Placencia – Belize’s Affordable Tranquil Caribbean Paradise
One of the best and most affordable Caribbean vacation spots is a lovely little Belizean seacoast village just a few hours from the USA.
Placencia, Belize, is one of the most laid back, pretty and interesting places in the Caribbean. This friendly little village situated on the tip of a long sandy peninsula in southeastern Belize is an affordable, uncrowded little gem of a tropical paradise.
With sixteen miles of sandy beaches, the impossibly blue Caribbean on one side, a mangrove-fringed lagoon teeming with life on the other, Placencia is indeed very special. And just offshore are myriad cayes or small islands, dotting Belize’s Barrier Reef, the second largest reef in the world. Uncrowded diving, snorkelling, fishing, kayaking and island exploration trips are less than an hour away, and you’ll also get to meet some of the friendliest people on the planet.
As Caribbean holiday destinations go, Placencia is still relatively untouched and retains an air of a place where people live, rather than a place where people visit. Everyone seems to know each other, and the main thoroughfare, a 4,071 foot long by 4 foot wide footpath recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the narrowest main street in the world, is usually alive with conversation and laughter.
Scattered along Placencia’s sidewalk and fronting Belize’s Caribbean Sea is an assortment of affordable, comfortable, casual bars and restaurants that tick over slowly during the day and come alive when the sun goes down. Attire is emphatically informal, with the “no shirt, no shoes no worries” rule firmly in place throughout Placencia village.
If you’re looking for a more serene Placencia experience, the resorts scattered along the peninsula are quieter and often have their own beach front amenities.
When you’ve had enough relaxation, there’s plenty to do along the Placencia Peninsula and in the sea. Placencia is universally regarded as having the best beaches on the Belizean mainland, and they’re perfect for swimming, snorkelling, or just reading and sunbathing. And the nearby Belize Coral Reef system, the second largest in the world and dotted with some 200 cayes, constantly beckons.
Reef excursions and dive trips are all easily booked from town, with certified, affordable PADI and NAUI scuba instruction available year round. The dive shops have come a long way over the years and can cater to the most demanding diver. The Blue Hole, featured in the famous Cousteau/Calypso documentary, is easy to get to, and Placencia is definitely the best place to see huge whale sharks, the largest fish in the world. Caribbean turtles, manatees, dolphins, giant rays, conchs and lobsters are all native to the Belizean seacoast and commonly seen even while snorkelling.
For those more comfortable above the water, trips to Laughing Bird, French Louie, Silk and other Cayes are popular, with kayaking and all the other water sports one expects from a Caribbean island vacation. There are catamarans and sailboats with or without crews to hire, incredible sports fishing with knowledgeable guides, and relaxed, informal water tours of the Belizean reef system.
But many people find that Placencia Village itself offers enough entertainment and relaxation to fill their days. Spend an hour at village watering holes or up the coast at Kitty’s Resort, Maya Beach or Robert’s Grove and you’ll quickly learn what’s going on and when. Bicycle around or walk the seven miles of uninterrupted palm lined coastline to the Village of Seine Bight, where you can experience first-hand the unique Garifuna food and culture. Birding in Belize is excellent, and the Placencia Peninsula is no exception.
As an affordable Caribbean holiday goes, it would be tough to beat Belize’s laid back and lovely Placencia Village.
Ten Things to do in Placencia, Belize:
- Relax. This is essential for a proper Belize vacation, especially if you’re coming from the hubbub up North. You’ll think everyone is moving endearingly slow, they’ll think you’re humorously sped up. Trust me, the local speed limit will feel very natural in a day or two. Because it is.
- Take a walk down Placencia Village’s main street. The best way to acclimatise to all things Placencia is to stroll down the main thoroughfare, a 4,071 foot long by 4 foot wide footpath listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the narrowest main street in the world. Amble along and visit the little shops, enjoy an ice cream or cold beer with you feet in the sand, relax and take in the ambience as you begin to relax and get in the groove.
- Hit the water. This is the Caribbean Sea at its finest, and a short walk to swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, beachcombing, bicycling and birding heaven. Scuba diving, snorkelling, fly fishing, deep sea and sports fishing, and sailing – both charter and crewed – can all be arranged within this beautiful Belize seacoast village.
- Eat. All this strolling and swimming will make you hungry. Fortunately, Placencia’s restaurants, bars and clubs offer a great range of Caribbean seafood dishes, as well as the usual European and American fare.
- Go diving! The scuba diving is fantastic, with PADI and NAUI spoken here. Snorkelling is at its finest along the coast or on the Belize barrier reef and nearby cayes. The clear warm tropical waters host dolphins, manatees, turtles, huge rays, lobster, conchs, countless dazzling tropical fish in forests of coral and more types of seashells than I knew existed. This is one of the few places on the planet to see the giant whale shark, the world largest fish, in its natural habitat.
- Explore the cayes. There are easy trips to Laughing Bird, Silk, French Louie, and other beautiful little islands from Placencia, and the boat ride out is a treat in itself. Swim in beautiful protected waters, catch lunch or dinner, or just enjoy the sand between your toes. This is a truly affordable Caribbean vacation experience.
- Explore the town and coast. I could easily spend days just enjoying Placencia village and the typical Caribbean resorts found walking along the seven miles of uninterrupted palm fringed coastline along narrow Placencia Peninsula. Kitty’s Resort, Green Parrot, Maya Beach, Robert’s Grove and other spots welcome barefoot walk-in guests at their lovely restaurants and bars, and are great places to meet locals and discover even more things to do. Seine Bight is a Garifuna village where you can experience first-hand the unique food, language and music of this distinctive Belizean culture.
- Check out local natural attractions. From Placencia you can easily visit a number of Nature Attractions, explore Monkey River, travel inland to the Cockscomb Basin and Belize’s Jaguar Preserve – the only one in the world- or visit Maya Archaeological sites including Nim Li Punit, and Lubaantun, as well as traditional Maya villages.
- Enjoy the night life. Sure, you’ll be tired at the end of such full days, but the music, laughter and lilt of Creole English bubbling out of Placencia’s clubs, bars and restaurants beckon after the sun goes down. Delicious seafood is always on offer, and the most jaded palate will love Creole dishes of rice and beans, stew chicken, tamales, lobster, conch and incredibly fresh fish. Ice cold Beliken beer, the national beverage of Belize, is always at hand and the bar selections have definitely become more sophisticated over the years. No shoes, no shirt, no worries is the order of the day (and night), and the casual, hugely friendly atmosphere almost demands that you lively up yourself and do a bit of dancing. This is a true Caribbean beach experience sans the high priced resort feel.
- Do nothing at all. Get in touch with yourself, your loved ones and nature by just basking on white sandy beaches, hanging in a hammock, reading a book or writing a letter about how wonderful life is right now. OK, you may get up to saunter across the sand for a swim or something cold, but don’t stress – no one else will...
And don’t worry if you exhaust this list before exhausting yourself – I’ve barely scratched the surface of Placencia Attractions.
Explore Placencia Belize, by choosing one of the following vacation packages:
Jungle & Sea Belize Vacation or Swim Suits & Hiking Boots Belize Vacation