Located on the coast of Stann Creek District in southeastern Belize, the small village of Hopkins has steadily become the top cultural destination in the country.
Hopkins was built in 1942 and named after a traveling priest. Today, approximately 1,000 people live in Hopkins, the majority of which are members of the Garifuna culture, an Afro-Caribbean people that first arrived in Belize 200 years ago. Today, most residents of Hopkins are still focused on traditional work like farming and fishing, but it is the growing tourism industry which has led so many visitors to beat a path to this small village.
Hopkins is unusual in that it is laid out along a long arc on the coast but is bisected down the middle by a small river. The north side (sometimes called Baila) and the south side (sometimes called False Sittee) give visitors two very different looks, but it is generally agreed that the crescent bay and view out over the Caribbean is simply spectacular.
Hopkins has been named the friendliest village in the country several times, and visitors should expect a genuinely warm reception. Hopkins is an especially popular destination on November 19 when the entire country celebrates Garifuna Settlement Day to commemorate the arrival of the Garifuna to Belize's shores. In Hopkins, the holiday begins with a dramatic dawn re-enactment of Garifuna dugout canoes landing on the beach followed by lots of music, dancing, drumming, and feasts of traditional Garifuna foods like cassava bread, seafood, wangla (a candy made with toasted sesame seeds), and hudut (a soup made with coconuts, fish, and plantains).
Some visitors come to Hopkins to partake in the rich fishing available in and near the village as there are several wetland areas, coastal estuaries, and lagoons that are ideal for fishing. But most visitors come to Hopkins in order to learn more about Garifuna culture. Several local families offer workshops on learning to harvest, prepare, and cook Garifuna food, learn Garifuna dances, or learn how to play traditional Garifuna drums which are used to let the ancestors "speak" and tell stories of love, war, betrayal, and joy.
If you'd like to discover the magic of Hopkins Village for yourself, you can rely on Untame Belize, a full-service tour company that is based right in Hopkins. Untame Belize also provides shuttle service, private ground transfers, and organizes adventure tours for affordable prices to all of the most popular destinations in the country.