The Village of Seine Bight in the Placencia Peninsula of Belize
Seine Bight is a small village located about halfway up the Placencia Peninsula in southeastern Belize. Seine Bight is home to approximately 1,000 people, primarily belonging to the Garifuna culture, who principally subsist on fishing, hunting, and small-scale farming, predominantly mangoes, coconuts, breadfruit, and bananas.
The name of the village comes from a combination of two terms – a “bight” or a curve in the coastline and “seine fishing,” a traditional way to catch fish with a large net. With fishing being so important to the local economy and seine nets so frequently used, the nickname for the area “The bight where people use seine nets to fish” was shortened to Seine Bight, now its official name.
The area where the village is located is extremely narrow, just a quarter mile wide with a lagoon on the inland side and a beach on the Caribbean side. Thousands of years ago, the ancient Maya used the lagoon to produce vast quantities of salt which were then packed onto canoes and traded further inland. It is believed that English pirates briefly used the area as a base of operations to prey on Spanish shipping during the early part of the 17th century. During the 19th century, a few English Protestants settled in the area, but the village only came into its modern form when the Garifuna people arrived in Belize.
Seine Bight is located 3 miles south of Maya Beach, 45 miles south of Dangriga, 109 miles south of Belize City, and 5 miles north of Placencia Village. Seine Bight is quite narrow from east to west but stretches four miles along the Placencia Peninsula. The village has one Catholic church and two Dugu temples, the ancestral religion of the Garifuna people.
Despite its relatively small size and population, Seine Bight is increasingly becoming a popular tourist attraction, and several hotels and restaurants have been built in this area. Some tourists partake in fishing in the rich waters near Seine Bight, but the biggest draw is the Garifuna culture. Many visitors visit the village to attend exhibitions of traditional Garifuna music, partake in workshops that teach Garifuna drumming and dancing, or to learn how to make traditional Garifuna foods.
Other popular visitor activities in Seine Bight include buying handicrafts and woven goods such as straw hats, baskets, and dolls dressed in traditional Garifuna clothing. Garifuna artisans are also renowned for their intricate carvings of indigenous animals and painted seashells and coconuts.