The chief town of the Stann Creek District is on the seashore, which has the usual Belizean aspect of wooden clap-board houses elevated on piles, and is a cheerful and busily commercial place with a population largely of Black Caribs (Garífuna). North Stann Creek meets the sea at Dangriga, coming alive with flotillas of boats and fishermen. There are several gas stations, a good hospital and an airfield with regular flights. The beach has been considerably cleaned up and extended, being particularly pleasant at the far north of town at the
Pelican Beach Hotel
, where it is raked and cleaned daily. Palm trees have been planted by
Pal's Guest House
where the beach has been enlarged. Dangriga means 'standing waters' or 'sweet water' in Garífuna.

To understand more about the Garífuna culture, visit the
Gulisi Garífuna Museum
Stann Creek Valley Rd, T502-0639, www.ngcbelize.org, Mon-Fri 1000-1700, Sat 0800-1200,
. The museum includes information about the origins of the Garífuna people, history and customs, with music and a working garden of traditional plants and herbs.

Cayes near Dangriga

Tobacco Caye
US$15, 35 mins by speedboat from Dangriga
, is a tiny and quite heavily populated island, but has lots of local flavour and charm and, though becoming a little commercialized, still has an authentic feel. It sits right on the reef and you can snorkel from the sandfly-free beach although there are no large schools of fish; snorkelling gear for rent. Boats go daily, ask at
Riverside Café
US$12-15 per person.

South Water Caye
, the focus of a marine reserve, is a lovely palm-fringed tropical island with beautiful beaches, particularly at the south end.

South of Dangriga

The Southern Highway (now completely paved except for a stretch of a mile or so) connects Dangriga with Punta Gorda in the far south. Six miles inland from Dangriga the road branches off the Hummingbird Highway and heads south through mixed tropical forests, palmettos and pines along the fringes of the Maya Mountains. West of the road, about 5 miles from the junction with the Hummingbird Highway, a track leads to
, a Maya ruin. Some minimal work has begun on opening it up and some say it will eventually be the biggest archaeological site in southern Belize.

Fifteen miles from Dangriga, a minor road forks off 4 miles east to the Garífuna fishing village of Hopkins. Watch out for sandflies when the weather is calm. The villagers throw household slops into the sea and garbage on to the beach.

Turning east towards the Caribbean just before Kendal a road leads down the Sittee River to
Sittee River Village
Possum Point Biological Station

Glover's Reef

Glover's Reef, part of North East Cay and about 45 miles offshore, is an atoll with beautiful diving and has been a Marine Reserve since 1993, US$10. The reef here is pristine and the cayes are generally unspoilt, but yellow blight has hit the area killing most of the existing palm trees - especially on
Long Caye
. The combination of Hurricane Mitch and high water temperatures has damaged the coral, and the snorkelling is not as good as it once was.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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