Last Updated on April 14, 2023
Placencia is a small village located on the Caribbean coast of Belize, in Central America. It is situated on the southern tip of the Placencia Peninsula, which is about 16 miles long and is known for its beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear waters.
Placencia is a popular destination for tourists and expats looking for a laid-back, beachfront lifestyle.
The village has a population of around 3,000 people, and there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops to keep visitors entertained.
The nearby Belize Barrier Reef is a major attraction for scuba diving and snorkeling, and there are also opportunities for sailing, and other water sports, as well as plenty of day trips to take to explore the country further.
Placencia is the perfect beach destination in Belize without being over-touristy. On most days I was there, there were only a few other people on the beach, which makes it an ideal vacation spot if you like tropical Caribbean beaches but hate crowded destinations.
Keep on reading to discover the top activities, places to visit, and best things to do in Placencia, Belize!
Travel tips: I recommend renting a car in Belize City before heading to Placencia so you don’t have to book a tour every time you want to visit something. The main roads are great, but note that most places you’ll want to visit will require a 4W to get there. This is the website I use to find the best car rental deals.
HELPFUL WEBSITES TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR TRIP
HELPFUL WEBSITES TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR TRIP
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Best Things to Do in Placencia, Belize
Spend Some Time at the Beach
Placencia is the type of destination where you can lounge on the beach all day. With white sand, clear waters, and lined with palm trees, the beach there is a typical dreamy Caribbean beach.
Most hotels provide beach chairs and umbrellas and there are several bars and restaurants right on the beach. Spend a couple of hours relaxing, grab a book, get a fresh coconut, and just enjoy the perfect beach vibes.
The water there is calm and crystal clear, making it ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
Book a Cottage on the Beach
Belize is relatively inexpensive when you compare it with US prices, so a vacation to Belize is the perfect opportunity to indulge and treat yourself to a luxurious stay. Even if you don’t have a high budget, you’ll find budget-friendly beach bungalows and affordable vacation rentals on the beach.
The Turtle Inn ($$$) offers 2-bedroom villas and cottages on the beach as well as 2 swimming pools, a spa, a tour desk, and a restaurant. Breakfast and free parking are included.
For something more budget-friendly, check out this Beach Front Cottage in the heart of Placencia Village for under 150 USD a night.
See below for more places to stay for all budgets.
Look for Howler Monkeys at the Monkey River
Half an hour away from Placencia by boat, the Monkey River Tour makes for a perfect half-day trip and is one of the best things to do in Placencia. Riding along the river, surrounded by jungle and lush mangroves, you’ll get the chance to see monkeys, birds, iguanas, and crocodiles.
The tours also include a short hike in the jungle, looking for howler monkeys. Famous for the way they scream to protect their territory, howler monkeys can be hard to spot, but you’ll certainly hear their scream from afar.
Walking through the jungle, guided by their loud screams, I felt like being in a Jurassic Park movie. It was truly amazing, a unique experience.
On the way back, the boat driver will try to spot manatees. The chances of seeing them are pretty high.
Make sure to avoid wearing black clothing and bring mosquito repellent.
Take Chocolate Making Class
Many tour companies in Placencia offer cultural activities such as cooking classes, Garifuna culture immersion, and cacao farm visits. It’s a good opportunity to learn more about Belize’s diverse culture and its people.
Take a half-day trip to visit a cacao farm, learn how cacao is made, and have a go making your own chocolate the traditional way, with grinding stones.
This activity also includes a stop at a beautiful waterfall where you can swim and enjoy the views.
Look for jaguars at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is a nature reserve that covers an area of over 150 square miles and is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including jaguars, pumas, ocelots, monkeys, and hundreds of species of birds and butterflies.
Created in the 80s to protect the jaguar population in Belize, Cockscomb is the first jaguar preserve in the world. It’s a fantastic place to hike, watch wildlife, and go river tubing. There are several trails, from easy strolls to more advanced ones, most of which require a guide.
The trails are well maintained, and the park offers a campground and some accommodations.
Chances of seeing jaguars are slight, but spottings happen from time to time. You might see ocelots, pumas, tapirs, birds, and reptiles. The reserve is also home to hundreds of different plant species.
The sanctuary also has a visitor center where tourists can learn about the local ecosystems and the efforts being made to conserve them.
The sanctuary is located about 20 miles inland from Placencia and is accessible by road. It is a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts and is considered to be one of the most important natural areas in Belize.
