Part 1: Placencia
Life in Placencia was much more fun compared to life in Hopkins, especially once we’d found a clean area of beach to enjoy. We’d moved from the Manatee Inn to Lydia’s Guest House after a couple of days since Lydia’s is a little cheaper and has its own kitchen, meaning we could cut food costs and cook our own meals.
We had read that Placencia is far more touristy than Hopkins and thus not to some people’s taste. We’re not massive fans of overly touristy places with too many loud, drunk and sun burnt gringos so we were glad to find that Placencia didn’t fall into that category. Whilst there is a decent tourist infrastructure, it’s developed to just the right level in our opinion (as of February 2018 anyway); meaning that whilst there are a few tourists wandering around and a colourful selection of bars and restaurants, they aren’t too cheesy or loud or crammed together in a mash of chaos at any one point along the coast.
Plenty of flavours at the best coffee place in town: ‘Brewed Awakenings’
Freshly roasted coffee beans at ‘Brewed Awakenings’
During our time in Placencia we had the pleasure of chatting to another travel couple called Eric and Mari; they too had given up their jobs at home in the US for a life on the road. Their Instagram account @therollingroads has plenty of great photos of their journey so far as they forge a path down to Mari’s native Colombia; not forgetting their most important travel companion, Marble the dog!
Getting a sniff/kiss from Marble the dog
It’s been quite a revelation to meet so many other people who have had enough of slaving away in jobs back home (whether that be the UK, USA or anywhere else), where you are consistently expected to work harder and harder for stagnating wages in an increasingly stressful environment, and for what purpose? That quote from Fight Club seems to become ever more poignant as the years go by.
We’re very lucky to have worked out relatively stable alternative sources of income, and although we’re earning far less than we used to in our previous ‘careers’…we’re much, much happier for it.
Part 2: Scuba Diving around the Gladden Spit
Placencia only covers a small area so there aren’t too many dive shops to choose from, we ended up going with the main shop located by the central pier called Go Sea Belize. Justin who works there is a friendly Belizian who can give you all the info you’ll need. A day trip including a regular 2 tank dive for those with PADI Open Water certification will set you back $145 USD (about £105 GBP); those who don’t yet have the Open Water certificate or who are still working towards it can pay a little more for a ‘Discover Dive’ at $180 USD (about £130 GBP). This is what my girlfriend Vic was able to do in order to complete the final two dives needed to attain her Open Water Diver certificate.
These prices also include:
- the 75-minute boat rides to and from the Gladden Spit
- lunch and refreshments between dives
- a snorkel stop on the trip back to swim with turtles, nurse sharks and enormous eagle rays
- a PADI certified instructor for those undertaking the Discover Dive
The boat ride out to the tiny island of Gladden Spit in the Silk Cayes can get pretty bumpy so be warned, I’d suggest sitting towards the back of the boat for a smoother ride (though you might get a bit wet). Arriving at Gladden Spit is both comical and awesome in equal measure just because the island is literally only about 50 metres in length and maybe 15 metres at the widest point. Thankfully there is a small toilet located at the rocky end.
Me and Vic stand at the very far end of the tiny Gladden Spit
Cool little sign at the other end of the island reminding us that people have been fishing here for centuries,
and that keeping the area clean is paramount
Our instructor ‘Nidia’ was great, just the right combination of calm and humour to make the experience a fun and memorable one for all the right reasons. Walking in to the shallows at the end of the island we donned our scuba gear and had a quick refresher before making a slow descent; non certified divers are only permitted to dive to a maximum depth of 12 metres but we were quite happy to just enjoy the scenery as we circumnavigated the tiny island underwater for 40 minutes.
Vic and me get busy with the GoPro
I did get a couple of great shots of Vic but we had some cloud storage issues so you can only see them on her Instagram now
Lunch was a decent serving of jerk chicken, rice and coleslaw, including a pretty stunning 360-degree view of the Caribbean ocean and some inquisitive frigate birds. We didn’t have to go far to enjoy other wildlife either since there were loads of small fish of various different types just darting around in the first metre or two of water off of the beach.
Nidia kept things simple for the second dive so Vic could really get comfortable with the surroundings and have a go at some underwater GoPro action; we made another shore dive but this time worked our way counter-clockwise around the island.
Friendly Ramora Fish
There was even a snorkel stop on the way back to Placencia but unfortunately the GoPro had run out of battery by that point. It never gets boring to swim with turtles, sharks and rays though, they are so much bigger in real life, especially the rays! You can get an idea of what it’s like to swim with these guys via photos from my previous blog post.
The only slight downer to the day was the boat ride back where those of us who sat at the back of the boat got pelted with cold sea spray for the entire journey, ending up huddled together like penguins under soaking wet towels. Kind of funny when I think about it now but pretty grim at the time.
Tune in next week to see loads of photos of San Ignacio, the Belize Zoo near Belize City and to hear about us being reunited with Bryan (our GoPro Karma drone) prior to arriving in Guatemala!