Planning a Trip
By Plane -- There are numerous flights into and out of Placencia's little airport (PLJ). Maya Island Air (tel. 223-1140 in Belize City, or 523-3475 in Placencia; www.mayaairways.com) has 10 flights daily between the Goldson International Airport in Belize City and Placencia. The first flight leaves at 8:10am and the last flight is at 5pm. Flight time is 35 minutes, with a brief stop in Dangriga; the fare is BZ$164 (US$82/£43) each way. They also have seven daily flights between Belize City's Municipal Airport and Placencia at 8, 9, 10, and 11am, noon, and 2:30 and 4:30pm. The fare is BZ$144 (US$72/£38) each way. These flights take 50 minutes, because they stop en route to pick up and let off passengers at the international airport and in Dangriga. Maya Island Air flights from Placencia to Belize City depart throughout the day, with the first flight at 7:25am and the last flight at 4:50pm. Most of these flights stop first in Dangriga, and then at the international airport, before continuing on to Municipal Airport.
Tropic Air (tel. 800/422-3435 in the U.S. or Canada, 226-2012 in Belize City, or 523-3410 in Placencia; www.tropicair.com) has 11 flights daily between Goldson International Airport and Placencia, with the first flight leaving at 8:15am and the last flight at 5pm. The fare is BZ$171 (US$86/46) each way. They also have five daily flights between Municipal Airport and Placencia, leaving at 8:30 and 10:30am, and at 12:30, 2:30, and 4:50pm. The fare is BZ$144 (US$72/£38) each way. Tropic Air flights depart Placencia for Belize City's airports daily beginning at 7:25am, with the last flight of the day at 4:25pm.
Flights to and from Punta Gorda on Maya Island Air and Tropic Air stop in Placencia to pick up and drop off passengers. On both airlines, flights are sometimes added during the high season or suspended during the low season, so check in advance. Flight time runs between 25 and 50 minutes, depending on whether there is an intermediate stop or two.
By Car -- From Belize City, head west on Cemetery Road, which becomes the Western Highway. Take this all the way to Belmopan, where you will connect with the Hummingbird Highway heading south. Ten kilometers (6 1/3 miles) before Dangriga, the Hummingbird Highway connects with the Southern Highway. Take the Southern Highway towards Placencia and Punta Gorda. After 37km (23 miles) on the Southern Highway, turn left onto the road to Riversdale and Placencia. From this turnoff, it's another 32km (20 miles) to Placencia. The drive from Belize City should take around 3 hours.
The road for almost the entire length of the peninsula -- save for small patches of pavement -- is a hard-packed red dirt, sand, and gravel affair that can often be very dusty and bumpy. They've been talking about paving it for over a decade now. Given the amount of development going on here, it seems inconceivable that this hasn't happened yet, and locals swear it might sometime soon. Currently, the road is paved from the airstrip into the center of the village.
By Bus -- There is frequent bus service between all major cities in Belize and Dangriga. Direct buses leave Dangriga for Placencia daily at 10:30 and 11:30am, and at 4 and 5:15pm. The fare is BZ$10 (US$5/£2.65). Buses leave Placencia for Dangriga, with onward connection to Belmopan, San Ignacio, and Belize City, daily at 5:30 and 6am, and at 1:30 and 2pm. If you're heading south, you'll want to get off the bus as soon as it hits the Southern Highway and flag down the next southbound bus.
However, most independent and bus travelers will want to reach Placencia via Independence Village and Mango Creek, using the Hokie Pokie ferry (tel. 523-2376). This short 30-minute boat ride cuts a lot of bumpy, dusty miles off the road trip. The ferry fare is BZ$12 (US$6/£3.20). All north- and southbound bus traffic along the Southern highway stops in Independence Village, near the ferry dock. Ferries to Placencia leave daily at 6:30, 7:30, 8, and 11am, at noon, and at 2:30 and 4:30pm. Return ferries from Placencia to Independence Village leave at 6:45 and 10am, and at 12:30, 2:30, 4, 5, and 6pm.