If you don’t have a car, you’ll need to go on a tour. You can try your luck hitchhiking, but there are not that many cars passing by. Bring enough food and water with you as there’s no shop there.
Sample the Local Food
Belizean food is a delicious and diverse blend of Caribbean, African, and Latin American flavors. Some of the most popular dishes you can try in Placencia include:
- Rice and Beans: This is a staple dish in Belize, made with red beans cooked with rice, coconut milk, and spices. It is often served with stewed chicken or beef.
- Fry jacks: A popular breakfast dish in Belize made from deep-fried dough that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It is often served with honey, jam, or refried beans. One of my favorite places for breakfast was Wendy’s Creole Restaurant and Bar.
- Stewed Chicken: A flavorful dish of chicken cooked in a savory sauce of tomatoes, onions, and spices, often served with rice and beans.
- Conch Fritters: These are crispy fritters made with chopped conch, a type of sea snail, mixed with spices and deep-fried. They are often served as an appetizer.
- Garnaches: Small, thick corn tortillas topped with refried beans, shredded cheese, and pickled onions. They are often served as a snack or appetizer.
- Hudut: A creamy soup made with fish, coconut milk, plantains, and spices. It is a traditional Garifuna dish.
- Tamales: A popular snack in Belize made from masa dough, filled with chicken or pork, and steamed in banana leaves.
- Belizean Rum Cake: A delicious dessert made with rum-soaked cake, often served during holidays and special occasions. The most popular bakery in Placencia is John the Bakerman offering tasty bread and pastries.
Belizean cuisine also features a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood, including lobster, shrimp, and fish such as snapper and grouper. The country’s tropical climate also provides a variety of exotic fruits such as mangoes, papayas, and guavas, which are often used in desserts and drinks.
Stop by a local produce shop to try out some local fruits and vegetables (you can ask how to eat/cook them if you’re not sure).
Take a Cooking Class
Spend a day with a local Maya family discovering their traditions, food, and way of life. Learn about herbal medicine and how to prepare tortillas and tamales on a traditional hearth. Next, visit a cacao farm and discover the ancestral way of making chocolate, getting a chance to make your own.
Snorkel with Turtles, Rays, and Sharks at the Isle Silk Caye
A visit to Placencia wouldn’t be complete without a day out at sea. There are tons of opportunities for snorkeling and visiting paradise-like islands. Among the most famous spots are Silk Caye Marine Reserve and Laughing Bird Caye (see below).
Silk Caye, also known as Silk Cayes, is a small group of three coral islands located in the waters of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The islands are situated about 20 miles east of Placencia and are a popular destination for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.
Silk Caye is known for its crystal-clear waters and pristine coral reefs, which are home to a variety of marine life, including colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, and rays. The islands are surrounded by shallow, sandy bottoms, making them ideal for snorkeling and swimming.
Book a tour from Placencia and spend the day exploring Belize’s stunning underwater world.
Kayak or Paddle Board
Rent a kayak or paddle board at Placencia Awesome Water Sports on the Tipsy Strip and spend an hour or two exploring the sea and/or the lagoon. You might spot dolphins, manatees, and plenty of colorful fish.
Take a Day Trip to Laughing Bird Caye National Park
Laughing Bird Caye National Park is a protected marine reserve located off the coast of Placencia. The park covers an area of about 1.8 square miles and is home to a variety of marine life, including colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and sea turtles.
The national park is named after the Laughing Gull, a seabird that is commonly found in the area. It was established in 1981 to protect the fragile ecosystem of the coral reef and the surrounding seagrass beds. The park is an important breeding ground for many marine species, including the endangered Hawksbill turtle.
There you can enjoy a variety of activities, including snorkeling and scuba diving, as well as enjoy the pristine beach. The park’s clear waters and diverse marine life make it a popular destination for underwater photography and eco-tourism.
Taking a tour to the park is a must when in Placencia, it’s one of the most beautiful Cayes in the country, and snorkeling is incredible.
Spend a Day on Ranguana Caye
A third option when it comes to snorkeling and paradise-like tropical beaches, Ranguana Caye is an idyllic destination for anyone looking to escape to a peaceful and secluded island paradise. Its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and abundant marine life make it a must-visit destination for snorkelers, divers, and beach lovers.
