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Our Favorite Things to Do & See in Hopkins

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Located on the coast of Belize, Hopkins is a quaint village, with its sandy streets and a stunning ocean view. Away from the major tourist hub of Belize City, visitors to Hopkins will experience a vibrant city, full of places to explore and unique activities around every corner.

In this guide, we’ll take you on a tour of the area, uncovering its history, tips for planning your visit, and get a closer look at all of the best things to do in Hopkins, Belize.

Hopkins: What Makes It So Special

 One thing that makes Hopkins truly special is its deep-rooted connection to the Garifuna culture, a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The village is alive with the spirit of the Garifuna people, whose ancestors arrived here over two centuries ago. Walking through Hopkins, you're invited into a world where traditional drumming fills the air, and the art of storytelling is alive and well. It's a place where you can learn to drum, dance, and even cook traditional meals, offering a rare and authentic glimpse into a culture that has thrived against the odds.

You’ll also find the natural beauty of Hopkins equally captivating. Framed by the Maya Mountains and the Caribbean Sea, it serves as the perfect backdrop for adventurers and nature lovers alike. Whether it's the thrill of catching your first wave in a kayak, exploring the nearby Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary – the world's first jaguar preserve – or simply unwinding on its untouched beaches, Hopkins invites you to connect with nature in ways you've never imagined.

Where Is Hopkins?

 Hopkins is a coastal village situated in the heart of Belize, Central America. Cradled between the eastern shoreline of the Caribbean Sea and the foothills of the Maya Mountains, Hopkins offers a picturesque blend of tropical beauty and cultural heritage. This village is located in the Stann Creek District, approximately 120 miles south of Belize City, and a stone's throw away from the charming town of Dangriga.

Its strategic location makes Hopkins an ideal base for exploring the natural wonders and cultural landmarks of Belize. To the north, you'll find the Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, beckoning with its underwater kaleidoscope of coral gardens and marine life. Southward, the expanse of the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary awaits, offering unparalleled opportunities for hiking, bird watching, and encountering Belize's diverse wildlife, including the elusive jaguar.

The History of Hopkins

 Long before the arrival of Europeans, the area around Hopkins was inhabited by the Maya, one of the most sophisticated ancient civilizations of the Americas. These indigenous peoples left behind a legacy of impressive architectural ruins, agricultural innovations, and a deep understanding of astronomy. The remnants of their presence in the region set the stage for the diverse cultural landscape that characterizes Belize today.

The Arrival of the Garifuna

The modern history of Hopkins began in the early 19th century with the arrival of the Garifuna people, an Afro-Indigenous group with roots tracing back to the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. In the wake of conflict and resistance against European colonial powers, the Garifuna were forcibly exiled from St. Vincent and eventually found refuge along the Central American coast, including the shores of Belize. In 1942, the Garifuna arrived in Hopkins, seeking a new beginning in this secluded paradise.

The Garifuna brought with them a rich cultural heritage that includes unique music, dance, language, and culinary traditions. Despite facing challenges and discrimination, they have preserved their identity and contributed immensely to the multicultural tapestry of Belize. Today, Hopkins is celebrated as a center of Garifuna culture, where the community's resilience, traditions, and connection to the land are proudly on display.

Visiting Hopkins Today

 Planning a trip to Hopkins? Here, you’ll find our favorite travel tips along with things to do in Hopkins in various seasons, and a look at how to get around.

When to Visit Hopkins

So, when is the best time to visit Hopkins? The answer is, it depends on how you want to travel and which of the many fun things to do in Hopkins you want to experience while you’re there.

Best Times to Visit Hopkins

  • Dry Season (November to April): The dry season offers sunny skies and pleasant weather, making it ideal for beach activities, snorkeling, and exploring the natural landscapes. Cooler temperatures and clear skies make it perfect for outdoor adventures.
  • Wet Season (May to October): While the wet season brings more rainfall, it also ushers in lush greenery, fewer crowds, and lower prices. The rain typically comes in short bursts, leaving plenty of sunshine for exploration.

Special Events & Considerations

  • Garifuna Settlement Day (November 19): A celebration of Garifuna culture with music, dancing, and traditional ceremonies. A must-visit for cultural enthusiasts.
  • Lobster Fest (June): Celebrating the start of the lobster season, this festival is a culinary delight for seafood lovers.

