Quick Overview of Placencia Belize
Described by locals are “barefoot perfect”, Placencia is a small 16-mile long narrow peninsula in southeastern Belize with gorgeous beaches on the Caribbean side and a lovely mangrove-lined lagoons on the western side. Located just a few miles from the Belize Barrier Reef, Placencia is one of the country’s premiere spots for diving, fishing, cruising, and snorkeling vacations. Nearby on the mainland are several Garifuna villages, Maya ruins, and one of the country’s largest nature preserves complete with indigenous jaguars.
Why You Have to Visit Placencia Belize on Your Vacation
Belize is a beautiful country of sea and sand but the lovely peninsula of Placencia is truly something special. The perfect place to relax on the beach or head out for deeper waters for diving, kayaking, snorkeling, fishing and sailing, the peninsula seems designed by nature for the ideal tropical vacation. At the southern tip of the peninsula is the village of Placencia, a small town without a main street (a long narrow sidewalk recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for the smallest main street in the world) but plenty of idyllic bars, cafes and restaurants. The town also has several dive center outfits and charters for activities on the Belize Barrier Reef.
Where in Belize Is it Located?
Placencia is located on the Caribbean coast in southeastern Belize in Stann Creek District. Placencia is approximately a 30-minute drive south of the city of Dangriga.
When Is the Best Time to visit Placencia Belize
With fantastic weather all-year round and gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, just about any time is a good time to visit Placencia, keeping in mind that the rainy season runs from approximately May to November. Every year in February, the village hosts a Sidewalk Arts and Music Festival with plenty of entertainment options for the whole family. Every year in June, Placencia holds a Lobsterfest to celebrate the opening of lobster season.
Best way to Get to Placencia Belize
From Belize City, Placencia is about a 3 and a half hour drive south with well-marked signs along the Southern Highway.
Domestic air carriers Maya Island Air and Tropic Air have flights connecting Placencia Village and Belize City.
Best way to Experience Placencia Belize
Locals and frequent visitors alike will tell you to strip off your shoes, leave your phone behind, and enjoy Placencia the way locals do, relaxing along the golden sands, sipping on a fresh tropical cocktail or heading out to sea for some of the best diving and snorkeling anywhere in the country.
A Short History of Placencia, Belize
Social scientists seeking examples of cultural diversity could find no better example than the history surrounding Belize’s Placencia peninsula.
Placencia’s Maya civilization was a thriving cultural mecca around 2000 BC. Rather than roaming like nomads these brilliant people built magnificent cities, practiced advanced mathematics and astronomy and adhered to fascinating religious practices.
Reasons behind their mysterious disappearance continue to be debated, but 14 ruins located on the Placencia peninsula are reminders of their rich, cultural legacy.
Over time, waves of migrants landed along the Placencia coastline. Some were the result of foreign invasions while others resulted from synchronistic circumstances that included shipwrecks and wars triggering mass migrations.
Even English Puritans managed to find their way to this area of Belize from their Nova Scotia, Canada settlements during the 17th Century. What did all of these people have in common? The biological need to be safe and put down roots.
It’s easy to see why this small finger of land, named Pleasant Point by Spaniards, was found to be desirable to people who came to the Caribbean rim from around the world. The weather was ideal. Resources were plentiful. Placencia offered prime real estate to Scottish migrants who found it an idyllic place to settle and raise families.
Among those helping to shape Placencia’s destiny early in the 19th century were Scottish settlers like the Garbutts, Abner Westby and John Eiley. Portugal’s Cabral family and Leslie family members also settled the area, establishing the region’s earliest examples of diversity.
Intermarriage and absorption continued to play a role in the peninsula’s history. Europeans were joined by Mestizo (Spanish/Maya), Creole and Garifuna cultures, each society lending its unique heritage to the area as the melting pot grew larger.
Placencia’s coastline proved a formidable influence on all of these settlers. Fisherman thrived by mining both the lagoon and the Caribbean for all manner of seafood. The formation of a produce cooperative not only helped solidify the bond these fisherman shared, but the co-op was instrumental in bringing electricity to the peninsula.
Given its unique location between the lagoon and ocean, was Placencia destined to become a tourism hub? In all likelihood, the answer is yes. Today, Placencia is described as a classic example of the way development, economics and environmental concern are helping to shape this finger of land–and the future looks even brighter thanks to a growth in tourism and the increase in ex-pats who are finding in Placencia the perfect retirement lifestyle.