There you can enjoy relaxing on the private island’s white sand beaches, swim in the warm Caribbean Sea, and enjoy a variety of water sports and activities, including snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
The tour includes the boat ride to the island, all equipment for snorkeling and other water activities, and lunch. There’s a bar there where you can get drinks if you want.
Have a Drink (or Two) at Barefoot
Barefoot is the busiest bar in Placencia. They have promotions and themed nights going on all the time. They often have live music and also serve food. It’s probably the best place to chill in the village.
Stroll Along the World’s Narrowest Street
Placencia has basically two streets, the concreted one, and the sidewalk, on the beachside. This street is on the Guinness Book of Records for being the world’s narrowest street. You’ll find several craft shops and small cafes and restaurants along the way.
Visit the Art’n’Soul Gallery
This small art gallery features various paintings and artwork from local artists that you can buy.
For more authentic Belizean art and crafts, don’t miss the artisan market near the Tipsy Strip.
Have a Fun-Filled Day at Mayan King
Located just an hour’s drive from Placencia Village, Mayan King offers a zipline course, river tubing, and a beautiful waterfall.
If you have a car, you can visit the waterfall on your own, just a short walk away from where you park, and book activities directly with them. Otherwise, you can book a tour in Placencia.
The tour typically starts with ziplining, then you tube down the river and finally drive to the waterfall. From there you can hike to the top of the waterfall, to reach a second waterfall, or just enjoy swimming at the bottom of the first one.
June to December, the rainy season, is the best time to see Mayan King Waterfall.
Take a Day Trip to Xunantunich
If you’re not planning on heading to San Ignacio, then you should definitely take a day trip to visit Xunantunich, one of the best Mayan ruins in Belize!
Xunantunich is easily accessible by road if you have a rental, or there are several tour operators in Placencia that offer guided trips to the site.
Xunantunich is an ancient Maya archaeological site located in the Cayo District, near the border with Guatemala. The name Xunantunich means “stone woman” in the Mayan language, and it refers to a local legend about a ghostly apparition of a woman that has been seen in the area.
The site dates back to the Classic Maya period and was inhabited from the 7th to the 10th century AD. It consists of several plazas, temples, and other structures, including the impressive El Castillo, which is the second tallest structure in Belize and offers stunning views of the surrounding jungle.
You can explore the site on foot, following a series of well-marked trails that lead through the different areas of the ruins. The site is known for its intricate stonework and elaborate carvings, which depict scenes from Maya mythology and everyday life.
The area is also popular with birdwatchers and nature lovers, as the surrounding jungle is home to a variety of wildlife, including monkeys and birds.
Most tours from Placencia will include another activity, here are some options:
- Xunantunich and Inland Blue Hole Tour – Discover Xunantunich and swim in an open-air cenote at St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park.
- Cave Tubing & Xunantunich (Mayan Ruins) From Placencia – Cave tubing is a popular activity in Belize and is a must-do! Float along the river inside a stunning cave, gazing at rock formations, and learning about Mayan rituals.
Explore the Mysterious ATM Cave
Another great place to visit from Placencia if you’re not going to go to San Ignacio, the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave is an ancient Maya archaeological site located in the Cayo District. The cave system is one of the most popular and unique attractions in Belize, as it contains a wealth of artifacts and human remains that offer a fascinating glimpse into the Maya civilization.
The cave was used by the Maya for religious ceremonies and sacrifices, and it was only discovered by modern-day explorers in the 1980s. There you can explore the underground chambers and passages of the cave system, which is filled with stalactites, stalagmites, and other geological formations.
The highlight of a visit to ATM Cave is the opportunity to see the skeletal remains of ancient Maya sacrificial victims, which are scattered throughout the cave’s chambers. The most famous of these is the “Crystal Maiden,” a fully intact skeleton that has been calcified by the minerals in the cave over centuries.
Due to the delicate nature of the cave and its artifacts, visitors are not allowed to take photographs inside the cave system. Additionally, access to the cave is limited, and visitors must be accompanied by a licensed guide at all times. So make sure to book a tour as soon as you can, especially during the high season.
It is important to note that the cave system is not suitable for everyone, as it requires physical fitness and agility to navigate the steep and narrow passages.
Explore the Nim li Punit Mayan Ruin
Nim Li Punit is an ancient Maya archaeological site located in the Toledo District. The site is easily accessible by car from Placencia, count around 2 hours, and you can hire a guide there or just visit on your own. It’s a smaller site, but definitely worth a visit.
