The sandy beach and village streets were once solely lined by modest homes and fruit trees. But the natural serenity of Hopkins has attracted significant investment to the village. Visitors can now choose to stay in upscale beach front hotels and eat gourmet meals at several of its restaurants. Despite this shift towards modernity, Hopkins holds onto the time-honored tradition of genuine hospitality. Service comes with more than a smile…it comes with friendship.
Historically, Hopkins was established in the early 1940s after another community was devastated by a hurricane. Today, the more than one thousand villagers are farmers, fishermen and, more recently, tour guides. Hopkins is bounded by the Caribbean Sea in the east and a wetland area to the west.
The quiet shoreline of the beachside community is ideal for sunbathing and relaxation activities. Some resorts even offer massages right over the water. The calm waters of the bay are ideal for kayaking or learning new sports like windsurfing. The village also has convenient access to marine attractions like diving and fishing off nearby cayes as well as inland tours such as horseback riding, bird watching and hiking. The world’s first jaguar preserve, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, is a short drive from the village.
As a proud Garifuna community, Hopkins hosts its own cultural day—Hopkins Day—to share traditional music, dance and food with visitors. Residents speak Garifuna before English, sing traditional songs, and regularly eat cultural food. And they are always willing to teach visitors how to speak Garifuna, how to beat the drum and even how to eat the food.
While in Hopkins, learn the Garifuna word Seremei. That’s “Thank you!” Something you’ll be saying a lot in Hopkins.
- Relax on the beach: Lazy days in Hopkins are filled with romantic walks, beach combing, tanning, hanging out in the hammocks and sipping on tropical cocktails in the shade.
- Fishing Trip: As expert fishermen, Hopkins guides know where the fish are. Families can enjoy drop fishing in shallower waters while the more advanced can head to deeper waters for trolling and deep sea fishing.
- Hop on a Bike: Quite possibly the best way to appreciate life in Hopkins is to get on a bike and ride around the village. Traffic is minimal, the sea breezes are cooling and great photo opportunities will present themselves at every corner.
- Go Kayaking: For aquatic adventure, try a kayak tour in the neighboring community of Sittee River or at the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve. Both sites offer scenic views of the landscape and plenty of flora and fauna.
- Beat a drum: On the north end of Hopkins, you will find the drumming school. Local musicians provide lessons to children and their parents on the fast-finger art of Garifuna drumming. You can also buy a drum of your own to take home.
- Fish: However you like it: fried dry; grilled with onions and sweet peppers; or as the main ingredient of a soup, the fish is always guaranteed to be fresh. Bring the fish you’ve caught back to the hotel; the kitchen staff will prepare it as your personal “catch of the day.”
- Creole Bread: This Belizean favorite has a special ingredient, coconut milk. Need we say more? This bread is good enough to eat alone but you can also enjoy it with jam or Edam (Dutch) cheese. In some communities, the bread is baked on a fire hearth which gives it extra flavor.
- Potato Pound: Some say pound; others say pone. Sweet potatoes are peeled and finely grated. The potatoes are then mixed with a host of ingredients like brown sugar, evaporated milk, cinnamon, vanilla and ginger. The batter is then baked until golden brown. This dessert melts in your mouth.
- Mangoes: In Belize, mangoes have names like Common, Slippers, Julie, Blue, Thunder Shaw, Hairy and Belly Full. Every year in July, Hopkins residents cook up new ways to enjoy mangoes in appetizers, entrees and desserts as part of a beach festival dedicated entirely to the delicious fruit
- Bananas: The Stann Creek district is Belize’s banana belt. This fruit is a popular on-the-road/picnic snack but is also enjoyed as a milky shake and as a sweet bread. In the south, ripe bananas are also topped with cinnamon, baked and served as a sweet side to the classic dishes like rice and beans.