Breezy 4-Star Caribbean Resort with Eco-Tours and Private Island
Near the tiny fishing town of Monkey Village, the howler monkeys' low, throaty growl can be heard for up to 3 miles through mangrove forests and across lagoon waters. You might even spot one of the dark-brown primates—thought to be the loudest land animal—swinging by its tail in the forest canopy overhead during a 12-mile-long Monkey River tour at The Placencia, a 4-star resort on Belize’s Placencia Peninsula. The Monkey River tour, like many of the eco-tours hosted by The Placencia, brings you face-to-face with the exotic wildlife and sprawling forests of Belize. Set in a 6,500-acre gated community, the resort draws visitors with its upscale amenities, untamed jungle surroundings, and stretch of idyllic beaches along the Caribbean Sea.
Master suites and sea-view villas boast jacuzzi tubs and ocean views. Once you’ve checked in, there’s plenty to do—kayak on the ocean’s natural Caribbean waters, enjoy a Mayan-inspired treatment at the spa, or spot a puma at the nearby Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (extra fees may apply). A short water-taxi ride away, the hotel’s 15-acre private island provides a secluded spot to sunbathe, snorkel, or carve coconut cell phones.
In addition to the swim-up Pool Bar and Lounge at the hotel’s pool—one of the country’s largest—the resort offers three onsite restaurants. At Capriccio, chefs spice up traditional Italian dishes with Belizean creole recipes and vegetables, herbs, and organic fruits harvested from The Placencia's own garden. From the restaurant's 9,000-bottle cellar, you'll have no trouble finding a glass of white that pairs perfectly with a sautéed fillet of local, fresh-caught fish. There’s also the Palm Terrace, which overlooks the private beach, making it ideal for a pleasant breakfast.
Belize: Barrier Reefs, Unspoiled Forests, and Punta Rock
Located east of Guatemala and south of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Belize has designated more than 40% of its land as protected parks and wildlife reserves. This unspoiled land presents opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, kayaking, diving, and other outdoor activities. Along the coast, the Belize Barrier Reef, the Western Hemisphere’s longest reef and the world’s second largest, spans 185 miles and brims with reef sharks, loggerhead turtles, and moray eel.
A day trip to Dangriga, southern Belize’s second-largest town that's about 90 minutes north of Placencia, will help demystify creole, mestizo, and Mayan cultures. Dangriga is the birthplace of punta rock, a lively percussion-heavy musical style with some calypso influence. Ask around town about the few dance clubs where you might catch a live show, or at the very least, a cold Belikin beer. Because the official language of the country is English, you'll have no problem communicating along the way.