One of the big questions people who are coming to Placencia always ask is what’s the best way to get there from the airport. This is an important consideration, because until the Placencia airport opens (and I have it on good authority that in the next couple years it is coming) we all have to navigate our way from the internationally accommodating Belize City to the other side of the country where Placencia is situated.
Though it may seem confusing to navigate at first, the trek to Placencia is ultimately worth it. The reefs and beaches we have on the Peninsula exist like nowhere else in the world and the lack of crowds make you feel like you’ve been privvy to some really cool inside information.
To get there, there are two great options. I’ve traveled using both of these options, so allow me to give you the skinny on both.
These are little planes that you can’t stand up straight in and that “jump” all those visible puddles you see from the plane window to all the different places in the country. These are also the planes where everyone on board knows everyone else and if they don’t know you, they soon will. By the end of the flight you’ll feel you’ve lived here your whole life.
There are basically two companies for this, Tropic Air and Mayan Island Air and they coordinate with the arrivals of the international flights coming into the country. Both cost the same and they both tend to fly on the same schedule. I don’t know why. Maybe it has something to do with mimicry still being the highest form of flattery. At any rate, reservation or not, once you get into the country, you’re sure to get a connecting flight.
Renting a car and the gas to run it is expensive in Belize, but if you know you’re going to want to have a car during your visit, then it’s worth it to rent the car at the airport and drive to the coast. This will save you the cost of the puddle jumper so the extra money you spend on the car rental will basically be a wash.
The drive from Belize City is a day trip in itself. From the airport it takes roughly three and a half hours to get to Placencia. Ignore the poor advice from google maps and your GPS and take the good road route over the hummingbird highway. You’ll experience one of the most scenic stretches of highway in the world and arrive in Placencia already having had an adventure.
The hummingbird highway takes you past the entrances to hidden jungle resorts, a site for cave tubing (a great place to stop and use the facilities so you can check “used a compost toilet” off your bucket list) and a very unassuming tamale shack where you can get some of the best (and cheapest) tamales you’ve ever eaten.
Getting in at Night
If your flight arrives after dark due to airline delays or scheduling, or if you’re planning to drive and don’t have several hours of daylight left, you’re going to need a place to stay in Belize City that first night before heading into Placencia. Puddle jumpers aren’t permitted to fly once the sun goes down and driving in the dark is unadvisable due to the mass of unmarked speed bumps along the highways.
Though Belize City isn’t exactly the postcard you’re coming for, there is one place I’d recommend, full of charm and close to good restaurants.
Villa Boscardi www.villaboscardi.com is a lovely little enclave run by Francoise Lays, a Belgian who spent most of her life in Africa before coming to Belize and falling in love with the country. The rooms are simple, safe and comfortable and the breakfast in the morning is a tasty delight.
After your night at the villa, you can get in your rental car and drive, or head back to the airport for a puddle jump. Soon you’ll be in Placencia sipping cocktails on the beach.
That wasn’t so hard was it?
Brett Renee Stone is a managing partner and director of communications for Palm Reef Resort