A fishing village since the time of the Maya and periodically flattened by hurricanes (the last was Iris in 2001), Placencia continues rebuilding and redefining itself, in large part to accommodate the influx of foreigners.
Placencia Village is still worlds away from the condo-dominated landscape of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye , and most locals claim it will never go that way, but time will tell. On my last trip to Placencia, I saw plenty of bulldozers, swaths of cut mangroves, and golf carts for rent…
Despite area development, this town will remain the tranquilo, ramshackle village it is today for years to come. Find a room, book some day tours, pencil in a massage before happy hour, and relax. Oh yeah, and feel free to drink the tap water as you explore: Placencia’s agua is piped in from an artesian well across the lagoon in Independence , reportedly the result of an unsuccessful attempt to drill for oil, and is clean and pure.
There are a number of ways to travel the 100-plus miles between Placencia Village and Belize City . The tip of the long peninsula is not as isolated as it used to be, and various options exist for continuing on to points south and west, including Guatemala  and Honduras .
By Air: At last check, there were more than 20 daily flights in and out of Placencia’s precarious little airstrip, to and from various destinations throughout Belize. Planes generally hop from either of Belize City’s two airports to Dangriga , Placencia, and Punta Gorda  (in that order, usually landing at all three), then turn around for the reverse trip north. Ask about service to Belmopan if you are headed to Cayo. For current schedules and fares, check directly with the two airlines: Maya Island Air (tel. 501/223-1140, U.S. tel. 800/225-6732, www.mayaislandair.com ) or Tropic Air (tel. 501/226-2012, U.S. tel. 800/422-3435, www.tropicair.com ). There is sometimes air service between nearby Savannah Airport (near Independence Village) and San Pedro Sula in Honduras ; three flights a week run about US$160.
By Car: The 21-mile excuse for a road from Placencia village to where the peninsula hits the mainland was a rutted, dusty nightmare for decades. Then, in July 2008 the highest officials in the land gathered at Robert’s Grove Beach Resort and signed the papers to begin the paving project that was completed in 2010. And the people rejoiced. It’s now about a three- or four-hour drive from Belize City. From Belize City most people drive via the Hummingbird and Southern Highways. About a half hour after turning south before Dangriga, look for a left turn to Riverside, where you’ll begin the peninsula road.
By Bus: Placencia Village is serviced by three daily bus departures and arrivals (in high season, anyway; service is spotty the rest of the year). Buses come and go from the Shell station and current schedules are posted on the Placencia Tourism Office door and the Placencia Breeze. Buses to Dangriga depart Monday–Saturday at 6:30 a.m., 7 a.m., and 1 p.m.; on Sunday the 6:30 a.m. does not run. You’ll need to change in Dangriga  to reach Belize City . You can change again in Belmopan for a westbound Cayo bus. Cost is about US$5 or less for each leg of the journey. The more common—and quickest—bus route is via the boat to Mango Creek and Independence Village.
By Boat to Mango Creek: For those traveling to points south, like Punta Gorda  or Guatemala , or for those who wish to avoid the Placencia Road, a boat-and-bus combo will get you back to the mainland and on your way. Hokey Pokey Water Taxi (tel. 501/523-2376 or 501/601-0271) provides regular service between the Texaco station dock and the dilapidated landing at Mango Creek, charging US$5 one-way for the 15-minute trip through bird-filled mangrove lagoons. Boats leave Placencia at 6:45 a.m., 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m., and 5 p.m.; the same boat turns around for the reverse trip: 6:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 5 p.m.
Bus connections to all points are coordinated with the 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. boats from Placencia, so the traveler needs only to worry about stepping onto the correct bus as soon as her boat lands in Independence (after the quick taxi shuttle to the bus depot by Sherl’s Restaurant, US$0.50). Hokey Pokey is a reliable family-run operation, proudly steered by captains Pole, Lito, and Caral.
By Boat to Honduras and Guatemala: The ship to Puerto Cortés leaves every Friday at 9:30 a.m., returning Monday afternoon at 2 p.m. (tel. 501/202-4506 or 501/603-7787, Honduras tel. 504/665-1200). The trip costs US$50 and takes roughly four hours, stopping in Big Creek, Belize, for immigration purposes, and carrying a maximum of 50 passengers. Buy tickets at the Placencia Tourism Office. Every now and then (sometimes as often as a couple of times a week), a boatload of passengers arrives in Placencia from Livingston, Guatemala , and seeks passengers to take with them back to Livingston (with an immigration stop in Punta Gorda). Inquire at Caribbean Tours and Travels.