‘You Betta Belize It!’

Lysa Allman-Badwin | 7/16/2015, 11:42 a.m.
It’s cute, catchy and you’ll see it everywhere you look in Belize: “You Betta Belize It!”
The main pedestrian-only drag in Placencia is a boardwalk dotted with jewelry huts, handcraft stores, clothing boutiques, restaurants and the like. (Lysa Allman-Baldwin photos)

As we ambled around and talked to folks, we learned that the locals are a diverse mix of native Placencians, Belizeans born in other parts of the country, people from neighboring Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras and large numbers of expatriates from the U.S. and Canada, and other tourists we met traveled there from Phoenix, Toronto, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Arkansas, Australia, Santa Barbara, Dallas—you name it and people were loving it!

The ambiance is very warm and welcoming, with a distinctive Caribbean “no rush, island time” vibe, and without the crush of mass tourism.

GASTRONOMIC

ADVENTURES

For a village of this size, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the number of cafes, bars and restaurants in which to stretch your salivary muscles—and all within walking distance of each other!

Among our favorites were DeTatch Seafood Grill, Restaurant and Bar, situated right on the beach and serving excellent fresh seafood and Belizean specialties for breakfast, lunch and dinner; Tipsy Tuna Beach Bar for their delicious bar food, cocktails, people watching and evening entertainment; and Omar’s Creole Grub & Guesthouse, where you can have their fresh fish, lobster, crab, conch and barracuda cooked in your choice of coconut or Caribbean curry, traditional Creole, or butter and garlic sauces. Other popular eateries include Friends, the Secret Garden, Rumfish y Vino, Barefoot Beach Bar, and Wendy’s Creole Restaurant and Bar.

One of the main reasons we chose to visit in June was for the 17th annual Placencia Lobsterfest, which coincides with the start of lobster season and the annual Fisherman’s Day festivities.

This award-winning festival has at its centerpiece everything lobster: coconut lobster muffins, lobster patties, lobster tacos, lobster burgers, lobster pizza, lobster flatbread, lobster ravioli, risotto with lobster, lobster salad, lobster fajitas—the list of delicious lobster-packed dishes is endless, each one offering its own particular flavor and flair for this crustacean, which we learned, in this part of the world, grows without claws!

Of course, there were other delicious Belizean and Caribbean culinary dishes as well, but during the festival, we didn’t have any of those—we were there for the amazing, succulent lobster! The festival itself lasts three days (the Saturday night fun spilling over until 6 a.m.). One of the things that makes it so unique is that it is put on by, and primarily patronized by, the locals, who come from not only Placencia but also other nearby villages, giving it real “hometown” heart and soul.

The wide array of activities include live entertainment—from marching bands to Garifuna drummers and singers, DJ jams, and other performances—spirited makeshift table carnival games, talented local arts and crafts vendors, fun raffles, a Belikin (the official Belizean beer) drinking contest, a hot wings eating contest, a Mr. & Ms. Physique contest and numerous family friendly activities, including tug-o-war, kayak racing, sand net casting and numerous booths presented by a variety of local social service and educational organizations. The crowning events for the fishermen are the “Biggest Lobstah’” and Lionfish tournament competitions, who vie for these titles and bragging rights for the next year.

SO MUCH MORE TO COME!

In our next adventure, we’re settling into two amazing accommodation options, both on and offshore, that will make you fall even more deeply in love with the wonder and beauty of Belize.

Lysa Allman Baldwin is a freelance writer and the publisher and editor of Amazing Escapades, featuring “adventures for the mind, bod and belly” (www.amazingescapades.com).