Belize's Garifuna culture hub

Duration: at least one week

Budget: $45 per day

Stay:  Palmento Groove Lodge

Hopkins welcomed us with a spectacular blood moon on the night of our arrival. A breathtaking natural phenomenon! However, unlike the bloody moon, Hopkins may not be the most spectacular place in Belize. A single unknown street, lined with mostly locally owned guesthouses and small restaurants, forms the village’s center. At the end of it, you’ll find a supermarket. That’s it. Hopkins’ miles-long natural beaches are not the typical Caribbean-beach destination.

 A place for the soul

Yet, Dani wanted to introduce Lauri to Hopkins because it is a place for the soul which has to be felt to describe its charm and vibe adequately. It is a fantastic place to dive into Garifuna culture and everything that comes with it: Punta dances, delicious food, and a distinct lifestyle and values.

Garifuna culture

Punta Gorda, Dangriga, and the friendly town of Hopkins form the centers of Garifuna culture in Belize.

The Garifuna people are descendants of African, Caribbean & Indigenous South American origin. After being exiled from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent in 1797, the majority of Garifuna today live along the Caribbean coastlines of Honduras, Belize, and Nicaragua. Many Garinagu people cherish and live their cultural heritage until today.

The unique Garifuna culture and the chance to participate and learn from it make Hopkins one of the best places to visit in Belize. 

Garifuna 1

Music & Punta

Garifuna drums set the rhythm. While in Hopkins, you’ll surely get to listen to some typical drumming. If you have some rhythm, you might try and take some classes at Lebeha. The distinctive drumming is accompanied by either the Punta or Walavine. Two fierce, traditional dances.

garifuna 3

Garifuna Language

While many Belizeans speak English, Creole and Spanish, the Garifuna people also have their distinct language, Karif. Over time Carib and European languages have influenced the Garifuna language, a member of the Arawakan family.

By the way: Both Garifuna language and Garifuna music were declared “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” in 2008. Pretty impressive, no?

Hopkins Belize

Garifuna Clothing

Even though the heritage is actively lived, you’ll rarely spot Garinagu men wearing the traditional dashiki. A colorful v-neck shirt inspired by African printing.

Garifuna food

Garifuna cuisine

In Hopkins, you’ll for sure be able to taste the excellent typical cuisine. Deliciously spiced seafood, Hudut, or coconut rice will stimulate your taste buds. We find it one of the most delicious cuisines in the region!

Enjoy sea life and go snorkeling or diving

Since we planned to move on to Belize’s Cayes, we passed on the possibility of touring Belize’s Cayes from Hopkins. However, Hopkins offers an excellent starting point for excursions to the nearby Cayes and the Barrier reef. Belize is supposedly home to the western hemisphere’s largest barrier reef. As a result, you’ll find plenty of diving, snorkeling, and fishing opportunities. Our dear friend Dan works for Seemore Adventures – and judging by his personality- he’s an excellent guide!

Of course, you can enjoy the beach in Hopkins, too! A Miles-long, natural Caribbean coast seams the village. But, although it’s nice to hang out and dip into the water, Hopkins is not the typical beach destination.

Hopkins, Belize: Dani by the beach
Hopkins Belize 29 1000x630 1

Look out for Jaguars at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

The world’s first jaguar preservation sanctuary offers the (admittedly small) chance to spot the majestic cats in the wild! Amidst lush vegetation, the park affords you waterfalls and stunning views! Cockscomb park is the best place to let go of some energy tubing and hiking if you have been a bit lazy the last few days. The park offers accommodations and a campsite within its grounds, but you can also visit the park on a day trip—entrance fee: BZ$10. The park is tranquil and does not get too many visitors. It’s perfect for taking in the lush vegetation in Belize’s jungle!

Get ready to travel to Hopkins

Money

Logistics first: there is no ATM in Hopkins, so bring sufficient funds!

How to get to Hopkins, Belize

Depending on where you are coming from, the bus may stop directly in the center of Hopkins or about 5 km outside. For example, if you are coming from the direction of Punta Gorda, you likely end up at the bus stop outside of Hopkins. Don’t be shy. Locals passing by will surely give you a ride.

Best time to travel to Fez

The weather is mild all year round, making Fez an all-year-round destination. However, it gets boiling in summer, so it might not be the best time for extensive sightseeing.

Best time to travel Hopkins, Belize

Hopkins experiences quite heavy rain from June to September as anywhere in the Caribbean. This time is also considered hurricane season. The high season starts in November till February. The best time to travel is, without a doubt, shoulder season in June so that you can visit Mango fest or November for Garifuna Day!

Sandflies

Once you get to Hopkins, buy some handmade coconut oil to protect yourself from sandfly bites!

Mango fest and Garifuna Settlement day

Hopkins has two significant events: Mango fest in June and Garifuna day Settlement on November 19th. The otherwise sleepy village bursts with life, drumming, food, and celebrations. We haven’t made it to Garifuna Settlement Day, but we loved the Mango fest!

 

Safety in Hopkins

Hopkins is calm and pretty safe during the day. We have never felt unsafe, but we’ve also almost always been hanging out with our local friends. Be more careful at night and during Mango fest & Garifuna settlement day.

Tap water

In the towns, the water is supposedly drinkable. But as you will spend a lot of time on the water and Cayes in Belize, bring a Lifestraw Pro to be safe and avoid causing plastic pollution. The Lifestraw Pro will keep your water fresh and cool, too!

Biggest challenge for the responsible traveler

Eating fish: To protect marine life in Belize, fishing is regulated by seasons to guarantee the species’ time to recover. Therefore, make a point of not eating lobster or conch when not in season! Conch season runs from October to June. Lobster season is from July to February.

Sunscreen: Protect the unique marine life in Belize, and always wear reef-friendly sunscreen. Check out our guide to coral-safe sunscreens here.  

Plastic: Bring your Lifestraw Pro to avoid causing trash by consuming bottled water. 

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List Belize

Check out our packing list to prepare for all Belize has to offer. You’ll find anything from clothing to travel gadgets and eco-friendly toiletries.

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