Turning left from a junction off the Hummingbird Highway, a road takes you through marshlands that eventually lead you to Hopkins Village. Once voted the Friendliest Village in all of Belize, this coastal village boasts bays the envy of many beach destinations in the Caribbean. Quieter than its more boisterous neighboring town of Placencia, this Garifuna cultural hub has risen throughout the years as the go-to for those seeking total nature immersion with a side of beach bumming.
Hopkins quietly made its way onto the stage of must-visit destinations in Belize, with a steady growth of both marine and jungle activities. As more visitors seek to travel consciously in a climate change-ravaged world, Hopkins continues to impress on the eco-tourism front.
Belize on a whole is often praised for the umpteen wildlife experiences available. With Hopkins’ premier location, these tours are conveniently closer to those staying in the village. For instance, one of The Lodge at Jaguar Reef’s popular tours is the Sittee River Wildlife & Bird Kayak Tour. Eco-travelers get the opportunity to drink in the natural beauty of the gentle Sittee River. Here, your guide will point out vibrantly colored feathered friends as they flit by from tree to tree. Those interested in botany will become familiar with the many medicinal plants that carry enough weight in the natural herb-healing community.
Gone are the days when locals are simply props in tourists’ selfies for a quick like on Instagram. In Hopkins, the cultural influence is palpable, and the Garifuna people are more than welcoming to visitors truly wishing to learn about their history and heritage. Here, you won’t be an outsider looking in. Your presence will be drawn into a cultural mecca you have never experienced before, whether through vibrational Garifuna drumming or traditional cooking classes. No one will leave a stranger; instead, your heart – and camera roll – will be filled with the memories and consciousness of getting to know an entire people deeper than on a superficial level. Eco-travelers are known to value the diversity of lifestyles across peoples, and there’s no better place than Hopkins to appreciate that archetype.
As mentioned, Hopkins sits right in the sweet spot of both the reef and rainforest worlds. Popular cayes are a mere hour away for snorkeling and waterfalls about a half-hour drive away for exploring. All that’s left to complete the full package is a great resort in the village to hunker down for a week. Have your pick from any of the award-winning resorts sitting right on the beach, like The Lodge at Jaguar Reef, before venturing off to satisfy your adventurous side close by or step up your wellness game at the silk-sand beach.
Header image courtesy The Lodge at Jaguar Reef
Editor's Note: This article was first shared on August 26, 2021.