Veteran travelers have been known to joke about vacations they’ve taken that sent them to a different area of one or more countries daily. “If it’s Tuesday, it must be Orange Walk!” we overheard a woman say as she tried to match the day with her itinerary. Of course, seeing lots of places when going abroad is fun, but nothing surpasses an immersion, which is why we recommend targeting one area of Belize: Placencia.
Arrange to spend your holiday on the Placencia peninsula and you won’t regret your decision. The sheer number of things to do and see in this destination are diverse enough to suit even fussy travelers. Besides, Placencia has a sampling of everything there is to see and do in Belize, minus the stress that comes from having to pick up and move every few days!
Placencia by the sea
Chances are, you chose Belize because you can’t get enough ocean time and by selecting Placencia as your hub, you’ll literally be surrounded by water thanks to the district’s finger-shaped landmass. There are 16 miles of what travel writers call the best beaches in the country, so you can arrange with your lodgings host to sail catamarans, boats and kayaks among the string of islands that runs the length of Belize’s shoreline.
Need a fishing fix? What’s your preference? Go deep water fishing and land a specimen that puts Hemingway’s nautical conquests to shame or opt for little wildlife atoll havens set into the ocean like jewels. Head for a remote destination like Laughing Bird Caye to see marine wildlife, birds and marine mammals. If you can arrange to visit in May and June, the whale watching is spectacular!
Placencia by land
You already know that the Caribbean provides the ideal backdrop for sunny days and enchanting nights, but if your tour excursion preferences tend to revolve around land-based sites, you’re in luck. Placencia is home to fascinating Mayan ruins. Book a trip to Nim Li Punit, a small historic site filled with ancient structures. Known internationally for its huge numbers of stelae—Belize’s answer to Stonehenge!—you’ll see pyramids, tombs and plazas, but the tallest stelae in Belize at Nim Li Punit is bound to impress both you and your camera most.
Visit a larger Mayan settlement near Placencia by touring Lubaantun, the Place of Fallen Rocks. Architecturally distinct from other Maya compounds because the buildings here have rounded silhouettes, Lubaantun is the perfect complement to Nim Li Punit because they’re a study in contrast. There’s not a single stelae at this site, despite the fact that the area happens to be southern Belize’s largest Mayan compound. You won’t be disappointed despite a lack of staele because the temples, pyramids, tombs, ball courts and a museum full of ceramic vessels and artifacts are fascinating in their own right.
Placencia’s wild side!
Frequent visitors know that they don’t have to leave “town” to have a super time of it. The center of Placencia is a little bit yesterday and a dash of today, so the Caribbean vibe pervades shops, restaurants and bars. If you’re the sort who is content doing nothing more than hanging out, spend your time sampling delicious seafood dishes and exotic cookery reflecting Belize’s cultural diversity or make lots of friends on a pub crawl that introduces you to more friendly faces than you’ve encountered anywhere else on earth. Drinking beers as the sun sets—or just lounging on the beach with a cocktail in hand—has been known to relax even the most frazzled tourist.
Of course, if you must get out and about, follow the lead of vacationers who wouldn’t think of headquartering anywhere but Placencia because the water sports are plentiful in this area. Dive the Belize Barrier Reef, snorkel offshore or combine the two by booking a fun excursion that pairs a beach barbecue with water time that won’t cost a fortune.
When you’ve had your fill of wet suits and waves, visit the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, 150 miles of tropical forest that serves as a refuge for Belize’s endangered jaguar population. Hike around and see how many of the 200+ species of birds you spot flying overhead or perched in trees. For the ultimate pleasure, book a guesthouse here so you have 24/7 access to this wonderland–and don’t leave without seeing the Placencia Lagoon where manatees, crocodiles and exotic birds coexist nicely amid mangrove forests.
Who says a traveler can’t find everything they desire in just one place? Not us. And not the tourists who visit so frequently, they know the names of staff members at their favorite resorts! Treat yourself to the best Belize has to offer in just one idyllic place: Placencia.
Ten Things to do in Placencia Belize:
Kayak the Caribbean Sea in Placencia
The clear Caribbean waters that front the Placencia Peninsula are perfect for a kayaking adventure. Because there is not too much tide action and the waters are not confined, it is easy to kayak through them. If you are a kayaking enthusiast, make sure to check out Laughing Bird Caye, a beautiful island that is not far away from Placencia Village and is considered an amazing kayaking destination.
