Getting Oriented

From the north, two roads lead from the George Price Highway (formerly Western Highway) to the Southern Coast: the Hummingbird Highway from Belmopan, and the Coastal Road from La Democracia. The Hummingbird is paved, and the most scenic drive in all of Belize. The Coastal Road is unpaved, dusty, or muddy, depending on the amount of rain. Despite the name, it does not hug the coast; in fact you never glimpse the sea from it. The loose gravel roadway is an accident waiting to happen. In short, if you're driving, take the Hummingbird.

Off the spine of the Southern Highway, various shorter roads lead to villages on the coast and inland: from the highway it's about 4 miles (7 km) on a newly paved road to Hopkins; 25 miles (42 km) to Placencia Village, nicely paved all the way, although the speed bumps are irritating; and 5 miles (8 km) to Big Creek/Independence on a paved road.

Gales Point and Dangriga. Gales Point is a small Creole village, with a beautiful waterside setting, known for the manatees in nearby lagoons. Dangriga is the largest Garífuna settlement in Belize, and a jumping-off spot for several offshore cayes. However, neither Gales Point nor Dangriga is a tourism center.

Hopkins. The most accessible and friendly Garífuna Village in Belize, Hopkins has good beaches and a growing tourism industry. It's similar to what Placencia was like 15 years ago.

Placencia Peninsula. This peninsula has the best beaches on the mainland. With the paving of the Placencia road, real-estate development and tourism are taking off, bringing more high-quality accommodations and dining, along with problems associated with development.

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