Where Is Hopkins?
Nowadays only one word suffices to indicate this remote southern town, which although, off the beaten track, has a rich cultural heritage and plenty to offer. Hopkins is in the Southern district of Stann Creek, an eastern coastal village that is becoming increasingly popular. It is a typical traditional Garifuna village (population 1500), whose inhabitants, men and women alike, were all seafarers who love and respect the sea. There is comfortable, modern accommodation for every taste and pocket.
The Garifuna people, descendants of the Arawak Indians brought to the New World as slaves, arrived on Belizean shores in 1802 in search of freedom. They brought and have preserved their rich culture of dance, music, food, beliefs and have been a major element of the unique cultural diversity that makes this country so special.
Friendliest Village in Belize:
Already, this is the reputation of Hopkins. The people are unpretentious and hospitable. Here you can meet locals and other travelers, soak up the sun and cool sea breezes. Or use it as a springboard to other adventures in every direction.
By its very geography, Hopkins gives access to the reef, eastern islands, jungle, and wildlife parks, and is only a two hour and seventeen-minute drive from Belize City along the picturesque Hummingbird Highway. You can also fly on Maya to Dangriga. It is just a 15-minute flight, then a 35-minute road trip. However, the Hummingbird is a truly tropical wonder, you will drive along lush citrus groves and mountain scenery. Traffic is light. Conditions are less frequented than other parts of the country, so you can expect everything to be in pristine condition, both on land and sea; less traveled and less fished.
Hopkins itself has no attractions. It is a base for ‘soft’ adventures. Yes, it is on the water, but its environs also include Jungle, savannah, rivers, reef, all waiting to be explored. Just ask and you will be guided. You needn’t overpack, but do bring clothing for trekking, sturdy shoes, a hat, fishing gear and something warm for chilly nights.
Things to Do:
Cooking Lesson: watch and learn the whole process of preparing Hudut. It is a traditional Fish Curry made with coconut and both green and ripe plantains. Chat with the cook and share anecdotes.
Drumming Lesson: The Garifuna people dance and chant for every occasion, all accompanied by two typical drums, of differing timbre. One lesson will impart the basics of drumming but think of the fun you’ll have. You may even learn a chant or catchy song.
Fishing and Snorkeling: Your guides will all be seasoned sea and fisherfolk and the proximity to the Barrier Reef offers exceptional, crystal-clear snorkeling and fishing. Gladden Spit is only 45 minutes away by boat. Here, from March to June, 10 days after the full moon, you can come and swim with Whale Sharks.
Maya Center Village: This cultural hub is only 30 minutes away and offers two truly unique tours. Visit the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve. You will get there through a hiking trail in the jungle, teeming with birds, tropical wildlife, medicine trails so you can get a glimpse of herbs and plants used to relieve ailments. You may not see a jaguar, but you’ll see its paw prints. There also coatis, monkeys, jaguarundi, and many other species. At the end, you can refresh yourself under a cooling waterfall.
The Mayflower Bocawina National Park: Another protected area, this one is not as strenuous as the Cockscomb. Here you can enjoy nature trails and amazing birdwatching. It is only 20 minutes away from Hopkins. There are three waterfalls for rappelling plus the longest zip-line course in Central America.
Come to where you can enjoy excitement and adventure, knowing that you can go back ‘home’ to Hopkins at the end of the day and be relaxed and comfortable.
Written by Nelita Castillo