Originally Placencia was a tiny fishing village isolated on its peninsula from the rest of the country with a mixed population of Creole, Spanish, Maya, Mestizo and Garifuna, making it a typical Belizean blend of cultures. When the roads improved and development began, Placencia grew into a popular tourist destination, yet it is still low key with its charming, local and laidback atmosphere.

On one side the lagoon, on the other the ocean laps palm fringed beaches, and in between there’s bustle and a bunch of great eating options, both rustic and a couple of very nice spots. As the sun tips late afternoon, take a wander along Placencia’s famous sidewalk, at one time the only road on the peninsula and, according to Guinness World Records, the world’s narrowest main street at 4 feet wide and 4,071 feet long. Flanked by colorful clapboard houses, some with palm thatched roofs, street vendors sell local arts and crafts, shells and tropical flowers.

There’s abundant wildlife nearby in rivers and nature reserves. You can spot crocodiles and bottlenose dolphins in the lagoon and half an hour’s ride on a dive boat takes you to the reef and Belize’s wonderful other world underwater. If you’re here on a full moon between March and June you can witness the extraordinary whale sharks, up to 40 feet long, that come to feed on spawning fish and plankton.