Island Hopping in the South: These Cayes Make for a Great Day Trip from Placencia, Belize

by Megan Rodden

Belize’s Barrier Reef is studded with hundreds of islands, locally called cayes, varying in size and composition.  Some are quite large and support towns, villages, or a few families and a fishing lodge or two.  Some are nothing more than glorified sand bars with a few coconut trees or mangroves.  Whether uninhabited or host to luxury resorts, surrounded by turquoise waters teaming with life, Belize’s islands are all enchanting.  Here are a few of our favorite cayes that are close to Placencia and can be visited for the day.

Silk Caye


Within a protected marine reserve, the tiny white-sand Silk Caye is a popular day trip destination known for its lovely snorkeling and proximity to a well-known hotspot for nurse sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles.  The island is uninhabited but offers visitors picnic tables, BBQ grills and toilets.  The patch reef surrounding the caye is robust and diverse.  Silk Caye is a wonderful choice for an easy-going day trip, fabulous marine life, and marvelous natural beauty.

Ray Caye

Photo by Duarte Dellarole

Ray Caye, 18 miles offshore from Placencia, is a private island resort that caters to a maximum of 50 overnight guests at any one time.  The resort is renowned for its comfortable luxury, impeccable grounds, and exceptional service.  Resort guests enjoy the island’s multitude of amenities. These include a gym, two pools, a fully equipped dive center, and a saltwater slide into the Caribbean Sea.  Arrangements can be made to drop in for the day and indulge in lunch and libations at the Lionfish Bar & Grill.  Their famous lionfish tacos with pico de gallo and cilantro slaw are bright and light, the perfect snack to fuel your fun in the sun.

Laughing Bird Caye

Laughing Bird Caye National Park is a short 12 miles from Placencia and a popular place for day-trippers. The surrounding faro reef offers unique sights for snorkeling and diving.  The island’s only structures are the park ranger’s lodge, bathrooms for visitors, and a large thatch-roof palapa to shade a few picnic tables from the bright afternoon sun.  

Moho Caye

Moho Caye is a favorite among many Placencians because it is easy to reach and easier to enjoy.  Beautiful white sand is polka-dotted by green palm trees with dozens of colorful hammocks strung up among them.  Have a BBQ on the beach and a float in the sea.  There is plenty of room to spread out. Though this island is a popular day-trip destination, you’ll never feel crowded and you can always find a quiet spot to catch a siesta if you like.

Ranguana Caye, A Muy’Ono Resort

Photo by Kevin Quischan Photography

A 2-acre private island along the reef, Ranguana Caye is known for its excellent snorkeling, annual turtle hatchings, and stiff drinks at Bully’s Beach Bar.  The island has 3 cabanas to accommodate overnight visitors but is frequented by boat charters and day trippers looking to partake in paddleboarding, snorkeling, or volleyball.  

King Lewey’s Caye

A top choice for young and young-at-heart island hoppers is King Lewey’s. This pirate-themed private island lies just 12 miles off the coast of Placencia.  Overwater cabanas provide unique accommodations for overnight visitors, but day trippers will delight in the decorations that adorn this small caye.  Kids will love the playground, putt-putt, and over-water trampoline.  Adults will appreciate the gourmet meals, hand-crafted cocktails, and comfortable lounge chairs.

Ivan’s Island

Photo by Ivan’s Island

If you’re out fishing or snorkeling the inner reef and want to touch land for a bit, the rustic and charming Ivan’s Island is the ideal reprieve.  Colorful and comfortable, the small caye is the perfect pitstop for a cold drink or a quick game of cornhole.  You’ll receive a warm welcome from the puppies that patrol the pier.

Featured Photo: Silk Caye, Belize by Duarte Dellarole

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