Placencia Village itself is tiny, and you can walk the entire length of the sidewalk, which covers most of the village, in about 10 to 15 minutes. If you need a taxi, call Cobo's Taxi (tel. 661-2370), J's Taxi Service (tel. 623-4137), S&M Taxi (tel. 523-3524), or Peninsula Star Taxi (tel. 523-4017). Fares within the village run around BZ$4 to BZ$6 (US$2.10-US$3.20) per person. A trip from the airstrip to the village costs BZ$12 (US$6.35) for one person, or BZ$6 (US$3.20) per person for two or more.
If you want to rent a car or golf cart while in Placencia, Barefoot Rentals (tel. 523-3438; www.barefootrentals.net) is the best option, charging around BZ$130 (US$65/£34) per day for a golf cart, and between BZ$150 and BZ$180 (US$75-US$90/£40-£48) per day for an SUV. Alternately, you can rent a golf cart from Caribbean Tours (tel. 523-3047) for similar rates.
If you want to explore more, a scooter is a good way to get around. Several hotels and operators in the area rent scooters. Rates run around BZ$60 (US$30/£16) for a half-day and BZ$100 (US$50/£27) for a full day.
If you want a little more exercise, a bicycle is a decent option. The terrain is flat, although it can get hot and dusty on the main road, and there aren't really any trails or off-road options. Once the road is paved, a bicycle will be an excellent way to get up the peninsula to find some deserted stretch of beach or visit Seine Bight. Many hotels have bikes either free for the guests or for rent. Several shops around town also rent out bicycles. A relatively modern bike in good shape should cost between BZ$16 and BZ$30 (US$8-US$15/£4.25-£7.95) per day.
For most of the peninsula there is only one road. As the road reaches the end of the peninsula and the village of Placencia, it basically dead-ends at the Shell station and some boat docks. Just before this, a dirt spur turns right just beyond the soccer field and heads for a few hundred yards towards the lagoon. Once you've arrived, your main thoroughfare will hopefully be the beach and the sidewalk, both of which run parallel to each other starting near the docks and heading north.
Hotels and resorts are spread all along the length of the Placencia peninsula. To make it easier to understand where a hotel or resort is, the peninsula is broken up into three broad sections: Maya Beach, Seine Bight, and Placencia Village. Maya Beach is the northernmost section of the peninsula, and the hotels and resorts here are quite spread out, with few other services or businesses. More or less anchoring the center of the peninsula is the tiny Garífuna village of Seine Bight. Just to the north and south of Seine Bight village are several other isolated resorts. Down at the southern end of the peninsula is Placencia Village itself.
The very helpful Placencia Information Center (tel. 523-4045; www.placencia.com) is located towards the end of the road, in a new mini-mall just across from the soccer field.
For the local police, dial tel. 911 or 503-3142; you can also reach the newly formed tourist police at tel. 603-0374. If you need any medical attention, the Placencia Medical Center (tel. 523-3326) is located behind the school in the center of the village.
There's a Scotiabank (tel. 523-3277) on the main road near the center of the village, as well as an Atlantic Bank (tel. 523-3431). Scotiabank has an ATM that accepts international cards. There's a pharmacy attached to Wallen's Market (tel. 523-3128), in the center of the village. The post office is located above the Fishermen's Co-op, near the start of the sidewalk.
There are a couple of gas stations in Placencia. You'll find the Shell station where the road hits the end of the peninsula in the heart of the village. There's also a Texaco station at the Inn at Robert's Grove Marina.
If you need to use the Internet, there's a host of options. If you want Wi-Fi or some food or drink to go along with your surfing, I recommend the Purple Space Monkey (tel. 523-4094). The Placencia Office Supply (tel. 523-3205), which is on the main road and has high-speed connections, is another good option. The Live Oak Plaza is another free Wi-Fi hotspot.