What was once a small fishing village is now a low-key and laid back quiet resort area. Placencia’s unique geography makes it a beautifully unique destination.
It’s a long and narrow peninsula, surrounded by mangroves-lined lagoons on one side and beachfront Caribbean sea on the other.
I recently interviewed my friend who returned from visiting Placencia, Belize.
I haven’t had the chance to visit myself, but Kerri and her friend Marie spent more than 2 weeks exploring this lesser-known laid back paradise.
And with Marie being a 4-time visitor, I asked them everything you need to know about visiting Placencia, starting with the best things to do, where to stay, what to eat and some important things to know about the culture, weather and safety.
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Ready for an interesting fun fact about Placencia Village? It’s known for the narrowest main street in the world. It’s technically a sidewalk only open to foot and bike traffic, but it’s the main street through town.
In this charming village, you’ll find that golf carts and walking barefoot are the most popular ways to get around. If that doesn’t scream laid back beach town, I don’t know what does!
Flights to Belize City from the US are actually pretty cheap, and there are several direct flights from a few major Canadian cities through the winter months.
To wet your appetite about visiting this tropical paradise, we’ll start with all the amazing things you can do here.
Top Things to Do in Placencia, Belize
Day Trips and Excursions
From beaches, to hiking, wildlife viewing and beyond, Placencia is the perfect hub for anyone wanting a mix of relaxation and outdoor adventure.
One of the top tour companies that Marie and Kerri recommends and have taken multiple trips with is DTourz.
The ATM caves are one of Belize’s most celebrated natural attractions. Officially called Actun Tunichil Muknal, these caves were used by the Mayan people to perform religious ceremonies, rituals and were even burial sites.
Inside the caves there are still many remnants of these ceremonies, still perfectly preserved. Channel you inner Indiana Jones with this one!
Visit Champagne Island, an ecological treasure and Belize’s best kept secret. You can get there via a short boat ride across the lagoon from Placencia.
You’ll see birds, manatees, and once you’re on the island, there’s an incredible array of orchids and medicinal plants.
Try to stay for most of a full day, where you can learn all about the Garifuna Culture, including their drumming performance and learn how to cook in the traditional Maya way.
For more day trips from Placencia, Marie and Kerri recommend tours with Taste of Belize.
They’ve seen a lot of Belize countryside and had grassroot local experiences like Mayan Village fire hearth cooking, a spice farm visit, a Chocolate farm tour at Ixcacao complete with chocolate making.
For wildlife viewing in Belize, check out the Monkey River Jungle tour to see (and hear) howler monkeys, manatees, crocodiles and tarantulas (from a safe distance of course)! There’s also a large bamboo forest here, too.
Visit the Red Bank Village which is the best place in Belize to see Scarlet Macaws, which is directly on their migration path. December to March is the best time to see them.
You will also see wild parrots, hummingbirds and many other local birds. Plus, the nearby Swasey River is the perfect place for beautiful, fresh water swimming.
Laughing Bird Caye National Park
11 miles off the coast of Placencia is a long, narrow island that is home to an abundance of bird life and coral life. Visiting this perfect tropical paradise is one of the most popular day trips from Placencia Village.
For crystal clear water that showcases the most colorful coral, grab a boat and tour guide to take you snorkeling at Laughing Bird Caye.
While the beaches in Placencia are some of the best in the world, you shouldn’t miss some historic Mayan ruins and caves nearby.
On this full-day tour you will visit the once thriving city of Xunantunich and then go cave tubing in a network of mysterious caves and caverns.
To get there, you’ll have to cross the Mopan River on a hand-cranked river ferry!
Visit Lubaantun (2 hours away) to check out what was once an entire city, now all Mayan Ruins. It’s the largest Maya site in southern Belize.
The incredible display is the limestone structures that are built out of perfectly carved limestone, requiring no mortar to hold it together. Even thousands of years later.
Travel Tip: Book your tours with Viator (owned by Tripadvisor) and you can reserve your spot now and pay (or cancel) up to 2 days before your tour.
