Placencia is the name of the 17-mile long, narrow peninsula on Belize’s southern Caribbean coast, as well as the small village at the tip of the peninsula. The village itself is nothing too special, but the Placencia Peninsula is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country. Unlike the tourist islands of Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye up north, Placencia has excellent beaches that are easily accessible to anyone.
The village of Placencia has only about 500 permanent residents so it’s nothing approaching a real city. It’s little more than a collection of brightly colored houses and other small buildings that serve as the hub for the local tourist infrastructure. The “main street” is literally just a sidewalk, and it feels much more like a lazy Caribbean Island than a part of Central America. The official language in Belize is English and the accent is noticeably Jamaican.
Hotels/hostels – There are no traditional hostels currently operating on the Placencia Peninsula, largely due to the fact that small hotels and guesthouses are quite cheap already. There is a good selection of smaller hotels along the beaches, and virtually all of them are locally owned. Placencia offers a bit more luxury than Caye Caulker, but it’s not the resort-filled zone that Ambergris Caye is becoming. There is no shortage of quality budget hotels in Placencia, but reservations are recommended during the busy winter seasons.
What to do – Placencia is where people go to relax on the best beaches in Belize so most of the activities are water related:
- Scuba diving and snorkeling – Just as with the cayes in the north of Belize, diving and snorkeling are excellent in Placencia, and are a huge draw for visitors to the region. There are small companies all along the coast where you can book trips that last from half a day up to a few days, and all the equipment is either provided or available for rent. The enormous barrier reef that stretches all the way down the coast takes on some different characteristics as it goes south, so diving and snorkeling here give people a completely different view of the underwater system.
- Sailing – In addition to the great beaches in Placencia, the sailing opportunities are considered the best in the region here. There are many operators who offer everything from half-day sails to overnight journeys, as well as one-way passage to other cities in the region.
- Relaxing – The pace of life in most of Belize is slow, and Placencia takes that to its extreme. Schedules are flexible if they are followed at all. The end-of-the-earth feeling you get near the village at the tip of the peninsula can be a great excuse to just hang around, have a few beers in the sun, and maybe cruise around the village on foot for a while. There are plenty of good restaurants as well as a very popular gelato shop for when the sweet tooth hits.
Getting there – The cheapest way to get to Placencia is on one of the old American school buses, with a changeover in Dangriga. The entire journey takes 5 to 6 hours and there are only one or two connections per day. It’s inexpensive, but time consuming so most people fly from Belize International Airport to the airstrip on Placencia. Two competing airlines have almost hourly flights that cost around $80 one-way. There are also charter companies that run sail boats to Placencia from Ambergris and Belize City.