Reef & Rainforest: Why Hopkins Village is considered the best of both worlds

by Gisselle Hernandez

As demand for nature and wellness rises in a post-pandemic world, more are wising up to underrated gems like Hopkins in Southern Belize. An ideal medley of both rainforest and island vibes, the small fishing village is finally catching up in popularity with its flashier neighbor, Placencia. Often described as the central hub for diverse activities, Hopkins is also home to the Garifunas. This vibrant culture often welcomes others into their colorful lives through immersive experiences such as drumming lessons and cooking classes. However, what arguably sets Hopkins apart from other Belize destinations is its affinity to appeal to two types of travelers: the adventure junkies and the beach bums. 

Enjoying the second-largest Barrier Reef

lionfish hunting scuba dive barrier reef belize DOUGLAS KLUG:GETTY IMAGES

Lionfish hunting on the Belize Barrier Reef. Image via DOUGLAS KLUG/GETTY IMAGES

Thankfully, you don’t have to choose one or the other when in Hopkins. In fact, when staying at a resort considered the epitome of luxury and wellness, creating a best-of-both-worlds itinerary is much easier. This is why The Lodge at Jaguar Reef can be an excellent choice for someone who wants to have their cake and eat it, too. Here, you’ll wake up to a view boasting calm waters yet have the jungle mere minutes away. For a day filled with marine activities, your adventure begins the moment you walk out onto the Seaview villa’s balcony and welcome the pink-hued dawn. After a delectable breakfast – perfectly golden fry jacks, anyone? – at The Paddle House, you’re ready for some snorkeling.

Popular cayes like South Water Caye are highly sought-after for the award-winning snorkeling that Belize is known for. The best part? They’re all about an hour or so away from Hopkins by boat! After a day of swimming with sea turtles, back at Jaguar Reef, you can soak your sun-kissed skin in your own private plunge pool.

Waterfall-chasing in the rainforests of Belize

Bocawina National Park’s Antelope Falls. Photo by Duarte Dellarole

Want a change of scenery? Adventure is just a half-hour drive away at the acclaimed Mayflower Bocawina National Park. If thigh-burning hiking and adrenaline-inducing zip-lining sound like your thing, this is the place for you. For those who consider soaring hundreds of feet above the rainforest canopy not adventurous enough, you can also rappel down a massive waterfall. Not an outdoor enthusiast but still a waterfall-hobbyist? Mayan King waterfall is the perfect middle ground. It’s also a mere half-hour drive from The Lodge at Jaguar Reef, making it perfect for a half-day trip.

Maya king waterfall belize 2021

Chase waterfalls in Belize. Photo of Mayan King’s cascades courtesy Belize Tourism Board

A waterfall you can drive to, the two-tiered falls are optimal for a noon picnic. Once you park at the top of the mountain, make your way to the larger waterfall at the end of some easily accessible stairs. Dive in and let the ice-cold water get your heart pumping, or simply enjoy nature’s massage underneath the gushing cascades.

Hop out for some quick grub amidst the jungle shade, then make your way back to the resort in Hopkins.

You now have the rest of the afternoon to lounge at the silk-sand beach or sip on some cocktails at the Instagram-famous over-the-water Big Dock Bar.

Header image courtesy of The Lodge at Jaguar Reef/Monica Gallardo Photography.

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