Mix yourself a mojito and set yourself up on the sands of this blissful beach town in the sultry shore-lined south of Belize.
If it’s good enough for Francis Ford Coppola, Placencia is good enough for us. This coastal town, on a sand-lined peninsula in the south of Belize, is home to one of the Oscar-winning director’s Coppola Hideaway resorts. After all, it’s hard to argue with Placencia’s silver-screen looks. If vivid blue waters, white-sand beaches, freshwater lagoons, coral reefs and a laid-back Caribbean vibe are your must-haves for a winter-sun escape, Placencia will slap a smile on your face when the seasonal tide swings. Here’s how to explore it in style…
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
What do you brag about first? The natural beauty bestowed on Francis Ford Coppola’s beachside resort north of Placencia, or the plush rooms? Well, let’s start with the natural attributes, which span a 7ha (17-acre) estate, showing off calm waters in the Placencia Lagoon, lush rainforest and the Maya Mountains. Then, your quarters: luxurious, Balinese-inspired, thatch-roofed cottages and villas, laden with Indonesian art, Japanese soaking tubs and hand-painted tiles from Thailand.
This five-hour tour will take you to the subtropical rainforest along the banks of the Monkey River, 19km (12mi) south of Placencia. You’ll start with a 40-minute boat ride through mangroves, then follow a medicinal hiking trail accompanied by an expert, hoping to spot howler monkeys, exotic birds, iguanas, crocs and possibly tarantulas and snakes along the way – and, if you’re incredibly lucky, the elusive jaguar.
Naïa Resort and Spa occupies 8ha (20 acres) of secluded beachfront and greenery on the Placencia Peninsula. There are 35 multi-bedroom Beach Houses, plus a five-room modern villa with its own elevator. It’s the spa that captures the attention of many, however. Encompassing forest and lagoon, it features five treatment rooms – nay, suites – poised over water, as well as a private island suite, fitness center, yoga studio and saltwater pool. Offshore adventures include Barrier Reef diving, deep-sea fishing, snorkeling through secluded cayes and catamaran cruises to private islands.
Locals and visitors converge daily and nightly on this split-level beachfront bar. Patrons at the lower-level watering hole can stick their toes in the sand as they enjoy Belizean food, catch-of-the-day lobster and shrimp tacos washed down with a local rum punch. There are burgers on the menu, but you’re here to eat like a local. Opt instead for the ginger lime fish with coconut rice. Thursday is reggae night.
Rooms and villas at this cut-above coastal stay are designed with wraparound terraces, indoor living areas and private plunge pools – so you know you’re in for a good time. There’s equal emphasis on good food and drink, too, with oceanside Limilia restaurant dishing up only local ingredients and fresh fish caught by Itz’ana’s own fishermen. Similarly, the Biblio Bar and aptly named Rum Room summon locavores with a menu designed by master mixologists Bar Lab, the duo behind Miami’s Broken Shaker cocktail bar.
Full-day outer-reef snorkeling tours by Placencia Eagle Ray take guests to the many cayes on the second-largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere. The itinerary includes Ranguana Caye, Pompion Caye, Round Caye and the Silk Cayes – also known as the Queen Cayes. Snorkelers are likely to see large lobsters, shrimp, snappers, barracuda, arrow crabs and schools of colorful reef fish. Lunch and gear are included.
For a somewhat fancy dinner, head to Rumfish y Vino to try one of the ceviches, such as the Peruvian version with fresh snapper marinated in lime juice with ginger, spices, sweet pepper and cilantro. Other mains on the menu include Yucatán chicken, with an extra kick from harissa on grilled filets. This being Belize, rum also makes its way onto the menu in the form of various mojitos, including one with pineapple and another with ginger.
After an energetic day exploring Placencia, or perhaps the last night of your family vacation, book a sunset catamaran cruise. Sip on your drink and tuck into cheese and snacks as the captain takes you through the waters along the Placencia Peninsula from late afternoon, returning after sunset.
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