Guide to Hopkins

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Aerial view of Hopkins

Hopkins is an eco-cultural destination on the coast of Stann Creek in Southern Belize. It draws travelers seeking a quiet coastal base from where they can learn about the fascinating Garifuna culture, explore the Southern Barrier Reef and access top jungle attractions.

On this page
About Hopkins
Things to Do
Where to Eat
Where to Stay
Best Time to Visit
Safety Concerns
Getting Here & Around

About Hopkins

Located in Southern Belize, Hopkins is a friendly seaside village on the coast of Stann Creek that has a high concentration of Garifuna people. With a laidback Caribbean vibe, Hopkins is known as an eco-cultural hotspot, drawing tourists that are interested in learning about the Garifuna culture and exploring the southern barrier reef and nearby jungle attractions.

Hopkins was established in the 1940s after a nearby area was devastated by a hurricane and everyone from farmers to fishermen relocated there. Fishing and farming used to be the primary source of income there but nowadays it’s tourism since Hopkins currently has several upscale resorts, local restaurants, beach bars, and gift shops.

While Hopkins has grown, the village has retained its coastal charm, welcoming visitors with warm hospitality and a safe environment. You will feel the Garifuna culture at every turn in the village, along with a gateway to a wealth of water and nature activities. It is truly a unique travel destination–a great place to stay for a combined beach and jungle vacation in Belize.

Area:0.667 Square miles
Population:2,000 Residents
District:Stann Creek
Nearby Settlements:Dangriga & Placencia
Nearest Airport:Dangriga Airport (DGA)

Things to Do in Hopkins

Tobacco Caye Dive Site

As mentioned earlier, if you are interested in cultural tourism, Hopkins is the best spot for learning about Garifuna drumming and dancing. There is a local drum school and many of the hotels can arrange for you to partake in a session. Be warned, it can be addictive.

A major draw for travelers to Hopkins is the accessibility to diving or snorkeling the beautiful Southern Barrier Reef. The South Water Caye Marine Reserve is an excellent spot but you can also go further out to many other cayes and marine reserves. How about fishing? There are plenty of fishermen in Hopkins, with local guides offering everything from reef fishing to deep-sea big game trips.

As for Belize jungle adventures, nearby national parks and nature reserves offer plenty of hiking and wildlife-spotting opportunities. Both the Mayflower Bocawina National Park and the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary are easily accessible from Hopkins. It is also recommended to rent a bicycle to explore the village at your leisure or just relax on the beach at your hotel.

Top Things to Do in Hopkins

  1. Explore the Southern Barrier Reef: Dive or snorkel at South Water Caye Marine Reserve
  2. Learn about the Garifuna culture through cooking, drumming and dancing lessons
  3. Spend the day exploring Mayflower Bocawina or visiting the Placencia Peninsula
  4. Hike Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary at night or visit Monkey River
  5. Book a day trip to Belize’s top Maya sites

Where to Eat in Hopkins

Ellas Cool Spot Restaurant in Hopkins, Belize

Garifuna food reigns supreme here. In addition to dishes like hudut and cassava bread, seek out bundiga, a simple dish made with bananas or plantains that are grated and cooked in coconut milk with fresh snapper and local seasonings added to the pot while cooking.

Wangla is a local Belizean candy made with sugar and toasted sesame seeds. While not the healthiest of treats, a splurge here and there on holiday is worth it. Creole bread, with its subtle sweetness obtained from the addition of coconut milk, is another must-try while in Belize.

Fresh fruit and seafood are also abundant in Hopkins. If you spend a day out fishing, be sure to bring your catch back to the hotel and let their chef prepare it. Belizeans know seafood and you could spend a week eating fish and never have it prepared the same way twice.

Where to Stay in Hopkins

Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort in Hopkins Belize

Despite being a small region, Hopkins is home to a number of great lodging options. From backpacker-style digs to sprawling upscale beachfront resorts, Hopkins is a great place to make as a home base for your Belize vacation.

The award-winning Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort offers luxurious beachfront rooms and treehouses along with their own on-site 5-star PADI dive center, while Buttonwood Guest House offers more modest condo-style accommodations for those interested in a budget vacation.

Best Time to Visit Hopkins

Belize's the Garifuna Collective

The optimal time to visit Hopkins is from January to March, which is during Belize’s dry season. You can expect beautiful sunny days, clear blue skies and calm seawaters. Due to the popularity of this time, however, the downside is that rooms and tours are more expensive. Therefore, you may want to consider visiting during the tourism offseason.

As for a specific day that is best to be in Hopkins, this is probably during Garifuna Settlement Day. Every year on November 19, the village comes alive with travelers from all over Belize converging to experience local music, drumming, traditional food, and the annual Garifuna Landing re-enactment ceremony.

Top Events in Hopkins, Belize
Easter Week, March or April
Lobster Season, July 1 – February 28
Mango Fest, June
Belize Independence Day, September 21st
Conch Season, October – June
Garifuna Settlement Day, November 19th

Safety and Security Risks in Hopkins

Popular destinations in Belize, such as Hopkins, are typically just as safe as where you live.

The most common crime is petty theft so normal safety precautions apply. Do not flash large sums of money, do not leave personal belongings unattended, refrain from walking alone late at night (especially if drunk), and lock your doors when you leave your hotel room or Airbnb. Resorts typically provide in-room safes for valuables and have security guards at night.

Most food and beverages are safe to consume in Hopkins. But don’t drink the tap water. If drinking water isn’t included in your stay, which may happen at vacation rentals, bottled water can be bought at supermarkets. Resorts and hotels provide “purified” water for guests so pack a reusable water bottle for tour expeditions and daily use.

Lastly, young women that are traveling alone/ are single may receive unwanted attention from Belizean men. Unfortunately, there is no “right way” to deal with catcalling but often the best response is to ignore it. Sorry.

Getting Here & Around

Hopkins doesn’t have an international airport, so you’ll have to fly into the Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) near Belize City. From there you can either take a local flight to Dangriga (Hopkins’ nearest town) or catch a taxi/shuttle. Transportation options in Hopkins include walking, biking, and renting a car or golf cart.

Taking a domestic flight to Dangriga from the international airport is the fastest way to get to Hopkins. The flight from Belize City to Dangriga is about 15 minutes and from there, the drive to Hopkins is 30 minutes. Both Belizean airlines: Tropic Air and Maya Island Air can be used, with the flight costing approx. US-$90 each way.

Getting to Hopkins from Belize City by car rental, taxi or shuttle will take about 3 hours. You can rent a car or catch a taxi/shuttle at the airport. Car rentals cost approx US-$75/day and a chartered taxi from Belize City to Hopkins is about US-$200. Shuttles charge a minimum of US-$150/2 persons and about US-$50/person if more people join the trip. Most all-inclusive hotels offer transportation options with their travel packages.

Another option is taking the bus to Hopkins (public transportation). From the international airport, you will have to take a taxi to the Belize City bus terminal (US-$25) where you can take a bus to Hopkins for $5-$10 USD. The entire bus trip will take 6-8 hours.

Hopkins Pictures

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