Hopkins, in Belize, is a small fishermen village at the heart of the Garifuna culture. Slow-paced and peaceful, Hopkins is a great place to relax for a few days and discover the Garifuna lifestyle. Garifuna is an ethnic group descending from Africans and Indians from the Caribbean, present in Belize. Their language, food, dance, and music are important aspects of the culture. Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on any links and make a purchase I’ll get a small commission, at no cost to you. There’s only one backpacker in town (Funky Dodo hostel), if you’re solo traveling, I’ll advise staying there as it can get pretty lonely otherwise. There’s a beach, but it’s full of seaweed, and no one cleans it, so don’t go there for the beach. In my opinion, the only reason to visit Hopkins is if you’re interested in the Garifuna culture. The best would be to be there during a festival or some kind of celebration so you can really enjoy your time in the village.
Places to witness the Garifuna culture in Hopkins
Herbal HealersUsing local plants, this small shop offers tons of different natural remedies as well as tea and coffee. Using their knowledge of plants and their properties, the owners keep alive an ancestral practice of healing with traditional medicines.
Take a cultural tourProbably the best way to discover most of the cultural aspects, especially if you just have a day. You’ll usually get a cooking class, a drumming session, and see cultural artifacts and handicrafts. You can find several companies offering this tour in Hopkins.
The Lodge at Jaguar ReefEvery Friday, the Jaguar Reef organize a Garifuna night, where you can see first hand a traditional Garifuna show with music, singing, and dancing.
Lebeha Drumming CenterLocated on the northern side of town, they organize regular drumming and dancing classes.
Driftwood Beach BarEvery Tuesday night, a Garifuna band comes and plays traditional music there. Because Hopkins is not that touristy, it’s authentic; you’ll see many locals dancing and enjoying the music.
Where to eat in HopkinsIf you want something nice on the beach, you can check out Maxim’s. It’s also an excellent place to have a drink. For budget options, Siomara’s is a good choice, they offer local, copious meals. If you want to try Garifuna cuisine, head to Tugusina Garifuna restaurant. For coffee, check out Kat’s Coffee, their coffee is great and they offer succulent food (granola bowls, waffles, panini, wraps…)
Other things to do in Hopkins and around
Sittee RiverYou can rent a bicycle for the day and ride along the coast, then along the river to Sittee River. Sitte River, a small village, in itself, is nothing special but the road leading there is worth going.
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife SanctuaryCockscomb is the perfect place to go trekking. Spotting of jaguars is not uncommon, but it’s still a long shot. Jaguars are not the only animals present in the park, you might see pumas and ocelots as well as several species of reptiles and birds. Another great activity to do there is river tubing, sliding along the water, surrounded by a lush jungle.
Davis FallsDavis Falls, a 500-feet high waterfall, is Belize’s second-highest fall. Located deep inside the rainforest, few make the trip there. All the more reward for you if you decide to visit this gorgeous fall. To get there, you can organize a private tour with any tour operator, or you can rent an ATV and drive yourself.
Saint Herman’s Blue Hole National ParkThis open-air cenote is a great way to spent a couple of hours, sinking in the cool waters. It’s also one of the rare place in Belize you can reach easily; it’s located just along the Hummingbird Highway. In low season, you might have the place all to yourself. There’s also a cave only 2 kilometers away, you can enter it without a guide if you don’t want to wander too deep inside the cave. Another option is to hire a guide (50 US per person), to go about 2 km deep inside the cave and then come back to the entrance river-tubing.
How to get to Hopkins, Belize:There are a couple of direct buses from Dangriga from Monday to Saturday (way less on Sundays). Otherwise, you can catch any bus on the Belize City-Punta Gorda line and ask to be dropped off at the intersection. From there, you can hitchhike or take a shared taxi ($5 BZ). Note for female travelers (solo or not) in Hopkins: the catcalling in Hopkins was the worst I had in my four weeks traveling in Belize. Every 10 meters, there’s a man ready to make a comment on your looks or think it’s okay to say “Hi baby” or things like this. It’s super annoying, at one point I just gave up walking around the village and just headed back to the hotel.
Where to stay in Hopkins, Belize
- The Funky Dodo Backpackers Hostel: The only hostel in Hopkins, a great place to meet people, good wifi, shared kitchen, near the bus stop;
- Flomon’s Guest House: Affordable, basic rooms with a private bathroom, friendly family, near the beach;
- All Seasons Guest House: Nice mid-range guest house with AC, wifi and a kitchen guests can use;
- Coconut Row: (high-end) beachfront hotel with rooms, bungalows, and apartments, they have a bar/restaurant, AC and good wifi.