Guide to Placencia, Belize – Where to Eat, Sleep & Play

Placencia Belize: One of the most popular destinations in Belize, Placencia is a charming, low-key fishing village located at the southern tip of the Placencia Peninsula in southeastern Belize. Bordered on one side by a lovely mangrove-lined lagoon and on the other by the Caribbean Sea, Placencia is renowned for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.

The Placencia Peninsula measures approximately 19 miles from north to south but is just half a mile wide. With the look and feel of an island, it’s no surprise that Placencia is often described as the “caye (island) you can drive to.” But despite its popularity as a tourist destination, the main activities in Placencia are strolling the beach or motoring around on an electric golf cart.

Placencia Travel

The southeastern coast of Belize is famous for its natural beauty. Although luxury resorts and condominium developments have sprung up, Placencia has successfully managed to retain its old-world charm. Locals still head out to sea every morning in small boats to bring in the daily catch, and visitors can meander along the village’s 4,000-foot long “main street” that is a pedestrian-only sidewalk adorned with colorful murals and artwork.

Placencia Belize Real Estate

Placencia is just one of three villages located on the peninsula but has lovely shops, charming cafes, seafood restaurants, a small medical clinic, and an airfield.

Whether you coming for a family vacation, a destination wedding, or a romantic honeymoon, Placencia is one of the most beautiful spots in the country. It also serves as the gateway to the southern reef, a mecca for maritime activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and sailing.

And on the mainland, nearby attractions include hiking through the vast Cockscomb Basin Nature Reserve (home to some of Central America’s last surviving jaguars), learning about native wildlife and plants on a boat trip up the aptly named Monkey River, and touring ancient Maya ruins such as Nim Li Punit and Lubantuum.

Lonely Planet, the largest travel guide book publisher in the world describes Placencia as follows:

How you wind up feeling about Placencia really depends on what you’re looking for. If it’s laid-back ambiance, varied accommodations and some of the best restaurants in Southern Belize,  this beachfront paradise may well prove to be your personal Margaritaville. If it’s an off-the-beaten-path adventure and cheaper living you’re after.

Chabil Mar in Placencia Belize
  1. Placencia Village sits at the very tip of the narrow 16 miles Placencia Peninsula in Southern Belize.
  2. Chabil Mar is located in Placencia Village. While other resorts along the Peninsula regularly advertise their location as Placencia Village, they are on the Placencia Peninsula as much as 12 miles north of the Village, in the communities of Seine Bight and Maya Beach, for instance.
  3. To a lot of people, the Placencia Peninsula feels like an Island but it is not. Less than 2000 people live in Placencia Village.
  4. The Placencia Peninsula is also home to two other communities: Seine Bight and Maya Beach.
  5. The name “Placencia” is actually a distortion of Punta Placentia, the name the Spaniards gave to the peninsula in the 1800s.
  6. In English, it means Point Pleasant.
  7. The Main Street in Placencia Village is just a sidewalk! In fact, the “Guinness Book of World Records” recognizes it as the narrowest main street in the world.
  8. Many people visit Placencia during the months of April, May and June to swim, dive or snorkel with giant whale sharks at the Gladden Spit Marine Reserve.
  9. Placencia’s Lobsterfest is the village’s most famous festival and is held in June of every year. In 2013, the Placencia Lobsterfest won an award from the Belize Tourism Board as the Festival of the Year!
  10. An Arts Festival is held in February each year, which brings artists from all over Belize to showcase their art along the 4071 foot (3/4 mile), 4 foot wide Placencia Sidewalk.
  11. Placencia was once a sleepy fishing village.
  12. The Placencia Peninsula boasts 16 miles of tranquil beaches.
  13. Many travelers who vacation in Placencia do the Monkey River and the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary Tours.

Placencia Belize Weather

Placencia Belize Weather

Placencia is a gorgeous emerald peninsula in southern Belize with 16 miles of sandy beaches. The Caribbean Sea is to the east and the charming Placencia lagoon lies to the west looking towards the Maya Mountains on the mainland. Placencia is essentially divided into two parts: south of the airstrip and north of the airstrip. The entire peninsula can be easily navigated on a beach cruiser bike. The busy part of Placencia lies in the south where the visitor will find a greater concentration of coffee shops, bistros, internet cafes, the harbor, guest houses, taxi and bus station, banks and local restaurants.

The northern portion of Placencia includes the Garifuna village of Seine Bight, which is less densely populated and has many of the more expensive resorts. Because of its distance from the reef, it also has “real’ though not very high surf. The water is clean and clear; the trade winds gentle and cooling. There are few sights more calming to the spirit than a Belizean sunset on a deserted Placencia beach. A visitor on her first visit to Belize had this to say about Placencia:

“What I found in Placencia was simply, Paradise. A warm and caring people and an unsurpassed tropical haven. I have traveled to several tropical destinations and I have never found such beauty.“All the fears of going to Belize were unfounded. I had friends tell me I was crazy for going to an obscure Central American country that they had never heard of! They envisioned rebel infested jungles at every turn. And the thought of me being susceptible to snakes, crocodiles, scorpions and a various array of insects sent them into an incoherent and somewhat amusing frenzy, I am so glad I did not heed their unwarranted objections.

