Beachside Resort near the Belize Barrier Reef and Mayan Ruins
Laru Beya, a beachside resort in southern Belize, takes its name from the Garifuna phrase for “on the beach.” It’s a fitting source—Garifuna villages have long lined the Caribbean coastline throughout Belize and Honduras. Today, the Garifuna community, made up of descendents of Carib Indians and West Africans, regularly pays homage to its heritage with traditional dance and drum circles. You can experience these cultural practices firsthand among the palm-thatch huts of Seine Bight, a Garifuna village just a half hour’s walk from the resort.
Laru Beya’s location along the Placencia Peninsula, a thin ribbon of land along the southern coast of Belize, makes it easy to explore the surrounding country. The resort can arrange water- or land-based tours; visit the Mayan archaeological sites of southern Belize and ride an inner tube through nearby caves. You can also spend your vacation lounging under one of the hotel’s umbrellas on the beach.
Guest rooms highlight Placencia’s culture with artwork and furniture produced by local artisans. Prepare meals or future awards-show speeches in the full kitchen of a one- or two-bedroom suite, or head to The Quarter Deck to feast on local seafood and tropical fruits in an open-air thatch dining room. You’ll find more restaurants and nightlife in Placencia, just a 10-minute drive down the peninsula.
Placencia, Belize: Laid-Back Village with White-Sand Beaches and Manatees
According to Frommer’s, the small coastal village of Placencia is the definition of laid-back. Situated at the southern end of the Placencia Peninsula, a 16-mile strip of white-sand beaches, the village is marked by colorful clapboard houses, turquoise waters, and an easygoing local population. Settle into a hammock with a cold drink or rent a kayak and paddle leisurely through the lagoon—you might even spot a manatee or two.
To see even more marine wildlife, take a boat to the Belize Barrier Reef and snorkel along its labyrinthine coral reefs. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to more than 500 species of fish as well as loggerhead turtles and one of the world’s largest populations of West Indian manatees.
Because of its location on a peninsula, Placencia feels a bit like an island, but it’s close enough to the mainland to take day trips into the jungle and see ancient Mayan ruins and scarlet macaws. Head to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, about a 90-minute drive from the resort, to observe jaguars and other local wildlife in their natural habitat.