Placencia is a long, narrow peninsula – almost an island – along the Caribbean coastline of Belize. However, if you are an outdoor nature enthusiast, looking for beautiful sunsets (in this case, over the Maya Mountains), 25 km (18 miles) of barrier reef off the coast, outstanding local cuisine, all in a lush, relatively raw, natural and untouched state, you may have found your paradise. And, even though it is not overflowing with hotels and tourist attractions, Placencia does now have a good amount of them, ranging from backpacker hostels to very high end resorts and most everything in between. You can choose which best suits you.
The peninsula of Placencia used to be virtually untravelled and virtually unknown, with very few amenities for travellers. Even today, it has only one paved road and maintains a small fishing village ambiance.
Another advantage of Placencia (as opposed to the islands in Belize) is that it is connected to the mainland of Belize, so you can drive to additional and varied activities this relatively small peninsula does not offer, for example, mountains and ruins.
Flying from Belize City with Tropic or Maya Island Air is easiest from the north. You can also ride a school bus into Placencia from Belize City; 4-6 hours. You can also fly from Punta Gorda, south Belize, or take a bus.
There are usually a number of cab drivers waiting at the airport to take you to your final destination in Placencia. There are no meters but the trip should cost $3 per person. For scheduled cab service, try Sam's Tax Service ☏.
Placencia is fairly small and walking is one option. You can also hire cycles, golf carts or cars.
Reach many cayes around the village by boat, charter, or tour. Great diving sites on the inner and outer reef. Amazing snorkeling adventures await you. Jungle tours and kayaking, excellent trolling and fly fishing.
- 1 Boson's Chair Internet Cafe (Laundry You do or we Do), World's narrowest Mainstreet (south end of sidewalk), ☏ . 7AM to 6PM. Great coffee, latte, mocha or Belikin or add rum to your cafe latte! Laundry service or do it yourself ... check your e-mail BZ$8 wash and dry.
Diving and snorkelling: The second largest barrier reef is just a few miles off the coast of Placencia. The local dive centers have comfortable boats and will take you to the numerous dive sites in just 30-45 minutes. Usually they offer two tank dives with a lunch break on an island in between. The lunch consists of chicken, rice, beans, soft drinks, fruits and while doing your surface interval you will enjoy the beautiful white sandy beach.
On an average dive you can see turtles, rays, moray eels, barracudas, lobsters and if you are lucky you might spot a hammerhead shark, Caribbean Reef Shark or Sail fish. If you haven’t dived before, all the dive centers offer PADI Open Water Courses as well, or you can just go snorkeling in the clear shallow reef around the islands.
Between March and June around the full moon whale sharks will pass by. These huge gentle giants, feeding just on plankton, are pretty much guaranteed to see on a spot called Gladden Spit. Make sure you arrange your spot upfront.
Sailing: Two of the largest charter fleets in Belize are established in Placencia. They offer day trips, over night or weekly charters with or without crews.
Fishing: Book either a private fishing trip or check out one of the tour operators. The guides are perfectly trained and licensed and will bring you out to the reef or nearby islands and you can do drop-, hand-line fishing or fly fishing with or without your own gear. You can catch Snapper, Grouper, Jack, Permit, Tarpon, Snook and Bonefish.
Kayaking: Explore the lagoon or kayak to the nearby islands. In the lagoon you might spot a manatee and guaranteed are sightings of a lot of birds.
Tours: In the village are tour operators who will be happy to give you all the necessary details on all available tours. Also ask in your hotel.
- A must is a trip to one of the nearby Maya Ruins - explore this amazing old culture which is still vibrant when strolling through the large areas of ruins.
- Jungle tours offer a safe and guided entrance into an amazing world of nature. See howler monkeys, crocodiles, turtles, anteaters and more. If lucky you will see footprints of a Jaguar. They are nocturnal and very shy. The Cockscomb Basin Reserve, just a 45 minutes drive from Placencia, is a perfect place to be part of Belize’s stunning flora and fauna.
Relax: The Placencia Peninsula offers the most beautiful beaches in Belize. The weather is mostly perfect with a slight breeze. Stroll along the Sidewalk (once announced as the world narrowest street) and shop for some souvenirs.
