FYI, here's a trip report mostly on Placencia from a reader. (He also visited Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker.)
--Lan Sluder www.belizefirst.com
I had a wonderful time in Belize last August, so I thought I'd share a few moments of the trip. I live in London, a great, but noisy and crowded city, so I wanted to get away, away from the city, away from too many people, and just have some time
to relax. I was looking for a place that could offer the amenities of the usual Caribbean destinations, but without the usual noise pollution of clubs closing at 5 am and drunk people staggering home. There is nothing wrong with it, but that's pretty much what London is like every weekend (minus the sun, sea and good food). Belize seemed like an ideal option. Friends had recommended it as offering a wonderful sense of calm, the most laid-back atmosphere they had ever experienced, great water and diving, plus
opportunities to visit the rain forest and ancient ruins. They were absolutely right.
I first went to Placencia, a peninsula in the south of Belize. There are two villages there, Seine Bight and Placencia. I recommend you stay in Placencia - while I did want to relax, I also wanted to be able to got to a nice little restaurant and bar on the beach, rather than hardly seeing any people at all. At Seine Bight I stayed in the NAUTICAL INN, which was fine and
practically on the beach (although I found the owner a bit intrusive). I then moved to the MANATEE INN in Placencia, which turned out to be a
fantastic decision. The MANATEE INN is a small, cosy hotel with six bedrooms, 30 seconds walk from the beach. The owners, a young Czech-Canadian
couple called Lenka and Slavek, really make you feel completely at home. After a day I felt like I was amongst friends and for the first time
completely put the City behind me. With Lenka laughing in the background, and Slavek showing off the barracuda and kingfish he had caught that day, I had finally arrived! Life suddenly was very easy. There are many things you can do in the area, using Placencia as a base. Lenka and Slavek have a friend who has a sailing boat. You can hire him at great value to take you to some of the beautiful, uninhabited islands a few miles away from the coast. While you snorkel (or continue dozing in the sun, still in disbelief about how lucky you are to be there), he dives down and catches fresh lobster and snapper, which he then barbecues on the beach, using dried coconuts instead of charcoal. One of the most memorable days of my life. You can also book trips to the reef, go fishing (and I mean, FISHING, 60 miles
out to catch the most amazing fish), diving or make a trip to the rain forest or even Tikal in
Guatemala. After a few days I decided to go to Tikal and took a local bus to the Guatemalan border. I recommend this mode of travel - it's pleasant enough, the streets are fine and you get to see a fair bit of the country side.
Tikal itself is spectacular, but if you are short of time, one day is enough - the territory worth seeing is fairly compact. I flew back, this time to go to Belize City and from there immediately by water taxi to Ambergris Caye. Ambergris is great to relax as well, but there are more people, much more hotels and several clubs. The atmosphere is still more laid-back than in most of the Caribbean, but it is also fairly American, rather than Belizean as it is in Placencia. It is still great, however, and I would recommend you go and see both if you have the time. During the day I went diving a lot and during the night I enjoyed the excellent shrimps and lobster. Caye Caulker,
easily reached by water taxi, is also worth a trip. Many people would say that more so than Ambergris Caye. It is the epitome of laid-back, but it may be too quiet for some - during the day, I came across about 20 people, and I
walked around the whole island. Accommodation in both places is cheap and of a good standard. I can't really specifically recommend any hotel I used - the owners did not really mix with the guests, I had no motivation to be there other than for sleep and have forgotten the places' names. But they were fine and real good value for money.
I started to miss the cosiness of Placencia and the Manatee in, so I decided to go back and flew there to stay for another few days until I had to bid a tearful farewell to Belize and Lenka and Slavek. I travelled in the last two weeks of August, but the weather was fantastic. There was only one half-day where it rained after 7am or before 10 pm. I didn't have any encounters with sand flies and only very few with mosquitoes
- but they were there, so make sure you have some strong insect repellent containing DEET. If you do, you'll be fine - don't believe the horror
stories. I hope you have as great a stay in Belize as I did!
Lukas Kratochvil, London, England, August 2002