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Home to predictable whale shark encounters and the southern barrier reef, diving in Placencia is quickly becoming a popular alternative in Belize.

Highlights

Laughing Bird Caye

This national park is located on the inner southern barrier reef, making it great for beginners and even better for spotting a variety of rays.

The Southern Coast

New dive areas are being discovered every year, and many are found on the southern coast. These hold as much promise as the north but half the divers.

Whale Sharks

In Gladden Spit near Placencia, encounters with these graceful creatures while snorkeling or diving are all but guaranteed from April to June.

Diving in Placencia

Quick facts

Most divers visiting Belize head straight to the Cayes and Atolls, but smart divers also make time for Placencia. In this part of southern Belize, you’ll have access to a little-visited piece of the barrier reef.

The inner half is the perfect place to get certified and for beginner divers to fine-tune their skills. You’ll find excellent visibility, no current and colorful coral reefs.

The outer reef is reserved for more advanced divers with deep diving and steep walls dropping off to infinity.

Most diving from Placencia is via small dive boats as the reefs are approximately half an hour from town.

Unlike elsewhere in Belize, diving near Placencia requires no extra fee payments. Whale shark diving in the area is highly regulated. Boats are often limited to one and a half hours in the area and sometimes interaction may be limited to snorkeling only.

Divers using DIN regulators should bring along an adapter to Placencia.

When to go

Most people dive in Placencia during whale shark season which lasts from April to June, but all of the dry season features great diving weather.

August to October

The wet season falls from August to October. These months tend to be the warmest with average temperatures around 82 or 84°F (28 or 29°C). The wet season also offers the best surface conditions, ensuring that all sites are accessible. Rainfall, while prevalent during these months, will only impact a few hours of the day. This means that most of the day will be sunny rather than rainy. More importantly, visibility may decrease due to runoff from nearby rivers.

October and November is grouper mating season. Thousands of these fish descend on the cayes to mate and give birth to their young.

August to October is considered low season for tourism and diving in Belize. However, the diving is only slightly impacted by the rain and many would argue that this is the best time to dive in Belize. You’ll find fewer crowds and the best deals during these months.

November to July

The drier of the two seasons is from November to July. These months bring slightly cooler temperatures above and below the water. However, temperatures will only drop by a couple of degrees and most divers are still comfortable in a shorty. Surface conditions can become choppy at this time, creating limited access to the more exposed sites. With that said, from November to July, you can expect little to no rain and excellent visibility.

April to June is considered the best time to dive in Belize and is peak whale shark season in Placencia.

These months also coincide with peak season, so you can expect more fellow visitors than during wet season.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

Beginning divers will want to stay on the inner side of the barrier reef while advanced divers can look to the steep walls on the outer section.

    Snorkeling in Placencia

    Placencia is a great place to travel with non-divers. Because the whale shark experience occurs mostly from the surface, it’s perfect for snorkelers. And as long as snorkelers stay on the inside of the reef, there is plenty to see with little to no current. Many dive operators in town will be happy to arrange snorkeling tours.
    Gladden Split is the most famous and perhaps most exciting dive site in Placencia. Most operators only allow snorkeling with the whale sharks found here from April to June. If these gentle giants are your goal, plan your journey from two days before the full moon to ten days after it. The outer section of the reef is home to many advanced, deep sites. Here you’ll find walls that drop to unimaginable depths and strong currents. On the inner reef, there are a few small cayes, perfect for getting certified. These include Robert’s Caye and Laughing Bird Caye National Park, which is well-known for its variety of ray species.

    What to see

    The main attraction in Placencia are the whale sharks. This happens to be one of the best places in the world for a wild encounter with these gentle giants. But even if you visit outside of whale shark season, there will be plenty to keep your eyes busy.

    On the outer reef, you’ll easily spot turtles, rays, pelagic fish, eels and reef sharks among the huge soft and hard corals. On the boat ride out, you might encounter a pod of dolphins or even whales!

    The inner reef is also visited by plenty of rays, including the majestic manta ray. This section of the reef is also a photographer’s paradise. The macro in the area ranges from nudibranchs to mantis shrimp and colorful crabs.

    Calendar

    For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

    Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

    Area

    Placencia is a narrow peninsula jutting out into the Caribbean in the south of Belize. Both sides are flanked by brilliant, white beaches and crystal clear blue water. Some areas include thick mangrove forests, providing plenty of cover for wildlife.

    This peninsula was originally settled in the 17th Century by English Puritans from Nova Scotia. After this settlement died out, Placencia wasn’t repopulated until the 1800s by Spanish colonists.

    In 2001, Hurricane Iris devastated the town causing a drop in property value. In turn, investment in the area’s tourism industry increased making this an up-and-coming destination.

    Other attractions

    While diving and snorkeling are the main activities on the inner and outer reefs, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy out of the water. Jungle and kayak tours offer a glimpse into above-the-water ecosystems, and the fishing in the area is quite good. Tours can be arranged for all of these activities in town. Village trips to Seine Bight and Maya Beach offer insights into the local lifestyle. When you aren’t feeling up to another adventure, grab your towel and sunscreen and head to the miles of gorgeous beaches seemingly built for relaxation.

    Getting there

    Tropic or Maya Island Air connect Belize City with Placencia by plane. You can also fly into Placencia from Punta Gorda in the south. Buses also connect Belize City and Punta Gorda to Placencia. Once you arrive in town, taxis are cheap and convenient for getting around. You can also hire golf carts or bicycles.

    UTC-06:00

    Time zone

    BZD

    Currency

    +501

    Calling code

    110 V / 220 V

    Electric volt

    A, 

    B, 

    G

    Plug type
    Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.