Explore also the nearby villages Seine Bight (6 miles) and Maya Beach (8 miles) by bus, golf cart or ride your bicycle. Seine Bight is a Garifuna community and a very gifted artist calls it her home. Visit Lola’s Art just passed the football field. In Maya Beach shop at Spectarte Art Gallery.
Some good dining choices abound in the local Placencia Village. For handmade Italian, Trattoria~Placencia offers a smaller but delicious menu. Da'Tatch restaurant has a larger menu offering choices from rum mango chicken to seafood. For items such as wraps, the Purple Space Monkey is the place to go with a larger bar menu as well. Most places to eat are open-aired and located right off of the main sidewalk along the beach. Down on the point of the peninsula tucked away is a place called Yoli's, which one can order a meal and have a few extra culinary surprises thrown on the plate as the chef tries to clear out the kitchen as the night gets older. More smaller restaurants area also scattered within the village to be discovered as well.
Pirates Grill, located on the sidewalk at Lost in Paradise Beach Shop, offers philly cheese steak subs and fish tacos. Fresh seafood, and baja style entrees, salsa, ceviche, nachos, cocktails, lobster, conch and salads. Vegetarian menu is 100% vegetarian beans. Breakfast burritos, steak and eggs, 5 stack pancakes, chicken and waffles. This outdoor grill bar is ideal for eating on a budget and quality entrees for the budget traveller. Delivery is available.
For more upscale (and more expensive) dining, the French Connection is a quaint restaurant off the main sidewalk that delivers a French dining experience. They use almost exclusively local ingredients in their dishes.
One the main street Wendy's is popular with the locals and is famous for their fried chicken. Amigos, on the same street, further away from the shore offers some pretty good Mexican cuisine. And at the end of the road near the Splash Dive shop is Brenda, who offers delicious BBQ chicken and a variety of soups and rice (she also does hair braiding).
Also not to miss is Tutti Frutti, which offers gelato made from the freshest of ingredients as well as other desserts like tiramisu. One scoop and you'll think you are in Italy, not Belize.
- Omar's, on the main street. Great local food.
- 1 Maya Beach Hotel Bistro, Maya Beach (8 miles North of Placencia Village), ☏ . 7AM - 9PM. Beachside casual dining, tropical comfort food. Awarded Belize Restaurant of the Year by Belize Tourism Board. $6-25.
- Secret Garden Restaurant, Placencia Village. Garden setting, varied menu of seafood, pastas, etc.
- Rumfish y Vino, Main Street, Placencia. Lively atmosphere, specialty drinks, notable menu and Italian wine selection.
- Tutti Frutti Gelateria, Main Street, Placencia. Delicious gelato prepared and served by nice Italian couple. Traditional flavors and tropical interpretations.
- Pickled Parrot. Canadian-run thatch restaurant with menu of bar food favorites; burgers, pizzas, quesadillas, wraps.
There are a number of local drinking spots along the main road (sidewalk) along the beach. Sunrise offers some lively karaoke some nights. Barefoot Beach Bar is next to the beach near the Tipsy Tuna Sports Bar.
One great local drink is the local bitters, a type of spiced rum usually taken as a shot. The local beer is Belikin and comes into two main flavors: regular which comes in bottles with green bottle caps and stout with blue caps. They also make a few other flavours like Lighthouse.
- Mangos of Maya Beach, Maya Beach (7.5 miles North of Placencia Village). Popular bar with good food, and full moon beach volleyball.
- Barefoot Bar, Main Street, Placencia Village. Strong drinks and inexpensive bar food. A local favorite. Live music on weekends.
Omar's - On the Sidewalk, cheap (BZ$30 doubles Sept 2010) basic rooms some with sea views and private bathroom. Just off the beach, friendly owners.
- 1 Michelo Suites, Main St, ☏ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 10AM. Virtually bug-free, protected villa steps away from the beach from Placencia with 4 elegant hygienic suites with porch for 2 to 4 people to rent with equipped kitchen, AC, TV, Wi-Fi internet From BZ$121.
The Placencia Peninsula is a very safe place. However use common sense. Don´t leave your hotel room or windows open when not in the room.
Daily buses to Dangriga 6:15AM, 7AM and one in the afternoon, stop the bus anywhere on the Street (BZ$10 p.p. Sept 2010).