Placencia Peninsula



Belize's Placencia Peninsula, like Hopkins, appeals to those who want to combine a mainland vacation with seaside activities. Lying 114 mi/180 km by road south of Belize City, it offers a sleepy, almost South Pacific atmosphere, though a number of housing and condo developments are changing the peninsula, and not necessarily for the better.

You'll find a mix of budget and upscale lodges, some of Belize's best mainland beaches and several good restaurants and bars—hang out there for five days or so. Visitors can enjoy diving and snorkeling, although the reef is 15-20 mi/25-30 km offshore, requiring a long boat trip. Fishing is available, too, primarily for tarpon and bonefish.

The peninsula community of Seine Bight is a Garifuna fishing village that's experiencing some culture shock because of the tourism development in this once-isolated area. After years of hoping, residents got their fondest wish when paving finally began on the 25-mi/40-km road from the Southern Highway to Placencia village, although it remains uncompleted.

An international airport just north of the peninsula was completed in late 2012, although at present it serves only two inter-island carriers, Maya Island Air and Tropic Air, as well as private flights.

Most visitors spend their days taking a series of day tours, which can be arranged locally. You can go by boat to Laughing Bird Caye National Park (excellent snorkeling there and at other sites on typical daylong snorkel tours), Monkey River or Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Red Bank, southwest of Placencia, is a mostly Maya village famous among birders as the January-March home of the endangered and beautiful scarlet macaw. Other options include renting kayaks to search for manatees in the local lagoon or renting bikes to visit other parts of the peninsula.

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