Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Mexico & Central America (
-   -   Placencia or Ambergris Caye? (

smartin Jul 13th, 2006 09:21 AM

Placencia or Ambergris Caye?
We are considering one of these areas for our trip next year- considering Chabil Mar Villas in Placencia- or Victoria House in Amber Caye- any opinions on which is the best town to stay near?
Was also interested in going into the Cayo area but concerned of safety now? If staying in Placencia- they have a jungle tour/ Monkey River tour and there enough adventure access there??
Would appreciate any advice!! Susan

JeanH Jul 13th, 2006 01:18 PM

We've only been to Placencia once, Abergris Caye, numerous visits. We enjoyed our time in Placencia, loved walking the sidewalk. Pretty quiet, some very good restaurants. We didn't have a car, next trip we'll rent one so we can explore the peninsula. We did the Monkey River/jungle tour. It was a fun day. We didn't see many animals, but did see fresh jaguar tracks.

San Pedro is a lot busier. Many more restaurant options. The reef is only half a mile from shore, vs. 19 miles off the coast of Placencia.

Prevailing wisdom is that the beaches are better in Placencia, there isn't near the sea grass there is on Ambergris. But, I don't think the sand is as white or as soft. Small point, but I like that blinding white sand and that wonderful blue Caribbean water.

Victoria House is really beautiful, if I was going to 'splurge', it would be where I'd want to stay. We stay closer to town though, just fits our style better.

One trip down we spent a few nights in both places. Flew from the Placencia airstrip to Municipal and on to San Pedro. We were there by noon, flying around Belize isn't near the hassle it is to fly in the states.

Katie_Valk Jul 13th, 2006 02:25 PM

Roberts Grove and Turtle Inn in Placencia are more similiar to VH than is Chabil Mar, an upscale condo. There were a few robberies in the Cayo district, but after photos of the suspects were distributed, the gang dispersed and withdrew to Guatemala, where two of the bandits are already in jail. Safe? Relatively so, these incidents are rare. But you can stay in Placencia and take a day trips to the Jaguar Preserve, see waterfalls, caves, monkeys and Maya sites further south.

wherenext Jul 15th, 2006 06:50 PM

I can only speak to the Cayo and Placencia. We returned 3 days ago. It was fantastic. We were concerned about the Cayo safety as we had 3 kids with us under 11. Katie is right, things have really calmed down! There were several military check points on the roads and at the ruins. We stayed at Chaa Creek Lodge which was very safe. Lots of security and an absolutely stunning place! So much to do and such nice people!

We stayed at Turtle Inn in Placencia. It was gorgeous and definitely the nicest place in the area. The town is sleepy but there are many activities and the people are fun. Roberts Grove was okay but just not as well taken care of. It was a big step down from TI.

People at Chaa Creek and TI stayed at Victoria House and manage at both highly recommended it. The only warning we were given was that it was crowded, lots of bars and lost of dust and dirt intown due to the road. It didn't work for a family trip but probably would have for a more of a party trip.

Katie...Denise (the conceige) at Chaa Creek expressed what a fantastic and knowledgable travel agent you are when I told her I read your info on these threads!

Pumpy Jul 16th, 2006 06:51 PM

We stayed at Chaa Creek last summer (thanks to Katie V's recommendation), and loved it. We stayed 3 nights and wished we'd stayed 4. As for San Pedro, we enjoyed our stay at Banyan Bay (nice beach and pool). Enjoy!

ssgomezz Jul 17th, 2006 07:23 PM

I can only comment on Ambergris Caye. We actually got married there 3 yrs husband and I stayed at Captain Morgan's...which was wonderful. But-the beaches on that entire coast are full of trash like I have never seen. We live on the coast in Florida and often do "trash walks"...on Ambergris Caye we did the same thing, and would literally fill a large black trash bag-which we got from the cleaning staff along with lots of "are you crazy??" looks-in less than 50ft. All the cruise trash that gets dumped floats on the Gulf Stream and ends up on certain beaches...this is one of them. Empty bleach bottles, bags, deodorant containers, miscellaneous plastic things...I ran on the little "beach" every morning and had to high-jump over the piles. One very good thing about Ambergris if you happen to be a fly husband was able to walk out of our room and throw his fly line out into the grassy water for bonefish. Not good if you like to swim-mushy and grassy-but great if you like to wade and cast fly fish. The trash part is so sad...if they got out every weekend and did a trash pickup, they might be able to keep it under contraol a bit. But this is years of thick piles of garbage; it is seriously the worst coastline I have ever seen.