Travel Tips

  • Book Early: Especially if you plan to visit during the dry season or around special events, as accommodations can fill up quickly.
  • Pack for the Weather: Light, breathable clothing for the day and a rain jacket or umbrella if you're visiting during the wet season.
  • Embrace Flexibility: If you're visiting in the wet season, be prepared to adjust your plans according to the weather. The rain often leads to moments of unexpected beauty and adventure.

What You'll See When You Arrive in Hopkins

 One of the first things that stands out in Hopkins is the genuine warmth and hospitality of its people. Don't be surprised if you're greeted with smiles and friendly "hello"s as you wander through the village. This welcoming spirit is a hallmark of Hopkins and makes you feel at home from the moment you arrive.

The air in the village is often filled with the captivating sounds of Garifuna drumming, a powerful expression of the village's cultural heritage. Music and dance are woven into the fabric of daily life here, offering a glimpse into the soul of Hopkins.

Strolling through Hopkins, you'll likely encounter displays of local art and handicrafts. From hand-painted murals that tell stories of the community's history and values to the crafts sold by local artisans, these visual treasures add to the village's unique charm.

And of course, the beaches in Hopkins are as inviting as they are beautiful. Stretching for miles, the golden sands against a backdrop of coconut palms and clear blue waters create a postcard-perfect scenery that embodies the essence of a tropical paradise.

Staying Safe & Fitting in While in Hopkins

Hopkins is widely regarded as a safe and welcoming destination for travelers. However, like any travel experience, it pays to be mindful of your surroundings and respect local customs to for a pleasant stay. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and fit in while enjoying all the unique things to do in Hopkins that are on your itinerary.

Safety Tips

  • Stay Aware: While Hopkins is generally safe, it's always wise to be aware of your surroundings, especially at night. Stick to well-lit areas and consider traveling in groups when exploring after dark.
  • Secure Valuables: Use hotel safes or secure storage options for your valuables and travel documents. It’s best to carry only what you need for the day.
  • Health Precautions: Protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen, stay hydrated, and use insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes, especially if venturing into natural areas.
  • Water Safety: When enjoying water activities, always heed local advice regarding sea conditions and potential hazards. Use life jackets when participating in water sports.

Fitting in With the Local Community

  • Respect Cultural Traditions: The Garifuna culture is a significant part of Hopkins' identity. Showing interest and respect for local traditions, music, and language will not only enrich your experience but also help you connect with the community.
  • Learn Basic Phrases: Picking up a few phrases in Garifuna or Belizean Creole can go a long way in showing respect and making connections with locals.
  • Support Local Businesses: Whenever possible, eat at local restaurants, shop from local artisans, and use local guides for tours. This supports the local economy and provides a more authentic experience.
  • Dress Modestly: While beachwear is appropriate on the sand, dressing modestly when walking through town or visiting local businesses is respectful and helps you blend in.
  • Environmental Considerations: Show your respect for the natural beauty of Hopkins by avoiding littering, respecting wildlife, and adhering to guidelines when visiting protected areas.

Engaging With the Community

  • Participate in Local Events: Joining in local celebrations and events can be a wonderful way to experience the culture and meet residents. Whether it's a drumming night, a festival, or a community project, your participation shows respect and interest in the local way of life.
  • Ask Before Photographing: Always ask for permission before taking photos of people or their property. This simple act of courtesy is appreciated and respects people's privacy and cultural sensitivity.
  • Be Open and Friendly: The people of Hopkins are known for their friendliness. A smile, a friendly greeting, and an open demeanor can open doors to genuine interactions and enriching experiences.

Hopkins's Weather & Climate

 Hopkins, nestled on the coast of Belize, enjoys a tropical climate that is characterized by warm temperatures, ample sunshine, and a distinct wet and dry season. This idyllic weather pattern makes Hopkins a year-round destination, with each season offering its own unique set of experiences and activities for visitors.

Dry Season (November to April)

Marked by sunny days and cooler nights, the dry season is ideal for outdoor adventures and beach activities. Average daytime temperatures hover around 80°F (27°C), making it perfect for exploring the great outdoors.

