Continuing south, a couple more miles of dirt road will put you in the Garifuna village of Seine Bight. In this tiny, unkempt town, most of the men are fishermen and the women tend family gardens. Some are attempting to clean up the town, with hopes it will become a low-key tourist destination, but they’ve still got a ways to go, as foreign-owned resorts sprout like mushrooms up and down the coast around them.
Supposedly, men and women lead split lives here; the women even claim to have their own language that the men don’t understand.
Lola’s Art Gallery is a must-stop (it’s behind the soccer field; follow the well-marked signs). Lola sells a selection of bright, inspired artwork, including cards and paintings on canvas; there are lots of cheerful primary colors and village life scenes. Lola’s is open 7 a.m.–6 p.m.
On a clean, shallow beach on the very northern end of Seine Bight is Blue Crab Resort (tel. 501/523-3544, www.bluecrabbeach.com , US$90–100). American-Belizean–owned, this humble hotel has four rooms with air-conditioning, fridges, coffeemakers, fans, and cable TV, plus two cabanas with high thatch roofs, louvered windows, private baths, and three fans. Blue Crab is on the primitive side, made of mostly wood and thatch, but its new cabanas are more modern, and you’re likely to see a few coatimundis foraging among the fruit trees.
The hotel’s proprietress, Linn, runs their popular restaurant (call for reservations); she brings her Taiwanese ancestry to your Belizean table. Specials include lobster Formosan and Thai shrimp soup. They also run a tiny chocolate factory in the house across the road. Goss Chocolate (www.gosschocolate.com ) is made from 100 percent pure organic cacao and is available only in Belize; it costs US$1.50–2.50 for a bar.
Experience southern hospitality at the Nautical Inn (www.nauticalinnbelize.com , tel. 501/523-3595, U.S. tel. 800/688-0377, US$70 pp). There are various beachfront accommodations surrounding a pool, and all rooms have air-conditioning, ceiling fans, and cable TV. Basic rooms have a kitchenette, and the two-bedroom suite has a full kitchen and living room. A professional kitchen and thatch palapa can be rented for retreats or conferences. Ask about special group rates.
One of the more exclusive, well-respected resorts on the peninsula,
Robert’s Grove Beach Resort (tel. 501/523-3565, U.S. tel. 800/565-9757, www.robertsgrove.com , from US$215) is a grand affair. Its various structures are situated close together along a short stretch of decent beach, and even though this is one of the most upscale operations in the country, it maintains a very relaxed feel. The various guest rooms, suites, and villas are spacious, with high ceilings, king-size beds, and many updated amenities. There are three pools, a tennis court, spa, gym, a trio of rooftop hot tubs, and an excellent open-air restaurant. Robert’s Grove has its own dive shop on the lagoon side (next to its Mexican restaurant, Habanero) and offers all kinds of underwater, offshore, and inland trips and packages. Bikes, kayaks, and sailboats are available for your own explorations. The inn is popular with couples, families, and groups; ask about trips to their private islands.
Laru Beya Resort and Villas (tel. 501/523-3476, U.S. tel. 800/890-8010, www.larubeya.com , US$120–475) has accommodations and amenities similar to Robert’s Grove; penthouse suites have a ladder to a private rooftop Jacuzzi with a great view. The Quarter Deck restaurant and bar (7 a.m.–10 p.m.) serves international cuisine and caters for destination weddings.
One of Placencia’s best kept secrets is Miller’s Landing (www.millerslanding.net , 501/523-3010, US$85–150). The Millers like to keep things simple and not much has changed since the couple opened their resort. There are three basic rooms and two private cabanas, all with kitchenettes, private baths, hot and cold water, and ceiling fans. This calm and quiet location is surrounded by native vegetation; watch birds and butterflies while having your complimentary breakfast. Lounge by the pool, or if you’re feeling more active take out a complimentary bike, kayak, or windsurfing board.
Get a cheery, cheap, home-cooked Honduran meal at an unnamed little thatch shack with no sign, about a quarter mile north of Seine Bight, on the west side of the road (6 a.m.–7 p.m.). Fresh, hot tortillas come with your dish. Grab a couple of “dark and lovelies” (bottles of Guinness) or a glass of locally brewed bitters at the reggae-colored Wamasa Beyabu Bar, which greets you as you enter town from the north. There is also a taxi stand here. Wamasa just opened a bigger operation on the beach as well, which can be pretty happening on weekends. If you need groceries, the Peninsula has the widest selection.
The menu at the Danube Austrian Restaurant (south end of Seine Bight, tel. 501/610-0132, 4:30–10:30 p.m. Wed.–Mon.) includes schnitzel, spaetzle, sweet dumplings, and strudels. Call for reservations.
The Seaside Restaurant (tel. 501/523-3565, 7 a.m.–9 p.m. daily) at Robert’s Grove has an international menu: sandwiches, pizza, wings, and quesadillas for lunch; seafood appetizers and entrées, imported steaks, and à la carte options for dinner. The bar is open till midnight.
Habanero Mexican Café and Bar (tel. 501/523-3565, noon–10 p.m. daily, closed Jun.–Nov., US$9–15) is an excellent lagoon-side Mexican restaurant across the road from Robert’s Grove Marina.