A guide to the tropical paradise of Placencia, Belize.
Looking for the perfect honeymoon destination or just feel like you deserve a bit of piece and quiet? There few better places for either of these than the tropical paradise of Placencia in the Central American gem of Belize. To date it has been the surprise delight to any backpacker to stumble upon it, yet Placencia has plenty to offer tourists of all types and expectations. Tucked away on the Caribbean coast, Placencia combines a typically relaxed Belizean atmosphere with some fantastic activities and a rich cultural history. In this article you can find some great tips on getting there, where to eat and sleep, what to do while you are there and an insight into just how Placencia has captured the imagination of all those that have considered themselves lucky enough to have visited.
A little history
Placencia has a long and varied history stretching back to the original Mayan settlers that established several sites around the Placencia lagoon for the purposes of coastal trade and farming of salt.
It was the English Puritans that were recognised as settling in Placencia during the 1700s, but these were later to die out during the American Civil war of 1820. It was the travelling Spanish population that gave Placencia its name during their time on the south coast of Belize.
It was the late 1800s that saw travellers coming to the area and marrying into the community of Placencia creating a diversity that continues till this day. Take a walk down the beach or sit in a restaurant and hear the broad spectrum of accents and languages that help make Placencia and Belize such an exciting place to visit.
Arriving at Placencia airport
Getting to Placencia
Travelling to Placencia can be an adventure in itself depending on the level of luxury you desire. For those that want to relax, get to Placencia quickly, want an incredible view of the Belize coastline or just don't fancy the bus then flying is the only option. Flights leave regularly from Belize City heading to Placencia and cost approximately $180 return. Without doubt the view of the coastline during this 30 minute flight will be one of the highlights of your holiday.
For those on a budget or possessing a more adventurous spirit the bus to Placencia offers a very different experience. Most of the buses in Belize are old school buses and timetables offer only the mildest guide as to departure times. Changing in Dangriga you can make this journey for approximately $10. The last 30 miles is on unpaved roads so be warned....Needless to say any aches and pains will soon fade as the beach and blue seas of Placencia come into view!
beach side cabanas in Placencia, Belize
Where to sleep?
Placencia has a range of accommodation suited to all budgets, From $20 a night cabanas to $200+ air conditioned rooms with a sea view. Personally I don't think you can beat a beach side cabana with veranda and hammock. Whether its to escape the midday sun or to relax under the stars with an after dinner cuba libre, there are few better ways to relax in Placencia than swinging in a hammock. Find a cabana near the beach and maybe, just maybe you'll be able to have breakfast whilst watching the dolphins.
Dine at Purple Space Monkeys in Placencia Belize
Where and what to eat in Placencia?
Belize is famous for its typically caribbean and latin american influenced food. Needless to say in Placencia you are never far from a plate of beans n' rice or burritos. Typically a day in Placencia could start with a pile of hot fry jacks in Wendys restaurant. A fluffy breakfast sprinkled with sugar or stuffed with ham and cheese. After a morning on the beach why not escape from the midday sun and have lunch at De Tatch? A classic Belizean dish of re fried beans and meat all served up at your beach front table. For an afternoon snack its hard to beat Daisy's Ice Cream Parlour, for some home made ice cream in unusual flavours or perhaps be brave and try the speciality; seaweed milkshake!
An evening meal in Placencia demands something a little different and few restaurants can offer a better atmosphere than the quirky named "Purple Space Monkeys". As a village that has built much of its economy on fishing, it is only apt that whilst in Placencia you try some of the local seafood. Purple Space Monkeys have some magnificent seafood entrees, all washed down with some truly tropical drinks.
The Largest Fish in the World
Things to do in Placencia
Hopefully by now you'll be beginning to understand that one of the most common reasons to visit Placencia is to just relax and go with the Belizean flow. Yet for those that find it hard to sit still there is still plenty in Placencia to keep you entertained for a few days.
If your timing is right, its very possible to swim with the largest fish in the world...the whale shark. From April to June these majestic creatures can be found outside of the reef as they come looking for the spawning snapper. The boat trip can be long and the time allowed with the sharks only brief, but most operators in Placencia will combine the trip with a visit to other snorkel sites or one of the remote small cayes.
Off the coast of Belize lies the second longest reef in the world and this provides excellent dive and snorkel opportunities with companies operating out of Placencia. If you are interested in the world class dive sites of Belize, have a read about the Great Blue Hole of Belize.
There are other water activities available in Placencia with sailing trips to the reef, fishing excursions and even kayaks for hire straight off the beach. If its a change of scenery for a day that you'd prefer, there are several other excursions from Placencia. The Cockscombe Jaguar Reserve and Monkey river both offer great opportunities to get up close to Belize's jungle interior and its inhabitants.
The final word on Placencia
Placencia is a charming village and its hard to find fault in its idyllic setting, gorgeous beaches, tasty food and friendly, diverse population, it personifies Belize perfectly. Whether you come to swim with the whale sharks, dive on the reef or just relax in a hammock with a Belikin beer, you wont be disappointed with Placencia. If you would like some more information on the area and Belize as a whole try reading this article on Belize and its exciting history and culture. In fact so beautiful is Belize that one of its islands made it into our list of the worlds top five tropical islands.