Planning a Trip
Getting There & Departing
By Plane -- There are numerous flights into and out of little Dangriga Airport (DGA) from Belize City. Maya Island Air (tel. 223-1140 in Belize City, or 522-2659 in Dangriga; www.mayaairways.com) has 10 flights daily between the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport and Dangriga. The first flight leaves at 8:10am and the last flight is at 5pm. Flight time is 15 minutes; the fare is BZ$109 (US$55/£29) each way. Maya Island Air also has seven daily flights between Belize City's Municipal Airport and Dangriga at 8, 9, 10, and 11am, noon, and 2:30 and 4:30pm. The fare is BZ$72 (US$36/£19) each way. These flights take 30 minutes, because they stop en route to pick up passengers at the international airport. Maya Island Air flights from Dangriga to Belize City leave between 7:25am and 4:50pm. Most of these flights stop first at the international airport and continue on to Municipal Airport.
Tropic Air (tel. 800/422-3435 in the U.S. or Canada, 226-2012 in Belize City, or 522-2129 in Dangriga; www.tropicair.com) has nine flights daily between Goldson International Airport and Dangriga, with the first flight leaving at 8:15am and the last flight at 5pm. The fare is BZ$114 (US$57/£30) each way. They also have five daily flights between Municipal Airport and Dangriga, leaving at 8:30 and 10:30am, and at 12:30, 2:30, and 4:50pm. The fare is BZ$75 (US$38/£20) each way. Tropic Air flights depart Dangriga for both of Belize City's airports daily between 7:45am and 4:45pm. Flight time runs between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on whether there is an intermediate stop.
Flights to and from Punta Gorda and Placencia on Maya Island Air and Tropic Air stop in Dangriga to pick up and drop off passengers. You can also easily book a flight from Dangriga to either of these onward southern destinations. On both airlines, flights are sometimes added during the high season or suspended during the low season, so check in advance.
By Car -- From Belize City, head west on Cemetery Road, which becomes the Western Highway. Take this all the way to Belmopan, where you will connect with the Hummingbird Highway heading south. Ten kilometers (6 miles) before Dangriga, the Hummingbird Highway connects with the Southern Highway. Follow the signs into Dangriga; you'll be entering from the south end of town.
Alternatively, you can take the unpaved New Belize or Manatee Road, which turns off the Western Highway just past the Belize Zoo, at around Mile Marker 30. The Manatee Road passes by the entrance road to the small Creole village of Gales Point, and rejoins the Hummingbird Highway about 17km (8 1/2 miles) outside of Dangriga. This route is shorter as the crow flies, but in worse shape physically, so the going is slower. Either route should take around 2 to 2 1/2 hours from Belize City.
Special Moment: Welcome -- As you enter Dangriga you'll come to a traffic circle. Be sure to take a moment to check out the Drums of My Father monument here, a larger-than-life bronze casting of three ceremonial dügü drums, and the maraca-like shaker or sísira. This simple sculpture lets you know right away that you are entering the heartland of Garífuna society and culture.
By Bus -- James Bus Line (tel. 702-2049) and National Transport (tel. 227-2255) have regular service throughout the day between Belize City and Dangriga, roughly every half-hour between 6:30am and 5:30pm from either the main bus terminal on West Collet Canal Street (National Transport), or the nearby Shell gas station on Cemetery Road (James). The fare is BZ$20 (US$10/£5.30). The ride takes about 3 hours.
Tip: Most of the buses take the Hummingbird Highway. A few take the coastal Manatee Road. Unless you are heading to Gales Point, I'd try to take the much more comfortable ride on the Hummingbird Highway.
By Boat -- There are no regularly scheduled boats from Belize City to Dangriga, but aside from flying, water is the most direct means of covering the 58km (36 miles) between the two cities. If you want to come by boat, head to the Marine Terminal or ask around the docks in Belize City. Expect to pay from BZ$300 to BZ$500 (US$150-US$250/£80-£133) for a boat that can carry four to eight passengers.
If You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take Both -- Given the unique sights offered by the two possible routes down to Dangriga, you might want to consider taking one route on your way south, and the other on your way back. The Hummingbird Highway passes through some of Belize's most picturesque countryside. The road weaves through jungle mountains and crosses clear streams and small rivers. Admire the forest-covered karst hillsides to the west, as you wind your way through mostly uninhabited country. The Manatee Road is a red-dirt affair, passing through the forests, lowland swamps, and mangroves that border Belize's large southern lagoon. Still, this route is not for the faint of heart. In the rainy season it can get quite muddy and slick, while in the dry season the dirt can form a hard, jarring washboard and dust can be a problem. In some places you'll have to cross single-lane, rail-less wooden plank bridges that give some drivers vertigo, even though they're not very high.
There are no official car rental agencies, but if you really search, you might be able to find an enterprising local willing to rent you a vehicle. If this is absolutely necessary, your best bet is to have your hotel try and arrange this for you.
For a taxi in Dangriga, call Star Line Taxi Service (tel. 621-9956) or Tzul's Taxi Service (tel. 522-2438).
Boats to Tobacco Caye leave from the Gumagurugu River or North Stann Creek in front of the Riverside Café, just below the bridge. The going rate is around BZ$30 to BZ$50 (US$15-US$25/£7.95-£13) per person one-way. Most of the boats hold between 8 and 10 people, and they leave whenever they fill up. If you already have a group together, you can hire one privately, and set a definite return trip pickup time. Alternatively, you can catch a ride with the folks from Pelican Beach Resort (tel. 522-2044), who run to Tobacco Caye daily and charge BZ$136 (US$68/£36) per person each way.
The main street through Dangriga is called St. Vincent Street south of the main bridge over North Stann Creek, and Commerce Street north of it. Most of the town's businesses and attractions lie within a few blocks of this bridge in either direction. The airstrip is on the north end of town, near the Pelican Beach Resort.
For the police, dial tel. 911 or 522-2022; for the fire department, call tel. 522-2091. The Dangriga Hospital (tel. 522-2078) is located on Courthouse Road, 4 blocks north and 2 blocks east of the main bridge. The post office (tel. 522-2035) is in the southern section of town next to the Bonefish Hotel.
Both of the principal banks in town are on St. Vincent Street: Belize Bank, 24 St. Vincent St. (tel. 522-2903), and Scotiabank, 10 St. Vincent St. (tel. 522-2031). If you need some film or developing, try either Dangriga Photo Plus, 64 Commerce St. (tel. 522-2394), or Gem's Photo, 81 St. Vincent St. (tel. 522-3859). For any contact lens or eyeglass problems, head to Hoy Eye Center, 18 St. Vincent St. (tel. 522-0628).
Finally, if your hotel can't or won't do it for you, take your dirty clothes to Val's Laundry, 1 Sharp St. (tel. 502-3324). They charge around BZ$12 (US$6/£3.20) per load.
North Stann Creek is also known as the Gumagurugu River in the local Garífuna language.