Diving and Snorkeling
Diving and snorkeling conditions in Belize are some of the best in the world. Marie recommends checking out the Reef Adventures expeditions with Island Expeditions to kayak, snorkel, and even stay at a base camp for a few nights and to learn about marine/reef life and experience the Garifuna culture.
Here you will also find the Great Blue Hole, a massive ocean sinkhole. It’s world famous for diving, but the view from the air is the real jaw-dropper.
Beautiful Beaches and Ocean Swimming
One of the main draws to Placencia are the beautiful beaches! Placencia has the best beaches and you absolutely can swim in the ocean.
Many of the beachfront properties clean the beaches daily, in other areas you might find some debris but it’s quite minimal. The whole area is instituting plastic bins to keep plastic out of the ocean.
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Visit the Mayan King Waterfalls, about a 40 minute drive to the falls and an overall beautiful jungle area. There is a charge to enter the private property but well worth it.
Be sure to get a natural foot pedicure in the freshwater from all the little fish who nibble. Doesn’t hurt, just tickles!
For active travelers, the jungle hiking in Belize is incredible. Head to the Cockscomb Mountains for many hiking trails and more waterfalls.
This is also part of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, home to a jaguar reserve, and many other animals like howler monkeys and the adorable peccary.
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary has the world’s highest concentration of big cats in the world.
The easiest way to get the most out of your visit is to grab a tour, where they’ll point out animals, hiking trails and waterfalls and will help you find Ben’s Bluff, a popular swimming hole at the Tiger Fern Waterfall.
Local Markets and Artisan Shopping
Must buy souvenirs in Belize are the hand-made weaved baskets called Jippi Jappa. These baskets are the main traditional craft made by the Mayan people of southern Belize.
As you can guess, they’re made from the Jippi Jappa palm tree that grows in abundance in the area. But you can also find other hand made goods, like jewelry and hot pads for pots.
At the local markets in and around Placencia, you will also find many hand-made products made from wood. Mahogany, rosewood and zygote are all native to Belize.
You can also find fresh spices like turmeric and chili. Chocolate lovers will love shopping at markets in Belize – there is tons of it here because of the cacao farms. And of course fresh seafood!
Definitely look for Marie Sharpe’s Hot sauce, it’s locally made and you will find it served at every restaurant in Placencia.
Now that you’ve got an idea about what you can do in Placencia, Belize, you might be curious about visiting the area.
Here are some additional questions I asked Kerri and Marie to paint a better picture of this beautiful beach side village and important things to know when traveling to Belize.
Placencia, Belize Hotels and Accommodations
In Placencia, you will find mostly villas, condos and small boutique hotels. Most of which will have 5-15 rooms.
Helpful Reading: 12 Tips for Booking a Vacation Rental on Airbnb or VRBO
Here are the recommended hotels in Placencia Village:
Guests here can enjoy a private beach, rustic romance under the thatched-roof villas and beach bar that serves great cocktails, especially at sunset happy hour.
In one of the best locations for swimming in the ocean, here you’ll spend your time between private hammocks, pools and a pier!
This is your own private island getaway! Stay in your own, brightly colored bungalow with 360 degree views of the turquoise ocean around you.
This is the Belize hotel you want for pure relaxation. It’s a quiet property with a pool, gym and spa onsite. Each suite is a private bungalow, making this property perfect for couples on a romantic getaway or honeymoon.
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Restaurants in Placencia, Belize
DeTatch Restaurant has an amazingly fresh breakfast burrito that fills the plate and has eggs, beans, cheese, salsa and bacon inside.
Be sure to try the conch fritters served with a tartar sauce dip and hot sauce.
Mariposa Restaurant and Beach Resort has a really nice menu too and good drinks. Fish tacos and beer! You can also use the pool with a minimum food purchase.
It’s especially relaxing poolside as you look out at the ocean.
Favorite beach bars in Placencia are the Barefoot Bar and Tipsy Tuna. They are side by side and each are a lot of fun!
Different themes every night and specials on drinks and happy hour menus. Music and dancing and Garifuna performances. Very colorful! Always something going on.
