The Best Beach in Belize
Belize is many wonderful things, but a spectacular beach destination it is not. There are nicer beaches to be found a few hundred miles North in Mexico’s Yucatan. What if you’re planning a trip to Belize for it’s world-class land or water adventures and you also want to relax on a nice beach? Lets take a look at Belize’s most famous and best beaches.
It’s Definitely Not Placencia Beach
Placencia is a 16 mile long peninsula, most of the East side is a large stretch of sandy beach. This Southern town’s beaches are quite often mentioned as being the best beaches in Belize. When I arrived to find Placencia’s sandy shores littered with dead sea-grass, rubbish and broken glass I was utterly disappointed. It has a stink almost as bad as it looks to boot. Walking along the beach I couldn’t reach the water, which was blockaded by a wide garbage barrier. I could have joined the children bravely walking barefoot playing in the rubbish, but the safety of my tender feet were at too much risk.
When I asked a few locals about the situation I was told nobody cleans up the mess, they simply wait for the water to wash the rubbish away! The only exception I found was to stay at a luxury resort, like Placencia’s top rated Chabil Mar. They clean the beach everyday to keep it clear and safe for guests.
Could it be at Ambergris Caye?
Ambergris is the country’s predominant travel destination and the beach here absolutely is better than Placencia. San Pedro town is quite touristy, the beach is cluttered with hotels, piers and restaurants. The water however is absolutely gorgeous and the sand is the white, powdery texture enjoyable to walk on.
Unfortunately sea-grass and rubbish washes up on the beach constantly, leaving it unsightly in all the areas that are unkept. As with Placencia, you’ll find the best sand here to be the stretches of beach that are cleaned routinely by one of the nicer resorts outside of town.
So Where is the Best Beach in Belize?
The real gems of Belize – hundreds of little cayes (islands) and atolls the stretch along the barrier reef tucked away from most tourists. These picture perfect islands are the perfect getaway for beach lovers who want nothing more than to enjoy an isolated patch of sand all day. There are many to chose from all offering something a little different. My favorite is South Water Caye (pictured at the top of this post), which like many of cayes are protected marine reserves, keeping them in pristine condition. These islands are hands down the home of Belize best beaches.
Sea grass means a healthy beach – clean water, healthy marine life. Sea grass is symbiotic with healthy coral and healthy mangrove – without any of the three, you have a dirty sea or ocean, unpopulated by fish, sea turtles, crustaceans — all the things that make a good marine environment.
So, if you don’t like seeing sea grass washed up on the beach, that means you don’t understand the marine environment in Belize.
As for garbage – there isn’t a beach in Belize, Mexico or the Caribbean that doesn’t get garbage – it washes down from the rivers and it gets dumped out of cruise ships – and in some cases it gets dumped by garbage dredges from North America.
Don’t want to see garbage on beaches? Stop using so much plastic and non-recyclable glass – it’s YOUR responsibility.
I’m not quite sure what point you’re trying to make? I’ve published numerous times how great diving and snorkeling in Belize has been.
The problem is advertising Belize to be a great place to vacation on the beach, with pictures of a nice sandy, clean beach – nothing like what you get on arrival.
Regardless of where the ocean’s trash comes from, someone needs to clean the 5 feet of smelly trash and unsafe broken glass bottles away that line the beach. Until then, Mexico’s Yucatan remains the much better, and cleaner option for beaches.
As I live on the beach in Placencia I think I know what the beach looks like, and it RARELY looks like your pictures. Seagrass washes up and is raked and removed or buried DAILY by the Sanitation dept. in Placencia. Locals and hotels on the beach clean their own beaches as well.
Trash is always picked up. Always. It would be hard to find a time, though you obviously did, when there was so much grass on the beach.
If you tried to find it, as you did here, you will find broken glass, plastic etc. etc. on every beach in Belize and the Yucatan, including the cayes.
I’m wondering how long a time you spent in Placencia and the other places mentioned. A day or two can NOT show the reality of a place at all, at all.
