Here is a gem of an island tucked in the eastern coast of Central America and bounded by the Caribbean sea on one side called Placencia. Placencia, a once-sleepy fishing village that has turned into a popular tourist attraction is about 35 minutes away from Belize City by air or about four or five hours by land surrounded by the pristine waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Placencia peninsula lagoon.
It was late in the morning and only a few people milled around the dock. I followed a small group of passengers from the boat I boarded toward the center of the village and then got lost by the charm of this small island paradise.
Placencia boasts of miles and miles of almost deserted white sand beaches. All around the 16-mile peninsula luxury resorts have sprung up, attracting more tourists. With a population of just about 3,500, Placencia has retained its fishing-village feel despite the advent of commercialization and mass tourism.
The village offered so many marine activities that almost every structure around the dock advertised scuba diving, boating, fishing, sailing, fly fishing, and more things to do. I walked around the pier and into the village taking photos like there’s no more tomorrow.
Getting around Placencia is best done by renting a golf cart. I didn’t rent one because I couldn’t take photos if I was driving, and there was no one to drive so I just kept walking.
I found the main street the most interesting feature in Placencia. It is just a narrow 4,000-foot long sidewalk for pedestrians and was the only village road until 1984.
The main street is bordered by colorfully painted structures and shacks housing art galleries, studios, souvenir shops, seafood restaurants, quaint houses, more tour shops, craft vendors, small hotels, and resorts. There is also a small medical clinic, a remittance center, and a storm shelter right along the main street.
After walking for some distance, I diverted away from the main street, enjoying the community village vibe and the friendly locals. Here is a place where everyone can revel in the slow pace of life, where there are no concrete roads and traffic jams but only dusty streets with potholes, where one can walk and daydream without the risk of being hit by cars–just watch out for the golf carts.
History tells that the Mayans lived in the Placencia Peninsula then the Spanish found it in the 17th century and called it Placencia, or Pleasant Point.
After a couple of hours exploring around, I slowly made my way back to the pier and flopped on a bench watching the world go by, relishing in the salty tang of the sea air and inhaling the delicious smells coming from a nearby local café serving fresh seafood and fresh-brewed coffee.
I took time leisurely snapping videos and photos of the life around me—the fishermen preparing their boats to go out, the men playing a game of board at one of the tables, boats leaving and arriving, a man relaxing in a woven hammock under the coconut trees, boats dropping off and picking up passengers from the pier, and the gently rolling waves slapping against the white-sand shores.
My only regret is I should have stayed longer, talked with some of the locals, ate at one of the restaurants, drank coffee, rented a golf cart, and drove as far as the road goes. Check online to see if you need a visa to visit Belize at https://belize.com/belize-visa/.
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