Seine Bight village is located two and a half miles south of Maya Beach on the Placencia Peninsula. The peninsula kitself is narrow, a quarter mile at its widest point north of Seine Bight. Driving through in some areas you can see easily see the sea on one side and the lagoon on the other. The first modern inhabitants of the area were the Mayas who used the waters of the lagoon for trade and salt production, They were followed by Protestant Puritans, and then the Gariganu in the 19th century. This tiny Garifuna village has about 1,000 inhabitants. Most of the men are engaged in fishing but tourism is now a major force as little hotels and new homes have sprung up in the area. About 30 miles south of Dangriga, is where the Garifuna villagers call Seine Bight home, subsisting on fishing, hunting and homegrown vegetables.
The most compelling reason to make a stop at Seine Bight is the culture, the beaches and the secluded swimming spots with coconut trees to string your hammocks. Nestled in a bight, Seine Bight is a flat, sandy coastal village about ten feet above sea level and stretches four miles along the Placencia Peninsula. It is one of the five Garinagu communities in the Stann Creek District, located about 68 miles south of Belize City, about 30 miles south of Dangriga, 19 miles from off the Southern Highway near South Stann Creek and 3 miles from Placencia.
The village is predominantly a community of Garinagu who are devoted Roman Catholics. Seine Bight Villagers continue to practice traditional drumming, singing and dancing. Traditional dress is worn for the dances including unique masks and head dresses. Some performers may wear bells or shell beads that rattle when they dance. The performers will stage a dance with musicians at short notice at your hotel or your party. They will teach you how to dance to the local music.
Garifuna folk music is the basis for the popular Punta Rock. Locals and visitors like to accompany this with a drink of stout or “bitters”, a traditional drink made by soaking special herbs and bark in strong rum. Bitters has a special kick and its legal. You can go native at Sam’s disco where there is dancing to punta and reggae, or Wamasa a Seine Bight nightclub with live entertainment on weekends.
The pirates always seemed to know the best places to get away from it all and are said to be responsible for finding this particular hideout in 1629. Subsequently occupied and named by a transplanted French Canadian community, Seine Bight is truly a tropical paradise that will live up to the most discriminating beach connoisseur’s standards.
Food and Culture In Seine Bight
Accommodations are widely available in a range of options to suit most budgets, and tours into the interior as well as diving, fishing and boating excursions are easily organized. Picture: Seine Bight is the first village on the way to Placencia, and is still relatively undeveloped compared to other areas in the peninsula. Many traditional village houses on stilts like the one above are still standing. The Caribbean sea is in the background.
Seine Bight artists produce many unusual and beautiful artifacts. Paintings of local wildlife, flowers, and fish, as well as village and holiday scenes are very popular. Some of the older residents still make straw hats, woven baskets, and trays. Many of the village women make dolls dressed in traditional clothing. Carvings of fish, lizards, scorpions, tarantulas, and snakes, as well as hand carved hair barrettes, bracelets, and napkin holders are some of the items local artists make. Many of the carved items are then hand painted. Paintings are done on coconuts, sea shells, wooden plaques and of course canvas. One local man crafts intricately carved sailing ships. While not all these items will be available at all times the artists are usually happy to show you their work.
Many traditional garinagu dishes are prepared and eaten every day in homes throughout Seine Bight. Local cooks prepare hoodut, darasa, fried fish, rice and beans, boilup, fried plantain, bundiga (also known as Matilda foot) and many other native dishes everyday. Many of the local ladies will prepare dishes of local food as take out and there are two local restaurants serving garifuna and creole food daily. Seine Bight ladies produce a local bread (shaped like a large bun) fresh daily. Other pastries such as “coconut crust” and “powder buns” are sold casually by several families.
Traditional food relies on the use of local produce. Ground food such as yams an cassava, bananas green and ripe, fish and lots of coconut are featured in Garifuna cooking. The flesh of the coconut is used in cooking as well as the milk and coconut oil. Local vegetables include cho cho, cabbage, cowfoot, cilantro, breadfruit and green banana. In addition to several local style restaurants Seine Bight has several fine dining establishments including an Italian style restaurant, a Mediterranean- Caribbean style restaurant, an American style restaurant and a pizza and ice cream restaurant.
Many local fruits and vegetables are eaten here, many of them unfamiliar to visitors. Mangoes grow throughout Seine Bight and during the season many varieties are available. Favorite varieties include blue mango, lady slipper mango, number eleven mango, and hairless mango. Other fruit trees growing in Seine Bight includes cashew fruits, coco plums, sea-grape, blackberry (not the American blackberry, the Belize blackberry grows on a tree), craboo (a small apple tasting fruit used in deserts and wine), custard apple, and sour sop. All Christians are welcome at Sunday service at the Seine Bight catholic church. Besides the Catholic Church there are two temples of the Dugu religion. Dugu is the native religion of the Garinagu. Ceremonies are held to rid the family of evils such as bad luck or illness. Rites include singing, dancing, drumming, eating, and drinking. Visitors are welcome at the temples. Women should cover their hair with scarves.