Kayak the Lagoon in Placencia
You will encounter an abundant of wildlife like manatees, dolphins, rays, birds and fish when you kayak the Placencia lagoon. Because the water in the lagoon is passive, you can go at your leisure and enjoy the pristine natural surroundings at your own pace.
Go snorkeling in Placencia
Just 20 miles away from Placencia Village, Silk Cayes is perhaps one of the most beautiful islands in southern Belize. The vividly clear turquoise waters that surround the cayes make it one of the most popular snorkeling destinations in Belize. Enjoy spotting trumpet fish, barracuda, angelfish, damselfish, rays, nurse sharks, and sea turtles on your snorkeling adventure.
Go Scuba Diving in Placencia
If you love scuba diving, you will love Placencia thanks to the miles of underwater canyons and topographic formations that have created an extensive range of cayes that are perfect for diving.
If you visit Placencia during the months of March, April, May and June, you can’t afford to miss scuba diving with whale sharks at the Gladden Spit Marine Reserve.
Located 30 miles east of Placencia, Gladden Spit Marine Reserve is used by over 20 species of Caribbean fish to release their eggs during the months of March, April, May and June and it is the eggs of the Black and Cubera snappers that the whale sharks show up on cue to feed on.
Go Sailing in Placencia
You can explore the majestic Belize Barrier Reef in southern Belize by going on a sailing adventure. Check out Laughing Bird Cayes, Silk Cayes, and Long Coco Cayes, three amazing destinations that can be explored on a day trip by boat. If you are interested in staying overnight at any of these cayes, make sure to check with your hotel concierge.
Go Fishing in Placencia
Once a fishing village, Placencia has become a booming fishing destination in Belize. Tourists come for the thrill of hooking the elusive permit, tarpon, snook and bonefish. Fly-fishing, drop fishing, and trolling can all be done in Placencia. You also have the option of either fishing in the Placencia lagoons or in the open Caribbean Sea.
Go Bird Watching and Animal Spotting near Placencia
Monkey River Village is not far away from Placencia Village and is a destination where you can gain access to the many sites and wonders found in southern Belize. Nature Trails, Manatee watching, Bird watching are just a few of the tours available to do in the area. However, the major attraction is the Howler Monkey and the River, hence the name Monkey River.
Go River Tubing near Placencia
The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is not far away from Placencia Village and is a great destination to experience Belize’s exotic flora and fauna, track down the elusive jaguar and go inner tubing in the meandering river. Sit on your inner tube and drink in the spectacular beauty of the area while you lazily float downstream.
Go Hiking in Placencia
Some of the best jungle trails in Belize can be found at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Snactuary. Spot iguanas, lizards, exotic birds, wild deers and even footprints of the elusive jaguar on your hiking expedition. Make sure to ask your hotel concierge for information on the best hiking trails at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.
Enjoy Garifuna Culture in Placencia
Make sure that you allocate some time to experience the Garifuna culture in Placencia. Whether it is through food, music, and art the Garifuna culture is prevalent in the Placencia Peninsula and you can’t afford to experience it. Check with your hotel concierge for more information on how you can experience Garifuna culture.
Best Restaurants in Placencia Belize
Placencia isn’t known just for its gorgeous beaches, but it has some of the best restaurants in Belize. Placencia Village is a small village on Placencia peninsula and has become a popular vacation spot, not only because of its 12 miles of golden beaches but its exciting festivals and nightlife.
You’ll find a wide variety of excellent restaurants from upscale eateries to shacks right on the beach.
The Quarter Deck Restaurant
Located at Laru Beya Resort, this open-air restaurant and bar serves delicious food right on the beach. It’s the perfect spot for family gatherings or a romantic evening.
Rum Fish Y Vino
It’s one of Placencia’s most popular restaurants for locals and tourists because of its inventive international cuisine with a twist of local Belizean dishes. It’s also known for having the best wine list as all their wine is imported.
Yoli’s Bar and Grill
It’s located off the beaten path and is an open walled bar and grill. It’s a well-liked spot for locals who come for the friendly service and Belikin, a local beer. There’s also live music for entertainment and tourists appreciate the scenic view with its large deck.
Maya Beach Hotel Bistro
This award-winning restaurant is located in a beachfront inn. Recognized for their superb service and authentic dishes, you’ll be coming back again and again for the ambience and quality cuisine.
