Hopkins, the laid back Garifuna village centrally located on Belize’s mainland coast, isn’t the tourist mecca that San Pedro or even Placencia is. No, Hopkins is MUCH more quiet and undeveloped. People vacationing in Hopkins need to make their own fun and I have a few suggestions on how to do that.
- Rent a bicycle. Simple and cheap enough- you’ll be glad you rent a bike to explore the village because unlike Placencia or Caye Caulker, Hopkins is spread out and not easily traversed on foot alone. Explore the Northside and then peddle down through the False Sittee area all the way to the Sittee River.
- Learn about the Garifuna culture. Take a drumming lesson at the Lebeha Drumming Center or simply keep an ear open for a drum group playing at one of the village restaurants most nights (a good place to look is Innie’s restaurant- right on the main village road, bonus: she serves traditional Garifuna dishes. Or T&C’s kitchen. Both places are centrally located on the main village road). One thing that I wish we’d done while in Hopkins was take a Garifuna cooking lesson. Inquire at Palmento Grove Lodge about traditional Garifuna food preparation classes.
- Hike waterfalls or zipline through the jungle. The Mayflower Bocawina National Park is so close to Hopkins and you can visit the park for 5 US dollars per person. There’s plenty of birding opportunities along their hiking trails and even some partially excavated Mayan ruins. You can swim in the natural pools at the bottom of Antelope falls. If you don’t want to go the self-guided route or you’re looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush try tours with Bocawina Adventures. They have a 2 and a half mile long zipline course (the longest in Central America) and they offer waterfall rappelling. (Insiders tip: if you’re not booking a tour and you don’t have your own transportation out to the park from Hopkins inquire at the Funky DooDoo Hostel about what day they’re running a trip out there, you can buy your seat on their van to the park for around $20)
- Catch a sunset at the Curve Bar or on a kayak rented at Sittee River Marina. There aren’t any bars along the back streets or lagoons in Hopkins Village that you can sit at to catch a sunset. For that your best bet is the beautiful Curve Bar at Sittee River Marina (plan on hiring a taxi if you’re staying in the village because once the sun sets it’s a LONG and DARK walk back, also not recommended on bicycles either). Some of the resorts down that way- Almond Beach, Jaguar Reef- offer guided kayak tours of the river but I’m pretty sure you can forgo a guide and rent a kayak directly at the marina for a lot less money. With a sharp eye you might even spot a sunning crocodile.
- Rent a motorbike and make your own tour. I have PLENTY to share about Motorbike Rentals and Alternate Adventures; it warrants its own post. Just know that if you have a motorcycle license you can rent a motorbike by the day for around $60 us. The rental includes the bike, helmet, map, suggested routes, and a cell phone. Having your own ride sure beats taxis or paying jacked up prices for tour packages you could do on your own with a little bit of research and a set of wheels.