I hope that you read Part 1 about my trip to Belize. In that post I talked mostly about my stay at The Placencia. For this post, I wanted to let you know that I did actually leave the resort to see some new things and try to experience something more authentic Belize. I am not a girl who can sit in a lounge chair drinking rum all day. While I do enjoy doing this for a day or two, I really like getting out and actually doing something.
The Placencia hotel is located pretty close to the town Placencia. As soon as I heard that you could take a local bus there, I was sold. I am all about public transit – it is inexpensive and it is a great way to experience a new place. You also have the option of taking a taxi to Placencia but the cost is about $30 USD which just seemed a little silly. Since the area is a peninsula, there is one road that runs up it. The bus goes up and down the peninsula about three times a day so you are definitely limited in when you can catch it. There are no real bus stops so you just flag it down when it comes. The cost is $1 USD or $2 Belizian. The ride takes about forty-five minutes, depending on how many times the bus has to stop. Our ride to Placencia was amazing. The driver had a dvd of a Bob Marley tribute concert playing and everyone riding the bus seemed to have a story. My favourite was the woman in curlers traveling with her daughter. We took the bus to the final stop which is the south end of the Placencia (and the peninsula).
Placencia is very small but full of lots of character and cool places to go. Immediately we started chatting with a friendly woman who has a cake store who gave us the low-down of the town. We got lattes at a cafe that was on stilts. They were delicious plus there was free wifi there. We had lunch at a cute brightly-painted place. That lobster burrito was amazing. The prices for food seemed to be similar to what you would pay in Toronto.
It seems as though not many people know about the huge reef that is located off of the coast of Belize. It is, in fact, the second largest reef in the world. People come from all over to dive here. I have yet to get my diving license but I do love snorkeling so I signed up to do a snorkel tour one day. We left from the boat launch that is part of The Placencia and is on the lagoon side of the peninsula. I liked this because we got to see the houses, etc. from a different perspective. We literally traveled down the peninsula and cut through the village Placencia before hitting the open water of the Caribbean Sea.
For this tour, we traveled into the sea for about a half hour before stopping at a tiny island called Laughing Bird Caye National Park. This island is a protected place and you have to pay a fee to visit it. Two Rangers live on the island full-time for two weeks at a time and then they get one week off. I found this amazing.
You are allowed to snorkel off of three areas on the island. They are very serious about protecting the natural environment here. Our guide took us out snorkeling twice for about an hour each time. The water was clear and the fish were awesome. He pointed out everything and would tell us what it was that we just saw. The coolest thing to me was the Spotted Eagle Ray. It was huge and yet so graceful. It’s tail seemed to have no end. I was amazed by the size of the lobsters. They were ginormous! I loved the parrotfish – they are probably my favourite. I remember seeing them for the first time in Tobago. The vastness of their colours is incredible. I was also amazed by the colours of the conchs in the water. They are as brilliant as a sunset.
Yes, I saw all of these fish.. well, most of them.
The Placencia has bikes available for guests to use. One day we decided to bike into the closest village Maya Beach for lunch. I haven’t been on a bike in, uh, a long time but I managed to do alright. Also, my dress matched the bike perfectly. 🙂 The ride to Maya Beach was about twenty minutes. We had lunch at the Maya Beach Hotel Bistro and it was super dreamy. The best fish tacos ever paired with a cold Belikin.
The bike ride was fun because we could take our time and look at all of the fancy houses. The ones that had For Sale signs seemed to be going for a minimum of $700,000 USD. They were big and all of them had that dreamy dock with a gazebo on the end. I would love to sit out there on a hammock. Beside The Placencia there was construction for a new hotel. I love construction site and can only imagine what this area is going to be like when they buildings are completed. Along the road here was a ditch with water and there I saw a crocodile. He was just a little guy but it was still pretty cool. Most mornings that I was in Belize I went jogging on this road – it is smooth and I felt completely safe.
I also spent a day doing a rainforest tour. I was really looking forward to getting out and moving. The trip was to Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary & Jaguar Reserve. The guide for the trip was amazing. He knew about every plant and tree in the forest. He could tell you the name and what ailment it was good for treating. We spent the morning hiking through the forest looking for birds and hoping for animals. While we did not see any actual jaguars (they are nocturnal after all!), we did see all traces of them (don’t ask for details, just trust me on this).
After lunch we headed for the river that runs through the forest and we tubed on down it. To see a forest from that perspective was super cool. There was an angry kingfisher with a fish in his mouth that kept squawking at me for disturbing his lunch. We also saw some tiny bats on a tree in the water and they were super cool.
Tips for Belize
• Belize has it’s own currency. When buying things here, you can either pay in Belizian dollars or in USD. $1 USD = $2 Belizian. If you get money out of a bank machine, it will give you Belizian dollars.
• There is a ton of variety in the culture in Belize. With African, Asian and Mayan roots, it is such a cool country.
• There are some great Mayan ruins to discover here. I personally didn’t visit any while on this trip but I heard great things about them. Most of the ruins are close to the Guatemalan border so are about a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive from The Placencia. Imagine lush, green forests with ancient ruins in the mix.
• The people in Belize are ridiculously friendly. Everyone that I spoke to just seemed so nice and genuine. They are good people with good hearts.