Travel Leisure

How To Experience Garifuna Culture When Visiting Belize

While the Garifuna people only make up four percent of Belize’s population, the culture plays a huge role in the country’s history. When a ship of enslaved Africans sank, the survivors reached St. Vincent in the Caribbean. The descendants of the Caribbean locals and the Africans became the Garifuna people. 

Rich in culture, music, and creativity, the Garifuna people came to Belize after receiving threats from British and French colonial militaries. Today, the heritage of their ancestors lives on through those who live in Belize now. A strong people, the Garifuna add color and flavor to Belizean culture. Next time you visit Belize, here are a few ways to experience the authenticity and freshness of Garifuna culture.

Take A Garifuna Cooking Class

plantains on a dish
Photo credit: Karen Brodie

Garifuna cuisine is a true Caribbean delicacy. The flavors are bold and unique with coconuts and fresh fish at the forefront of most dishes. There are a few Garifuna dishes worth trying. This includes the coconut-based fish stew sere, cassava bread, and darasa, a traditional Garifuna tamale.

Taking a Garifuna cooking class is a great way to deep dive into the local cuisine. Cooking classes not only provide details on the history of the food but also give travelers a chance to get hands-on with fresh ingredients and dishes before tasting. 

Wander The New Garifuna Trail

Travelers can dive into Garifuna culture by wandering down a new trail dedicated to the people’s history. Garifuna Trail was launched by the Belizean Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations in 2022. The trail is a venture between the ministry and Garifuna communities Dangriga and Hopkins. Visitors can learn about Garifuna food, music, history, and dance all in one place. A celebration of the Afro-indigenous people, Garifuna Trail showcases the sheer beauty of the people who reached Belizean shores over 100 years ago. 

Visit Hopkins Village 

beach in Belize
Photo credit: Rob Rector

Hopkins Village is the center of Garifuna culture in Belize. There is an array of beautiful beaches, exquisite resorts, and excursions surrounding the village. True Garifuna culture lives in Hopkins. You’ll find the Battle of The Drums happening here each year. There’s a ton of traditional foods to try, markets to explore, and vendors to shop with. The largest concentration of Garifuna people is located in southern Belize near Hopkins Village. This is a wonderful place to interact with the locals and get an authentic glimpse of Garifuna living.

Come To Town For Garifuna Settlement Day

Every year on November 19, Garifuna Settlement Day is celebrated across the country. The first to arrive in Belize landed in Dangriga and the city’s beaches come alive to commemorate the first Garifuna to reach its shores. There are plenty of ceremonial dances, drum performances, and festivities happening all day long. 

Explore The Gulisi Garifuna Museum

Photo credit: Scott Webb/Pexels

The Gulisi Garifuna Museum pays homage to the people who fled St. Vincent Island and found refuge on Belizean shores. It’s named after the woman whose 13 children settled in the Punta Negra region. Travelers can visit the museum to learn the history of the Garifuna and their journey from Africa to Belize. 

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