  • Snorkeling and Diving: With clearer waters, this is the best time to explore the Belize Barrier Reef and the myriad of marine life it harbors.
  • Hiking and Bird Watching: Take advantage of the cooler, dry weather to explore the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary or the Mayflower Bocawina National Park.
  • Cultural Festivals: Participate in local celebrations such as the Garifuna Settlement Day in November, which showcases the heritage of the Garifuna community.

Wet Season (May to October)

The wet season brings higher humidity and rainfall, especially in the afternoons and evenings. The landscape becomes lush and green, and the rain is usually short-lived, allowing for plenty of exploration time. Temperatures during this season average around 85°F (29°C).

  • Waterfall Hiking: The rains bring the waterfalls to full glory, making it a great time to visit cascades within the nearby national parks.
  • Kayaking and Canoeing: The Sittee River and other waterways are ideal for paddling, offering a serene way to enjoy the lush landscapes.
  • Enjoy the Greenery: The wet season is perfect for those who enjoy the vibrancy of tropical flora. The countryside and botanical gardens are at their most lush during these months.

Travel Tips

  • Prepare for the Weather: Lightweight, breathable clothing is a must, and always carry a waterproof jacket or umbrella during the wet season.
  • Stay Hydrated: Regardless of the season, staying hydrated is key in the tropical climate of Hopkins.
  • Protect Against the Sun: Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are essential, especially during the dry season when spending extended periods outdoors.

Getting To & Around Hopkins

 Hopkins may seem tucked away from the hustle and bustle of major tourist spots, but getting there is part of the adventure. Here’s your guide to navigating the journey to Hopkins and making the most of your travels within its borders.

Getting to Hopkins

  • By Air: The closest international airport to Hopkins is the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) near Belize City. From there, visitors can take a domestic flight to the Dangriga Airport, which is the nearest airstrip to Hopkins, and then a short drive will take you to the village. Several airlines offer connecting flights from major cities to Belize City, making Hopkins accessible from virtually anywhere in the world.
  • By Road: Rental cars are available at the international airport and in major towns. The drive from Belize City to Hopkins takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours on well-maintained highways, offering scenic views of mountains, citrus orchards, and traditional villages along the way.
  • By Bus: Regular bus services also run from Belize City and Dangriga to Hopkins, providing an affordable option for travelers. The buses in Belize offer a more local experience but may not provide the comfort and convenience of a rental car or shuttle service.
  • By Shuttle or Taxi: Shuttle services and private transfers can be arranged from the airport or your hotel in Belize City, Dangriga, or even from Placencia. This is a convenient option for those looking for a direct route to Hopkins without the hassle of navigating on their own.

Getting Around Hopkins

  • On Foot: Hopkins is a small, laid-back village that is easily navigable on foot. Walking along its sandy streets and beachfront allows you to truly soak in the local atmosphere and charm.
  • Bike Rentals: Many hotels and shops offer bike rentals, providing a fun and eco-friendly way to explore the village and its surroundings. Biking is a great way to cover more ground, especially for visiting nearby attractions.
  • Golf Carts: Renting a golf cart is another popular option for getting around Hopkins. Golf carts can handle the village roads well and offer a leisurely pace for sightseeing.
  • Taxis: Taxis are available for longer distances or when traveling at night. Always agree on the fare before starting your journey, as most taxis do not use meters.
  • Public Transport: For excursions further afield, such as trips to nearby national parks or other towns, public buses are an option, though schedules may be infrequent and less reliable than in larger cities.

Tips for Travelers

  • Plan Ahead: Especially for airport transfers and shuttle services, it’s wise to book in advance to ensure availability.
  • Ask Locals: Hopkins is known for its friendly residents. Don’t hesitate to ask for directions, recommendations on the best places to rent bikes or golf carts, and tips for local spots to visit.
  • Explore Responsibly: Whether you’re on foot, biking, or driving, be mindful of the local environment and community. Stick to marked paths and roads, and always show respect for private property and natural habitats.

