Placencia, a small town located in the Stann Creek District of Belize, is a destination that has come out of the shadows in the past decade and has stepped into the travel spotlight by offering a unique combination of jungle highlands with beaches and reefs in one strategic location.
To experience both land and sea, here are 10 of the best things you can do while in Placencia:
Whether it is through a watersports shop or one of the many waterfront hotels like The Placencia, you can rent a kayak and paddle your way through the clear Caribbean waters.
While these waters are not confined, they don’t have too much tide action, so it’s easy to kayak through them. If you’re adventurous, you can do caye hopping by kayak and camp in them.
Lagoon Naturalist Kayaking
Lagoon Kayaking is a bit more passive than sea kayaking since here you go at a leisure pace to appreciate your natural surroundings – mostly composed of heavy mangroves. The Placencia Lagoon is a good place to see manatees, dolphins, rays, and a great variety of fish and birds.
Snorkeling at the Silk Cayes
With the look of a series of postcard islands, the white-sanded Silk Cayes are perfect spots to go snorkeling. Just 20 miles away from Placencia, these cayes contain pristine colorful reefs and a healthy variety of sea life.
You can snorkel with many tropical fish like the trumpetfish, barracuda, angelfish, damselfish, rays, sharks, and sea turtles, among others.
If snorkeling is good enough, diving is exponentially better. Between the Placencia Peninsula and Belize’s Barrier Reef, there are miles of underwater canyons and topographical formations that create an extensive range of cays that are perfect for diving – whether you’re a novice diver or a dive master.
Close to Placencia is the White Hole, but if the Blue Hole is what you’re interested in doing, it is also possible with a longer dive tour. Also from Placencia, you can dive with the famous whale sharks during their mating season that spans between March and June.
Sailing and Boat Rides
Another good way to experience Belize’s Barrier Reef – second in size only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – is by sailing or doing cay hopping.
You can either do a day trip to many of the cayes like the Laughing Bird Cayes, Silk Cayes, and Long Coco Cayes or decide to do a multi-day trip and camp overnight or stay at one of many guest houses located on the cayes.
Fishing in Placencia has become a booming business – especially with tourists interested in this sport. Many aficionados come for the thrill of hooking the elusive permit, tarpon, snook, and bonefish to get the catch-and-release Grand Slam.
You can fish in the lagoons or in the open sea and experiment with many types of fishing that include fly-fishing, drop fishing, and trolling, among others.
Also at the Jaguar Reserve, you can combine your hike with a river tubing ride. Sit on a tire looking inflatable and let the soft river current take you downstream while you relax and enjoy the scenery.
While the South Stan Creek has a decent current during the rainy season, it is still an enjoyable passive activity that shouldn’t be missed.
Hike Through the Jungle
There are many places to hike through the Belizean jungle, but some of the best jungle trails are in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary – the world’s first Jaguar Reserve. On any given day you could see boa constrictors, green iguana, wild deer, birds, and rarely a Jaguar or other big “cat”.
One of the best ways to do these jungle hikes is with a local Maya as a guide. They will show you their own perspective of nature and how almost every plant can serve as a homemade remedy or medicinal cure.
For the hardcore hikers, you can do a multi-day hike to the second tallest peak in Belize, Victoria Peak.
Bird Watching and Animal Spotting in Monkey River
Monkey River might be one of the best places in Placencia to go bird watching as there is an abundant variety of birds that populate the banks of this mangrove river.
To get there you have to hire a boat or take a tour, as it is at least 30 minutes away from the center of Placencia. There you can also see the famous and loud Howler Monkeys, Iguanas, and maybe even a Crocodile or two along the river shore.
Enjoy the Garifuna and Creole Culture
Placencia is not fully experienced if you don’t taste the Garifuna and Creole culture. Whether it is through music, food, or art, the Garifuna and Creole culture is always present in every part of Placencia and in their daily lifestyle.
A significant settlement on the peninsula is the historic Garifuna village of Seine Bight. It is a small community where traditions and ceremonial rituals still have a strong presence.
For the Creole experience, head to Monkey River Village, a true old-style Creole fishing village where you can enjoy a delicious meal at one of the village’s family-run restaurants.
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