AJ and I spent 5 amazing days in Placencia, Belize in October of 2018. We are the type of travelers that prefer to visit places on the off season for the uncrowded beaches and the best deals on accommodations. Plenty of research went into picking our destination. We settled on Belize because it is a little off the beaten path, the majority of the country speaks English, and they take the American dollar. We chose the town of Placencia for it’s beautiful beaches and relaxed atmosphere. Placencia is located 3 hrs south from the Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) in Belize City. We are avid TripAdvisor users and found ground transportation reading comments on their website. We booked ground transportation through http://www.tolivebelize.com. The process to book the transportation through them was super easy and was done through email. Their rates are 1 to 3 guest is $160 usd and $25 per additional guest thereafter. Round trip we paid $320 which is very reasonable to have a reliable and comfortable van drive you a total of 6 hours. The driver Angel and his associate picked us up at the airport around 11 am and we were a little travel worn and hangry. They took us to a little restaurant along the highway called Roadside Diner. The menu consisted of rice and beans and your choice of meat between lamb, chicken, and Paca (royal rat). The food hit the spot and was very delicious. Along the way to Placencia the geography slowly changed from a flat dry almost dessert like landscape to mountains covered in giant palm tree jungles. Once we crossed the mountains we drove about another hour till we reached our hotel which was located in Maya Beach.
We stayed at the Maya Beach Hotel which was located about 7 miles outside the city of Placencia. We chose this hotel because it was small, affordable, and was rated by TripAdvisor to have the best food on the peninsula. We had our very own cabana which was equipped with a full kitchen, coffee maker with coffee, and a jug of fresh filtered water in the fridge. The hotel has snorkel gear, kayaks, and paddle boards for guest use. The view from our cabana was breathtaking and the palm tree right out front had a hammock begging to be lounged in. We spent the rest of the day lounging in the sunshine and trying out the hotel restaurant for dinner.
Kayaking to the Mangrove Island
On our second day in Belize we got up early and checked out snorkel gear and a tandem kayak. We hopped in the kayak and headed toward the mangrove island in the distance that was surrounded by a large coral reef. The water started to become a little choppy away from shore so it took us around 30 minutes to reach the island. The reef around the island was teaming with little colorful fish and string rays. When dark clouds starting rolling into the distance we decided to head back to the mainland and get some breakfast.
The view of the mainland on our way back to the hotel.
Ranguana Tropical Island Experience
Our favorite day of the trip was when we went on a day excursion to Ranguana Caye. We booked the Ranguana Tropical Island Experience through Trip Adviser. The trip was from 9am to 4pm and was $125 per person. We met the boat at a bar in town and after an hour long slightly rough boat ride we arrived in paradise. If you get sea sick or have a back injury we don’t recommend the boat ride. The Ranguana Caye is breathtakingly beautiful and looks like a scene from a movie. Since it was the off season there were only two other couples on the excursion leaving us to spread out on the island and have our privacy to relax in the sun. We brought snorkel gear with us from the hotel so we headed off the back side of the island to check out the big coral reef. Ranguana’s coral reef made the mangrove island reef look like a dentist office fish tank. The reef was a divers paradise and was full of coral and fish of all shapes and sizes. After snorkeling around the reef we spent the afternoon lounging in the sun drinking fruity beverages and intermittently getting back in the beautiful crystal clear water. The boat ride back to the dock was not as rough as the trip out to the island which was nice after a day of sun and drinks.
We had originally booked a primitive bungalow on Raguana Caye for the duration of stay in Belize but we ran into a few transportation snags. The Caye has limited staffed during the week and boat transfers from the mainland are only available Tues/Wed/Fri at 9am for $75/per person each way. If you require boat transfers on different days of the week they charge $300 each way. They also charge $125/ per person per day for food since all supplies are boat transferred from the mainland. Since we were only going for 5 days and our dates didn’t match their boat schedule we decided to stay in Maya Beach and visit the Caye as a day trip.
Our lunch consisted of the local favorite rice and beans with a fried plantain on top, barbecue chicken, and coleslaw.
Remaining Days in Paradise
The rest of the vacation was filled with days at the hotel swimming in the ocean, lounging on the beach, and eating delicious food. We did venture down to the Asian market down the road and picked up snacks and drinks. If you felt like cooking your own meals in your cabana the market had all of the essentials. The Maya Beach Hotel restaurant has a happy hour from 3-5 pm that consists of alcoholic drinks and tasty appetizers. We recommend the lamb sliders (2 orders) and fish cakes with spicy dipping sauce.
Our trip to Belize was short but unforgettable. We plan to return and explore the mountainous areas in the near future. If you are looking for a beautiful beach location to take the kids or have a romantic getaway you should check out all that Belize has to offer. Feel free to contact us with any questions you have about Belize. What off the beaten path destination is on your travel bucket list?