If you want to see the “real” Belize, you should not miss staying in Dangriga, even if only for a day. Although small by American standards, Dangriga is a regional center and has a decidedly urban atmosphere. Don’t expect manicured beaches, good coffee, or shopping; this is where you go to immerse yourself in the Garifuna culture.
One option could be to stay here on the way to the village of Hopkins. Hopkins retains a more relaxed, small town atmosphere but has recently become the focus of much tourism development, which has been detrimental to its charm, in our opinion. Huge new hotels, condo developments, and a new marina have recently been built on the outskirts of town.
Both Dangriga and Hopkins are Garifuna settlements; these people are a distinct ethnic group of West African and Caribbean Indian ancestry who arrived in great numbers early in the 1800’s. Originating in the Lesser Antilles, shipwrecked slaves inter-married with the locals and developed their own customs and rituals. When the British eventually took over their islands they fled to Honduras and then on to Belize. Dangriga is the largest Garifuna settlement in the world.
You can fly or take a bus to Dangriga. In Dangriga we recommend staying at the Chaleanor Hotel. The Chaleanor is a Belizean style hotel in downtown Dangriga. It’s not fancy, but quite reasonable and clean, and run by wonderful people. The have a brand new website: http://www.chaleanorhotel.com/. Rates are $60 US for a double.
You can see all of our recommendations of things to do in Belize on our website.