Our Favorite Things to Do in Hopkins

Bocawina Zipline Adventure

Departing from Hopkins, this adventure offers the ultimate rush as you zip across one of the longest zipline courses in Belize, with lines stretching across the breathtaking landscape of the Mayflower Bocawina National Park. Glide over verdant jungles and cascading waterfalls, experiencing the beauty of the rainforest from a bird's-eye view. Our experienced guides ensure a safe and memorable adventure, highlighting the rich biodiversity and ecological wonders of the area.

Silk Caye Snorkel with Turtles, Rays, and Sharks

This tour, departing from Placencia, takes you to a marine sanctuary renowned for its vibrant coral reefs and abundant marine life. Silk Caye offers a unique opportunity to explore the underwater world in an intimate setting, allowing for close encounters with sea turtles, majestic stingrays, and gentle nurse sharks. The Caye's untouched beauty provides the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable day of snorkeling, making it a must-visit for anyone eager to experience the best of Belize's underwater wonders.

Bioluminescence Tour & Sunset River Cruise

This unique experience begins with a serene cruise down the river at sunset, where the sky transforms with vibrant hues, setting a picturesque scene. As dusk falls, the real magic unfolds in the water below. Witness the extraordinary phenomenon of bioluminescence, where the water comes alive with glowing organisms, creating a mesmerizing, starry effect beneath the surface. This natural spectacle is especially captivating in the pristine environments around Hopkins, offering a rare opportunity to see one of nature's most stunning displays.

Horseback Riding in Hopkins

This adventure takes you through the lush landscapes surrounding Hopkins, offering a peaceful and intimate way to explore the natural wonders of Belize. Ride along serene trails, through verdant forests, and across open fields, guided by experienced riders who share their knowledge of the local flora and fauna. This tour is suitable for riders of all skill levels, providing a comfortable and enjoyable experience atop gentle, well-trained horses.

FAQ: Traveling to Hopkins, Belize

Do I need a visa to visit Hopkins, Belize?

Visitors from many countries do not require a visa for short stays (up to 30 days) in Belize. However, it's important to check the latest visa requirements based on your nationality before traveling. Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date from Belize.

What currency is used in Hopkins?

The Belize Dollar (BZD) is the official currency. US dollars are widely accepted throughout Belize, including Hopkins, at a fixed exchange rate of 2 BZD = 1 USD. Most businesses also accept major credit cards and traveler's checks.

Is English spoken in Hopkins?

Yes, English is the official language of Belize, making communication easy for travelers. You'll also hear Belizean Creole, Spanish, and Garifuna spoken in Hopkins, reflecting the country's rich cultural diversity.

What are the best activities to do in Hopkins?

Hopkins offers a variety of activities for all types of travelers:

  • Snorkeling and diving in the nearby Belize Barrier Reef.
  • Exploring Garifuna culture through drumming lessons, dance performances, and cooking classes.
  • Hiking and wildlife spotting in Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Relaxing on the pristine beaches or enjoying water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding.

Can I use my cell phone in Hopkins?

Most international cell phone carriers offer roaming services in Belize, but it's advisable to check with your provider for rates and coverage. Alternatively, purchasing a local SIM card upon arrival is a cost-effective way to stay connected.

Is tap water safe to drink in Hopkins?

While the tap water in many parts of Belize is considered safe to drink, it's recommended to drink bottled water or purify tap water in Hopkins to avoid any potential stomach upsets, especially for travelers with sensitive stomachs.

What should I pack for a trip to Hopkins?

Essential items include:

  • Lightweight and breathable clothing.
  • A waterproof jacket or umbrella for the wet season.
  • Sun protection: sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Sturdy walking shoes or sandals for exploring.
  • Snorkeling or diving gear if you prefer using your own equipment.

Are there healthcare facilities in Hopkins?

Hopkins has basic healthcare facilities for minor ailments, but for more serious medical issues, visitors may need to travel to Dangriga or Belize City. It’s wise to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses and includes provisions for medical evacuation if necessary.

Written by: Julia

Julia is the Content Marketing Manager at Tourbase. With a passion for wandering the world, she is especially drawn to the paths less traveled. On two wheels or two feet, she loves biking and exploring locales both near and distant.

All of our content at Tourbase is written by experienced travel writers who have visited all of the locations we recommend. And our review board of local tourism experts ensure that all the information we provide is accurate, current and helpful

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