Katie_Valk Jul 18th, 2006 07:48 AM

There has since been a concerted effort to keep the beaches as clean as possible. I was on the island this past weekeend and noticed the difference.

ltt Jul 18th, 2006 10:11 AM

tough call for me but i'd choose placentia if beaches and swimming were important to you. but it is very quiet and i would recommend renting a car for at least a day to explore a but (but there is a bus that goes to some places).
ambergris is a fun little town and quite lively. you can catch the boat and go to caye caulker for a few hours. it is also more convenient for snorkeling trips.
if you could swing it, as i don't know how long you are going for, i'd try to do 4 nights in each. you can catch a plane to go between.

ssgomezz Jul 18th, 2006 02:34 PM

Good to know about the attempts to keep the beach on Ambergris Caye clean. I re-read my post today and realized I sounded a little harsh. It is actually a really neat island and San Pedro is quaint and friendly. My husband would go back in a flash as that is where he caught his first bonefish ever-and it was spotted for him by one of the employees at Captain Morgan's-just being friendly as one fisherperson to another. If the beaches are cleaner, it is a great spot for either an active or relaxing vacation.

wherenext Jul 18th, 2006 02:56 PM

Most of the Placencia Pennincula is having road works right now. The road is terrible to begin with (45 mins for 10 miles) but they are making better roads, however, with the rains recently it is a mess! I would not rent a car there until someone there tells you the roads are better. Our driver got stuck and somehow backed out of a giant sink hole. A truck, a tour van and a pick up did not do as well!

Lure_Queen Jul 20th, 2006 12:05 PM

Would second that comment re the Placencia road, with the recent heavy rains all non paved roads are absolute pants at the moment. I can only speak for Placencia, and would also second the comments re Turtle Inn which is lovely. However, you could do worse than checking out my friends beautiful place, Mariposa, which is close enought to both Roberts Grove and Turtle Inn for you to dine there, but gives you the flexibility and comfort of your own little apartment in a really charming place. Be aware that ALL of these places are not in Placencia itself, but further up the peninsula, and would need a car ride to get you into the little town, which is very charming.

Monkey River tour is great, but when you look up at the howler monkeys in the trees above you, it's hard, but remember to keep your mouth closed (they pee!)

Txtrav1 Jul 28th, 2006 05:09 PM

Have been to Placencia(once) & Ambergris(4 times). Really depends on your time and money available as to which one to go to. Personally, I like Ambergris Caye better since there is more to do. If you are looking at VH, then that is the best on Ambergris. Don't worry about the beaches if you stay at a nice place the resort will keep it clean. Ambergris has more places to eat & nightlife. As far as doing tours, they have a ton you can do, both in the island area (land & water) and many day trips over to the mainland. I highly suggest the jungle river/Lamanai Mayan Ruins tour with Daniel Nunez of Tanasha Tours - he is fantastic. Also should look into the cave tubing/Belize zoo trip. That awesome. Any tour involving snorkel or scuba is great.

For Placencia, I stayed at Robert's Grove. Nice people and rooms were nice. Actually got engaged on their private island called Robert's Caye - really great, rustic place if you want to feel like on a private island - it's 10 miles offshore and 1 acre. Great adventure for 2 days, but it is expensive. They have a cook & caretaker there to take care of you. Only 4 cabins - all over water. Placencia is a neat little town. A few good places to eat. DeThatch was my favorite. I do not suggest the Monkey River tour. It's a long 3/4 of day trip that is just not all that it's cracked up to be. Yes, you do do a jungle hike and the mosquitos are very thick and it was pretty muddy(they give you rubber boots to wear). We just thought it was so-so considering I have done much better in Costa Rica and in other parts of Belize. Personally, I like the tours offered from Ambergris Caye-San Pedro better which can incorporate the jungle, or go stay in the Cayo district. The Mayan Ruins are a must see. Lamanai is the best in Belize. If time & money permits, try for a day or overnight trip to the ruins in Tikal, Guatemala, just over the border from Belize. Was the most amazing thing I have seen in all my travels oustide my safari to Africa

sara_m Jul 30th, 2006 08:00 PM

We spent a week in Placencia this spring. It was absolutely perfect for us, as we were seeking R&R (and traveling with a 14-month old). We rented the Carter's Beach Bungalow from SAKS Resort, which was completely rustic and perfect. The ocean was 20 feet from our back porch. From Placencia, you have quite a bit of access to jungle tours, ruins and snorkeling/SCUBA. Heard good reviews on all that we didn't do, and we enjoyed all that we were able to do with a toddler. The town of Placencia is sleepy, and very charming. The road down the peninsula was hellish, and if I had to do it over again, I would have flown in. The drive was lovely for much of it, but I would have prefered to fly in and then let someone else do the driving/boating for day trips (like the Mayan ruins). As it was, the drive was so frustrating that we only left the peninsula once in a week.

BrianDunn Oct 27th, 2006 06:06 PM

Placencia is a beautiful small village of terrific friendly locals. There are many options for activities there and day trips as well, including snorkeling, scuba, Monkey River, fly fishing, sailing, kayaking, cockscomb basin wildlife sanctuary, Blue Creek cave swimming, Lubaantum and Ni Li Punit ruins, manatee watching and horseback riding.
As for Chabil Mar Villas, it is within walking distance to the Village (no car or taxi needed) unlike most other luxury resorts. As a matter of fact it is the closest of the luxury resorts to the Village and is on the paved road, just outside of the Village center. Has full kitchens in Villas, very private surroundings, including kitchen and bars that are for the exclusive use of the guests and private verandahs. Also has latest amenities including all air conditioned and wireless internet and telephones, which no one else has.
Beautifully appointed and lush landscaping. Very private, luxurious yet convenient, comfortable and walking distance to the Village. Great place!

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:17 PM.