I visited the charming village of Placencia as a tourist a decade ago. It was quaint and quirky, and it captured my heart. I returned for another visit. Then I returned again and never left. Some days feel like an extension of that first holiday here and I’ll get a flutter of excitement over spotting a pod of dolphins or a great happy hour deal. I’ve watched the peninsula grow and develop to meet the ever increasing demands of our thriving tourism industry, and I’ve delighted in the new offerings and experiences as a consumer.
I thrill to share the best of Placencia with visitors so they can make the most of their vacation days here in our little slice of paradise. I’ve had years to enjoy all the amazing food, entertainment, and experiences, but if you only have a precious few days on the peninsula, here is what I recommend you do to make the most of them.
Day 1 – Getting Acquainted with Placencia, Belize
I’d recommend choosing accommodation directly in the village so you’re close to the action, shops, and restaurants. Brisa Oceano is a wonderful condominium-style hotel directly on the beach and in the heart of Placencia Village – within walking distance to everything. They have beautifully furnished one, two, or three bedroom unit options with private balconies and sea views.
One of the best ways to orient yourself to the village and get acquainted with the local cuisine is to take a Walking Food Tour with Taste Belize. This fun and filling tour will give you a good lay-of-the-land and introduce you to Placencia’s dynamic culinary scene. You’ll hear a bit of Belize history along the way, meet local chefs and bartenders, and discover some local hotspots you’d probably never find on your own.
Day 2 – Offshore & Inland Adventures
A trip to Placencia wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of our stunning offshore islands (called cayes). Dozens of wonderful diving and snorkeling sites are within close proximity to the peninsula and you’d be quite happy with any excursion available, but if you have a choice, I recommend a trip to Laughing Bird Caye with Splash Dive Center. Laughing Bird is a gorgeous little island that sits on a thriving ridge of coral reef about 11 miles from Placencia. The crystal-clear water surrounding the caye is calm and free of strong currents, making the spectacle of life below the surface easily accessible to even novice divers and first-time snorkelers.
Are you afraid of the dark? For those brave enough to venture into the jungle after sunset, the Cockscomb Basin Night Tour presents rare wildlife viewing opportunities. Just a 60-minute drive from Placencia, the lush jungle of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is the world’s only jaguar preserve. Stalk the jungle cats and other nocturnal creatures on a nighttime hike then grab inner tubes for a starlit float down a river.
Day 3 – Manatee Spotting and Golf Cart Rides
Begin your day with a hearty breakfast burrito or two then head to the dock at Captain Jaks to take the Monkey River Wildlife Tour. A 30-minute boat ride will take you south along the coast and mangrove forests to Monkey River Village where you’ll travel upstream and spot wildlife along the river banks. Crocodiles, iguanas, colorful birds, and almost certainly plenty of black howler monkeys. The placid Placencia Lagoon is an ideal habitat for manatees so keep a keen eye out for these gentle giants as they surface frequently for air.
Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the 16-mile-long peninsula by golf cart. Carts are the preferred means of transport on the peninsula; open-air and unhurried, meander along Placencia’s one main road with the Caribbean Sea to one side and the lagoon to the other. It is virtually impossible to get lost!
And don’t neglect to visit a few of Placencia’s legendary beach bars for stiff drinks, good food, and unpretentious fun. No shirt, no shoes, no problem.
Featured Photo by Brisa Oceano Resort