Placencia has a long history of occupation starting with the Maya who established at least 14 sites around the Placencia Lagoon. They were principally engaged in the making of salt as well as participating in the extensive coastal trade.
In the seventeenth century, Placencia was settled by the English Puritans who were originally from Nova Scotia and latterly from the island of Providencia. This settlement died out during the Central American wars of independence in the 1820’s.
The longest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere is a 45 minute boat ride off the coast of Placencia.
The Spaniards that travelled the southern coast of Belize gave Placencia its name. At that time Placencia was called Placentia,with the point being called Punta Placentia or Pleasant Point. The Placencia Peninsula was resettled in the late 1800’s by the Garbutt family, who decided to settle and who eventually owned most of the Peninsula. In 1894 Abner Westby, whose family originated in Scotland, came to Placencia and purchased land from the Garbutts.
He was later joined by a younger member of his family, John Eiley. The Cabral family, originally from Lisbon, Portugal, closed their business in Sao Paulo, Brazil and the Caribbean and sailed to the southern part of Belize on two schooners, The Colibri and The Jane. Soon they began doing business with and eventually married into the Placencia community. In the early 1900’s the Leslie’s, originally from Rotan, also came to Placencia.
Placencia prospered and soon became a village, earning its livelihood from the sea. On June 20th, 1962, the fishermen of the Village came together and formed the Placencia Produces Cooperative, which is still in limited operation today to provide the village with competitive prices for their seafood production. In the early 1970’s Placencia was provided with electricity (although sometimes less than 110V) from the generators of the Cooperative, and eventually in 1993 the Belize Electricity Limited assumed that role, providing 110V and 220V to supply the increasing demand.
Placencia is as culturally diverse today as it was in its formation. Walking down the sidewalk on any given day you will see and hear people from all over Belize and the world gracing our little village. The people here today are united in their love for the sea and in their commitment to tourism and development.
Since 1990, Placencia has made large and sure strides toward making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Belize. Hurricane Iris that hit the village on October 8 of 2001 set Placencia back a bit but today Placencia is back on the track of tourism.