Winding its way and running parallel to the southern sea coast for nearly 15 miles, lies the beautiful narrow peninsula of Placencia in the Caribbean Coast of Stann Creek District in south east Belize. The first settlers here were the English Puritans in the 17th century with inhabitants from Nova Scotia and then the Providencia Island. However, the Central American wars of independence diminished this settlement and it was only in the late 1800’s that Placencia was once again settled by numerous families.
Placencia was given its name by Spanish travelers who traveled the southern coast of Belize. Before this, Placencia was known as Punta Placentia, which means ‘Pleasant Point’. After its resettlement, Placencia thrived as a small fishing village with people earning their livelihood from the vast sea. By the late 20th century it had become a prominent tourist spot with travelers arriving here for its sun-drenched beaches, numerous water sport activities and some important tourism sites in its neighboring areas.
While the eastern stretch of the peninsula comprises of a vast expanse of luscious white sand beach, the western part ends in a long finger-like extension into the north-south bay of the Caribbean Sea. Placencia Village offers Belize’s only sand beach. Those who are interested in water sport can enjoy a host of activities that include snorkeling, diving, kayaking and saltwater fishing. If you happen to be visiting in the months of April to July, you can go for whale shark watching on full moon nights, when there is a possibility of sightings.
Apart from these activities, Placencia Village has several bars and restaurants where tourists can sample a range of local as well as international delicacies. The Placencia Lagoon is home to mangrove forests, wetlands and sea grass beds along with sea life such as dolphins, manatees and an exclusive species of rays housed in a nursery. Placencia also holds a number of festivals such as the Lobster Fest and the Placencia Peninsula Arts Festival. Besides, there is the Mayflower Archeological Reserve, where one can view three Maya ruins and some splendid waterfalls.
Outside Placencia, there are two very significant day-trips that most tourists opt for. Visiting the Stann Creek District and not visiting the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is hardly likely. The sanctuary is one of a kind and the only Jaguar reserve in the world. Besides the jaguars, one can spot some of the 300 bird species that live in this 100,000 acre forest. The sanctuary is a day trip sightseeing attraction from Placencia. Another day excursion is a trip to Nim Li Punit and Lubantuum, which are Mayan ruins in the neighboring Toledo District.
Placencia has its own Placencia Airport, which is on a narrow dirt strip along the sea. Small aircrafts come in from Belize City, Dangriga and Punta Gorda to get tourists arriving from abroad.