Scuba diving Belize Placencia may take a back seat to it's northern neighbors, Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, but it has alot to offer the diver.
The town of Placencia, Belize itself is small, laid-back and has alot of charm. One of the main attractions is the mile long "sidewalk" which goes through town. Once you're done walking the sidewalk (that doesn't take long!), you're ready to hit the water.
So let's start exploring scuba diving in Placencia Belize:
Scuba Diving Belize Placencia Lay of the Land
Placencia is located at the end of a long, narrow peninsula in southern Belize.
It is bordered on one side by a lagoon and the Caribbean Sea on the other side.
The eastern side (Caribbean side) of the town is pretty much all beach.
It's not the best beach in the Caribbean (by far) but it is nice to hang out on for a few days.
Unfortunately, there is a bit of seaweed and it is not uncommon for trash to be washed up on shore from the winds (not the fault of the Belizeans).
In the main part of town where the accommodations are, they appeared to have a handle on the trash (at least when we were there).
There is a road that runs down the peninsula on the western side. The "main street" as it is called is actually a sidewalk. Businesses and houses line the street.
The Placencia sidewalk is reportedly listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the narrowest street.
When we first went to Placencia in 2002, the sidewalk had been destroyed by Hurricane Iris in 2001. When we were there in 2007, the famous Placencia sidewalk was pretty much put back together.
The town is small and you can walk pretty much anywhere you need to go. The population of Placencia Belize is in the neighborhood of 1,000 people.
More and more expats also seem to be moving to Placencia both to retire and to open businesses. Can't say that I blame them.
Scuba Diving Belize Placencia Location
Belize itself is situated on the Caribbean coast. It is bordered by Mexico in the north, Guatemala to the south and west and the Caribbean on the east (see our Belize maps.)
Placencia is located in the southern portion of the country, about 100 miles or so south of Belize City.
It is at the very southern tip of a 16 mile long, narrow peninsula (see our Placecia maps.)
The village itself starts about a half mile from the airport. You can fly into Placencia from Belize City, with several flights operating daily. Maya Air and Tropic Air are the two main airlines that service Placencia.
Alternatively, you can take a bus down the peninsula from the "mainland" or take a water taxi across the lagoon from the "mainland" on your way to go scuba diving Belize Placencia.
There are a range of accommodations to choose from in Placencia. You can find a simple guest house or a higher end luxury type property. Whatever appeals to you.
You can see our page on Placencia hotels for more info. We also have a nice tool that will make sure you are getting the best deal.
Scuba Diving Belize Placencia Weather
Like the rest of Central America and both Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, Placencia has a tropical climate. So it can get hot and humid, especially in the summer months.
The average daytime temperature during the summer months is typically around the mid to high 80's F with temperatures in the 90's F not that uncommon. Nighttime temperatures are usually in the mid 70's.
Things cool off a bit in the winter months with average temperatures closer to around 80F. Nights cool off to the mid to high 60's.
Belize and Placencia have a rainy season from June to November with the most rainfall occurring in the August-November timeframe. The island does get hit by hurricanes during the hurricane season (June-November also).
Placencia was devastated by Hurricane Iris in October 2001. Almost all, if not all, buildings in town were damaged or destroyed. We first went to Placencia in February 2002 and witnessed first hand all the damage done. Unbelievable.
The major tragedy during that hurricane was the death 17 divers and 3 crew members of the Peter Hughes live-aboard ship, the Wave Dancer. I won't go into it here, but there is lots of finger pointing about who was to blame for this tragedy. If you google it, you can read all the sad details.
Scuba Diving Belize Placencia Water Temperature
Water temperatures around Placencia are similar to Ambergris and Caye Caulker.
In the winter months (December to February), the water is around 75-80 F. It warms up a bit for the summer months with the average temperature in the 78-83 F range.
So if you go to scuba Belize, you should be pretty comfortable underwater, at least in the summer months. If you go in the winter and tend to get cold, you would probably want to wear a scuba diving wetsuit. A 3mm should be more than sufficient depending on your comfort level.
Depending on where you dive, the boat rides can by anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a quarter or so. I would say our boat rides averaged just under an hour.
Since you are so far from shore, surface intervals are typically done on one of the many cayes out near the reef. Lunch is usually provided and can sometimes be a BBQ. Not a bad way to offgas.
Scuba Diving Belize Placencia Diving
Placencia is probably most famous for the annual whale shark sightings.
During certain weeks in March-June, depending on the full moon among other things, whale sharks are commonly sighted. They come to eat eggs that are released by fish in the area.
I have never had the opportunity to see this, but it definitely on my to-do list. You only read great reviews by people who have had the luck of seeing these enormous creatures.
If you are planning on going to scuba in Belize to see the whale sharks, make sure you check the calendars of the local dive operators. That way your visit can coincide with when the whale sharks are expected to be around.
Other than whale shark dives, Placencia has wall dives, canyon dives, reef dives, etc. There are dive trips to both the inner and outer reefs.
Most of the wall diving is done on the outer reef, and the water can be rough depending on the weather. You usually dive around cayes that are located out by the barrier reef. These are the longer boat rides, probably around an hour.
While we were there we dove Silk Caye wall (twice), Dark Wall, White Hole, Moho Caye, Pumpkin Caye and Laughingbird Caye (I told you there were alot of cayes!).
Our best dives were probably off of Silk Caye while we were scuba diving Belize Placencia. We saw lobster, a huge green moray, spotted moray, sharks, crab and red-banded coral shrimp among other things.
The dive off of Moho Caye was memorable only for the destruction of the hurricane.
Broken coral and fans all over the place. Like a bomb went off. Which I guess it did in a way. I read a more recent review of this dive site and it wasn't much better.
So if you go, you might want to avoid this spot.
The top of Laughingbird Caye was also affected by the hurricane, but deeper down it was much better.
Visibility was OK while we were there. I'd say it averaged about 50-70 feet, depending on the dive site. Our dives averaged about 60-80 feet, with 83 feet being our deepest depth.
All in all, I enjoyed the diving in Placencia. The big drawback are the length of the boat rides.
From my experience, I would say the scuba diving in Ambergris and Caye Caulker was better.
Not that the diving was bad in Placencia, just better in the northern cayes. Of course, I certainly wouldn't turn down a chance to go back to Placencia!
Scuba Diving Belize Placencia Topside
I love the village of Placencia. It is a nice, small, laid back place. Everything is casual and informal and you can walk everywhere.
There are alot of tours you can take inland depending on your interests. Birding, hiking, caving, Mayan ruins - they are all possibilities here. You could also rent a car and go explore on your own.
One tour we did was go down to the southern end of Belize and go tubing in a cave after a walk through the jungle. It was alot of fun. We also went to a couple of the Mayan ruins while we were there.
So whatever your interests are, you should be able to find something to keep you occupied and interested in Belize. Hope you found this page on scuba diving Belize Placencia helpful.
Have a great trip!
Here are some books you might want to take a look at to help plan your Belize vacation. The Belize Survivor book is a little different but looks fascinating and gets rave reviews. I'll be ordering it:
Pictures by Three E. Aldriches and Lizzerd68. Thanks!