Placencia: it’s SO nice!

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We’ve heard nothing but bad things about Placencia since arriving to Belize. People have told us it’s too touristy, that it’s fake, and if you are craving tropical beach life it is just better to head out to the islands. We would have had every reason to skip it if it weren’t for the D-Express: the high speed boat that leaves from Placencia every Friday for Puerto Cortez, Honduras. On a whim, we decided to get there a few days early, in order to see one more town of mainland Belize before setting off to Honduras. I am so glad we did, Placencia is nothing like what we’d heard. Unarguably it is busier than Hopkins was, but to call any town on Belize’s mainland ‘touristy’ is a dramatic overstatement.

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Placencia is located at the very end of a narrow peninsula that jets out from the mainland just south of Hopkins. The bus ride out there offers quick glimpses of water from two different directions: you travel through little towns and thick mangroves and forested areas. Then out of nowhere comes two gigantic resorts split across either side of the road– we couldn’t help but wonder whether all the negative reviews we’d heard were true. But twenty minutes further the bus let us off in a town full of real charm– kids walking home in their school uniforms greeted us on the roadside, music from the little wooden open air restaurant overflowed into the street, and road signs that appeared to be created in an art class guided us to our guesthouse.

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Placencia’s narrow peninsula offers a very unique natural growth boundary for the central district. On one side is the beach to the east, and a short 5-10 minute walk delivers you to the bay to the west. The waters are so clear, that simply sitting on a dock feels like an adventure in marine biology. It is, by far, the most impressive beachfront we’ve seen in Belize yet. Snorkeling right off shore one afternoon, we saw rays, crab, giant starfish, and schools of tiny blue fish that glowed amongst the sun beams.

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Nice beaches, great snorkeling right off shore, little street carts selling caribbean chicken and fritters, live music from open air bars… Placencia has more activity then the last few places we’ve been. The little town center has painted storefront signs, sandy roads, little family run restaurants, and a beautiful beach with views of the reef in the distance.

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Placencia has the presence of a lot of wealthy visitors, judging by the monstrous yachts sitting out in the bay. This may explain the negativity that gets focused on this town. It is additionally the most expensive of our stops in Belize so far, our guesthouse is running us $40 per night. It is therefore a stop that can only allow us very limited time, but we’re so glad we came to stay for a few days. Placencia is adorable– it’s quiet and relaxed, but it doesn’t feel fake in the way so many tourist areas can feel.

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