Unless you’re a frequent visitor to Belize or you’ve had an opportunity to study the various cultures and ethnicities of Central America, you might have never heard of the Garifuna people. Their story, however, is one of resilience and perseverance and is worth a deep dive.
A Brief History of Belize’s Garifuna Culture
The story of Belize’s Garifuna people begins on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. Around the year 1635, two slave ships, filled with West Africans, was shipwrecked off the island. Later, intermarriage led to a unique society of free Africans and Amerindian (Kalinago and Arawak) people from which the Garinagu (or Garifuna people) are descended. Following years of resistance to colonization, however, the Garinagu were exiled from the island by the British government.
The population migrated to Honduras, and then in the 1800s they settled in Dangriga, and later, Hopkins. Every year, Garifuna Settlement Day is observed on November 19th, commemorating the arrival of the Garifuna people to Belize.
In addition to Dangriga and Hopkins, Garifuna communities can be found throughout southern Belize, primarily along the coast. While original settlers relied on fishing, logging, and agriculture, their culture shines through a rich legacy of music, language, food, art, and traditions.
For travelers eager to learn more about Belize’s Garifuna culture, look no further than Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort in Hopkins. In November – and year-round, too – Hamansi offers a diverse range of cultural tours and activities. This regenerative resort is rooted in community and offers authentic experiences that no curious traveler would want to miss!
Immersive Cultural Experiences Await at Hamanasi
Boasting tropical accommodations flanked by both sea and coastal forest, Hamanasi offers both beachfront and treetop stays. The favorite dwellings of guests of all ages are the tall treehouses that turn a visit into a mystical experience among the trees. Plus, cuisine at the award-winning Singanga Restaurant (singanga is Garifuna for dragonfly) represents recipes derived not only from Garifuna cultures but also from Belize’s diverse mix of cultures.
Fun Fact: In 2001 UNESCO proclaimed the Garifuna culture as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”
Awaiting guests at Hamansi are a world of cultural tours and adventures. Become fully enmeshed in Garifuna culture by crafting an itinerary that treats you to an array of experiences. Take in as many drumming sessions, dancing, and musical experiences as you can fit into your schedule. Garifuna dancers, drummers, and other musicians often perform at Hamanasi. Allow them to introduce you to traditional music. If you return home with your own drum, you’ll be following the lead of many visitors who have become captivated by Belize’s music scene.
Beyond the resort, visit the quiet village of Hopkins. Browse gift shops – like the iconic GariMaya Gift Shop – where you can discover jewelry, sculpture, fiber art, paintings, and more.
Ready to embark on your cultural adventures in Belize? Inquire about available dates directly with Hamanasi . Bring extra luggage or pack bags that are roomy. You’re going to want to bring home treasures that represent the Garifuna culture, and we understand that it’s almost impossible to cram a drum into an ordinary suitcase!