover Comedy for Belize”, referring to the box office hit “The Hangover”.

Here at Blue Marlin Beach Resort, our iconic Caribbean location serves as a logical and natural backdrop for model and advertising shoots showcasing adventure gear, fishing gear, beach and athletic fashion, diving equipment, and outdoor life. We recently hosted a film production crew which will create a massive advertising campaign for a designer brand name adventure gear line. Stay tuned for the red carpet launch of this high end ad campaign, which partners an amazing location with amazing products!

BELIZE JUNGLE ADVENTURES from YOUR ISLAND BASE

Belize has the largest living Barrier Reef in the world and the largest contiguous stretch of rainforest north of the Amazon. Aside from the incredible Barrier Reef at our front doorstep here at South Water Caye, the mainland tropical forest environment is truly a magical place with an amazing variety of plants, birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, and amphibians.

Hidden rivers and jungle waterfalls

Hidden waterfalls, crystal clear rivers, and a plethora of tropical wildlife make our home Belize an amalgamation of some of the most unique and diverse natural environments in the world. Our beautiful island paradise base is the perfect location for exploring both the terrestrial and marine environments and all their adventures they have to offer.


Our in-house mainland guide, Ms. Julissa, will meet you at the boat and escort you to any of these exciting destinations and activities!

Here are the top 3 inland adventure zones that are easily explored in a day trip from Blue Marlin Beach in the Stann Creek District:

MAYAN KING WATERFALL, ZIPLINE and RIVER TUBING –located on over 50,000 acres of private land, this desination is a private eco-preserve that border national parkland and agricultural zones. In the heart of the Maya Mountains and the source of the South Stann Creek, the Mayan King region is comprised of untouched jungle, beautiful rivers, and the stunning Mayan King Waterfall.

Criss-crossing the South Stann Creek (which is actually more like a river), is the country’s highest zipline. Here, you will have panoramic vistas from 11 decks and 7 lines with views that were previously available only to birds in flight. You might even see the endangered Scarlet Macaws that are know to frequent the area.

After zipping above the South Stann Creek River, you can tube down the class 2 rapids for almost 2 miles of natural Belize splendor. Discover the hidden waterfalls and swim in the clear water pool at the base nestled in the rainforest for a refreshing swim.

ANTELOPE FALLS WATERFALL HIKE

Within the heart of Bocawina National Park, which is run and managed by the villagers of Silk Grass, there is a stunning and wild waterfall. Hike a challenging uphill path to the top of the waterfall where you can also find a lovely pool for swimming. The truly adventurous can get an additional adrenaline rush with a rappel down to the base of the waterfall. Within the reserve there is also a small set of semi-excavated ruins of an ancient Mayan settlement.

COCKSCOMB BASIN JAGUAR RESERVE

The world’s first Jaguar Reserve is home to one of the largest wild populations of jaguars in the world. This is a massive protected area covering hundreds of thousands of acres and also housing Victoria Peak, Belize’s highest mountain other than Doyle’s Delight, which is further south and much less accessible. Victoria Peak is accessible to summit for hardcore adventurers at certain times a year with expedition style overnight hikes to the top. This protected area is managed by the Belize Audubon Society. The mountain is not particularly high on a world scale, but the humid conditions, harsh environment (poisonous plants and animals) and the surprising lack of water sources, all make for an extremely challenging trek.

For those of us looking for a more relaxing way to explore the jungle, there is the option for river tubing. You might spot a howler monkey family or a boa constrictor clinging to the trees on the riverbank. The river habitat is home to numerous birds including parrots and toucans, howler monkeys, iguana. Cockscomb is also home to jaguars, the world’s third largest feline and four other species of wildcats.

Even if you do not see them you will find evidence of many animals by their tracks in the muddy trails. This includes tapirs (also know as mountain cows), peccary (a wild boar), anteaters, and the notorious gibnut (or Royal Rat, in honor of the Queen of England being served this traditional game meat as her lunch on a royal visit to Belize). The gibnut and all the wildlife are safe in Cockscomb because every leaf, flower, bug, and rock is protected in this amazing Wildlife Sanctuary.