We were in Belize for a month. Two weeks in Placencia and two weeks on Ambergris Caye. At Placencia no one cleaned the trash up on the beach where we were staying. Someone from the city came by and tried to pick up the real trash, left it in big black bags on the beach where it was collected a few days later. The dead sea grass was never picked up and never washed back out while we were there. Some of the little bars along the Placenia beach raked up the dead sea grass and tried burying it, but as soon as the tide came up a little it was uncovered again. There was even trash floating in the water where we tried to swim. It was gross. So we didn’t swim much, only doing so when the wind seemed to be moving the trash down the beach from where we were. We could tell it would’ve been nice swimming with beautiful clear water without the trash. The sea grass at Placencia wasn’t right at the edge of the water like it was on Ambergris Caye. It grew in large clumps 8 – 10 feet off shore, so the shallow areas were sandy. On Ambergris Caye it comes right up to the edge of the water and it’s difficult and pretty unpleasant trying to get past it to get into the water from the beach. There are many docks where you can get into deeper water where you don’t have to deal with the sea grass. And the trash – also all along the San Pedro beaches where it wasn’t cleaned up by the resorts. It wasn’t the wonderful white sand beach with clear water and white sand we were led to believe existed in Belize.
The beaches in Placencia are cleaned regularly – every day. But, as a small village that has NO revenue (villages are not allowed to raise revenue in Belize), we can’t clean the beach 24 hours a day – even if we relied solely on volunteers. The trash washing in is constant. I lived directly on the beach for several years and tried to keep the beach in front of my place clean all the time. It was impossible. Plus, 2-4 times a year, I would wake up in the morning to find 1-4 FEET of trash on the beach that had washed in during the night. That’s FEET of trash. That trash comes from somewhere, it’s not from here – and it may very well be from much more well-off North Americans. So, if people used less plastics and recycled more, it wouldn’t be incumbent on a small village in Central America to clean up their trash.
Plus, your pictures show one broken bottle and seagrass. Therefore, it seems to primarily be the seagrass you’re objecting to. It’s ecologically unsound to remove dead seagrass from the beach because the dead seagrass both nourishes and stabilizes the beach.
And dead seagrass is NOT trash.
Those are my points.
Kay and Mary,
I was in Placencia for 10 days. I walked the beach every day hoping what I saw the previous day would improve. It never did. Broken glass and rubbish lined the beach, and it was never cleaned. I observed young children walking around in it barefoot.
I asked a half dozen people who lived in town when the beach was cleaned and they all had the same answer – never.
You can claim it’s cleaned daily but my experience is the exact opposite. Mary – you’re idea that all of the garbage is coming from the U.S. is also quite humorous as I also routinely observed the locals using mother earth as their trash bins.
Hi James – I assure you, there is a guy that picks up the plastic and trash on the beach every day. Maybe the seagrass was up there at that end for a long time. The grass in front of my place, and my neighbors, is raked at least once a week, next door to me they have a guy that rakes it every day. Seagrass goes and comes when it wants.
The village now has beach rakes for that grass. Don’t know how often that works as I have been traveling for a couple of months.
We just returned from 2 weeks in Placencia and 2 weeks in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. The condition of the beach in Placencia was very disappointing. I can deal with some sea weed in the water and still enjoy swimming. But the entire time we were there so much trash and churned up sea weed/grass was floating in the first 20 to 30 feet off the beach that we couldn’t/didn’t want to get in the water. We did observe several times one person cleaning up the trash and leaving big bags along the beach which were picked up a few days later after the beach was completely littered again. The bars and lodging places raked the washed up sea grass and trash back into the surf just adding to the accumulation.
I’m not a travel snob. We like to stay in local places and enjoy the culture of foreign countries, but this was too much for us. We won’t go back. San Pedro wasn’t much better. We are trying to figure out what the draw is for all the Americans and Canadians who own condos there. In a tropical place like this, I need a place I can walk right into the water, not find a pier to use just to swim and dodge the trash. Is it a year round battle or just after the wet season?
I agree.. For me the appeal of Belize is it’s amazing water and jungles, along with the super friendly locals.. it’s definitely not the beach!
I i just came from belize..ambergis key..other than the tourist resorts beaches that are daily cleaned. ..I have never seen more garbage in my life not only on mist beaches…but throughout the streets and roads. Don’t waste your time..it’s a nasty third world island.