Placencia Belize Hotels

Placencia Belize Realestate

The beaches along the Placencia Peninsula are dotted with small resorts that can arrange dive and snorkel trips to the reef, which is about 17 miles away. They can also arrange day trips to many small, idyllic cayes, such as Laughing Bird Caye, a mini-atoll that offers protected snorkeling and swimming, a white sand beach and many cooling palm trees for beach girls to cool off (it even has hammocks!).

There are many places to stay in Placencia – from low-cost lodging to all-inclusive resorts and others. Snorkeling is easily accessible from virtually any point from the beach. The waters are clear and shallow – often just a few steps from your hotel room to find an excellent snorkel spot. Laughing Bird Caye is also a favorite camping site for reef kayakers who base their expeditions in Placencia. A hotel can also arrange deep sea or reef fishing trips, or day sailing on a 36-foot catamaran.

Placencia Now Major Tourism Attraction

Placencia is now one of the country’s main tourist destinations, especially for those stopping over on their Caribbean cruise in the southern part of the country, and it is also well visited by Belizeans from across the country on local holidays. The peninsula has a wide range of restaurants, some of which are set up in the patios of private homes along the path between the beach and the lagoon. You can get a delicious plate heaped with stewed chicken and rice and beans for about US $5.

There are several small gift shops, a post office, and some nightlife. Nearby Mango Creek-Independence Village has a nightclub and weekend activity for the adventurous wishing to get out of Placencia, as well as a big football field that is home to one of Belize’s top football clubs. A trip to nearby Seine Bight, a traditional Garifuna village a few miles north of the peninsula, provides a chance to sample Garifuna cooking and music (including drumming and modern Punta Rock). The Maya ruins of Nim Li Punit and Lubantuum, as well as the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve,  are a day trip from Placencia.

Aerial view of the uncluttered Placencia Peninsula Pier on the southern tip of the village.

The Placencia Lagoon is an important breeding area for saltwater crocodiles, marine turtles, and the rare and endangered manatees; there are also numerous species of birds. The lagoon has dolphins, stingrays (the lagoon is a nursery for some species of rays), mangrove forests, birding by canoe or kayak, fishing (juvenile tarpon, snook, barracuda), and extensive wetlands.

Belize City To Placencia

They are not saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), they are American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus). The American crocodile has a similar habitat to the saltwater crocodile, but it is not nearly as dangerous to humans. Saltwater crocodiles are found in Australia, Asia, and Oceania, while American crocodiles are found in Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, northern South America and the southern tip of Florida. They both can wander long distances at sea, but they can also both be found in freshwater hundreds of miles inland. By calling them “saltwater crocodiles” you may be misleading people into thinking they are the man-eating species. American crocodiles CAN be dangerous (and have killed people) but it is very rare relative to the saltwater crocodile (which is not found anywhere in the Americas). In short, if you see a crocodile in the ocean in Central America, its an American crocodile (or on rare occasions a Murrelets crocodile which has wandered into the ocean). Placencia is about a two-hour drive from Belmopan, capital of Belize. The Placencia road is now fully paved but unfortunately has dozens of speed bumps, several weather-worn and unmarked. Not a few out of town drivers have wrecked their suspensions, or worse, gone off the highway after hitting a speed bump. So unless you know the road well, stick to under 50 miles per hour. A modern airstrip is right at the entrance to the peninsula. Placencia is located at 16°30′50″N 88°22′0″W (map opens in new window)

Thirty years ago the area was a quiet fishing village with a narrow meandering sidewalk that served as its main street. Today this destination retains its traditional charm while offering first-class amenities. A few docks jut out from the shore leaving an uninterrupted view of the Caribbean Sea and unimpeded routes for walking. Dozens of islands off the Placencia coast make for exotic day trips and romantic overnights. Below the surface whether by snorkel or scuba, divers will discover forests of coral and schools of colorful fish including the biggest of them all the majestic whale shark.

Fly fishers look for the picky permit in search of a Grand Slam while hardy kayakers paddle from one postcard island to the next. For more leisurely island hopping climb aboard a luxury catamaran complete with a captain and catering staff.

Is it safe in Placencia Belize?

Placencia is very safe as well. Girls are fine to walk alone there at night. At least in the off-season. Belize City looks more like an inner-city.

What is there to do in Placencia Belize?

Top Things to See and Do in Belize
  • Explore Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Go on a Kayaking expedition at Laughing Bird Caye.
  • Pay a visit to the Resident Howler Monkeys.
  • Explore Maya Temple Sites.
  • Dive or Snorkel – even with Whale Sharks.
  • Fishing is Extraordinary.
  • Enjoy delicious Belizean Cuisines.
  • Placencia Beaches.

How far is Belize Airport to Placencia?

160 miles
Shuttles & Transfers from Belize City to Placencia

Located at a distance of approximately 160 miles, a one-way journey lasts about 3.5 hours.