Dangriga is not only the district capital of Stann Creek but more importantly, it is the “culture capital” of Belize. No matter where your interests lie, this charming and vibrant coastal town offers something for everybody, and its convenient location makes it the perfect jumping-off point for a variety of adventures on both land and sea.
The area in and around Dangriga boasts some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. You can snorkel in the clear blue water near the reef and observe a fantastic variety of sea creatures, or visit the Cockscomb Wildlife Preserve to hike, birdwatch, cool off under a waterfall, and if you’re lucky, get a glimpse of one of the elusive jaguars who make this their home. Or, just relax on the beach beneath a coconut palm and enjoy the balmy Caribbean breeze.
Dangriga has a population of about 9,000 friendly residents, most of whom are the descendants of shipwrecked slaves who intermarried with the locals – known as the Garifuna. Garifuna culture is a successful fusion of African and Caribbean traditions. Dangriga’s Gulisi Garifuna museum is the only museum in Belize dedicated to telling the story of the Garifuna, and it’s a great place to get an introduction to their history and culture. The Studio Gallery Cayetano offers further opportunities to learn about the art and music of the contemporary Garifuna people.
The traditional music of the Garifuna is known as “punta”, but in the 1970s and 80s, musicians modernized and updated the punta style by adding guitars, synthesizers, and other modern sounds to the more traditional instruments, resulting in “punta rock”. The artist Pen Cayetano is credited with creating punta rock, and this favorite son of Dangriga still lives in town, making music with his family band, “The Cayetano’s”. This fun and upbeat music, somewhat similar to reggae, can be heard all over the region.
The much older Maya culture is evident all over Belize, and numerous Maya sites are within a short drive from Dangriga. Before you head out to explore the ruins, stop in at the Maya Center Mayan Museum to learn more about this fascinating culture.