The main civilization in this part of Central America before Columbus was the Maya, who had been living in Belize for one or two thousand years by the time the European explorers came. Belize abounds with the ruins of many Mayan civilizations including Caracol, Xunantuinch, Altun Ha, La Milpa, and Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit, which are both good day-trips from the Placencia Peninsula.

Mayan sites even exist in and around the Placencia Peninsula, evidencing that fishing and salt production were the primary occupations of the Maya who lived in the Placenciia area.

As early as the 1630s, British sailors were landing in the Bay of Honduras and interacting with the natives of the region. Over time, the Maya population decreased (partly due to disease, partly due to European exploitation) and those who were left were often relegated to small foothill villages, where they subsisted on farming and fishing. European settlers took over the region and set up plantations and trading posts for tropical crops such as bananas and sugar. West Africans and Creoles became a major segment of the population as well due to slave importation.

After slavery was banned, Placencia Village at the southern tip of the Placencia Peninsula became a small fishing community of mostly Creoles, Mayans and Mestizos.   Seine Bight Village, about 5 miles north of Placencia Village, was settled by the Garifuna with a focus on family and artensenal fishing both in the Caribbean Sea and the Placencia Lagoon.  Maya Beach is a small community about 5 miles north of Seine Bight.  A Canadian from Vancouver, Robert Gayer, purchased the land on which it sits, laid out the townsite and began selling lots, mostly to Canadians, in 1964.

A large influx of primarily North American ex-pats began in the late 1990s and has continued until today, with a growing population of North American retirees, second home owners and entrepreneurs now living on the Peninsula.