The 6 Best Things to Do in Hopkins, Belize

If you’re traveling through Belize and have a fondness for relaxed coastal towns with a laid-back atmosphere, you must pay a visit to Hopkins. As soon as you set foot in this small village, you’ll quickly be surrounded by the rhythmic beats of Garifuna music. The Garifuna people are descendants of Caribbean indigenous groups and enslaved Africans. They have their own music, cuisine, and rituals, all of which you can experience in Hopkins. There’s plenty of relaxation to be had, but there’s also a lot to do in the area. In the beautiful nature reserves nearby, you can hike through lush jungles to discover exotic animals and hidden waterfalls. I’m happy to share my tips for the most enjoyable things to do in Hopkins.

How to Get to Hopkins

Read below to learn how to travel from Caye Caulker via Belize City and Rio Dulce (Guatemala) to Hopkins.

From Caye Caulker via Belize City to Hopkins

From Caye Caulker, you can take the ferry to Belize City. You can choose to board the ferry of San Pedro Belize Express or take Caribbean Sprinter to Caye Caulker. The boat ride takes about an hour. Once you arrive at the Belize City harbor, take a taxi to this bus terminal. From there, you have two different options:

Option 1: You can take the local bus to Hopkins junction. This is about a 3.5-hour (2.2 miles) ride. From this point, it’s another 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) to Hopkins. Taxis are often waiting, but they can be a bit pricey, so you can do as the locals do: hitchhike! Stand at the gas station and wait for someone to give you a ride to Hopkins.

Option 2: If you prefer a more comfortable journey, take the bus to Dangriga. This is about a 3-hour (1.9 miles) ride, and a bus departs every half hour. Several bus companies operate this route. Floralia offers comfortable touring buses with air conditioning and comfortable seats. From Dangriga, there are two buses a day directly to Hopkins, around 10:30 and 17:15. This is a journey of about half an hour to an hour. If you miss these, you’ll need to take another bus heading south and ask the bus driver to stop at Hopkins Junction. From there, it’s another 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) to Hopkins by taxi. You can also take a taxi from Dangriga to Hopkins. Taxi costs range from $40 to $50.

Van Rio Dulce (Guatemala) naar Hopkins

Take a boat from Rio Dulce to Livingston and then catch the boat to Punta Gorda. It departs from Monday to Friday at around 11:00 from the pier near the Happy Fish restaurant. After approximately 1 hour of sailing, you’ll be in Punta Gorda, where you can take the bus to Hopkins. This is still a 3 to 3.5-hour (1.9 to 2.2 miles) journey. The James Bus Line operates this route. Check their website for the current departure times.

What to Do in Hopkins?

A place like Hopkins is, of course, perfect for relaxation, but there are also plenty of fun activities to enjoy. Here are my tips for activities in and around Hopkins.

Get to Know the Garifuna Culture

In Belize, you can still find the Garifuna culture, dating back to the 17th century. During that time, many ships traveled from Europe to Central America, bringing enslaved people from West Africa. When some of these ships ran aground, these Africans mingled with the local Arawak population, hoping to avoid capture once more. The two cultures merged, giving rise to the Garifuna people. After centuries of colonization, the Garifuna people spread across Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In Hopkins, you can fully immerse yourself in this culture with its captivating rhythms and dances. Restaurant Driftwood frequently hosts evenings with live dance and music performances. You can also take a Garifuna drum lesson at Semiti Giffiti. Furthermore, you can attend a dance or cooking class if you want to learn more about the Garifuna culture.

Hike, Abseil, or Zipline in Mayflower Bocawina National Park

Mayflower Bocawina National Park is a protected area with a rich diversity of flora and fauna. It is home to more than 200 bird species, including toucans, parrots, and hummingbirds. It also serves as the habitat for various mammals such as jaguars, cougars, tapirs, and various monkey species. Moreover, the rainforest is teeming with lush plant species, ancient trees, stunning waterfalls, and rivers.

Mayflower Bocawina National Park offers a network of well-maintained trails with various difficulty levels. You can find all these hiking trails in the app. The Antelope Trail is a popular route that takes you 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) to the top of the 300-meter (984 feet) high Antelope Falls. From here, you have a breathtaking panoramic view of the area. It’s a wonderful place to take a rest and swim in the refreshing water. If you prefer a shorter hike, Bocawina Falls is a recommended choice. The park is large enough for a full day of wandering, and there are also various exciting outdoor activities to undertake.

The Best Tours in Mayflower Bocawina National Park

      • If you’re a fan of outdoor activities and up for a challenge, the extreme rappelling adventure at Antelope Falls is a must. You’ll embark on a scenic hike and then rappel down 76 meters (250 feet) at various levels of the waterfall.
      • If the above tour sounds a bit too intense for you, there’s also the zipline and rappelling combination tour. In this adventure, you’ll rappel from a lower height and soar through the jungle on an exciting zipline route.
      • If rappelling isn’t your thing, but you’d love to experience the thrill of ziplining through the jungle, you can opt for the zipline tour alone.

A Relaxing Beach Day at Jaguar Reef and Big Dock Ceviche Bar

Unfortunately, Belize deals with seaweed washing up on its beaches. This phenomenon is common in many countries in this region along the Atlantic Ocean. The seaweed influx is not seasonal and varies in intensity from place to place and time to time. In Hopkins, you may sometimes encounter seaweed in the surf, but it usually doesn’t (usually) hinder you from taking a refreshing dip.

