Placencia, Belize: A True Caribbean Escape
Adventure, Rest and Everything In Between
We were sitting in a plane, about to take off from a small airport toward Placencia. A pilot and co-pilot checked switches, controls and gauges while we passengers were facing a stretch of runway that ended at the sea.
A couple of thoughts entered my mind here: This is the most beautiful view I’ve ever had from inside an idling airplane; and, I know how much runway a plane requires for takeoff, this doesn’t seem like much. Being a passenger in a plane is not the time or place to lose courage or confidence. Let the adventure begin.
Our plane lifted in time to avoid water contact and we soaring with the sea birds in no time. The pilots were pros and they landed us with perfect smoothness and precision as we touched down minutes later.
You’ve seen them: someone posts pictures from an aquamarine-water coastline paradise, and you wonder: How do I get there? It looks too good to be true but lucky for you, it’s not. Placencia is located in the Central American country of Belize, on the 16-mile long Placencia Peninsula, with the small fishing village located at the tip. Around 6,000 people live on the peninsula with 1,500 of them located in Placencia.
It’s one of those locations that are peaceful, immediately. As soon as stepped out of our taxi into the warm air, we marveled in the quiet that surrounded us. Up above, pterodactyl-like profiles of frigatebirds’ wings were visible as they glided without flapping their wings for what seemed like an eternity. As we walked toward the heart of the village, we saw mango trees all around and noticed iguana tracks in the sand.
Placencia’s Beautiful Vibe
There are a couple of routes to take to and from the heart of Placencia. One is Placencia Road, where motorized vehicles are allowed. The other is a sidewalk that holds the distinction of being the “World’s Narrowest Main Street” according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Coming from the Rust Belt in the Midwest, the amount of vibrant color was not lost on us or taken for granted. The colors we saw were bright and numerous. When you’re accustomed to earth tones or dirty-snow tones, seeing bright pinks and yellows is quenching for the eyes.
Sea and Seafood
A couple of snorkel trips were on our agenda and we couldn’t wait. Whale sharks migrate off the coast of Belize between March and June snorkeling with them was our top priority. Thanks to the fairness of the local dive-shop operators, we decided against snorkeling for whale sharks since there numbers had been low at the time we were there and our chances of seeing one would be slim. Instead, we opted for a couple of different snorkel trips; each one providing us with encounters with tropical fish, turtles and nurse sharks.
Seafood is a specialty here because of its proximity to the sea. There is no shortage of eateries in the village and surrounding area. Our favorite restaurant—we went there twice—was Rumfish and Vino. As soon as our menu-browsing eyeballs landed on conch ceviche, lionfish and red curry snapper, we needn’t look any further. Our choices were solidified as soon we tasted each dish; all of it was divine and fresh.
Bowling in Belize
When it is as beautiful outside as it is in Belize, it can seem sinful to do anything within the confines of walls. This is especially true when that activity can be done in almost any town back home. When that activity though is at the Jaguar Lanes bowling center, you best get inside and roll.
This place caught our attention during a day when we rented a golf cart to travel the length of the peninsula. We saw its sign on our Belizean-home return trip and pulled in promptly. There are four lanes, paper score cards and carved jaguars to guard your gear.
A couple of Belikins—the national beer—in hand, bowling balls selected, and we had the ingredients for a perfectly balanced good time. With the exception of the barkeep and a couple of guys watching fútbol on the television, we were the only ones there. We’d have played all day there if league play wasn’t about to take over the lanes for the evening. Plus, we had more of Belize to check out.
See You Soon Belize
We met a host of locals and characters on our excursions. Everyone was extremely accommodating, helpful and relaxed. With an annual average temperature of approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit, even the temperature was welcoming.
In fact, everything about Placencia was laid back. It’s easy to walk around and get lost—although, not too lost since it’s a small peninsula, which is perfect. Tourism is a thriving industry in Placencia, but it’s not overwhelmingly so. We enjoyed walked when we could since it afforded us the opportunity to slow down even more, see the art crafted by locals and enjoy the pace of daily life.
Before the trip, I thought one week would be plenty of time in Placencia; in fact, it wasn’t quite enough. That’s a good thing. Leaving a place as quiet, beautiful and welcoming as it was and wanting more, just means we’ll have to return, as soon as possible.