Family Vacations to Stann Creek District, Belize

Stann Creek District, Belize
Jaguars roam through Belize's Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (Getty)

Stann Creek District, Belize Highlights

  • Canoe through a cave, site of ancient Maya ceremonies.
  • Search for jaguar tracks in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Meet people of Garifuna heritage and enjoy watching traditional dances.
  • Snorkel and dive reefs teeming with fish and colorful coral.

The Stann Creek District, bordering the Cayo District, extends to the Caribbean, stretching along the coast from north of Dangriga to south of Placencia. In the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, about two miles from Dangriga, jaguars roam, though it's highly unlikely you'll spot these nocturnal prowlers. With the help of a guide, you might, however, see some of the powerful animal's tracks. The screeching monkeys, twittering birds, and crescendo of insects create a visceral sense of the rainforest. Just before the entrance to the reserve lies the Maya Center, which offers information and sells local crafts.

Near Dangriga, meet people of Garifuna heritage—descendants of the intermarriage of Carib Indians and the surviving Africans, marooned by the British in the 18th century, who eventually made their way to Roatán. Hopkins Village, about 15 miles south of Dangriga, is a Garifuna community. At times, locals perform traditional Garifuna dances at the area's resorts.

From Placencia, a popular beach town on the southern peninsula, divers and snorkelers head to Belize's reef. Good snorkeling spots for kids include Ranguana Caye and Laughing Bird Caye. At both you're likely to see schools of blue tang, parrotfish, groupers, and maybe a sea turtle. Laughing Bird contains a sugar-white beach, perfect for a picnic. As you eat, watch the pelicans dive bomb for fish.'s resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 26 Nov 2007 | Last Updated: 23 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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