Dangriga, like Belize City, is a town travellers often go to to get someplace else, and, like Belize City, it is a town an adventurous traveller might check out for its own merits.
By Belizean standards of population. Dangriga at about 9,000, is large. All the ethnic groups that make up Belze, Mayan Indian, Creole. Mestizos, Spanish/Central Americans, a growing number of expatriates from Canada, The U.S. and Europe, Mennonites and shopkeepers and traders from India and China, reside in Dangriga. But the Garifuna people or the Black Caribs, a ethnic mix of black slaves from West Africa and Carib Indians make up the majority of the population.
You can get to Dangriga from the international airport by taxi, car rental, airplane or bus. Taxi is very expensive and time consuming. Car rental is expensive but you control your agenda. Airplane is fast but costly. Bus is by far the most economical but you have to land in Belize in time to get to the bus terminal in Belize City to catch a bus to Dangriga. The bus trip will take you through some of the most scrabbly scenery in Belize but once you leave Belmopan, the capital of the country, and head down the Hummingbird Highway toward the Caribbean Sea through the Mayan Mountains you will understand why it is my choice of transportation by far. Problem is, if you get to Belize too late to get the last bus, the money you will have to spend to stay overnight in a hotel nullifies the economic advantage of taking the bus to Dangriga. Think about it.
If you are headed for Tobacco Caye or Glover’s Reef or any other pre-arranged island destination, the key is to get to Dangriga in time to get a boat well before nightfall. Remember, Belize is a sub-tropical country so there is roughly a 12 hour day, twelve hour night. To get to your off-shore destination you would likely have to depart Dangriga before 4 p.m., 5 at the latest.
If you want to check out Dangriga as part of your Belize Adventure, check into the Chaleanor Hotel and ask the owners, Chad, Eleanor and Chad Jr. to suggest some day trips. They will direct you to the points of historical interest in Dangriga and can arrange visits out of town such as zip-lining at Mama Noots or hiking or biking the trails and swimming in the water falls in the same area.
While visiting Dangriga, track down the studio of Pen and Ingrid Cayetano. Pen is one of the best known artists in Belize and a celebrity in Germany. Ingrid is a renowned artist, too, working in embroidery floss. The whole family shines with talent and some of them along with dad have formed a very popular band.
The Chaleanor Hotel is one of our favourite hotels in Belize, mainly because of the management. The 8 rooms are clean and spacious for two weary travellers. A/C is an option. We have always opted for fans and the hotel provides you with an overhead fan and one or two floor fans. Climb the stairs to the third floor and get a panoramic view of the town and the sea.
Swimming in Dangriga is problematic, a rather major set-back for a coastal town. Check out the Pelican Beach Hotel in the north end. There is a stretch of beach just adjacent to the hotel where you can swim.
Dangriga’s a funny town. It almost challenges you not to like it, but then you meet the Ushers, the Cayetanos, Dana who operates Val’s Laundry, the townsfolk in the restaurant and the market place who welcome you and make you feel at home.
There is something about this dusty, restless town that draws us back year after year.