Placencia is a charming beach town located at the tip of a narrow 16-mile peninsula in southern Belize. Once a sleepy fishing village, Placencia is now one of the top tourist destinations in the country. Even with the spike in tourists, Placencia has managed to hold on to its small-town charm.
Placencia is about seventy miles south (as the crow flies) from Belize City. The only international airport in Belize is Philip S.W. Goldson Airport in Belize City. If you plan to visit Placencia you will need to line up some form of transportation there from the airport.
How To Get To Placencia Belize
Hands down, the three best transportation options from Belize City to Placencia are:
Rent a car – Hire a private or shared shuttle – Take a short flight
You can’t go wrong with any of these options and this post will help you decide which one is best for you.
Rent a Car
We’d never rented a car in Belize but everything we read said driving in Belize wasn’t a problem. So, we decided to rent a car and try it out. It turns out that what we read was right, driving a rental car is a great way to travel to Placencia. Following the advice from the rental car company to drive during the daylight hours and go slow to avoid flying over a speed bump, we never had a problem driving in Belize.
Things To Know About Driving A Rental Car To Placencia-
Looking at the map from Belize City to Placencia, it looks like taking the Coastal Highway in La Democracia would be the fastest way to Placencia. But, our rental car company made it perfectly clear that we were not allowed to drive the rental car on the Coastal Highway. They suggested the alternate route through the capital city Belmopan and onto the Hummingbird Highway.
The drive from Belize City to Placencia is approximately 145 miles and takes three to four hours.
The main highways from Belize City to Placencia are well maintained. That changes drastically once you arrive in Placencia. Many of the side roads are dirt with potholes and washouts. It isn’t much of a problem though because Placencia is such a walkable town. If you are staying near town you can park your car and walk everywhere.
Pros and Cons of Renting a Car
Pros – The Hummingbird Highway is a beautiful drive that winds through mountains, over rivers, and past small villages in central Belize. Driving your own car gives you the freedom to take it slow and stop whenever you want. It is also nice to have a car in Placencia to drive to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary or tour the Cacao Farm and not have to go with a tour group.
Cons – One drawback is the time it takes to rent a car and drive to Placencia. If you are short on time flying would be a better option. Another Con is that besides driving to Cockscomb Basin, a car isn’t necessary to have in Placencia. Paying for a rental car to stay parked at your lodging for a few days is an unnecessary expense.
Because Placencia is only seventy miles from Belize City, it is a quick thirty-minute flight. Taking a flight to Placencia is the most expensive option but it’s also the fastest and most convenient. You can catch your flight to Placencia right out of Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport.
Things to Know About Flying to Placencia
The Airport in Placencia is small. Small is an understatement. The runway is actually the road into Placencia village. There’s an arm that comes down to block the road when a flight is taking off or landing. Because of the small airport, only small planes fly into Placencia.
The two airlines that fly from Belize City to Placencia are Maya Island Air and Tropic Air. Both are reputable airlines and their prices are similar. I would suggest booking with whichever airline offers a flight departure time that best fits your schedule.
Pros and Cons of Taking a Flight to Placencia
Pros – If you are short on time, flying to Placencia is by far the best option. You can arrive in Belize City, go through customs, and then catch your flight to Placencia from the same airport. You could be in Placencia within three hours of arriving in Belize.
A pro for me (although not everyone will agree with this) is flying in a small plane. I love it! You are closer to the ground and have a better view of what’s below.
Cons – Even though you have a great view of the land below from a small plane, you miss out on seeing Central Belize up close. The Hummingbird Highway really is a beautiful drive and it’s fabulous to experience the non-touristy areas in Belize.
You can pre-arrange either a private or a shared shuttle bus to take you to Placencia. The shuttle will pick you up right at the airport in Belize City. There are many options for reputable shuttle companies. Here are three that have great reviews: Belize Ground Shuttle, Belize Shuttle by William, and Discounted Belize Shuttles and Tours.
Pros and Cons of Taking a Shuttle Bus to Placencia
Pros– The biggest advantage of taking a shuttle bus to Placencia is the convenience of having a shuttle waiting for you at the airport. Let’s face it; between early flights, layovers, and dealing with customs, air travel is exhausting. Chances are, you’ll be tired from travel when you arrive in Belize City. It’s always nice when you are exhausted from travel to be greeted at the airport by someone holding a sign with your name on it. Even if you have to go to the curb outside the airport and find your shuttle it’s still pretty easy and mindless. You can get into the airconditioned shuttle and start your vacation by enjoying the scenic ride to Placencia.
Cons – There are two drawbacks to taking a shuttle to Placencia. First, you don’t get the luxury of stopping whenever you want along the way to Placencia. If you see a roadside stand that looks like it has amazing food, you will just have to imagine how good the food would be. Also, when you get to Placencia you won’t have a car. As I’ve said before this won’t be a big deal if you are staying in town, but it could be a minor inconvenience.
You can’t go wrong with any of the three transportation options to Placencia. If you are having a hard time deciding, you can always take a shuttle or rent a car on the way to Placencia and then fly back. That way you will get the best of both worlds.