10 Best Things to Do in Hopkins

Aerial view of Hopkins
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In recent years, as more travelers are visiting Southern Belize, the friendly seaside village of Hopkins has blossomed into an incredible destination. The village is primarily known for its Garifuna culture and heritage, however, there are plenty of other things to do there. Some of these activities include exploring the Southern Barrier Reef and hiking at nearby nature reserves.

Related: 3 Days in Hopkins & Top Hotels in Hopkins

Hopkins’ location also provides easy access to mainland Belize jungle expeditions, which has played a crucial role in increasing the popularity of the village.

Top Things To Do in Hopkins

1. Explore the Southern Reef and Cayes

South Water Caye with Hamanasi Snorkeling Guide

One of the best aspects about Hopkins is that the Garifuna are seafaring people. Local guides are eager to help guests explore nearby reefs and offshore cayes. South Water Caye Marine Reserve, for example, is only 30 minutes by boat and has some of the best diving and snorkeling sites in Belize. For those that prefer visiting remote atolls, Glover’s Reef is a prime destination for sea explorers that want seclusion and access to exploring the unmatched biodiversity found in the Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve.

2. Experience Village Life in Hopkins

Entrance Sign to Hopkins Village

No visit to Hopkins is complete without exploring the village. Luckily the “downtown” core is small so anyone can easily cover the village by walking or biking. I recommend strolling the main street and beaches before stopping at any of the many local restaurants and bars. Visit Ellas Cool Spot for an amazing jerk chicken lunch, and for something nicer, eat at Hamanasi’s Singanga Restaurant or Chef Rob’s Gourmet Cafe. Also, check out the Big Dock Ceviche Bar, for a cool over-water bar experience.

3. Take Garifuna Cooking Lessons

Hudut with Fu-fu and Casava bread

One of the best ways to experience any destination is through its culture and if you take a Garifuna cooking lesson in Hopkins you will be treated to an amazing experience that will last a lifetime. Typically, the lesson involves cooking Hudut, a traditional Garifuna dish that is made up of ripe and green plantains and a Belizean-style coconut fish curry. Seeing the cooking process is amazing, however, interacting and hearing the cook share her childhood stories is even better.

4. Try Garifuna Drumming and Dancing

Garinagu people of Belize with traditional clothing

Another must-have experience while in Hopkins is taking drumming and dance lessons. While I was in university, I took Garifuna drumming lessons as one of my electives and it was an incredible experience. I must admit that it normally takes several drumming lessons to get good at it, however, one session is enough to learn the basics. Plus, although you may not master drumming, you might excel at dancing Punta or singing traditional songs.

5. Visit the Mayflower Bocawina National Park

Waterfall Repelling at Mayflower Bocawina National Park

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking for a hardcore jungle adventure, you’ll really enjoy visiting the Mayflower Bocawina National Park. The park is just 20 minutes from Hopkins by car and consists of over 7000 acres of pristine lowland broadleaf forest, refreshing waterfalls, and evidence of an ancient Mayan city. It has the longest zip-line course in Central America and three waterfalls to rappel down from. Additionally, there are several amazing nature trails and tons of wildlife-spotting opportunities. For more info, check out this blog on the top things to do at Bocawina.

6. Explore the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Visitor Center at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve

Just 30 minutes from Hopkins is the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, famous for being the first Jaguar Preserve in the world and a top hiking destination in Belize. Along with hiking trails, you can learn about medicinal plants, go birdwatching, and swim in the waterfalls. At the entrance of the sanctuary is Maya Center, a small Maya village where you can experience the traditional Mayan lifestyle and culture. Book the Che’il Chocolate Tour, where you visit a cocoa farm and learn how to make handmade chocolate.

7. Visit Placencia

Beach area in front of Tipsy Tuna Bar in Placencia

For a relaxing day, consider a trip to Placencia, a picturesque 16-mile peninsula one hour from Hopkins. The highlight should be exploring Placencia Village, which is the main settlement on the southern tip of the peninsula. There you can find top restaurants, bars, beautiful beaches, and the Placencia Sidewalk, which is one of the world’s narrowest main streets with various little shops along the way. Other villages on the peninsula include Seine Bight, a Garifuna village, and Maya Beach, a resort town.

8. Take a Day Trip to Mainland Belize

El Castillo is the tallest temple at Xunantunich

As I mentioned in the intro, one of the best things about Hopkins is that although it is on the coast, it provides easy access to mainland Belize. The top mainland tours to do from Hopkins are (1) Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, (2) Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, and (3) Xunantunich Maya Ruins in western Belize. You can also visit Tikal if you don’t mind venturing into Guatemala. Finally, I also want to add The Belize Zoo to the list, however, it is best done during your car transfer from the international airport.

9. Experience Bioluminescence at Anderson’s Lagoon

Baby Crocodile at Anderson’s Lagoon - Hopkins Village Bioluminescence Tour

The bioluminescence tour includes a sunset boat cruise to Anderson’s Lagoon, where visitors can see bioluminescent water. Guests are first treated to wildlife-spotting opportunities along the Sittee River before arriving at the lagoon at nightfall, just in time to see a mystical light show as the water is agitated by the boat. Guests can also jump into the water if they want to see the water light up around them. Note that this tour is seasonal and is best done during Belize’s dry season (December to April).

10. Tour Monkey River

Monkey River boat tour

Located on the northern tip of Toledo, Monkey River is a small creole village about one hour from Hopkins. A tour of Monkey River allows guests to learn about the interesting history of the village and go on a boat ride where people can get up close to nature, including spotting wildlife such as exotic birds, howler monkeys, and crocodiles. And after cruising through the length of the Monkey River, visitors are treated to an exhilarating tour of Manatee watching near Harvest Caye.

By the way, I only recommend doing the mainland tours in western Belize from Hopkins if you’re staying in Hopkins for your entire vacation since if you’re spending a few nights in Cayo, the tours are much closer and cheaper from San Ignacio Town.

Did I miss anything? If I did, please comment below with your suggestions.

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Top Things to Do in Hopkins



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