Several years ago, John and I took a fly-fishing trip to Belize. As soon we got home, I knew I had to go back to visit Hopkins, which was my favorite stop on the trip. When most people plan a trip to Belize, San Pedro on Ambergris Caye is the destination. If you really want to experience Belize though, a stop in Hopkins is a must. Below you’ll find a great list of things to do in Hopkins, Belize.
Hopkins is a traditional Garifuna fishing village, located on the southern coast of Belize in the Stann Creek District. With just around 1,000 villagers, the town hasn’t been completely over-run as a tourist destination yet. Don’t let this scare you, though. Hopkins still has everything you need for a perfect vacation, including resorts that would fit any traveler’s style and plenty of delicious food to eat.
Visit Hopkins: Getting There
The cayes of Belize are amazing, but unless you want to spend your entire vacation snorkeling, fishing, or scuba diving, you will want to spend some time on Belize’s mainland. Hopkins is easy to get to and it is a perfect town to explore on foot. It is also an easy ride to top destinations such as the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich and Cahel Pech as well as the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve.
This was the first international trip I took without John. Even though I do most of the planning, John usually takes care of booking flights and transportation. My friend Rhiannon and I were able to set up flights and shuttles without difficulty, even though we had to get regional flights once we arrived in Belize. Most big airlines take you into Belize City. From there, you need to book a flight to Dangriga through one of two regional airlines (Maya Island Air or Tropic Air). Once you get to Dangriga, you can get a taxi into Hopkins, and most resorts offer shuttles. I wouldn’t recommend renting a car, as gas is really expensive and if you want to get off the beaten path and explore, roads become unkept and difficult to navigate.
I Made it to Hopkins. Now what?
I highly recommend hiring a licensed tour guide to assist you with your adventures. Becoming a tour guide in Belize is legit. These guys have to take over a hundred hours of classes and pass an exam to get licensed. They really know what they’re talking about.
Our tour guide, Julian, knew all the best places to visit. He set everything up for us. When he didn’t consider himself an expert in something that we wanted to do or see, he found someone who was and set that up for us too! He was also able to answer all of our questions, and since he was from Hopkins he was able to give us recommendations on where to eat and what to do when we decided to stay around town.
Don’t worry, though, you don’t need a tour guide to explore Hopkins. If you want to do any sightseeing outside of town, a guide would come in handy though. I will write another post that goes into detail about the day trips we took around the area.
Visit Hopkins: What to do
Hopkins is the perfect town to walk around. I have also never been to a place where everyone was so genuinely friendly and helpful. Everyone we passed on the street would greet us and ask us how we were doing and if we needed any help. We missed this A LOT when we got to San Pedro.
The town is full of colorful buildings and little shops. Hopkins is also right on the gulf, so when you are tired of exploring and trying new foods, you can easily relax on the beach.
Things To Do in Hopkins, Belize: Exploring the land
My friend Rhiannon and I really enjoyed exploring the town on foot. We stayed on the north side of the village, which has less resorts and more traditional shops and restaurants. The south side has more resorts and vacation rentals, as well as a large gift shop and marina.
One day, we decided to explore the south side of town. When we inquired with locals about getting there, everyone recommended taking a taxi. Most said it was too far to walk, but no one could give us an exact distance. Rhiannon and I both enjoy hiking so we threw caution to the wind and decided to venture to the south side on foot. Our final destination was the Sittee River Marina.
The walk started with a torrential downpour. We were able to find a building to duck under but not before becoming completely soaked. All of the dirt and sand roads quickly became a muddy mess and of course we were both wearing sandals. Luckily the sun came out and the roads dried out fairly quickly.
The walk to the marina was flat and we had fun looking at all of the colorful houses and tropical flowers along the way. After missing a turn and having to back track, it was about a 5 mile trip one way to get there. Luckily, there were places to stop along the way to get a Belikin and cool off. The walk back didn’t seem nearly as long since we made sure not to miss any turns. If I were to do it again, I would listen to everyone’s advice and take a taxi. I also think it would make for a really nice bike ride.
Things To Do in Hopkins Belize: Exploring the sea
When you are done exploring town, most of the resorts have stand-up paddle boards or kayaks that can be rented or checked out for free. Rhiannon and I spent an afternoon relaxing on the beach and exploring the gulf on paddle boards. We were able to take the paddle boards down the beach a bit and found a spot to relax that was completely deserted. The water isn’t as clear as it is farther off the coast but it is still cool to explore on your own and the lack of crowds was a huge bonus.
Visit Hopkins: Where to Eat
My favorite part about Hopkins was trying traditional dishes at local restaurants. My number one recommendation if you visit Hopkins is to leave your resort. Go out, explore town, talk to the locals and try the Belizean flavors.
Tina’s Kitchen was our go-to breakfast spot. It was close to our resort and had a variety of traditional Garifuna dishes and fresh-squeezed juices. The prices at Tina’s could not be beat. The fry jacks there were the best in Hopkins. We were also told it had the best hudutu (a traditional Belizean fish stew with a coconut broth) but they weren’t making it the days we were there.
If you are looking for something more in your comfort zone, Driftwood Pizza has it all. Located right on the water this bar/restaraunt is not to be missed. They have live Garifuna drumming every Tuesday night. We loved the drumming and the atmosphere. If you are planning to visit on a Tuesday, go a little early so you can get a seat; this event draws a crowd. Make sure to try the Hopkins Hawaiian pizza while you’re there—the toasted coconut honey crust is to die for.
Innies and Geckos are also worth a visit. Innie’s has more traditional Garifuna cuisine and Gecko’s specializes in Caribbean dishes.
But what about dessert you ask? Well, I saved the best for last. There is a little ice cream shop called Nice Cream that we went to EVERY DAY. Guys, I don’t even like ice cream but this was so good! Everything was made right there and they had dairy- and gluten-free options too. My favorite was the cinnamon ice cream and you could get a small scoop in a tiny little waffle cone bowl, which was the perfect size for me. They also had homemade ice cream sandwiches!
I’ll Be Back
There is so much to do and see around Hopkins, I started planning my next trip back before I even left. I really want to go back with John so I can show him around. I also need to go on the Marie Sharp’s factory tour, because I am seriously addicted to her hot sauce. With all of that being said, when you visit Belize, you do need to visit one of the cayes too. You will not find the crystal clear water in Hopkins, but make sure you take some time to explore the mainland as well.
To visit Hopkins, Belize, is to step foot in a wonderful little village full of amazing people and excellent culture. It’s one of my favorite destinations and a place I’ll be returning, hopefully before too long!
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