The fact that only two buses per day go directly to Hopkins tells you a lot about this seaside town. Remote and sparsely populated, tourists slot in alongside the locals without affecting their daily lives. Hopkins feels like the place we were told Sarteneja would be.
A laid-back few days or a breather. Hopkins' main street is large dust road scattered with some restaurants. The people are friendly and a day spent on a bicycle or on foot will let you get a good taste of what's on offer. As we discovered, you needn't wander to far to discover a little taste of 'real Belize' that anyone with even a passing interest in photography will appreciate.
For the more intrepid, there are a number of nature hikes nearby in Cockscomb and the Jaguar reserve which can easily be organised through your hostel/hotel or the small tourist centre in town..
The Lonely Planet strangely promotes Hopkins' beaches as on a par with Placencia, and one of the best in Central America, but they are wrong. Although a concerted clean-up would help, we understand that due to the increasing number of holiday homes and resorts in the surrounding areas disgracefully 'transporting' sand from the beach, things are not likely to vastly improve.
We met a number of travellers with limited time in Belize who felt they had been a little duped, and would in retrospect, have avoided Hopkins.
There is a weekly drumming party on the beach, allowing an experience of Garifuna culture. Check with your hotel/hostel for further details. Other than that, wander around the dusty roads of town with your camera in hand and you can slip into the Belizean pace of life, if only for a day or two.
Only two buses go straight to Hopkins from Dangriga at 10.30 a.m and 5.15 p.m. If travelling to Dangriaga from Belize City, leave no later than 1.30 p.m. to ensure you make the last departure.
A more adventurous alternative is to stay on your south-bound bus and ask to be dropped off at “the Hopkins junction”. From here, locals and backpackers can hitch-hike the 4-miles to the town. We met a number of travellers who took this option and the experience was universally positive, however do exercise caution.
When leaving Hopkins, you can take the bus straight to Dangriga for other connections. If heading south to Placencia or Punta Gorda, the bus will drop you off at the junction around 30 minutes before your required onward bus arrives (easily spotted with its blue and purple colouring). This bus leaves Hopkins at 7am and 2pm.
Belize City – Dangriga: (4 hrs)
Dangriga – Hopkins: (1hr+)
Placencia – Hopkins Junctions: (2 hrs)
Hopkins – Hopkins Junction: (15 minutes)
Budget-breaker or maker?
Maker. If coming from Belize City or Caye Caulker, you will enjoy a couple of days here to cheaply recharge your batteries.