Placencia lies at the southern end of Belize and is a thin 16 mile long stretch of land that offers the best beaches in the entire country (in my opinion). It is the ideal location for divers, snorkelers, and those who wish to explore the Mayan ruins in the south of the country. The town still has a laid back Caribbean attitude, and life here centers around the three foot wide main street where you will find most bars and restaurants. I loved my stay here and ended up staying an extra week. In Placencia, you’ll find a lot of travelers who do the same. Eat seafood, relax on the beach, drink beer as the sunsets.
Hostel prices – There are a couple of hostels in the town with dorms (10-16 beds) that run about 24-40 BZD a night. A private room that sleeps two with a shared bathroom runs about 110 BZD. These hostels offer free linens and free WiFi.
Budget hotel prices – There aren’t many low cost hotels here. A hotel room in 2-star accommodations ranges around 130-150 BZD per night on the lower end. You can also get a lot of accommodation just by showing up and asking around. On Airbnb, shared rooms average around 60 BZD per night while entire homes start around 140 BZD so this might be your best option.
Average cost of food – A basic meal of rice, beans and chicken will cost 8 BZD, with dinner in a sit down restaurant with table service costing 20 BZD. A fast food meal will cost you about 14 BZD. Restaurants along the beach cost more as they are a bit more touristy. Groceries are a little pricier here than elsewhere in Belize, and prices can vary depending on what you buy. A week’s worth of food is about 70 BZD for basic groceries like pasta, vegetables, chicken, and other basic foodstuffs.
Transportation costs – A taxi around the town will cost 5 BZD per person although you can really walk everywhere since Placencia is pretty small. Your best option is to rent a bike for about 20 BZD per day (many hotels even offer them for free for guests). The public bus from Belize City takes 3-4 hours and costs 10 BZD.
Suggested daily budget – 80 BZD / 40 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)
Money Saving Tips
- Bike it – Placencia itself is small enough to explore on foot, but many hotels offer guests free bike rentals.
- Happy hour – Most bars have a happy hour in the late afternoon and offer 2 for the price of one drinks.
- Travel off-peak – The most expensive time to visit is between October and April. By traveling in the off-season, you can significantly reduce prices for accommodation and flights.
- Combine trips – Many tour operators offer trips that combine popular excursions. These are a good way to save on transfers to each tourist destination as well as possibly get dropped off in your next destination.
- Shop around – There are many activity and tour providers so be sure to shop around.
- Couchsurf – If you plan ahead, you can usually find really nice Couchsurfing hosts all throughout the country. This way, you not only have a place to stay, but you’ll have a local host that can tell you the best places to go and things to see.
Top Things to See and Do in Placencia
- Go sailing – Sailing is an incredible way to see this area, with boats and catamarans going on day trips to the islands on the reef and further afield to the Honduran and Guatemalan Bay Islands. For something a little different, take a full moon cruise. A one-day trip is around 140-160 BZD while a 3-day/2-night is 700-900 BZD.
- Go diving – The Belizean Barrier Reef is the world’s second largest barrier reef just 45 minutes from the shore. If you’re new to diving, consider a trip to Laughing Bird Caye. For something more adventurous, head to The Elbow at Gladden Spit. For the two weeks following a full moon, whales sharks feed on the small fish that spawn here. Diving trips are between 120-300 BZD.
- Sea kayaking – You can rent a sea kayak for around 60 BZD per day for a chance to explore secluded beaches and caves. Bring your snorkel gear to take advantage of the amazing snorkeling in the region. There are also guided kayaking tours if you don’t fancy going alone.
- Snorkeling – Many of the diving sites are also great for snorkelers too. Snorkeling day trips often include a beach barbecue and cost between 50-140 BZD with trips to Laughing Bird Caye being the most inexpensive.
- Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary – Just a 45 minute minute drive from Placencia is Cockscomb Basin, Belize’s prime jaguar spotting territory. The sanctuary covers 150 square miles of tropical forest, including a small Mayan ruin and mountain area. Cockscomb is renowned for its bird watching with over 200 species being recorded here, including macaws and toucans. You can spend a night at many of the guesthouses that line the entrance (that’s what I did) to maximize your hiking. You probably won’t see any jaguars though. There’s a lot of difficult trails here so bring sturdy shoes.
- Visit Nim Li Punit – Nim Li Punit is one of the smaller Mayan sites but is well known for the large amount of stelae found there. The site also consists of pyramids, tombs, and plazas, but the intricate carvings on the stelae steal the show—they’re the tallest in Belize. Trips to Nim Li Punit are usually combined with a visit to Lubaantun. Admission is 10 BZD and it’s open daily from 8am-5pm.
- Visit Lubaantun – Lubaantun, translated as “place of fallen rocks,” is the largest Mayan site in Southern Belize. Strangely, the structures have a rounded shape and unlike Nim Li Punit, there are no stelae at the site. However, there are ball courts, temples, pyramids, and tombs. Historically, Lubaantun was famed for its ceramic artifacts, many of which are displayed in the small on-site museum. Admission is 10 BZD and it’s open daily from 8am-5pm.
- Explore Placencia Lagoon – This is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of manatees, saltwater crocodiles, and numerous species of birds. The mangrove forests are ideal for exploring via canoe or kayak.
- Whale Watching – The months of May and June are prime time for spotting the gentle whale sharks that swim down here. It’s one of the most amazing experiences ever and I highly recommend doing it if you come here in season!
- Snorkel at Silk Caye – Silk Caye Marine Reserve is located just 36km east of Placencia Village. Stop by this island to snorkel among some of the most colorful fish you’ll ever see. Costs 150 BZD, lunch included.
- Tour a spice farm near Nim Li Punit – This spice farm and botanical garden was created by in 1990. Now, the farm is one of the largest black pepper and vanilla farms in the country and is also covered with beautiful teak, mahogany, and rosewood trees. You can come here to wander the grounds or learn about how pepper is made. Open daily from 8am-4pm and tours costs 25 BZD.