Best things to do in Hopkins in Belize (+ map)

In the small fishing village of Hopkins, fishing is no longer the only activity. The beautiful Caribbean beaches and blue sea have now attracted many travelers to Hopkins and tourism is now the main source of income at this bounty beach paradise. Hopkins has one of the best beaches in Belize – and maybe even the world. Yet the small town still has a relaxed atmosphere and is certainly not overrun by tourists. Hopkins turned out to be the perfect mix for us between relaxed beach days and special excursions at sea and in the jungle. But where to stay? Where to eat? And most important: what are the best things to do in Hopkins in Belize?

How to get to Hopkins in Belize

Hopkins is on the Caribbean coast of Belize. The coastal town is located about halfway across the country. Further south is the beach town of Placencia and in the deep south is where you’ll find the jungle paradise of Punta Gorda. More to the north you will find the capital Belize City on the coast. From there you can take the ferry to the island destinations Caye Caulker and San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. More inland is the popular jungle destination of San Ignacio, known for its Mayan temples and unique jungle excursions.

Belize City has the nearest international airport. You can easily get to Hopkins from there by local bus, which is the cheapest mode of transportation in Belize. In the town of Dangrina, you will have to change buses. Although the distances are not that big in a small country like Belize, traveling by local bus will still take you a long time. The rattling, old American school buses cross the country at an extremely slow pace. A fantastic local and authentic experience, but one that almost makes you forget how small Belize actually is. A rental car or taxi is therefore much easier to explore Belize, but it is very expensive as well.

Cockscomb Basin | Belize |

Where to stay in Hopkins

The beach town of Hopkins in Belize is known for its beautiful beach cabanas and luxury resorts in Belize. In fact, the amazing places to stay in Hopkins should be one of the reasons to come to this relaxed beach town in the first place. You can roughly choose from beautiful resorts on the edge of the fishing village or a place to stay in the village itself. We’ll help you choose from the best hostels, resorts and hotels in Hopkins.

#1 Coconut Row for idyllic beach cabins in the heart of Hopkins. With a private beach with sunbeds and hammocks, Coconut Row is a magical beach paradise. Our cabin with its wonderful king-size bed was one of the best places we stayed in Belize. The cabins have their own veranda with a nice sitting area. As you can imagine, this was the perfect spot for our morning tea and coffee after waking up.

#2 The Lodge at Jaguar Reef for a luxury resort with rave reviews. The Lodge is located directly on the white-sand beach of Hopkins, but also has a lovely outdoor pool if you don’t feel like dipping in the ocean today. The on-site restaurant, the huge hammock above the ocean water, the spacious rooms and great location make this a top choice for a hotel in Hopkins.

#3 Funky Dodo Backpackers for the only hostel in Hopkins. This budget-friendly place to stay is quite basic for Belize standards, but it has a relaxed atmosphere, a tropical garden, a perfect location in Hopkins and friendly owners. For those who don’t have a huge budget, Funky Dodo is for sure the best budget accommodation in Hopkins.

#4 Palmetto Grove for a unique experience during your stay in Hopkins with a focus on the local Garifuna culture. This Afro-Caribbean culture is typical of Belize and Hopkins is a perfect location to learn more about it. There is an on-site restaurant serving Garifuna cuisine and Palmetto Grove offers many excursions, including cooking classes, drumming workshops and kayaking trips. Located on the far north end of Hopkins on a private island, Palmento Grove feels like a world far away from the fishing town.

#5 Hopkins Bay Belize a Muy’Ono Resort for a gorgeous resort on the north edge of Hopkins. The hotel has its own private beach and is 3 km from the town centre. Guests stay in idyllic beach huts rustic décor with locally made wooden furniture and high ceilings. The cottages all have a magnificent view of the sea. The resort has a large outdoor pool, on-site restaurant The Rhum Shack and on-site bar The Drum with daily happy hour.  

Coconut Row | Hopkins | Belize | The Orange Backpack
Cockscomb Basin | Belize |

7 best things to do in Hopkins

#1 The Hopkins beaches

Belize is known for its beautiful Caribbean coasts and Hopkins is the place to be for exactly that. Many tourists flock to paradise island life on Caye Caulker or San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, but remarkably, there’s very little beach there. The expansive sandy beaches in the Caribbean that you’re probably looking for can be found in places like Hopkins. Along the entire coastline of Hopkins you will find paradise beaches with swaying palm trees. Some of them belong to resorts, beach hotels or restaurants, but in general you are free to put your beach towel anywhere. In other words: put on your bikini or swim trunks and enjoy the white beach in the shade of the palm trees and take a dip in the warm sea.