On the beach around the center of Hopkins, you’ll encounter more seaweed, but when you head toward the resort area, the beach is often well-maintained and raked. The entire beach in Hopkins is public property, so you can go wherever you please. Jaguar Reef is a pleasant place to spend a day. This resort sits by the water and provides comfortable sunbeds where you can relax. It also features a pier with a Ceviche Bar. While you’re welcome to use the sunbeds, a purchase or a small contribution is appreciated. At Big Dock Ceviche Bar, you can relax in hammocks above the water, savor a delightful serving of fresh fish, and swing into the water when it’s time to cool off.

Take a Day Trip to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

The beautiful Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, with its dense forests and rugged terrain, provides the perfect habitat for jaguars. This sanctuary is the world’s first jaguar reserve and has played a significant role in studying and protecting these big cats. In addition to jaguars, the sanctuary is home to ocelots, cougars, tapirs, howler monkeys, toucans, and various reptiles, amphibians, and bird species. There are several hiking trails in the area, allowing you to explore the most beautiful parts of the sanctuary. The trails vary in difficulty, and you can make it as challenging as you want. At the park’s entrance, you’ll see a sign with an overview of all these hiking trails, which you can also find in the app. You don’t need to worry about encountering a jaguar; these animals are extremely shy and are rarely seen.

The hike to Ben’s Bluff is a popular one. In about 30 to 45 minutes, you’ll walk along flat and steep sections to a beautiful viewpoint. Along the way, you’ll come across a waterfall where you can take a refreshing dip. The Tiger Fern Trail is also a popular route to explore. Please note that you can only hike this trail with a guide. If you’re up for tubing, you can rent a tube at the entrance. Then, it’s a 20-minute walk to the river, followed by a 45-minute float on your tube down the river until you return. Don’t forget to check out the airplane wreck along the road when you leave the park.

You can visit the park with a guide, but it’s also fine to explore the park on your own. In the latter case, you will need to arrange your transportation. Take the first bus at 7:00 a.m. from this intersection in Hopkins to Hopkins junction. From there, take another bus to Maya Center, where you can purchase your ticket. It’s still a long, unpaved road from there to the official entrance. You can arrange a taxi for 40 BD, which will take you there in 30 minutes, or you can walk for two hours. On the way back, many travelers try to hitch a ride with other visitors who have a car.

Tip: Be sure to apply insect repellent. Also, bring your swimwear, food, and drinks because there are no stores inside the park.

Go Snorkeling at the Belize Barrier Reef

When you spend a day snorkeling at the Belize Barrier Reef, you may encounter colorful tropical fish, turtles, rays, and maybe even a majestic whale shark. The Belize Barrier Reef stretches over 250 kilometers (155 miles) , making it the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s a paradise for anyone fascinated by underwater life. You’ll find 350 species of fish and nearly 100 different types of corals here. During a snorkeling tour, you’ll spend the entire day in and on the water, admiring these colorful fish. There’s a good chance you might even see a turtle swimming by!

Marvel at the Bioluminescent Algae with the Bioluminescence Tour

There are certain natural phenomena that you can only witness in specific places around the world, and bioluminescence is one of them. When the water is agitated, it creates a luminous blue glow in the water. This is caused by the interaction of saltwater and freshwater with a specific type of algae, and it’s truly magical to experience. The bioluminescence tour typically takes place between January and May. In the evening, after the sun sets, you’ll hop on a boat. Once you arrive at the right spot, put on your snorkeling gear and jump into the water. As you move through the water, you’ll see luminous blue particles all around you.

Best Restaurants in Hopkins

Driftwood Beach Bar & Pizza Shack – Visit here for delicious pizzas, a friendly drink, and occasional live performances.
Big Dock Ceviche Bar – Combine relaxing in hammocks above the water with tasty cocktails and fresh ceviche.
Loggerheads Pub & Grille – Burgers, beer, reggae, games, and a cheerful chef.
Chef Rob’s Gourmet Cafe – If you want to enjoy a delightful dinner with an ocean view, this is one of the best restaurants in Hopkins.
Ella’s Cool Spot – This place offers a menu full of tasty local chicken and fish dishes. In the evening, it’s also a cozy spot for a drink and sometimes karaoke.
Innie’s restaurant – For typical local food like mashed cassava with gravy, this is the place to be.
Nice Cream Hopkins – Here, you can get the most delicious ice cream.
Kat’s Coffee – A charming little place for good (ice) coffee, breakfast, and lunch. Also great for takeout.

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Hopkins

Crash Pad Adventure Hostel is the top budget option in Hopkins. Here, you can stay at an affordable price in a double room with an ensuite bathroom and a balcony. It’s centrally located in Hopkins, with many restaurants nearby. The owner, Emma, is incredibly welcoming and is happy to give you tips for your Hopkins stay. The only downside is that the rooms do not have air conditioning. Inn at White Horse Guest House is a nice mid-range hotel. It’s right on the beach, so the location couldn’t be better! Enjoy a beach lounger, relax in a hammock, or borrow a free kayak and explore. If you have a more generous budget, staying at Coconut Row is fantastic. Here, you have the luxury of choosing between swimming in the sea or the pool with a view of the sea! You’ll stay in a comfortable room equipped with excellent air conditioning, a mini-fridge, a coffee maker, a cozy bed, and a large terrace. Perhaps the biggest plus is that every room has a sea view.