Stann Creek Belize is one of the larger districts in
the country, and it's found in the central, southeast
region. To the east, it borders the coast and even includes
a few islands, and inland to the west, the Mayan mountains
rise. Here, jungles meet mountains and rivers flow towards
the Caribbean Sea. There are a myriad of outdoor pursuits
that once can enjoy in Stann Creek, and when it comes
to culture, the Garifuna and Maya peoples are certainly
worth learning about. You can find some of the best Maya
ruins in southern Belize in Stann Creek, and when you're
not visiting Maya ruins, kayaking down a jungle river,
or taking an invigorating inland hike, you can head to
the coast to enjoy some great Belize scuba
diving and fishing.
The capital of the Stann Creek District is the coastal
town of Dangriga, which is
also the center of the Garifuna culture. A few of the Dangriga hotels can
make a good base for trips in the area, and if you're
up for an island experience, you can opt to stay at one
of the lodging choices on the cayes.
The ancient Maya were the first to inhabit the Stann Creek Belize district, and it is believed that they flourished in the region around the year 800 AD. Should you head a bit south of Dangriga, you'll find the impressive Maya ruins of Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun. The Maya here made a valiant effort to stand off the Spanish, but the European diseases that the newcomers brought with them were just one big obstacle. By the 1600's, English pirates and Puritans from North America began to arrive along Belize's coastline, and by the 1700"s, there were Creole villages springing up near spots where rivers meet the sea. The Garifuna, who are a mixture of African and Amerindian people, first starting coming to Belize from Honduras in the early 1800"s. On November 19, 1832, some 200 Garifuna people landed at Dangriga, which at that time was known as Stann Creek Town. The word "stann" referred to a kind of safe haven/trading post that incoming British colonists used when coming to the "New World". Stann Creek Town was renamed Dangriga, which is a Garifuna word that means "sweet water".
To this day on November 19th, Garifuna Settlement Day is celebrated in Dangriga, and it's surely one of the Belize events you might consider adding to your travel plans if possible. Other Garifuna celebrations (carnivals) occur in Dangriga around Christmas and New Years, so should you miss the November 19th affair, you still have a chance to experience a fun-filled Garifuna event. You may wonder how the early European settlers in Belize got along with the Garifuna. Basically, most of the British colonial efforts were focused in the northern part of the country. This fact also helped encourage the Maya who had originally fled the region to return. Both surviving cultures maintain their traditions, language, and heritage to this day, which is a wonderful thing. Should you be interested in unique Belize dining and shopping, you can try each culture's cuisine and take home some of their intriguing wares, many of which are of the handicraft variety.
Dangriga, or Stann Creek Town as it is still sometimes
called, has some pretty good hotels to choose from, and
there are resorts and
lodges outside of town where many folks like to stay.
Enjoying the coast here is a good way to go, and Stann
Creek Belize has the country's top beach destination
within its borders. Placencia offers up some 16 miles of sweet sandy shoreline, and
you can surely enjoy some great scuba diving, snorkeling,
and fishing here. Some of the best resorts in Belize are
found in and around Placencia, and off the mainland, the
tiny island of Tobacco Caye always beckons a visit. You
can stay at a nicely-priced lodge/resort on Tobacco Caye
that runs a dive shop. Sounds pretty nice. With the southern
edge of the Belize Barrier
Reef within reach, you can imagine how good the snorkeling
and diving is. South Water Caye is another Stann Creek
island that is sure worth visiting. There are some great
resorts and hotels on South Water Caye, and you'll
certainly find the island to be a slice of paradise. Back
inland, places like Five Blues Lake National Park and
the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary are great attractions
in Belize for nature-lovers. The latter is a jaguar
reserve, and other creatures found here include howler
monkeys, ocelots, and hundreds of species of birds. The
former, a 10-acre forest wonderland with stunningly beautiful
blue lakes, hence the name. Both have hiking trails, and
local guides are available as well.
Head to Stann Creek Town, or Dangriga, and enjoy some
of the best that Belize offers. Some of the best beaches
in Belize are found here, the diving is world-class,
the fishing is about as good as it gets, and you can lose
yourself in the cultural wonders of the Maya and Garifuna.
What more could you ask for in a vacation destination?
Also, since the Stann Creek Belize district is more or
less centrally-located, it is a good base for trips to
other parts of Belize as well. This citrus-producing,
fishing-rich part of Central
America calls all those looking to burn off a little
no, a lot of stress.