Belize is a genuine melting pot of different cultures, foods, histories, and heritages. One of the most iconic of these is known as the Garifuna people, originally descended from African slaves that were imported by the British more than 200 years ago and native peoples of South America and the Caribbean. Forming their own unique culture on the island of St. Vincent, the Garanigu (Garifuna is the adjective) they fled persecution by the British and resettled in Belize in 1802.
The unique contribution and heritage of the Garanigu are celebrated in a national holiday every year in Belize on November 19, known as Garifuna Settlement Day. This day is marked by dancing, feasts, and plenty of exhibitions of the unique style of drumming for which the Garifuna are known. The Garinagu are concentrated in villages like Seine Bight and Hopkins where many still follow traditional lifestyles like fishing, cassava growing, and handcrafting musical instruments.
The epicenter for the Garifuna is the town of Dangriga, located just eight miles from the Yok Ha Island Resort. This vibrant, bustling town is often referred to as the Cultural Capital of Belize, home to indigenous musical styles like punta and punta rock plus Caribbean staples like reggae and soca. Dangriga pulls out all the stops on Garifuna Settlement Day, serving up traditional Garifuna dishes like hudut (fish cooked in coconut broth and mixed with plantains), ereba (cassava bread), and darasa (tamales made with green bananas, coconut milk and spices) all made from fresh, locally-sourced, organic foods.
The streets of Dangriga throb with the rhythms of Garifuna drumming as dancers perform traditional dances in the street. There are also parades, impromptu and planned musical concerts, games and activities for the whole family, artwork exhibitions, and celebrations of every type as locals and visitors alike get swept up in all the exuberant fun.
Where to Stay
The Yok Ha Island Resort is located on the privately-owned Waterfoot Caye just eight miles from the town of Dangriga. With six intimate cabanas and a gourmet on-site restaurant, Yok Ha is the ultimate tropical island getaway. Visitors have close access to the excitement in Dangriga or can choose to head out to the nearby Belize Barrier Reef for fishing, sailing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Yok Ha also organizes tours to popular mainland attractions like the ATM Cave, the Monkey River, Belize Zoo, Inland Blue Hole and the Cockscomb Basin Nature Reserve.