FRANK AND GAIL are in the running for our Longest Returning Guests Award.  They have been coming to holiday on Blue Marlin by themselves, with friends, and with family for the past 20 years.


I met this endearing, witty, and sweet couple at coffee before breakfast on my first morning as part of the team here at Blue Marlin. Gail and Frank are probably the cutest couple around and are an inspiration. 

Frank and Gail – Valentine’s Dinner 2019

Frank is a US military veteran and a retired doctor. Gail is an amateur naturalist and professional editor and art historian (sorry for any grammatical errors in this blog, Gail) and mother of three. Gail is petite with pink cheeks, a friendly smile, a genuine kindness, and a sharp wit. Frank is adamant about unplugging and spending quality time in a technology-free zone. Frank is tall and lean with wirey glasses and windswept gray hair.

The staff had already advised me that these were very special guests that come back every year. When I first met them, Gail was donning her gray Blue Marlin logoed shirt– she calls it her “breakfast shirt”. They appeared to be at home here on our little island paradise and I caught Frank sipping on his steaming cup as he surveyed the open sea from out vantage point at the over-the-water dining area. He was waiting for Gail to return from her morning “Dock Patrol”, where she scouts out the critters in the clear shallow waters by the dock.


Bonefish schools which can be seen all around our docks on a “dock patrol”

I approached Frank and asked him if he wouldn’t mind sharing some of their experiences here over the years. At first he gave me a sort of skeptical look and told me he would have to wait for Gail to come to breakfast and clear it through her. 

Despite having the sweetest smile and being a good two feet shorter then Frank, Gail is clearly the Boss in this relationship. And Frank is clearly a gentleman who comes from a tradition of respect and honor because he won’t sit down at the table without his wife.

I humbly approached Gail to introduce myself. She gave me a quick glance over as if to say “you’re new here” and then smiled and we began to chat. It turns out Frank did his medical residency at my Alma Mater and Gail had given birth to their now grown children at the same hospital as my College 50+ years ago in tiny New Hampshire. So that cleared the air and they started warming up to this newbie.

It becomes rapidly obvious that Frank and Gail know exactly what is going on here at Blue Marlin, starting from dock patrol to the latest in staff gossip. Gail even caught a diner from a day trip catamaran trying to pocket the salt and pepper shakers off of his lunch table and she immediately exposed this drunken sailor’s unsavory deeds. In no time, the items were returned to the table and this petite agreeable lady had brought a grown man to his knees in apology with just one look. I didn’t know whether to applaud or to laugh or both.

In any case, the jist of this tale is that Frank and Gail clearly love this place, its people, and what it offers. Frank tells me that island life is almost like a mini series and the thing he loves most about Blue Marlin is the personalized service, the family hospitality, and the fact that the staff go out of their way to make things right. He was amazed by how Mireya, our head dining room server, folds their napkins for every meal and how they are always in the shape of different objects or animals. It’s these small details that make a big difference.

Frank was impressed that a couple years back when Captain Bo took one of the guests all the way to Belize City to the private hospital to check on an earache which Frank had deemed in his medical opinion as “no big deal.” Frank, who carries a serious demeanor, isn’t easily impressed. But obviously, Blue Marlin has left an impression on both Frank and Gail. As they have left an impression on the team here at Blue Marlin. They are truly appreciated, as are all of our guests, by the staff and crew.

Gail, her daughter, and her grandchildren at Blue Marlin Beach Resort on a family vacation

On their last morning here at the end of their three-week stay, Gail barely touched her fruit bowl and let her coffee go cold. She stared at the turquoise  blue sea and seemed deeply saddened to be leaving her home-away-from-home for her real home in the States. The barracuda that always hovers in the shallows by the dock even seemed a little sad. Gail’s love of nature and the sea is evident in her religious daily snorkels and her purveying of the docks every morning and evening. 

