Belize’s Central Coast
DISCOVER BELIZE’S CENTRAL COAST
Located on Belize’s central coast, the coastal towns of Dangriga and Hopkins pulse with Garifuna culture.
The Garifuna (or Garinagu) are the descendants of West African slaves and Carib Indian populations who fled exile in the Lesser Antilles.
These fiercely independent warriors reached Belize in 1802, playing a key role in both Belize’s development and national identity.
Drum Sessions, Punta Dances and Delicacies
Today, Garifuna culture is expressed in energetic dügü drumming sessions, passionate punta dances, and fragrant delicacies such as sweet cassava pudding and lobster stewed in spiced coconut milk.
Combine those elements with cashew wine, heartfelt hospitality, and Caribbean breezes, and you begin to get the picture.
Leisure Travel Adventure
Beyond the musical, cultural and culinary immersion, Belize captivates with wildly beautiful terrestrial and marine attractions.
Dangriga, the capital of the Stann Creek District, abounds with waterfalls, wildlife, and dive sites.
Five Blues Lake National Park, nestled in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, is honeycombed with caves and bursting with charismatic fauna.
The park’s 4,000 acres of tropical forest is home to more than 200 bird species.
Howler monkeys and all five of Belize’s wild cats also prowl these woodlands.
Five Blues Lake
Wildlife aside, this park’s centerpiece is Five Blues Lake—a stunning 10-acre cenote famous for its vivid blue hues; throughout the day, it’s cool waters shift from cyan to cerulean.
Mayflower Bocawina National Park, a forested park roughly half way between Dangriga and Hopkins, protects unexcavated Maya sites and five refreshing waterfalls.
Birders flock here to observe three rare varieties of motmot, alongside toucans, parrots and nearly 200 other avian species.
Wildlife Expeditions in Cockscomb Basin
The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, located on the south fork of Stann Creek, is the world’s first jaguar preserve.
Its extensive trail network leads hikers through 128,000 acres of tropical forest that is inhabited by five feline species, howler monkeys, tapirs and Keel-billed Toucans.
Privately guided tours can be arranged from hotels near Dangriga, Hopkins and Placencia.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
This region’s offshore wonders are equally impressive. Coastal hotels and dive resorts offer accessible snorkeling tours, dive certification classes, and advanced deep-water excursions.
Favored destinations include:
- Southwater Caye (idyllic beaches and shallow coral reefs)
- Tobacco Caye (wall diving 300 feet from shore)
- The Distant Glovers Reef Atoll (coral gardens, sea turtles, wall dives)
Sport Fishing Charters & Turtle Watching
Full day sport fishing charters from Dangriga and Hopkins target marlin, sailfish, tuna, dorado and wahoo.
Closer to shore, saltwater fly fishers angle for triple crowns of bonefish, permit and tarpon.
Just 25 miles north of Dangriga, visitors to the Gales Point fishing village can observe nesting Hawksbill sea turtles from June to August, in addition to West Indian manatees and various other species.
Ben Loman’s Cave
Other notable options include exploring Ben Loman’s cave, located on the northwestern tip of the southern lagoon, and enrolling in drumming classes.
The best time to visit Dangriga and Hopkins is between mid-December to May, although March can bring high winds from the east.
Hurricane season extends from June to November.
In recent years, the most intense storms have arrived late in the season. If you’re coming in November, try to arrive on the 19th, for the annual celebration of Garifuna culture.
Dangriga can be reached by air from both Belize City airports—a twenty-minute flight—and more than a dozen other domestic airfields.
Drive times average about two hours from either Belize City or San Ignacio.
Road conditions are good on the scenic Hummingbird Highway from the Cayo District, while the Manatee Road route from Belize City can be a bumpy slog.
The well-maintained Southern Highway connects Dangriga to Placencia fifty miles to the south, with a drive time of approximately 90 minutes.
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“I wonder who will bake cassava bread for us in times to come. I wonder who will speak with me in Garifuna in times to come. I wonder who will sing Aruumahani songs with me in times to come. I wonder who will heal us with the dügü in times to come. The time has come for it to be preserved. The time has come for it to be taught. The time has come for it to be preserved. Lest we lose it altogether.”
—— COMBINE WITH
CAVES & CAVERNS: THE MAYA UNDERWORLD
MAYA RUIN SITES OF BELIZE
NATIONAL PARKS OF BELIZE