The very name “Caribbean” evokes the promise of adventure, discovery, romance, and images of gorgeous sunrises and spectacular sunsets, warm turquoise waters and palm studded beaches.
All of these promises come true along Belize’s Placencia Peninsula named one of “52 Places to go in 2017” by the New York Times.
In many ways the 16-mile-long strip of light brown sand and bright green mangrove encapsulates all those things that make Belize so unique. Sandwiched between the sparkling Caribbean and an intriguing lagoon teeming with manatees, dolphins, and a variety of birds, the Placencia Peninsula offers visitors immediate access to the wonders of world class attractions on land and sea.
Visitors can enjoy hiking in national parks, ziplining across lush jungle valleys, tubing down pristine rivers or exploring the ruined cities of the ancient Maya…all before sitting down for lunch. The marine activities are no less varied: fishing the flats, channels, or deep blue, snorkelling or SCUBA diving along the hemisphere’s longest barrier reef, kayaking or paddle boarding near shore or island hopping aboard a luxury catamaran…all before dinner at 1981 Restaurant or one of the Peninsula’s many other inviting dining spots.
Culturally this area of southern Belize is no less fascinating. A microcosm of the entire nation, the Placencia Peninsula rocks to its own gentle beat–the way the Caribbean used to be before chain hotels, timeshares and Kentucky Fried Chicken… but with the comforting amenities of well-paved roads, dependable communications and upscale accommodations such as Naia resort and Spa which opened to guests in January 2017.
At its southern tip Placencia Village is the quintessential fishing village. And while much of its economy has turned to tourism, the vibe remains firmly rooted in traditions dating back to a colorful past of piracy, woodcutting and lobstering.
Five miles to the north the village of Seine Bight is the Peninsula’s cultural capital, where Garifuna rythms reign and traditional dishes like sere and hudut tempt the palate.
Further up the Peninsula small intimate hotels, restaurants and a growing number of single family homes predominate. The resulting mixture of multicultural locals, expats and visitors may not rival the diversity of the bar scene in Star Wars, but after a few tots of rum it does come close.