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Placencia, Belize


Placencia Map

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Location


Graced by the best beach in Belize, the 16-mile long Placencia peninsula runs parallel to the mainland. To the west, a vibrant lagoon teems with life. A half-hour flight brings you to Placencia from Belize City via a breathtaking journey over shimmering waters, tiny cayes, lazy rivers, and rows of citrus.

History & Culture


Placencia has a diverse cultural heritage comprised of Mayan, English, Spanish, and even Portuguese ancestors. Key in costal trading, the Mayans also produced salt in this region early on. Later, the village of Placencia became important to the fishing economy in Belize and earned its livelihood from the sea. Today it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Belize, but the locals are still committed to its heritage and culture.

Visit Lobsterfest each June to sample delightful crustaceans prepared in every imaginable way. The festival, which launches the lobster season, also features arts, crafts, entertainment, raffle, and a fishing tournament.

Lodging & Dining


Playgrounds of the modern beachside variety dominate the peninsula, with many options for places to stay from moderate to luxurious. Among the best of these resorts are Chabil Mar Villas, Inn at Roberts Grove, Francis Ford Coppola's Turtle Inn, The Placencia Hotel, Bella Maya Resort, and Nautical Inn.

About three dozen restaurants and bars are available in and around Placencia. Nightlife here is casual, like everything else on the peninsula. Travelers can find live music on the weekend, and on occasion such diversions as horseshoes, karaoke, and pool.

Activities


Placencia can satisfy anyone's craving for water sports such as diving, fishing, snorkeling, sailing, swimming, cruising, and kayaking. About 15 to 25 miles offshore, diving and snorkeling revolve around the pristine outer cayes (pronounced "keys"), bobbing over a shallow plateau inside the barrier reef, and the outer reef wall, starting at 70 feet and plunging out of sight. Some of the 40 best dive sites include Ranguana, Tarpon, and Queen cayes. The beautiful Silk Cayes, part of the Gladden Spit/ Silk Caye Marine Reserve, occupy an eccentric elbow in the reef, which also contains a series of interesting walls and coral ridges. Under the full moon from March to May, divers come from around the world to commune with spotted whale sharks as these gigantic creatures migrate through the local waters.

Anglers dream about waters like these. They regularly catch snook, tarpon, bonefish, and trophy-size permit around the flats. Fly fishermen spot crocodiles and toucans while fishing the backwaters of the Placencia lagoon. Deep-sea fishermen land barracuda, kingfish, wahoo, dolphin, grouper, and tuna. Each spring and fall, marlin and sailfish migrate just outside the barrier reef. Professional guides proudly catch and release.

To adventure beyond the beach, explore by kayak. Several places rent them, or for a bigger adventure charter a custom catamaran or monohull sailboat. If wild cats, exotic birds, and gorgeous jungle flora are what you seek, enjoy a day trip to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sactuary and Jaguar Reserve. Hike its network of trails with a local guide who grew up in the area, and can give you an insider's view of the park. Near Monkey River Town - a Creole fishing village on the mainland 12 miles south of Placencia - rare birds, howler monkeys, and giant iguanas present great photo opportunities on boat trips. Covered in a lush canopy, the shoreline of Monkey River shelters many species of birds and butterflies as well. Rent a bike for exercise, for exploring quaint back streets, or for transportation.



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