How you feel about Placencia depends on why you’ve come to Belize: if it’s seaside pleasures and tourists you’re after, you’ve come to the right place. But if you were hoping to get off the beaten path, forget it: the path to Placencia is not merely beaten, it is professionally flogged.
Placencia is where tourists – mostly North Americans – come to swim, snorkel, scuba dive, hang out on the beach and drive around in golf carts holding bottles of Belikin stout at 10 in the morning. There is little of the Garifuna/hippie vibe you’ll find in communities such as Hopkins, nor any of the urban hustle of Dangriga. Instead, the village of Placencia feels like an upper crust New England village transported to the Caribbean coast.
The drive to Placencia village down the narrow 4-mile-long peninsula is quite pretty. There are some lovely resorts of varied price ranges on the east-facing beach, and mangrove swamp on the western side. But open land on either side is disappearing at a fast clip as lots are bought up for development, both for upper-end resorts, and for private homes being sold to Americans and Canadians looking for their own slices of heaven in tropical climes.
Like most tropical places existing primarily for tourists, Placencia has a different feel from season to season. In the dog days of summer, the town is quieter, hotels are cheaper (some even close) and the overall tourist vibe much mellower. Peak times for tourists are May, June and July.