The Secret Garden Restaurant
Located in the village in a shaded oasis, this restaurant offers freshly grown menu items from their own garden. Their fresh pesto served with sandwiches makes a perfect stop for lunch. It’s also open for dinner and has a wonderful atmosphere.
Above Grounds Coffee
Located on the second floor above a clothing store, you’ll find specialty coffees or freshly brewed black coffee in this unique coffee shop. You’ll be able to smell the aroma from the street. It’s definitely worthy of a visit if you like coffee.
It’s a great restaurant for hanging as they offer a wide variety of drinks and really good food. With daily drink specials and a fun atmosphere, it’s a place to relax and enjoy the care-free spirit of Belize.
The Placencia Peninsula Communities
Get to Know Placencia Village Like A Local
If you’re looking for a fun place to go, this is it. Not only do they offer live music, trendy drinks, and a friendly staff, you can enjoy horse shoe tournaments on the beach.
Who would have thought this rather small area of Placencia could offer such a wide variety of restaurants? Come on down and experience some of the best cuisine you’ll find in all of Belize.
The Placencia Peninsula in southeastern Belize is a popular visitor destination thanks to its gorgeous beaches and close proximity to some of the best snorkeling and diving sites on the Belize Barrier Reef. Placencia Village is the unofficial capital of the peninsula and is located at its southernmost tip.
Depending on who is counting, there are only about 2,000 full-time inhabitants of Placencia Village, many of which are engaged in traditional occupations like fishing. Increasingly, however, Placencia Village is becoming the shopping center of the peninsula, home to lovely boutique cafes, bars, restaurants, banks, and nightlife establishments.
Placencia Village is less than half a mile wide, but it is the proud holder of an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the smallest “main street” of any city on the planet. The main thoroughfare in Placencia Village is actually a pedestrian-only sidewalk that measures just four feet (120 cm) wide. This “main street” is where most of the shops, restaurants, and bars are, and it is lined with colorful murals drawn by local artists.
Placencia Village is also the home of an annual two-day cultural fair known as the Sidewalk Arts Festival. Every winter, Placencia Village converts its “main street” into a lively arts and crafts gallery with booths and stands selling art, handicrafts, homemade furniture, handmade clothing, games, food, and drinks. The Sidewalk Arts Festival also features live music concerts performed by some of the top musicians in Placencia and across the country. The Sidewalk Arts Festival is usually held in February, but the exact date varies. Proceeds from the Sidewalk Arts Festival go towards improving the local community.
In June, Placencia Village is home to a raucous, three-day celebration to herald the opening of the lobster fishing season. Originally mostly a local affair, today, Lobsterfest (as the celebration is known) attracts visitors from all across Belize and around the world. Chefs compete to produce tasty and innovative dishes made from lobster, and there are games and other events for the whole family to enjoy. Lobsterfest also includes live music and a very popular beach party that can go on all night until dawn.
Seine Bight in Placencia
Seine Bight is a small village located about halfway up the Placencia Peninsula in southeastern Belize. Seine Bight is home to approximately 1,000 people, primarily belonging to the Garifuna culture, who principally subsist on fishing, hunting, and small-scale farming, predominantly mangoes, coconuts, breadfruit, and bananas.
The name of the village comes from a combination of two terms – a “bight” or a curve in the coastline and “seine fishing,” a traditional way to catch fish with a large net. With fishing being so important to the local economy and seine nets so frequently used, the nickname for the area “The bight where people use seine nets to fish” was shortened to Seine Bight, now its official name.
The area where the village is located is extremely narrow, just a quarter mile wide with a lagoon on the inland side and a beach on the Caribbean side. Thousands of years ago, the ancient Maya used the lagoon to produce vast quantities of salt which were then packed onto canoes and traded further inland. It is believed that English pirates briefly used the area as a base of operations to prey on Spanish shipping during the early part of the 17th century. During the 19th century, a few English Protestants settled in the area, but the village only came into its modern form when the Garifuna people arrived in Belize.
Seine Bight is located 3 miles south of Maya Beach, 45 miles south of Dangriga, 109 miles south of Belize City, and 5 miles north of Placencia Village. Seine Bight is quite narrow from east to west but stretches four miles along the Placencia Peninsula. The village has one Catholic church and two Dugu temples, the ancestral religion of the Garifuna people.