Maya Beach Bistro. ‘Swill and Fill‘ is their happy hour menu favorites are the plantain chips with salsa, the curried pumpkin soup and fish cakes. Drinks are a good price too!
Weather in Placencia and What are the Best Months to Visit?
December to April is the dry season in Belize. Visit in April, May and June to swim with the whale sharks.
Marie has been to Placencia four times and has experienced the weather from January to March. Placencia seems to wind/cloud/rain at the end of January and beginning of February but after that its glorious sunshine through April.
By the end of March, you are usually guaranteed hot weather in Placencia Village.
It does get windy (which happens at the ocean), which can bring in Sargassum (seaweed) which was the worst everywhere in the Yucatan Peninsula 2018 and 2019.
However, the seaweed was very minimal in 2020. By the end of March, it starts to get pretty hot in Placencia Village.
Things to Know Before Going to Belize
What Language is Spoken in Belize?
English is spoken in Belize, making it one of the best Caribbean vacation destinations for Americans, Brits and Canadians. This is due to the fact that it was a British Colony until 1981.
Is it Safe in Placencia?
Both Marie and Kerri felt very safe in Placencia! They recommend avoiding Belize City as it is considered dangerous and after spending 2 nights there in 2015 and walking around the town, Marie mentioned there is very little to see and do compared to the beach areas.
Anywhere the tourists visit will generally be safe, but you should still use common sense just like you would anywhere else you visit. Don’t go looking for trouble and it won’t find you.
In fact, the Prime Minister of Belize actually owns a vacation home in Placencia and was there when my friends were visiting the area.
You can drink the water in Placencia because it comes from an underground aquifer and is really great. There is no problem with drinking the water or eating at any of the food places in Placencia.
What Shots or Vaccinations Do You Need to Go to Belize?
While you don’t need any special shots in particular, you should make sure that you’ve had or are up to date on the most common vaccinations like Hepatitis A, Hep B, DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus), MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and typhoid, yellow fever.
Chances are you’ve likely been vaccinated already but it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before your trip to be safe.
How Expensive is Belize?
In Placencia, you’ll find it’s a little more expensive than parts of Mexico. The currency in Belize is the Belize dollar, and the conversion rate makes it very easy to calculate as it is 2:1.
Meaning, two Belize Dollars equal one US dollar. Cash is king in Belize, and most places will always accept US dollars. But if you pay in US dollars, you will get change back in BZ.
The local food is very reasonable and the restaurants are not expensive except for a couple of higher end places. In Placencia, the average price for a dinner entree is about $15-20 usd (or 30-40 BZ). There are also some good happy hour specials at a few of the beach bars, bistros and restaurants!
Beer and rum are quite cheap. And even if you’re not a big rum fan, there are so many fresh flavored rums to try, like ‘ginger mint’ or ‘blackberry’.
A pint of domestic beer (Belkin) will run you about $2, whereas wine is more expensive.
Travel tip: When visiting Placencia, buy your wine at the duty free shop in the Belize City airport, while you wait for your shuttle flight. Much cheaper than in the village!
In high season, the average price for a beach hotel is about $200-250 USD per night, while renting a villa can be a much more inexpensive option averaging around $100-150 per night.
How Do You Get to Placencia?
For Canadians wanting to visit Placencia, Westjet offers seasonal direct flights from Toronto and Calgary from October to April, making it an easy Caribbean getaway.
The fastest way to get from Belize City to Placencia is to fly. Fly into Belize city and then take a small plane (about 14 passenger) about 40 minutes to Placencia.
It is possible to rent a vehicle and drive, however, the roads are not in the best shape and it takes about 3-4 hours to drive. Car rentals are expensive and like any developing country not all car rentals offer the best vehicles. Plus, you won’t need a vehicle in Placencia – or you can always rent one for a day.
So, is Placencia, Belize worth visiting?
If you want the perfect mix of laid-back beach vibes and water and jungle adventures, then yes, it absolutely is!
If you’re interested in the Yucatan Peninsula, you might be interested to read: Off the Beaten Path in Mexico – Valladolid to Ek Balam (Yucatan)
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