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Battle of the Best Beaches Ambergris, Placencia and Roatan

Ambergris vs. Roatan vs. Placencia Best Beaches Comparison by Laura Diffendal

Recently, West Bay Beach on the island of Roatan, Honduras, was rated one of the best beaches in the world by TripAdvisor, congrats!! Having been on this beach, as well as the beaches of Ambergris Caye and Placencia, I wanted to do a comparison of the three. Many travelers looking for great snorkeling, beaches, and the Caribbean/Central American vibe will no doubt be looking at all three places. All three have their own fantastic reasons for a visit!

**Note, the images I used are a combination of Google and my own… I chose the ones that I feel most represent what you are actually going to see when visiting.

Ambergris Caye Beaches

Ambergris has a gorgeous, white, soft sand perimeter around the whole island. The sea-side is more appealing in most areas I saw as compared to the lagoon, but gorgeous on both sides. I read reviews that said the beaches were disappointing and that there were no beaches for swimming… this is simply NOT accurate! Ambergris is closest to the reef of the three spots and has the added benefit of GORGEOUS, crystal clear water, no waves, and less sea grass/trash actually coming in than the mainland. People actually use the beach for a walkway in places in town, and you can ride your bike on it. The beaches truly look like the pictures you look at on your calendar in your cubicle… Note…this is an old post from a TripAdvisor Belize Travel Forum that is amazingly accurate comparing Ambergris Caye and Placencia even though it is now a few years old. Destination Expert and part time Ambergris Caye resident Jean H. gives some very insightful comparisons from well known Belize travel writer Lan Sluder.

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Beach at Ramon’s Village resort from
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Beach at Victoria House from
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Estel’s dine by the sea from Jose Luis Zapata for Ambergris Today newspaper

Roatan Beaches

Roatan has the same calm, clear water, but has less actual beaches and beachfront than Ambergris or Placencia. Roatan looks a little more dense and lush, LOTS of trees and hills, mountains–many of them look like Northern foliage to my eyes. There are two major beach areas, West Bay, which is a bit far from the other beach area in West End (not walkable), and mostly has resorts, a more quiet area. In town, the other fun beach area, with a narrower beach–is West End; I have to give Roatan points here…..the Sundowner’s Beach bar is the most perfect tiki bar I have ever seen. Tourists, (some) locals, and expats all hang out together, with the perfect amount of live music (not TOO loud), nightly beach bonfires, great seating options, cheap beer, great sunsets… should really be a template for all other beach bars! Note… Here is a more in-depth review of my visit to the Island of Roatan.

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Aerial beach picture from Grand Roatan
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Roatan Beach picture from Romantic Travel Belize
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Sundowners Beach Bar from

Placencia Beaches

Placencia has the most beach area of the three, and no matter where you stay on the peninsula, you are steps from the beach. You can find great, rustic cabanas (really cheap), and a quiet, laid back atmosphere, or a more rowdy fun time closer to the village. Placencia has the most “moody” of the beaches of the three–it is far enough away from the reef that you may have waves that resemble the Atlantic, and the next day the water looks like the turquoise and glassy Caribbean. You will hear the waves most nights. Having lived on this beach for a year I can attest that we get our share of sea grass, and you may encounter this more in Placencia than the other two places due to the wave action. The sand is a bit different here–less powder and more khaki colored as it comes from the mountains instead of coral. Footnote; I happen to be in love with the waves at the beach, the sound and sight of them, so for me, I’ll take some days of sea grass for the benefits 🙂

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Caribbean Beach Cabanas downtown Placencia

To see different pictures and my point form comparison of all 3 locations, visit Ambergris vs. Roatan vs. Placencia…pros/cons, best beaches.

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Beach view at the Cabanas from Sue Vasquez

A bit more about the Placencia blogger and resort owner who wrote the above guest post.

Until moving to Belize, Laura had never lived outside the USA, or Northern Ohio to be exact. After visiting Belize, she had a hard time finding blogs about Placencia, and since she rates it as it is one of the most charming places, she started her blog. Laura wanted to share this special place with others and encourage them to come down and experience it live.

In addition to writing Pure Placencia Belize blog, Laura, and her husband Dave can help you out if you are wondering where to stay in Belize. They bought Caribbean Beach Cabanas a small beach resort on the Caribbean Sea, located close to town on the famous Placencia sidewalk. You can follow along with them as she documents their adventures in building up what is currently a 3 cabana resort, into something larger.

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Caribbean Cabanas
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Beach at Mariposa from Sharon Maddison

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