Despite its relatively small size and population, Seine Bight is increasingly becoming a popular tourist attraction, and several hotels and restaurants have been built in this area. Some tourists partake in fishing in the rich waters near Seine Bight, but the biggest draw is the Garifuna culture. Many visitors visit the village to attend exhibitions of traditional Garifuna music, partake in workshops that teach Garifuna drumming and dancing, or to learn how to make traditional Garifuna foods.
Other popular visitor activities in Seine Bight include buying handicrafts and woven goods such as straw hats, baskets, and dolls dressed in traditional Garifuna clothing. Garifuna artisans are also renowned for their intricate carvings of indigenous animals and painted seashells and coconuts.
Maya Beach in Placencia
If you want to get away from it all, there’s no better place to find yourself than Maya Beach in Southern Belize. This quaint, quiet destination is located on the Placencia Peninsula in the Stann Creek District. The Placencia Peninsula is a lovely stretch of land that includes Maya Beach, Placencia Village, and Seine Bight.
Maya Beach draws beachgoers who aren’t looking for a party scene and prefer a more secluded getaway. It is a great place to sit in the sunshine, kick your shoes off, and swing the day away in a beachfront hammock while you admire the view of the nearby Maya Mountains.
Although this community is small, you will still find great places to eat and drink. You can stay at one of the beachfront hotels and get a true feel for Belizean life in one of the authentic beach cabanas overlooking the turquoise Caribbean Sea. Many people who come to Maya Beach enjoy taking a canoe or kayak trip around the peninsula. The water is quite calm here, and it’s perfect for taking a dip. The nearby cayes are also great for snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing.
Maya Beach has stores where you can stock up on supplies. It also has excellent beach bars where you can cool off with a rum-based tropical cocktail or a cold Belikin beer. If you get hungry, Maya Beach specializes in outstanding seafood. Make sure to check out Mangos, an amazing beach bar that’s a favorite hangout of locals, expats, and tourists. Visit Maya Beach Hotel Bistro, which was voted the top restaurant in the area by the Belize Tourism Board.
If you’re in the mood for outdoor adventure, Maya Beach is close to Laughing Bird Caye National Park. This gorgeous habitat is named for the laughing gull, one of the many species that have found a safe haven here. Spend the day diving the waters and viewing birds and other species of all kinds. You’re also not far from the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, an impressive sanctuary operated by the Belize Audubon Society.
Maya Beach is a warm, welcoming spot where you can slow down and enjoy life. If you’re coming to Belize, make sure you put this charming seaside spot on your itinerary.
When to Visit Placencia Belize
Top Belize Resorts & Hotels in Placencia Belize
From pirate’s hideaway to a sleepy fishing village, this contemporary, laid-back beach community on the western side of the 20-mile-long Placencia Peninsula is home to a bevy of luxe resorts, each of which can make your vacation the one you’ve dreamed about.
Chabil Mar (http://chabilmarvillas.com/). This luxe resort name translates as Beautiful Sea and you’ll learn why when you spot 400-feet of beachfront, 19 uniquely designed villas with private verandas and award-winning onsite dining.
Casa Sunsandsea (www.casasunsandsea.com) – At Casa Sunsandsea, our motto is “relax, enjoy, restore” but we often like to throw some adventure in the mix too! Opened in 2016, this luxurious vacation rental home is equipped with everything you need for an unforgettable Belizean vacation. Let us customize your stay with local tours, help you celebrate a special occasion under the palapa, or set out everything you’ll need for a day of fun in the pool and on the beach. And don’t forget to snap a picture with Hugh – our life-sized, hand-carved manatee – out on our beautiful 180 feet of gorgeous sandy beach!
Laru Beya (www.larubeya.com). If the urge to see everything or do nothing while on your exotic getaway is your style of vacationing, create your own itinerary at this award-winning, all-inclusive hideaway.
Turtle Inn (http://www.coppolaresorts.com/turtleinn). When Francis Ford Coppola acquired this gorgeous enclave of 25 thatched cottages, he elevated interiors to such a level, they can only be described as breathtaking.
Roberts Grove (http://www.robertsgrove.com/). This secluded, Hacienda-style resort is situated on 22-acres of beach front. The concierge will book tours, but superior amenities may be all you need to achieve total bliss.
Belize Ocean Club
Belizean Ocean Club (http://www.belizeoceanclub.com/). No membership dues required at this elegant resort, where spacious two-bedroom suites with ocean or sunset views and romantic balconies will win your heart.