The Placencia Peninsula is home to Belize’s longest stretch of beach – Photo by Lebawit Girma
A country facing the Caribbean Sea, Belize offers beaches – plenty of them, and most uncrowded. For the most part, all you have to do is head south and get past the regular tourist trail of the Northern Cayes.
All along the south coast, from Dangriga to the Placencia Peninsula, there are beaches on shore and offshore idyllic cayes or islands — a little something for everyone.
Hopkins Village Beach – Photo by Lebawit Girma
Hopkins is one of my favorite places to relax. Located on the east coast, and a short drive from Dangriga, this five-mile beach is quiet, nicely lined with coconut trees and with plenty of local life around, as well as budget accommodations. Hopkins is also an authentic Garifuna village — so while you spend some days burying your toes in the sand, others can be spent sampling Garifuna dishes, taking drumming lessons or exploring local art in this unique Afro-Amerindian beach village.
Tobacco Caye is a short boat ride from Dangriga – Photo by Lebawit Girma
Off the coast of Dangriga are some of the most beautiful cayes, where you can overnight and enjoy life on an island, with a range of accommodations – from basic huts to luxury cabanas. My favorite is the postcard-like South Water Caye – with several lodging options along its shores. The best stretch of beach faces Pelican Beach Resort – fine sand, turquoise waters and a wonderful staff, with plenty of organized activities.
Nearby, Tobacco Caye is a popular choice for backpackers and budget travelers, with a more social and young vibe. Any of these islands will offer nothing to do all day long but soak up the sun, explore the sea day and night, or just swing in a hammock.
Placencia Village Beach has plenty of hotels, bars and other distractions along its shores – Photo by Lebawit Lily Girma
The Placencia Peninsula is the most popular beach area in Belize. You’ll find more tourists here, although not nearly as many as you see in neighboring countries. Three different areas make up the peninsula, from Maya Beach to Seine Bight and Placencia Village. Take your pick, the beaches are public and the sand varies from a golden coarse kind to the fine and soft variety. There are restaurants, hotels, or local bars along the way to keep you busy when you’re not in the water exploring. If you’re looking for a social night life — including drumming on the beach at night — a good variety of restaurants and meet other travelers, Placencia is your best bet.
Feel like really getting away from it all? Travel to Punta Gorda and from there, catch a boat to Lime Caye or Hunting Caye — both with stunning, turtle-nesting beaches (closed from May 1 to November 1). Or just head for a day’s snorkel trip. But my bet is you’ll want to stay in one of the cottages or pitch your own tent.
The Northern Cayes
The beach at Ramon’s Village Resort is one of the best spots to swim in downtown San Pedro – Photo by Lebawit Girma
The most popular tourist destination in Belize, these two northern offshore islands do have sandy stretches, good enough to lay your towel on. The swimming though, is limited due to the seagrass, thanks to a wonderufl nearby barrier reef (a mile off shore). Still, you can find your spot to sun and snorkel – on Ambergris Caye and on Caye Caulker. Head to the beach facing Ramon’s Village (currently under reconstruction), or Victoria House. On Caye Caulker, head to the infamous “Split” area of the island, where everyone gathers for a good rum punch, music and sunset.