Tip: stay at the idyllic beach cabins of Coconut Row in the heart of Hopkins for the ultimate beach experience like we did.

#2 Snorkel or dive in the largest coral reef in the world

Did you know that Belize has the largest living coral reef in the world? If there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss in Belize, it’s a snorkeling or diving trip to the Great Belizean Reef. Snorkeling among sharks, rays and tropical fish is a wonderful experience and can be done in several places in Belize. Many travelers think of Caye Caulker or San Pedro on Ambergris for a snorkeling or diving tour, but if you’re looking for a more relaxed experience without all these other boats on the water, Hopkins is a much better choice.

Several tours are offered from Hopkins and almost every hotel can arrange this for you. The more people join the tour, the cheaper it is. We couldn’t find any other travelers to join a tour with us, so we opted for the luxury of a private boat, which was a great experience. A delicious lunch on a paradise island off the coast is usually included, but ask in advance to avoid disappointment.

#3 Book a bioluminescence tour

Near Hopkins are the Sittee River and the Anderson Lagoon. It’s a beautiful place to kayak during the day, but at night the lagoon becomes really magical. During a specific time of the year – from mid-December to late May – the Anderson Lagoon is heavily saturated with certain microorganisms that magically make the water glow. The water is a perfect combination of salt and fresh, which is the ideal condition for the bioluminescence activity on the lake.

The tour usually starts at the end of the afternoon, so you first make a sunset boat trip on the Sittee River. By the time it gets dark, you will be at the lake which is surrounded by mangrove forests. This is the moment when every movement makes the lake water glow blue, which is a magical experience!

#4 Hike in Cockscomb Jaguar Park

One of the best things to do in Hopkins is a day trip to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the world’s first-ever jaguar reserve. It is one of the most beautiful places in Belize, where you can completely immerse yourself in the lush green jungle.

Read more: hiking in Cockscomb Jaguar Park.

It is estimated that between 40 and 60 jaguars live in the park! And so are many other big wild cats. That makes Cockscomb a unique place for wildlife lovers, though you’ll understand that only a few visitors will have the unique experience of actually spotting a wild cat. This is more likely at night than during the day, so there are night tours with park rangers on offer as well.

Cockscomb is therefore mainly about the beautiful hikes you can make. It is one of the most accessible parks. Almost all hikes can be done in a few hours and most visitors therefore combine at least two trails. All hikes are indicated on a map at the entrance, including length and difficulty. We recommend the trails to the plane wreck and to the waterfalls where you can take a refreshing dip.

#5 Visit Mayflower Bocawina National Park

From Hopkins you can – with your own transport or a tour – also easily visit this beautiful Mayflower Bocawina National Park. In the jungle, you will find beautiful swimming spots, waterfalls and trails. It is also possible to go ziplining or rappelling from a waterfall, making this a great day trip for those who want to combine their lazy beach days in Hopkins with adventure activities.

#6 Get to know the local Garifuna culture

Belize might make you think of paradise beaches, but did you know that it is also a melting pot of cultures? We were amazed how a small country like Belize with less than 400,000 inhabitants can have such a wealth of cultures. A special population group are the Garifuna. The Garifuna are the descendants of a shipwrecked slave ship, after which those slaves settled in the Caribbean as free people. Their language, music and culture are African with Caribbean influences. A unique culture that is completely different from the other ethnic groups in the Caribbean. Rio Dulce and Livingston in Guatemala have the largest Garifuna community, but the Garifuna culture is also strongly present in Hopkins. The Belizean beach town is therefore the perfect destination to get acquainted with this unique culture!

Tip: book your Hopkins stay at Palmetto Grove on a private island on the northern edge of Hopkins if you want to learn about the Garifuna culture, including local cuisine, cooking classes and music workshops.

#7 Eating and drinking in Hopkins

As small as Hopkins is, there are plenty of great places to grab a bite to eat or have some drinks. You will find many restaurants along the beach, including on-site resort and hotel restaurants that also welcome non-guests. As Hopkins is a fishing town on the Caribbean coast, most menus offer great fish and seafood dishes. But we also had no problem finding great places to eat as vegetarians.

Our favorite restaurants in Hopkins:

  • Coconut Husk for a great restaurant, part of Coconut Row where we had our beach cabana
  • Fred’s Lime Tree for a great restaurant on the beach
  • Driftwood for a nice vibe, the best pizzas (really pricey) and live music
  • Thongs for breakfast
  • Nice Cream for ice creams

Hopkins Belize Map