Sunset over the Caribbean Sea- view from our evening dock patrol

And there is no place closer to nature’s never-ending glory than right there at Blue Marlin Beach Resort, Atop the Living Barrier Reef, Belize, Central America. As their boat pulled away to bring them back to town for their island hopper flight, we didn’t say “Goodbye” to Mr. Frank and Ms. Gail. We said “Until next time!” 

MARCH 2019: WOMEN’s MONTH at BLUE MARLIN

Who rules the world? Girls! March 2019 is International Women’s Month. The strength, creativity, versatility, intelligence, and skills of women worldwide are highlighted here in our staff and crew at Blue Marlin. Without women, this would certainly be a much different place. The dedication, hard work, kindness, and friendliness of our female staff make Blue Marlin what it is– a place where guests can come relax, eat well, explore, and enjoy the beauty and comfort of our accommodations, setting, and dining here at Blue Marlin. The staff is over 50% female and most are single moms.

Meet our Blue Marlin Beach Resort “Woman Power” Team and see what makes us so special:

Ms. Rosella: Owner/General Manager/Chef

“Momma” Rosella

Ms. Ros has been lovingly welcoming guests to her island paradise for nearly 30 years. She is a born- and-raised Belizean, dedicated to providing the best in personalized service. She has become a personal friend to many Blue Marlin guests over the years. After her husband passed away, she continued on with the business on her own as well as raising two daughters on her own. On many a day, you can still find her in the kitchen being “Momma” preparing delicious home-cooked meals for our guests. Or, in the office making sure that all your needs are filled and that you can have an unforgettable time on her private island getaway, Blue Marlin Beach Resort. Her guests come as friends and leave as family– with her trademark family-style, home-style service here at Blue Marlin. She is heavily involved in the tourism industry and community enhancement projects, being the President of the Belize Tourism Industry Association Dangriga chapter.

Ms. Julissa: Inland Activities Liaison/Licensed Tour Guide

Ms. Julissa-mother, licensed guide, entrepreneur

Ms. Julissa is also a member of the Blue Marlin family, being the oldest daughter of Ms. Ros. She is our mainland tour guide as well as personal liaison for our guests. She will meet-and-greet you at the Dangriga airstrip upon arrival, transfer you to the boat, and show you all the mainland attractions such waterfalls, ziplines, jungle hikes, birding, Mayan ruins, Garifuna culture, and Marie Sharp hot sauce tours on an unforgettable inland day trip.

Ms. Mariel– mother, masseuse, business woman

Ms. Mariel: Masseuse/Marketing

Ms. Mariel is maintaining the tradition of her mother, Ms. Ros, by literally being “hands on” in her family business. She is the island masseuse, having studied and practiced the art of massage for almost a decade. She is also involved in marketing, overall island operations, and has grown up assisting with the family business at Blue Marlin in all aspects since childhood. Mariel is also dedicated to fitness and healthy living. She makes sure that our guests have access to healthy activities and meals. She is devoted to motivating women and girls take charge of their bodies with exercise and mental focus.

Ms. Makayla: Photographer/Model

Ms. Makayla–student, model, photographer

Ms. Makayla is the youngest member of our team, but has grown up at Blue Marlin, her grandma’s family business. Makayla is still a student, so she can only assist part-time, but she spends her weekends and school holidays taking amazing photos on the Caye. Makayla is very artistic, creative and beautiful and she works both sides of the camera as model AND photographer. She has a great eye for the beauty of the island and the joy of spending time out here.

Check her out at Instagram @Makayla Leslie.

Ms. Stacey: Divemaster/Island Guide

Ms. Stacey– Island divemaster and guide

Stacey is an all around powerhouse when it comes to water activities and island knowledge. She is a skilled divemaster, has a plethora of knowledge about marine life, and can show you the ins and outs of the island environment here on South Water Caye on an island walk or night walk. She has been living and working on South Water Caye on and off for over 12 years. Stacey does a little bit of everything on the island. She certainly makes it an exciting experience for our guests with her sharp wit and vast knowledge of island life.

