FODOR'S GO LIST 2015
The top 25 places we think should be on every traveler's radar this year.More
Altogether, Placencia has about 80 licensed tour guides. Most of the guides, except the fishing guides, work on a contract basis for resorts or tour operators. These tour guides and operators offer dive and snorkel trips to Laughing Bird or other cayes and to the Barrier Reef, wildlife tours to Monkey River, birding tours to Red Bank, hiking trips to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, excursions to Mayan ruins, and other tours.
The larger resorts on the peninsula, including Inn at Robert's Grove, Chabil Mar, Turtle Inn, and others, offer a variety of tours and trips, using tour guides they have come to trust.
To book tours and trips, check with your hotel or walk along the sidewalk in Placencia Village, where several of the tour operators have small shops. Also check with the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) visitor information office, which publishes a monthly tabloid and online newspaper, Placencia Breeze. The BTIA’s friendly staff can advise you on tours. You'll probably pay a little less by booking in the village instead of at your hotel, but the savings may not be worth the effort.
Toadal Adventures Belize. Dave Vernon's Toadal Adventure provides top-notch multiday sea and river expedition kayak trips in southern Belize. Toadal Adventures can customize trips to your specific schedule and interests. Dave and Deb Vernon also operate a budget guesthouse, Deb & Dave's Last Resort, and a more upscale lodging, The North, in Placencia village. Point Placencia, near sidewalk, Placencia. 523/3207. www.placencia.com/Members/Toadaladventure.html.
Five- or six-hour snorkeling trips inside the reef, to Laughing Bird Caye and other snorkel spots, are around BZ$125–BZ$150, while a full-day snorkel trip might run BZ$140–BZ$160. Half-day boat trips to Monkey River are around BZ$120, while a boat excursion on the Placencia Lagoon to look for manatees is around BZ$80–BZ$100. Full-day Cockscomb day trips run about BZ$150–BZ$170. Most full-day trips include a picnic lunch. If you're going to an area with an admission fee, such as Cockscomb, often the fee is additional.
Belize Sailing Charters. Belize Sailing Charters has day sails on catamarans from Placencia. Several boats, including El Gato and Winnie Estelle, do day trips out of San Pedro. Sailboat owners tend to be free spirits who may pick up and sail to another port at the drop of a yachting cap, so check locally to see what boats are still sailing. About once a month, Belize Sailing Charters offers a nine-night private catamaran sail from Placencia to the Rio Dulce in Guatemala, with a visit by land to Tikal, for around BZ$20,000 for two persons. Main St., Point Peninsula, Placencia. 523/3138; 505/717–7301 U.S. number. www.belizesailingcharters.com.
Joy Tours. Joy Tours offers a wide range of land and sea tours. Sea tours include whale shark trips, fishing, diving, kayaking, and snorkeling. Land tours include hiking in Cockscomb and other destinations near Placencia. Placencia. 253/3325. www.belizewithjoy.com.
Splash Dive Center. Splash Dive Center offers dive and snorkel trips, including in late spring and early summer whale shark trips. It won the 2013 Belize Tourism Award for "Best Tour Operator." Splash Dive Center, Placencia. 523/3058. www.splashbelize.com.
Sunsail. Clearwater, Florida–based international charter company Sunsail offers sail charters from Placencia, operating out of the same marina as TUI Travel sister company The Moorings at Laru Beya Resort. Weeklong Sunsail bareboat charters are around BZ$6,000 to $14,000, depending on number of sailors, size of boat, and time of year. Laru Beya Marina, Placencia. 877/651–5610 In the U.S. and Canada; 523/4057. www.sunsail.com.
Day trips to Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun Mayan sites near Punta Gorda cost around BZ$160–BZ$190 per person, while day trips to the Mayflower ruins and waterfalls run about BZ$120.
Destinations Belize. Owner Mary Toy, a former attorney in the U.S., has been offering tours in the Placencia area since 1998. Destinations Belize is especially strong in arranging guided fishing trips, but it also offers land and sea tours of all kinds. In addition, Mary Toy can help with overall Belize trip planning, including booking hotels and transportation. Toy has been a leader of the Peninsula Citizens for Sustainable Development, an organization dedicated to responsible and well-planned development in the Placencia area. Placencia. 253/4018 or 610/4718. www.destinationsbelize.com.