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Latest update: 27 February 2023

The travel books describe Hopkins as one of Belize’s most touristic destinations. And that is true. But touristy Belize is an entirely different experience than touristic Mexico. No mass tourism, no Western chains, no cruise ships, and no rush. Love it!

Downtown Hopkins

The village of Hopkins has a long main road with a handful of side roads. The locals slowly cycle through the almost empty street. The street fills up briefly at regular intervals because the school bus drops off the uniformed children. With some imagination, you could call the intersection where the buses come and go the ‘center’ of Hopkins. There are some simple restaurants, supermarkets, cheap accommodations, and an ATM. The more expensive restaurants and resorts are at the end of the main road.

Please note: at the beginning of 2018, it was not possible to withdraw money from an ATM with a European bank card less than four years old. Things may have changed by now, but please bring enough cash to Hopkins.

What to do in Hopkins?

The main road runs parallel to the beach. I am glad there is a beach, but it is poorly maintained. It doesn’t help that it rains a lot during my stay. Visiting the beach is the main activity in Hopkins. Of course, you can do many different water sports. Kayaking, SUPing, fishing… But that is all just a little less interesting in the rain. That’s why I unfortunatley miss out on some great activities in the area, such as a boat trip in the evening where you can see plankton that light up – it’s invisible in the rain.

Tip! Weather permitting, visit the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. There are good hiking trails and you might spot a jaguar.

Snorkel at South Water Caye

I do go on a snorkeling tour. However, I have to empty my pockets: I pay BZ $130 (65 US dollars). The high prices for tours are partly due to the high fuel prices in the country. But in Belize, you HAVE to go snorkeling or diving. After Australia, it has the largest coral reef in the world.

We snorkel a bit reluctantly between the rain showers. We mainly snorkel near Tobacco Caye and South Water Caye. I see beautiful coral, fish, and also rays. And that doesn’t come across in the photo at all, unfortunately. When it clears up, the world suddenly looks very different. The water is so blue, the palms so tropical, the sun so warm. I almost forgot about those stupid dollars I spent.

Garifunas in Belize

Hopkins is a Garifuna village. The Garifuna are descended from Caribbean Indians and people from African slave ships. They are a proud people who have spread along the coastline from Guatemala to Nicaragua. In Belize, the largest community of Garifuna lives in Dangriga, which is not far from Hopkins. The culture has a mix of Caribbean and African customs and religious elements.

The most visible piece of Garifuna culture is dance and music. These people breathe rhythm and eat musical notes! In the evening, a group often gathers in Hopkins to play (tortoise) drums and sing together. This is incredibly intense, almost like a trance. The sweat is flying around, and the audience adds some extra heat by dancing wildly. Although everyone is welcome to join the dancing people, I prefer to keep a distance as a clumsy Dutchie with two left feet. Check the video for a short impression.

Restaurants in Hopkins

I am not particularly impressed with Belizean cuisine and restaurants. It’s just fine. I often opt for a plate of rice and chicken because they prepare it perfectly almost everywhere. Thongs (Google Maps location) is the place for breakfast, lunch, and bad coffee. You can eat fresh fish at Luba Laruga (Google Maps location) on some evenings. Some evenings, because they only open in the evening when enough fish have been caught. This is also where you have a good chance to see and hear the Garifuna music.

Hostel The Funky Dodo in Hopkins

I stay in the only hostel in Hopkins. The Funky Dodo is my first real hostel in Belize. Before this, I slept in private rooms and guest houses. Also nice, but I enjoy the wonderful hostel vibe at the Funky Dodo. Everyone talks to everyone. The kitchen is a cozy mess. The atypical hostel owners make me feel comfortable and part of the family. And oddly enough, my mattress in the dormitory is perfect. Private rooms are also available. And in 2018, a renovation of the dormitory was at hand, the owner told me. The renovated dormitory should be a bit more luxurious: beds with their own light and fan… things like that. That can’t hurt, because it gets pretty musty and warm in the dormitory during the night. An avid cyclist takes off his cycling suit and shoes and hangs them up, and we can all enjoy that smell for the rest of the night. Blegh! The showers and toilets are cleaned regularly.

Hotels in Hopkins

Funky Dodo not quite your thing? There are plenty of other options in Hopkins, many resorts too. Have a look at:

Hopkins and accessibility

I have to make quite an effort to get to Hopkins. Fortunately, the Belizeans are very lovely, and such a bus trip is always an experience. This time I end up in the back of the bus between a bunch of guys having fun with each other in a mix of English and Garifuna. The boy next to me keeps a bit in the background, and I suspect they are teasing him a bit because he is sitting next to that Western backpacker. However, he doesn’t care, and as soon as ladies get on the bus to sell delicacies, he treats me to Belizean bread and a kind of cinnamon roll. According to him, it’s the best Belize has to offer. It sure is tasty.

Travel to Hopkins

I travel by bus from Orange Walk. First to Belize City (BZ $10, US $5) and then on to Dangriga (BZ $12, US $6) – 2018 prices. I take a bus to the intersection towards Hopkins (BZ $2, US $1). Just look around you helplessly, and people will immediately come to your aid at the bus station. From the intersection, I take a taxi to Hopkins. According to my travel guide, this should cost me $10 BZ (again, 2018 prices), but a fellow passenger tries to convince me it’s US $10. Yep, nice try, lady – she wants a commission. As soon as I get out, I arrange it with the driver and pay BZ $10.

Get out of Hopkins

To leave Hopkins, you’ll probably have to set your alarm. At 6 o’clock and at 9 o’clock in the morning you can go to Placencia. The bus is probably half an hour late, but you don’t want to risk it. At 7 am, 12.30 pm, 2 and 6.30 am, you can go to Dangriga. Or take a taxi to the intersection; there are more buses there.

Tip! Belize Bus and Travel Guide has the most up-to-date bus information.

More Belize travel inspiration?

  • Accommodation. All-time favorite is Booking.com. Book hostels via Hostelworld.
  • Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator.
  • Bus. Book buses in Belize through Busbud, Omio, or 12Go.
  • Car rental. My go-to car rental companies are EasyTerra and Sunny Cars as they have all-inclusive / worry-free offers. You could also use Discover Cars to compare prices.
  • Flights. Compare all your options! For sure check Momondo, Skyscanner, and Kiwi.
  • Money. Your debit and credit cards may not get accepted everywhere. You could opt for a Revolut card as an additional card when you travel. 
  • Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? Not many Dutch travel companies offer trips to Belize: try Sawadee or Shoestring.
  • SIM card. Beware of unexpectedly high calling and internet costs. Buy a local SIM card when you arrive, or arrange one online via Airalo.
  • Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
  • Travel guides. I love the practical guidebooks by Lonely Planet. You can buy them at Bol.com and Amazon.
  • Yoga retreat. Or, book a lovely yoga retreat in Belize!

Some of the links on this site are affiliate links. If you buy something through these links, I might receive a small commission.

First published: June 2018. Updated since.

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