Placencia Village, known locally as simply Placencia, sits at the very tip of the narrow Placencia Peninsula in southern Belize. This long, narrow 16 mile long peninsula feels more like an island, and in fact it’s a short walk across from the lagoon on one side to the Caribbean Sea on the other.
Placencia is a small, quiet community of only 500 permanent residents. Most of these are Creoles, descendants of European settlers and African slaves who settled here. The Placencia Peninsula is home to only two other small communities, Seine Bight and Maya Beach, which makes this area an ideal getaway for travelers looking for quiet and a slow pace. The name Placencia is derived from the name the Spaniards used for the area in the 1800s, Punta Placentia, which means Point Pleasant in English.
Placencia’s beaches are known to be the cleanest, most pristine beaches on all of mainland Belize. Placencia Village has a sign declaring their beaches to be “Barefoot Perfect.” The same could be said for the rest of the town as well, with its hard packed sand pathways and quiet beach lifestyle. With no paved roads or only one sidewalk, it’s easy to adopt the laidback and tranquil ways of the locals. This easy going beach town is not lacking in luxury however. Several small luxury resorts have made their home in Placencia, giving the village a more upper class feel in some places. But even with these hotels, Placencia Village remains a quiet, easygoing destination.
What to do in Placencia
A one mile of hard-packed sand with a thin layer of concrete over it serves as sidewalk serves as the main street for Placencia Village. Along this pathway there are brightly colored wooden houses built on stilts among palm trees. Tucked among these houses are street level restaurants, bars, shops and accommodations. Locals are friendly and helpful, and most residents travel on foot or by bicycle. Constructed decades ago as a means of moving fish around by wheel barrow without fighting the deep sand, Placencia’s walkway had the proud distinction of being the narrowest street in the world, according to the “Guinness Book of World Records.” This is still a claim to fame for the village.
Unlike the hustle and bustle of San Pedro or Belize City, Placencia is famous for its laid-back attitude and perfect sand beaches. Everything on the peninsula is calm and free from stress, from the breeze in the coconut palms to the waves that gently splash along the shore. It would be difficult to find a reason to be stressed in Placencia.
Placencia’s residents do know how to have a good time. Sand and surf provides most of the activities, and with the second largest barrier reef in the world just offshore, it’s no wonder. Snorkeling and diving are second to none for the clarity of the water and the year-round ideal weather. The smooth, crystal clear waters are also perfect for kayaking, hand line fishing, off shore fishing, and sailing. Renting bicycles to ride along the peninsula to the two other communities located along its coast, or booking a float tour to see them from the water are also available. Many tour companies also offer trips to offshore islands cayes and atolls, as well as nearby Mayan ruins.
When to go:
There is not a bad time to go to Placencia. The average temperature in this subtropical nation is 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average humidity is 83%. Generally, the dry season is the most popular time to travel there, and lasts from January through to May. June, July, October and November are typically the rainiest months. However, rainy months are a relative term, as afternoon rainstorms are usually short. Placencia’s Lobsterfest is held in June and is the village’s most famous festival. The festival is known for its fun games, local music from spirited Creole musicians, cold beer and, naturally, lobsters. Lobster cooked in every conceivable form, by every cook in the village. Each February, Placencia Village also hosts the newly established but fast growing Sidewalk Art Festival, which is becoming more and more popular with travelers every year.
Getting to Placencia
From Belize City, it’s not difficult to find a bus to the smaller town of Dangriga. From Dangriga, buses travel to Placencia Village, leaving at 12 and 4 p.m. It’s a short drive along well traveled roads. Placencia does have a small airstrip, and inexpensive flights travel from Belize City’s International Airport daily. Getting around Placencia is generally done on foot, the cheapest mode of transportation of all.
Since Placencia is such a small village, it’s quite easy to find what you need. Grocery stores, post offices, banks, tour guides and rental shops are all located at the very tip of the peninsula closest to the prime beaches. Everything in Placencia is just a walk away.
There are accommodations in a wide variety and range of prices. Most visitors choose to stay at the more inexpensive hotels located within the village itself. Since traffic is all by foot and the village is so sleepy and quiet, staying in town is still very peaceful and practical in Placencia. Visitors looking for a more luxurious resort type of experience can find world class luxury resorts further up the Placencia Peninsula. These resorts offer a wide range of accommodations, activities and amenities. Restaurants, cafes and bars in Placencia are abundant, and seafood is incomparably fresh.
After the loud and crowded streets of Belize City, the peaceful pathways of Placencia can come as a welcome respite and a place to relax and renew. With some of the most pristine beaches in the Caribbean and the clearest blue water anywhere, this hidden gem of Belize is the perfect blend of relaxation and fun activities to enjoy. Leaving behind the hustle of city life and enjoying the local beach lifestyle can make a vacation in Placencia the perfect way to explore “Barefoot Perfect” beaches and sidewalks.