Tips for your Placencia Vacation

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Placencia Tips

Dis 'n Dat

peninsula-map-outlineGeography: As shown in the map to the left, the Placencia Peninsula is an approximately 14 mile long peninsula in southern Belize.  The Caribbean Sea forms its eastern and southern boundaries and the Placencia Lagoon is its western boundary.  

Placencia Village is located at the southern tip of the Peninsula, and is an authentic Belizean Creole fishing village, although most of its fishermen are now also tour guides (snorkeling, fishing, diving, kayaking and sailing).

The southern tip of the Placencia Peninsula is the southern boundary of Placencia Village.  The northern boundary of Placencia Village is the Wild Orchid development, about 3/4's of a mile south of The Inn at Robert's Grove.  Placencia's northern boundary line is also the southern boundary line of Seine Bight Village, a traditional Belizean Garifuna village - one of four in Belize.  (The other three are Hopkins Village, Dangriga Town and Barranco Village, all in southern Belize.)  The northern boundary line of Seine Bight Village is at approximately Riversdale, a small community just north of The Placencia Hotel and Residences, and 10 miles north of the boundary line between Placencia and Seine Bight.

Although the boundaries of Seine Bight Village encompass the communities of Maya Beach, Riversdale, and The Plantation Development area, these three communities are not thought of as being a part of Seine Bight Village, either culturally or economically.  

The distance from the southern tip of Placencia Village to the intersection of the Peninsula Road with the Southern Highway is about 24 miles.

Placencia Cayes and Reef

(Information from the Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute)

cayes-mapApproximately 75 cayes are in the Placencia/Laughing Bird Caye Coastal Planning Region (from the mouth of the South Stann Creek River to the Mouth of Monkey River, extending seaward to include the Meso-American Barrier Reef, with Norval Caye in the north, Pompion Caye in the south, and Gladden Spit in the east).

Cayes range in size from about 65 acres (Lark Caye) to only several square yards.  The great majority of cayes are subject to some form of ownership claim (either ownership or lease), either wholly or partly.

The region, occupying part of the southern reef complex, extends at its greatest width (between Placencia Caye and Gladden Spit) for about 25 miles, and taking the Barrier Reef as the eastern limit, covers an estimated 90,400 acres of sea and cayes.  The region can be viewed as having three sections:

  • The "Barrier Reef Cayes" -- characterized by cayes such as Gladden, Buttonwood, Hatchet, Little Water, Pompion and the Silk Cayes
  • The "Inner Reef Cayes" -- including the Pelican Cayes, Quamino, Tarpon, Bakers Rendezvous, Lark, Moho and Laughing Bird Cayes
  • The "Shoreline Cayes" -- cayes such as False, Placencia, Palmetto, Rocky Point and Great Monkey

Placencia Real Estate

A lot of people visit Placencia and decide they'd like to live or retire in the area -- or at least own a vacation home on the Peninsula.

If you're a developer, you should definitely read the Peninsula 2020 Report, which details the kinds of development the communities on the Peninsula want -- and the kinds of developments they will support.  (Generally, resort rather than condominium or residential developments aimed at non-Belizeans, boutique up-scale boutique hotels rather than mass-market resorts, and no all-inclusives.)

Other real estate considerations, whether you are considering a lot, a condo, an already constructed home -- or multiple acreage:

  • Placencia real estate is not cheap.   It's not expensive by most Caribbean country standards, but it's not cheap.  If someone offers you cheap real estate on the Peninsula, be VERY, VERY careful.  (You may even want to run the other way.)  You're not going to find a-cute-little-fixer-upper beachfront cottage for US$120,000.  Not even close.  You almost certainly won't even find a lot for that price in Placencia Village, and certainly not a beachfront one.  However, you may be able to find an interior lot for that price further north in the Maya Beach area.  Maybe even one fronting on the Placencia Lagoon, or at least a canal front.

  • Building costs can be expensive - and the more you want it to be like a North American house, the higher the cost to build.  These days, concrete and wood construction materials are about the same, but it takes a lot more in labor costs to build a concrete house.  Pre-fabbed houses are available that are built off-site and transported to your lot.  However, in a coastal area you will still need to heavily reinforce these homes, pour a good foundation and put some extra money into finish work.

  • Belize doesn't license real estate brokers or agents and the real estate industry has no legally enforceable professional code of ethics, complaint board, etc.  So, you can't necessarily rely on your real estate agent (or contractor) to know the laws about clearing your land, building on your land, etc.  Do your own homework - and hire a reputable lawyer, especially if you want to buy waterfront property, which is subject to a 66' foot public reserve, and likely to have mangrove on it, which is illegal to cut without a permit.  Contractors are also likely to want to clear cut your property, leaving you with a bare sand lot, and you'll end up spending to replace mature trees and plants that were there when you purchased the property.  (You need those trees and plants to keep your land from eroding and protect it from storm damage - not to mention the tropical birds that you'll want to have around your place.)

  • Some of Belize, including most of the Placencia Peninsula, is now under a Certificate of Title regime (Registered Land Act system) in which you receive a certificate of title that lists all of the liens and encumbrances of record against a parcel of real estate.  Theoretically, this means you can rely on the certificate of title without further investigation.  Practically, it probably  still makes sense to engage an attorney to look over the paperwork and advise you about matters such as contract terms and to help you with getting actual title (which can take months and months and months in Belize).

  • 12.5% sales tax is payable on sales of new residential properties, which includes lots in new subdivisions, new residential construction, and property that has been "substantially" renovated (interpreted to mean cost of renovation equal to 60% or more of the value of the property).

  • A 5-8% transfer tax (stamp tax) is assessed on the selling price, less US$10,000.  (The first US$10,000 in value is exempt from stamp tax.)

  • Belize has no multiple listing service.

  • Caveat emptor (buyer beware) is still the law in Belize, and this caution especially applies to not yet completed developments.  Think twice when someone guarantees you a specified rate of return for renting out your property when you're not using it.  (In the US and Canada, guaranteeing a rate of return will get a developer in a lot of trouble with agencies like the Securities Enforcement Commission (SEC).)  The Caribbean, including Belize, has more than its share of land schemes, so if it sounds to good to be true, remember that it usually is.