“Ah, Central America – that great S-bend of land joining Colombia to Mexico. With two coastlines squiggling up the Caribbean Sea and the wild Pacific in a 1770km (1100-mile) medley of coral gardens, frothing waves, and emerald-coast jungles laden with howler monkeys, there’s hardly a more beach-heavy region on earth.” No matter whether you’re searching for a laid-back surf town where you can chase barrels, a remote isle to channel your inner castaway, or a beer-sloshing party place on the Pacific Ocean, this corner of Latin America has you covered. And so, Lonely Planet packs this guide full of the crème-de-la-crème of coves and bays, narrowing down the best beaches in Central America to just 14 picks. Within, Placencia, Belize makes the list as the “best beach for peace and quiet” in Central America.
With a croc-filled lagoon on one side and the kaleidoscopic corals of the Belize Barrier Reef – part of the second-largest coral reef system on the planet, no less – on the other, Placencia is in just about the perfect place to be hailed as one of the best beaches in Central America. It’s quiet compared to the likes of Ambergris Caye, despite being more accessible (no seaplanes needed!). The area is peppered with traditional Garifuna fishing shacks and fronted by soft sands that sprout twisted sabal palms and sea oats. Enjoy it at a beachfront restaurant, like Tipsy Tuna Seaside & Sports Bar, or at a beachfront resort.
Where To Stay Beachfront in Placencia
Endowed with 430 feet of private beach, Umaya Resort & Adventures of The Belize Collection—a boutique resort group entirely owned and operated by Belizeans—sits along the Maya Beach on Placencia Peninsula. It’s a few minutes outside of the village, but that’s part of the allure of Umaya: the all-suite, 60-room boutique hotel has the water’s edge just steps away. That’s not limited to just the Caribbean Sea, though—the property spans both sides of the Peninsula, which means you’ve also got sweeping views of the Maya Mountains and Placencia Lagoon.
Redefining coastal distancing, Sirenian Bay is an intimate, luxury resort nestled in the village of Seine Bight on the Placencia Peninsula. With an all-inclusive option and entertainment hub (think pickleball and a mini-golf course) on their Lagoon side, Sirenian’s guests can bask beachside with their 12 recently-finished bungalows and three villas ideal for large groups (each with their own private pool, too).
All of Itz’ana Resort’s rooms and villas put privacy center-stage, with wraparound terraces, airy indoor living spaces, and direct access to Placencia’s best beaches. Beachfront villas, which range up to 3-bedrooms, are complete with private plunge pools, perfect for either thrill-seekers or chill-seekers.
As one of the first developments on the peninsula, the low-key Naia Resort and Spa encompasses 19 acres of secluded beachfront and lush lagoon landscapes within its private 224-acre Cocoplum Community. About 10 minutes away from Placencia Village by bicycle or golf cart, privacy ranks high to escape the distractions of modern life at this beachside enclave. Beachfront villas empty out directly to the beach, with vacation rentals like the Madera Beach House also available.
Found where the Caribbean Sea melts into Placencia’s 16-mile long golden coastline, Turtle Inn has 25 characteristic thatch-roof cottages and villas within steps of the shallows. Each cottage features screened porches, hand-carved doors, outdoor showers, and a bottomless jar of fresh chocolate chip cookies for my fellow sweet-tooth travelers. Foodies can also rejoice in its three restaurants (and two pools) at Mare restaurant with a wood-burning oven for terrific pizzas, beachfront Gauguin Grill for fresh seafood, Auntie Luba’s Kitchen for local flavor, and homemade fresh gelato from the Kid’s Gelato Bar.
Built to face 400 feet of private, barefoot-perfect beach, Chabil Mar Guest Exclusive Villas is a beachfront tropical paradise that’ll have you swooning. Combined with experiences on-site like stand-up paddleboarding, yoga, and private BBQ dinners, you’ll have an authentic guest-exclusive experience that feels intimate yet indulgent—all within reach of your Placencia beach villa.
Found in the center of Placencia Village, Brisa Oceano is just a stone’s throw away from one of the best beaches on the peninsula. The condominium-style resort has no pool, but that means it’s an uninterrupted stretch of sand from suite to coast.
Thanks to one-, two-, and three-bedroom accommodations, guests can enjoy the best beaches on Maya Beach. As one of the first properties to greet you once arriving at the Placencia Peninsula, The Placencia Resort is stocked with all you might need for a beach getaway; three restaurants, including an overwater bar, and a marina make up this PADI 5-Star Dive Resort.