Publication Update: “The hidden beauty of Garifuna Belize” on CNN Travel

I’m super pleased to share — especially for those not on my Facebook page -— my latest article for CNN Travel, The hidden beauty of Garifuna Belize, with my advice on ways to experience the vibrant Garifuna culture, and encouraging travelers to venture south of Belize. The majority of businesses and activities cited in the article are locally-owned and operated and I am grateful to each of them for sharing their culture with me during my many visits to Belize, which started long before Moon Belize.

As a side note – I’m also glad to see this piece published at this moment in time, in light of all the very recent news and upset about Norwegian Cruise Lines purchasing an island off the southern coast, and announcing, in a recent meeting, future plans to offer up the most sacred Garifuna ritual — the dugu ceremony — as entertainment for cruise ship passengers. I feel compelled to share, given my >> passion for this topic, that I hope this proposed “Disney-esque” use of a ritual is a misunderstanding, and that it was mentioned out of ignorance or lack of knowledge about the culture (which, in itself, is worrisome).

In any case, if there’s one message I’d love future travelers to Belize to take away, it’s this: please overnight when visiting Belize, and when experiencing Garifuna or any other culture. It’s always the better, responsible, and respectful way to travel — not to mention, Belize is an amazing destination, home to some of the most ancient cultures in the world and bearing incredible natural wealth. I hope that my article helps to shed light on the latter.


  1. thank you!! for your reality and timely update!

  2. Good job, Lily. I guess that’s all you can do for now.

  3. Cnngrats on the CNN spread awesome pictures as usual. Awful news about a sacred cultural ritual being put on show. When culture gets sold for profit it’s really saddening.

  4. Stop large cruise ship tourism in southern Belize before it is too late. The local people don’t want it here and it puts the reef in jeopardy. No one is listening. Money trumps environment and the voice of the local people.

  5. @Lisa – Sure thing, thanks for sharing!

    @Lorraine – Thanks. I would hope that’s quite a bit already – keeping it positive by advising on best ways to explore this unique culture. I also plan to write my own letter to NCL reps, as others have started doing as well.

    @Diana – Thank you! We’re hoping it was just a misinformed statement (my guess is it was); either way, it will all be clarified soon enough. Besides, calling up the ancestors is definitely not something anyone can do, on a daily basis! Having lived and grown up in West Africa, I understand the significance of the Garifuna “dugu” and we just need to educate folks, that’s all.

  6. Visiting Barranco right at the southern end of Belize is such an interesting experience, Alvin was our tour guide and he was excellent. The village has a picturesque setting right on the Caribbean Sea with the mountains of Guatemala in view in the distance and it is a great opportunity to learn about the Garifuna. Tide Tours in Punta Gorda can arrange tours and can include lunch in the village, and I would recommend doing the trip by itself (not combining with other tours), this way you can take your time. Feedback from overnight guests we have booked on this trip has always been excellent.

    I had the pleasure of hearing some of the Garifuna Collective play and Desiree Diego has the most amazingly powerful voice, if you get the opportunity to hear them live, don’t hesitate.

    Learning the Paranda drum beat with Ray McDonald whilst at Hickatee Cottages in Punta Gorda was also a great experience.

  7. Thanks for sharing your experience, Nicola! I enjoyed Barranco as well, such a peaceful place.

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