The name Nim Li Punit means “Big Hat” in the Maya language, and it refers to a large stone structure found at the site that is shaped like a hat.
The site dates back to the Late Classic period of the Maya civilization, from the 5th to the 9th century AD. It consists of several plazas, pyramids, and other structures, including the impressive 26-foot-tall Structure A-6, which is the tallest structure at Nim Li Punit and features intricate stonework and carvings.
If you don’t have a car, you can book this Nim li Punit Mayan Ruin and The Living Maya Experience from Placencia Tour where you’ll also get to spend some time at a Mayan village and learn more about their traditions.
Get an Adrenaline Rush at Mayflower Bocawina National Park
Mayflower Bocawina National Park is a protected area located in the Stann Creek District, about a 1.5-hour drive from Placencia. The park covers an area of about 11 square miles and is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including several species of big cats, monkeys, and exotic birds.
The park is named after the Mayflower, a British ship that crashed on the nearby reef in 1620. It was established in 2001 to protect the area’s natural beauty and biodiversity, and it is one of the newest national parks in Belize.
There you can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, birdwatching, waterfall rappelling, and ziplining. The park’s lush rainforest and waterfalls provide a stunning backdrop for hiking and nature walks, and the zipline course offers an exhilarating way to experience the park from above.
Mayflower Bocawina National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in eco-tourism and outdoor adventure. The park’s pristine forests, waterfalls, and wildlife make it one of the most beautiful and biodiverse areas in Belize.
How to Get to Placencia, Belize
From Dangriga and Hopkins, there are direct buses several times a day, check out the schedule here (even if it says the buses run on Sundays, they don’t, there’s only one around 6 pm).
From Punta Gorda, take any bus heading north, get out at Independence and take a cab to the pier ($5 BZ max), and then the boat to Placencia. Check out the schedule here.
From Belize City, it’s about a 3-hour drive, you can rent a car (4W recommended), book a private transfer, or take the bus.
Where to stay in Placencia
Anda Di Hows Hostel (backpacker): the only dorm in Placencia, each bed has a fan and a power outlet, shared kitchen, right on the beach, beach chairs, snorkeling equipment, and kayaks available for free.
Alan’s Paradise Hotel (budget): Clean and well-rated hotel offering basic rooms and small apartments, each with a private bathroom, aircon, and mini fridge (full kitchen for the apartments), located on the harbor side of Placencia Village.
Placencia Villas (mid-range): Great hotel right next to the beach, they offer studio and 2-bedroom apartments. Each unit is spacious with an outdoor space, air-con, a small kitchen, a flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom.
Caribbean Beach Cabanas (high-end): a stunning and luxurious resort featuring fully-equipped villas right on the beach – perfect for couples (adults-only property). Features a pool, private beach, restaurant, and complimentary kayaks, paddleboards, and bikes.
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Is Placencia Belize worth visiting?
Yes, Placencia is definitely worth visiting! It is a charming and laid-back coastal village located in southern Belize, known for its beautiful beaches, lively nightlife, and friendly locals, with plenty of day trips you can take to explore the area.
It’s a perfect destination if you like tropical beaches without hordes of tourists.
Is Placencia Belize expensive?
No, Placencia is not expensive, you can easily find nice accommodations near the beach for under 50 USD and if you rent a car you can explore the area without having to buy expensive tours. Book a place with a kitchen to save on food and enjoy nearby free activities like snorkeling from the beach.
Is Placencia walkable?
Yes, Placencia is probably the most walkable town in Belize. One of the 2 main streets is pedestrian-only and you can get to many places walking on the beach. You can also rent a bike to get around.
What is the best time of year to visit Placencia Belize?
The best time to visit Placencia, Belize is during the dry season, which typically runs from late November to mid-April. During this time, the weather is generally sunny and dry, with lower humidity and cooler temperatures, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and hiking.
The peak tourist season in Placencia is from mid-December to mid-January, and during this time, the beaches and accommodations can be crowded and more expensive. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds and save money, you may want to consider traveling in the shoulder seasons of late November to early December or mid-April to early May.
The rainy season in Placencia runs from May to November, with the most rain falling in the months of September and October. While the rain can be heavy at times, it typically comes in short bursts, and there can still be plenty of sunny days during this time. Additionally, the rainy season can be a great time to take advantage of lower prices and smaller crowds.
It’s important to note that the Caribbean is also susceptible to hurricanes from June to November, so it’s important to monitor weather reports and consider travel insurance during this time.