It was the summer of 1991 when the first festival took place. It was organized by the then San Pedro chapter of the Belize Chamber of Commerce, which was headed by Mr. John Edwards. The festival has gone through a lot of changes since its inception and it has grown to be Belize's biggest and most anticipated event of the year. One of the most significant changes has been the name from the Sea & Air Festival to the San Pedro International Costa Maya Festival. Another significant change has been from the beach queen competition to an international pageant called 'La Reina de la Costa Maya Internacional' with participation of beauty ambassadors from Central and North America.
In 1994 the Festival Committee for the first time introduced to the festival the participation of international artists with 'Los Ilegales' from the Dominican Republic. Ever since, San Pedro has seen numerous international artists like Kumbia Kings, Pablo Montero, and Ricardo Montaner. The festival continues to promote the culture of the Mundo Maya countries with their folklore dances, music, and food. It was a four day event which started on the first Thursday of August with the selection of Miss Costa Maya International followed with the grand opening on Friday, which is attended by government officials, ambassadors, and other dignitaries. Saturday is known as Noche Internacional and it is the biggest evening of the festival when the international star takes center stage. On Sunday the final day of the festival more cultural shows, comedians and music close the event. It is here at the festival that one can see Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Belize come together to showcase the best their country has to offer.
The week of the festival is the most colourful and busiest week on the island. People from all over the country come to the island to be part of this one of a kind event. Hotels, restaurant, cart rentals, airlines, and water taxis are all busy and need to be booked in advance. It is a week when the air is filled with Punta, reggaeton, reggae, ballads, and salsa mixed with some marimba, steel pan, and mariachi music.
The San Pedro International Costa Maya Festival is indeed a grand event that is enjoyed by all those that participate. If you have not been to one maybe it is time to join your friends in San Pedro, Belize for a week of entertainment.
The people who organized the festival for the last twenty-six years were Gach Guerrero, Einer Gomez, Milo Paz, Marisa Salazar, Wil Alamilla, Ilna Nunez, Ada Graniel, Dorian Nunez, Marlena Gomez, Santiago Vasquez, Marivel Gomez, David Marin, Wally Nunez, Jan Brown, Mary Rodriquez, Greg Vernon and Karen Vernon.
Mr. Fernando Trejo, Mrs. Melanie Paz, Eiden Salazar and Mr. Pedro Vasquez volunteered their service for many years since the festival started. Special mention must be given to Bruce and Victoria Collins of the USA for their unselfish guidance and advice to make the festival a success.
Presently, the festival counts with a new committee that took over late in 2018.
THE PRESENT COMMITTEE
Eiden Salazar - Chairman of the Festival
Ricardo Verde - Vice Chairman of the Festival
André Shamir Guerrero - Director of the Miss Costa Maya Pageant/ Member of the Festival committee
Andres Nuñez - Co-Director of the Miss Costa Maya Pageant/ Member of the Festival committee
Horacio Louis Guerrero - Festival Committee Member
Daniela Guerrero - Festival Committee Member
Debbie Spain Festival Committee Member
Yvette Ramirez - Festival Committee Member
Edwardo Vasquez - Festival Committee Member
Gach Guerrero - Advisor
Flora Anconca - Advisor
Patricia Tillett - Advisor
Marion Mejia - Advisor