In 2001, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed the Garifuna language, music and dance a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity. The recognition bolstered local efforts to preserve this vibrant culture.
The Garinagu are descendants of African slaves that fled exile in Saint Vincent. There are a number of Garifuna communities along the coasts of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize…a settlement trail of their pilgrimage towards freedom. Today the Garinagu proudly share their culture with visitors to Belize. November 19th is a public and bank holiday to commemorate their arrival to Belize’s shores.
The festivities include all night drumming and dancing and the sharing of traditional foods and drinks. At dawn, the Garinagu re-enact the arrival of their ancestors while singing joyful songs in gratitude of finding solid land. Their clothing is the colour of the Garifuna flag: yellow, black and white.
Hotels in Dangriga pay homage to the Garifuna culture in various ways, such as hosting cultural nights on the beach so visitors can learn to dance the “punta” to the tune of live drumming, and by including traditional foods on their menus. Beyond cultural immersion, Dangriga is the gateway to incredible marine and terrestrial attractions. Further inland, visitors can hike to a three hundred-foot waterfall, explore a colonial sugar mill or take a picturesque drive along the Hummingbird Highway. Offshore, several pristine cayes are nestled on the Belize Barrier Reef, offering visitors incredible diving and snorkeling opportunities. Accommodations in Dangriga range from rooms on the beach to island cabañas to main street convenience.
After you’ve said hello to Dangriga, it will definitely be hard to say Ayo…goodbye.
- Drive the Hummingbird Highway: This winding road takes you over forested mountains and through citrus orchards, over crystal clear rivers and through hillside villages. When you pull over for pictures, try to find the outline of the Sleeping Giant in the mountains.
- Visit the Cockscomb Basin: Tours within the world’s first jaguar preserve include hikes to waterfalls and river tubing, bird watching and, if you’re lucky, signs of the beautiful but elusive jaguar.
- Hike to a waterfall: Along the Hummingbird and Southern Highways, visitors can hike to several breathtaking waterfalls such as Davis Falls and the Antelope Falls at the Mayflower Bocawina National Park.
- Know the Culture: Named for a Garifuna heroine, the Gulisi Museum offers visitors a multi-media experience about the Garinagu. Renowned artist and musician Pen Cayetano has a Studio Gallery that also highlights the vibrant Garifuna culture.
- Snorkel/Dive: The islands of South Water Caye and Tobacco Caye both sit atop the Belize Barrier Reef within the South Water Caye Marine Reserve. Step off the beach to enjoy amazing snorkeling and diving.
- Cassava Bread: Ground food features prominently in the Garifuna menu. The cassava is peeled and grated into a moist flour mixture which is packed into a long, snake like tube so unwanted juices can drain out. The cassava flour is then baked into a flat bread on a hot “comal.” The bread is then cut into squares and enjoyed with soups or as a snack.
- Sere with Hudut: Fresh or salted fish is cooked in coconut milk seasoned with spices and hot pepper. Hudut is made with green and ripe plantains. The plantains are peeled, boiled in salted water and pounded into a soft mixture. This meal is as delicious as it is filling.
- Oranges: In the citrus valley visitors can enjoy the freshest orange juice sweetened by Mother Nature herself. Restaurants serve juice chilled or on ice; locals also enjoy peeling the fruit and eating it in halves with salt and pepper.
- Hot sauce: The habanero pepper is a popular Belizean condiment. Locally produced habanero pepper sauces include “Marie Sharp’s.” This brand has won several awards for its pepper sauces, which come in different heat levels. Free tours of the factory are offered on weekdays to visitors.
- Sweet Cassava Pudding: This Garifuna dessert is made by mixing grated sweet cassava with coconut milk, sugar, nutmeg and vanilla. The mixtures is then baked into a thick pudding and served in squares.
Advertised accommodations are listed here. For a full list of Dangriga properties, please turn to the directory in this book.