Belize is one of Central America’s biggest attractions for both tourists and retirees throughout North America and Europe, but Placencia stands apart as a unique piece of paradise in a country known for its idyllic beauty. Often referred to as “The Island You Can Walk To,” it’s a lot more than just a single attraction. There’s a lot to do here, but that can sometimes mean that there are a lot of potential distractions. Here’s what you need to know before you make plans in Placencia.
Located on the southeastern tip of Belize, the unique dimensions of this peninsula make for a truly unique environment. While it stretches 16 miles from north to south, it’s only a half-mile wide at most points. That means that pristine beachfront property is almost always within reach, and you don’t have to jockey for privacy on the sands like you often have to on popular beaches like Ambergris Caye. Even better, you don’t have to charter a boat or take a ferry to get you there. You can reach the Belize Barrier Reef by a short boat ride just as you could on an island, but you can also explore everything the interior has to offer with a rental car or a tour reservation. It offers all the trappings of beach luxury without the inconveniences of actually getting to an island.
Placencia translates into “Point Pleasant” in English, and it’s a fitting title for a town that’s managed to maintain its sense of authenticity despite its growing popularity. Because while there are definitely all the amenities and services you could hope for as a tourist, this is still a fishing town through and through. Nothing better contextualizes this than the town’s Main Street, which doesn’t allow cars and holds the Guinness world record for the shortest Main Street in the world. You’re more likely to find people on golf carts or bicycles here than in cars, and the nightlife has a tendency to spill out from the main bars and restaurants off of Placencia Road out onto the town’s beaches. If you want to find a party, it’s never hard.
The biggest attraction out on the Caribbean is undoubtedly the Belize Barrier Reef — the second largest of its kind in the world and easily accessible from the Placencia port — but there are exceptional dive sites and opportunities for both fishing and snorkeling all up and down the coast. Add the wealth of small cayes and islands to the equation — over 400 in Belizean waters — and you’re left with a lot of water worth covering. This stretch of the Caribbean is home to a number of nature reserves as well, including the Silk Cayes, Gladden Spit Reserve, Glover’s Reef, and South Water Caye. Many private islands can even be claimed for a romantic dinner or an outrageous party.
Placencia has an obvious attraction for beach bums, but it’s also becoming a favored vacation destination for outdoor adventurers. Cockscomb Basin is one of the bigger draws. It’s unlikely you’ll actually see any big cats in this jaguar sanctuary, but you’ll have no shortage of perfect photo opportunities between the wildlife and the gorgeous views. But you can have just as much fun cruising down the Monkey River in a boat while the titular simians that occupy the shores announce their presence. Or venture into the jungle to explore Maya ruins like the imposing pyramid temples at Nim Li Punit or Lubantuum.
The Only Place to Stay in Placencia
If you want to be truly exposed to the best that Placencia has to offer, there’s no option better than Sirenian Bay. This all-inclusive resort takes care of all the details so you can just focus on enjoying yourself. They’re ready to get you from the airport to your room and back out again — along with every step along the way. Whether you’re looking to schedule a tour through the jungles at Cockscomb Basin or simply luxuriate by the pool, the capable and dedicated concierge can provide you with everything you need.
And the truth is that you can have the time of your life without even needing to leave the property. The resort pool comes with an enormous hot tub and an attached bar — and the Siren’s Spa offers all of the attention you need during your stay. Wander out to the open beach and make the most of the complimentary kayaks or paddle boats and venture out onto the Caribbean Sea. There’s even a mini-golf course on-site for the whole family. You’d have to try hard to have a bad time in Placencia, but Sirenian Bay can offer you the best time possible no matter why you’re here or what your passions are.
Feature image: Duarte Dellarole