by Louise Carr, Demand Media
The village of Placencia sits at the southernmost end of the Placencia peninsula in south Belize. According to Rough Guides, Placencia has “some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, and these, together with the abundant, inexpensive accommodation, make it a great place to relax.” Tours of Placencia take in Mayan archeological sites, mangrove-fringed lagoon, jungle rivers and wildlife-filled rainforest.
Monkey River Tour
Reach Monkey River by taking a boat 12 miles along the coast and through the mangroves — see if you can spot manatees in the mangrove area. Next stop is the small village of Monkey River from where the boat floats upriver into the jungle. A guide explains the flora and fauna and points out boa constrictors, iguanas, crocodiles, and deer (if you’re lucky enough to spot them.) The tour concludes with a hike through the jungle in search of howler monkeys and lunch in Monkey River village. All the tour guides based in Placencia, including Ocean Motion, can arrange the Monkey River tour.
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary Tour
This day tour takes you to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, an hour’s drive from Placencia in the Maya Mountains. The wildlife sanctuary is home to a jaguar reserve and while you may not see these nocturnal animals you will spot their signs. The wildlife sanctuary also features a number of hiking trails taking tour groups through the jungle to waterfalls and streams. Wildlife to spot includes iguanas, deer and numerous bird species. Ocean Motion visits the wildlife reserve on a day tour that includes lunch and an afternoon tube float down South Stann Creek River.
For a touch of history, take a tour to ancient Mayan sites. The ruins of Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun are around two hours away from Placencia by boat across the lagoon and minibus along the Southern Highway. These sites were once city-states of the Mayan empire and your guide tells you stories from Mayan times and informs you of the history surrounding the ruins. Ocean Motion as well as other guides take you on a day tour with an additional stop at the Blue Creek Cave with its hidden waterfall.
Trip ‘N Travel organizes fly-fishing and saltwater-fishing tours from Placencia. The company also offers deep-sea fishing trips for sailfish and marlin from a 23-foot boat. The boat stops outside the Barrier Reef and can be chartered for private groups of up to 10 people. Ocean Motion and Captain Jak’s also arrange spin cast fishing, trolling, drop-fishing or hand-line fishing tours from their base in Placencia Village. Tours include lunch, fishing gear and a guide.
Placencia lies in close proximity to the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-longest reef in the world. The Seahorse Dive Shop and Belize Scuba in Placencia Village take visitors on dive and snorkeling tours from Placencia. Snorkeling destinations include Laughing Bird Caye National Park, Silk Caye, Ranguana Caye and Inner Caye and take a half or full day. In March through June, whale sharks visit the area at Gladden Split and tours take you to swim, dive and snorkel among them. The dates change every year as the whale shark migration changes.
On top of the water, Placencia tours take you on a sailboat through the Caribbean Sea. Visit deserted cayes, snorkel and swim in the clear waters and cruise through the sunset in peace. A number of local skippers offer day sails and overnight tours in a variety of boats — ask at Placencia’s Tourism Centre or check with the tour operators in the village.