Ms. Sonia: Staff Supervisor/Bartender

Ms. Sonia, Stacey’s mother, has been coming to Blue Marlin for many many years and has been working here full time for a couple years. She is a no-nonsense kinda’ gial and she is full or stories and history of the islands and Belizean traditions. She mixes a mean margarita and welcomes our guests with a complimentary welcome drink upon arrival. And she will play anything from country music to dancehall music at the bar at your request.

Ms. Carlene: Sales and Reservations Manager

Ms. Carlene- right hand wo-man to Ms. Ros

Ms. Carlene is based at our mainland office in Dangriga. She has been with Blue Marlin for 5 years and she is the glue that keeps it all together when it comes to reservations, scheduling, organizing transportation, and communicating guest needs to the staff on the island. She does everything from personally transfering guests to the boat to representing Blue Marlin at trade shows and conferences. She is no stranger to the resort and she is also involved in managing the BTIA office.

Ms. Ilana: Bonefish Hotel Operations Manager (our sister resort)

Ms. Ilana– our go-to lady

Ms. Ilana has been a dedicated member of the team for the past 12 years. She is the heart of the mainland office and works tirelessly behind the scenes ordering supplies, ordering maintenance, and making sure everything runs smoothly for our guests. She is always happy to assist with anything and everything. Ilana is a critical back up player to our Blue Marlin Team and we truly appreciate her.

Ms. Marjorie: International Airport Liaison

An old family friend of Ms. Ros and remote member of our Blue Marlin Team, Ms. Marjorie will be your first point of contact upon arrival in the country in Belize City. She will personally meet and greet you at the Phillip Goldson International Airport and make sure you make your connecting island hopper flight to Dangriga on Maya Island Air.

Ms. Amber: Kitchen Assistant

Ms. Amber- Women’s advocate and assistant cook

Ms. Amber is new to our team and has worked in kitchens at big hotels in the city. She is a kitchen assistant and baker, prepping our delicious meals, as well as baking breads and desserts. She is socially involved in women’s issues and is a member of the activist group, Our Circle, dedicated to human rights and equal rights in the LGBT community, particularly for women.

Ms. Faust: Staff Cook

Ms. Faust– doing her thing in the kitchen

Someone has to keep all of our hardworking staff well-fueled and nourished. Ms. Faustina is often the first to get up and the last to go to sleep, making sure that the staff has three homecooked meals a day while on the island. She has a daughter in university and is a dedicated mom, working hard to pay the school tuition. She makes a killer corn tortillas, stewed chicken, and pizza.

Ms. Eleonora and Ms. Amina: Housekeeping

New to the team, Ms. Amina has experience working on mainland resorts and will make sure our guests are well taken care of with fresh linens, fresh water, clean towels, and an evening turn down. Ms. Eleanora is also new to the team and she has experience in the cruise ship industry and in hotel housekeeping. These ladies make sure all of our guests have a wonderful clean environment and that their needs are well-covered.

Ms. Mireya: Dining Room Hostess/Server

Ms. Mireya- service with a smile

This is Ms. Mireya’s first season at Blue Marlin, and she has proven to be dedicated to fulfilling our guests’ wishes by accommodating their dietary restrictions, helping them select the best wines, and folding their napkins in beautiful and artistic shapes. She is always on her toes and, if you need anything at all related to dining, she is there to assist. Mr. Mireya has years of experience working at high end resorts and has even worked for Francis Ford Coppola. Ask about her napkin folding classes.

Ms. Isabelle : Guest Services/Marketing

Ms. Isabelle- mother, guest services coordinator, blogger

Also a new member of the team, Ms. Isabelle (the author of this blog) is an experienced blogger, naturalist, and guest services manager. She has worked in resort and tour sales, marketing, and guests services for over 15 years throughout Belize. She has been working around the Belize cayes for over a decade and has been all around the waters fishing, snorkeling, and free diving in her free time with her two sons. Isabelle has also worked inland managing nature reserves, eco-resorts, and tour companies.

Feel free to ask any of our power ladies about the latest happenings and activities available on and off our island base.