Getting to and around Belize’s Placencia Village

A single-story building designated Maya Island Air next to a simple airstrip.

Serviced by two airlines, at last check, there were more than 20 daily flights in and out of Placencia’s airstrip. Photo © Richard Fritzson, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.


Getting There

There are a number of ways to travel the 100-plus miles between Placencia Village and Belize City. The tip of the long peninsula is not as isolated as it used to be, and various options exist for continuing on to points south and west, including Guatemala and Honduras.

Getting to Placencia Village By Air

At last check, there were more than 20 daily flights in and out of Placencia’s precarious little airstrip, to and from various destinations throughout Belize. Planes generally hop from either of Belize City’s two airports to Dangriga, Placencia, and Punta Gorda (in that order, usually landing at all three), then turn around for the reverse trip north. Ask about service to Belmopan if you are headed to Cayo. For current schedules and fares, check directly with the two airlines: Maya Island Air (tel. 501/223-1140, U.S. tel. 800/225-6732) or Tropic Air (tel. 501/226-2012, U.S. tel. 800/422-3435). There is sometimes air service between nearby Savannah Airport (near Independence Village) and San Pedro Sula in Honduras; three flights a week cost about US$160.

Getting to Placencia Village By Car

The 21-mile excuse for a road from Placencia Village to where the peninsula hits the mainland was a rutted, dusty nightmare for decades. Then, in July 2008, the highest officials in the land gathered at Robert’s Grove Beach Resort and signed the papers to begin the paving project that was completed in 2010. And the people rejoiced. It’s now about a three- or four-hour drive from Belize City. From Belize City, most people drive via the Hummingbird and Southern Highways. About half an hour after turning south before Dangriga, look for a left turn to Riverside, where you’ll begin the peninsula road.

The gas station (6am-7pm daily) is located by the M&M hardware store in the center of the village.

Getting to Placencia Village By Bus

Placencia Village is served by three daily bus departures and arrivals (in high season, anyway; service is spotty the rest of the year). Buses come and go from the center of the village, right next to the M&M Hardware Store, and current schedules are available at the Placencia Tourism Office and inside the Placencia Breeze. Buses to Dangriga (Ritchie’s Bus Service) depart at 5:45am, 7am, 12:45pm, and 2:30pm Monday- Saturday, and 7am, 12:45pm, and 2:30pm Sunday. There’s also a 6:15am express bus to Belize City (air-conditioned, US$13 pp). Otherwise, you’ll need to change in Dangriga to reach Belize City. You can change again in Belmopan for a westbound Cayo bus. Cost is about US$5 or less for each leg of the journey. The more common—and quickest—bus route is via the boat to Mango Creek and Independence Village.

Getting to Placencia Village By Boat

For those traveling to points south, like Punta Gorda or Guatemala, or for those who want to avoid the Placencia Road, a boat-and-bus combo will get you back to the mainland and on your way. Hokey Pokey Water Taxi (tel. 501/523-2376, 501/601-0271, or 501/601- 8897) provides regular service between the gas station dock behind M&M Hardware in the center of the village and the dilapidated landing at Mango Creek, charging US$5 one-way for the 15-minute trip through bird-filled mangrove lagoons. Boats leave Placencia at 6:45am, 10am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm, 4pm, and 5pm daily, and 6pm Monday-Saturday; the same boat turns around for the reverse trip: 6:30am, 7:30am, 8am, 10am, 11am, noon, 2:30pm, 4:30pm, and 5:30pm. Hokey Pokey is a reliable family-run operation, proudly steered by captains Pole, Lito, and Caral.

Bus connections to all points are coordinated with the 10am and 4pm boats from Placencia, so the traveler need only worry about stepping onto the correct bus when the boat lands in Independence after the quick taxi shuttle (US$0.50) to the bus depot by Rosa’s Restaurant (5:30am-3pm Mon.-Sun.). The last bus to Punta Gorda leaves at 8pm, sometimes later, and the last ride to Dangriga and Belize City is at 5:30pm. The earliest northbound bus from Punta Gorda arrives around 7am, and the James express arrives at 9am.

Getting to Honduras and Guatemala

The ship to Puerto Cortés (tel. 501/202-4506 or 501/603-7787, Honduras tel. 504/665-1200) leaves at 9am every Friday, returning at 2pm Monday afternoon. The trip costs US$60 and takes roughly four hours, stopping in Big Creek, Belize, for immigration purposes, and carrying a maximum of 50 passengers. Buy tickets at the Placencia Tourism Office. Every now and then (sometimes as often as a couple of times a week), a boatload of passengers arrives in Placencia from Livingston, Guatemala, and seeks passengers to take with them back to Livingston (with an immigration stop in Punta Gorda). Inquire at Caribbean Tours and Travels.


Getting Around

Placencia Village itself is small enough to walk, and if you’re commuting on the sidewalk, walking is your only option (riding a bike on the sidewalk can earn you a US$50 fine). Speaking of two-wheeled options, there are plenty of bicycle rentals in town. If bicycling north on the road, know that Seine Bight is five miles from Placencia and Maya Beach another 2.5 miles. The cheapest way (besides walking) to get up and down the peninsula is to hop on a bus as it travels to or from Dangriga.

Taxis

There used to be a free shuttle service up and down the peninsula, but no longer. In the meantime, there are at least a dozen greenplated taxis hanging around the gas stations and the airstrip. Rides from town to the airstrip cost US$6 for one or two people, to the Seine Bight area one-way US$12, to Maya Beach US$15. Ask around the gas station and tourist office, and look for posted rate lists to know what you should be paying. The more trusted and long-standing taxi services include Radiance Ritchie (tel. 501/523-3321), and Traveling Gecko (tel. 501/523-4078). My own preferred driver is Noel of Noel Taxi Service (tel. 501/600-6047 or 501/632- 0980); he works late in the night, ideal for solo female travelers.

Car Rental

Rent a car for do-it-yourself land tours to the Jaguar or Mayflower nature reserves, or for trips to the ruins near Punta Gorda. Otherwise you’ll pay US$50-100 pp to join a tour group. Barefoot Rentals (tel. 501/523-3066 or cell 501/629-9602) has a selection of cars (US$65-85 per day), golf carts (US$32-49 per day), and scooters (US$9 per hour). Captain Jak’s (tel. 501/622-7104), right in the center of the village, rents golf carts.


Excerpted from the Tenth Edition of Moon Belize.


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