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Placencia Peninsula Travel Guide

Sports and The Outdoors

Bowling

Jaguar Lanes. About the last place you'd expect to find a bowling alley is Maya Beach, but Jaguar Lanes is here, and it's fun! This little four-lane alley, air-conditioned, with jaguar murals on the walls and pine ceilings, has everything your lanes back home have, except you have to keep score on paper. Games are BZ$6, and shoe rental BZ$2.50. Maya Beach. 664/2583. Closed Thurs.

Fishing

The fly-fishing on the flats off the cayes east of the Placencia peninsula is some of Belize's best. This is one of the top areas in the world for permit. The area from Dangriga south to Gladden Caye is called "Permit Alley," and the mangrove lagoons off Punta Ycacos and other points south of Placencia are also terrific permit fisheries. You'll encounter plentiful tarpon—they flurry 10 deep in the water at times—as well as snook. You can also catch king mackerel, barracuda, wahoo, and cubera snapper. However, a lingering impact of Hurricane Iris in 2001 is that there are no longer as many good bonefish flats close to shore at Placencia. Bonefish are still around, but they're now several miles away, off the cayes.

Guides

Most of the better hotels also can arrange guides, many of whom pair with specific hotels. Fishing guides in Placencia are down-to-earth, self-taught guys who have fished these waters for years. They use small skiffs called pangas. For more information and help matching a local guide to your specific needs, get in touch with Mary Toy at Destinations Belize (523/4018) www.destinationsbelize.com). You may want to talk with Wayne Castellanos (634/2852), considered one of the best fishing guides in the area. Wyatt Cabral (523/3534) www.wyattsfishing.com) is native of Placencia who is considered another one of the best fly-fishing guides. Another well-known fly-fishing guide is Julian Cabral 610/1068.

Expect to pay around BZ$500–BZ$750 for a full day of fly-fishing, spin casting, or trolling. That includes your guide, boat, and lunch. If you're on a budget, you can rent a canoe and try fishing the Placencia lagoon on your own, where you may catch snook, barracuda, and possibly other fish.

Gear

The guides usually provide trolling gear for free, but they charge about BZ$40 a day for light spin-casting tackle gear, and you may be happier with your own spinning gear. If you're serious about fly-fishing, of course you'll want to bring your own gear. Don't forget to bring polarized sunglasses, a good fishing hat, insect repellent, lots of sunscreen and lip salve, and, if you're wading, thick-soled flats boots.

Sailing

Daytripper Catamaran Charter. Captain Jeff takes small groups up to six people on day sails and snorkeling trips on his catamaran Nell. Trips leave from Yoli's, which also caters lunch. Costs vary depending on destination and length of sail, but a day snorkeling trip is around BZ$135 per person. At Yoli's Pier, Placencia. 666/3117. .

The Moorings. Based at Laru Beya Marina along with sister charter company Sunsail, The Moorings offers bareboat and captained monohull and catamaran charters, with a week's bareboat sailing going for around BZ$9,000–BZ$16,000. Laru Beya Marina, Laru Beya Resort, Placencia. 523/3206; 888/952–8420 in U.S. and Canada. www.moorings.com.

Scuba Diving

This far south, the reef is as much as 20 miles (33 km) offshore, necessitating boat rides of 45 minutes to nearly two hours to reach dive sites. Because this part of the reef has fewer cuts and channels, it's also more difficult to get out to the seaward side, where you'll find the best diving. As a result, most of the diving in this region is done from offshore cayes, which are surrounded by small reefs, usually with gently sloping drop-offs of about 80–100 feet. This isn't the place for spectacular wall dives—you're better off staying in the north or heading out to the atolls. Near Moho Caye, southeast of Placencia, you'll find brilliant red-and-yellow corals and sponges that rarely appear elsewhere in Belize.

Two marine reserves off Placencia are popular snorkeling and diving spots. Laughing Bird Caye, Belize's smallest marine reserve, about 13 miles (22 km) off Placencia, is a popular spot for snorkeling. Whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, gentle giants of the sea, appear off Placencia in the Gladden Spit area, part of the Gladden Spit and Silk Caves Marine Reserves 26 miles (43 km) east of Placencia, in late spring and early summer. You can snorkel or dive with them on day trips (around BZ$180–BZ$200 for snorkel trips, BZ$330–BZ$370 for dives) from Placencia. The best time to see whale sharks is three or four days before and after a full moon, March through June. Admission fee to each of these marine reserves is BZ$20; the admission typically is included in the dive or snorkel shop fee.

Diving costs a little more in Placencia than most other places in Belize, in part due to the distance to the reef and the atolls. Full-day trips to the reef, including two-tank dive, all gear, and lunch, run BZ$190–BZ$260 per person. Two- and three-tank dive trips to Glover's Atoll are around BZ$300–BZ$450. Snorkeling trips start at around BZ$80–BZ$130, and a snorkeling tour to Glover's Atoll is around BZ$175–BZ$220.

Guides

Most of the larger resorts, like the Inn at Robert's Grove and Turtle Inn, have dive shops and also offer snorkel trips. Avadon Divers and the Splash Dive Center are considered two of the best dive shops in the region.

Avadon Divers. Avadon Divers, which won a recent Belize Tourism Board award for "Best Tour Operator of the Year," is generally considered one of the best dive operations in southern Belize. Besides diving and snorkeling on the reef and atolls, including whale shark trips in late spring and early summer, Avadon also does kayaking and fishing trips along with tours on the mainland to Maya sites, nature preserves, and ziplines. Placencia Rd., just south of airstrip, Placencia. 503/3377; 888/509–5617 in U.S. www.avadondiversbelize.com.

Ocean Motion. For snorkeling trips check with Ocean Motion, on the Sidewalk in the heart of Placencia Village. A full-day snorkeling trip to Laughing Bird Caye is BZ$130 per person and a day trip to Ranguana Caye is BZ$150. Rates include taxes, snorkel gear, and a lunch grilled on a caye. Ocean Motion also does mainland trips to Monkey River, Maya sites near Punta Gorda, and to other destinations. Ocean Motion, Placencia. 523/3363. www.oceanmotionplacencia.com.

Seahorse Dive Shop. Brian Young runs the long-established Seahorse Dive Shop. Local reef dives are BZ$250 including tax, lunch, reserve admission, and gear. Glovers Atoll diving is BZ$340 including tax, gear, park fees, and lunch. If you don't dive, you can snorkel Glovers Atoll for BZ$170. Whale shark diving is BZ$370 and snorkeling is BZ$200 including all fees, gear, and lunch. on dock at end of main road in Placencia village, Placencia Village. 523/3166. www.belizescuba.com.

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