Many visitors to Belize head east to the Cayes (pronounced “keys”) to sail and scuba dive on the world’s second largest barrier reef. Others drive west to explore the country’s extensive Mayan ruins. Some hike in the central rainforests. But few people make it to the—still authentic—Caribbean retreats of the south.
The small fishing village of Hopkins is one such place. This Garifuna community, located in the Stann Creek District, is lapped by warm turquoise waters and home to deserted white-sand beaches sprinkled with coconuts.
There are daily scuba diving, snorkeling and island-hopping tours. You can hike up to Antelope Falls in the Mayflower Bocawina National Park and zipline through the rainforest. Or you can take a Sittee River kayak tour and discover some of the 500 species of birds that call Belize home. Along the way, you may see a manatee, crocodile, or iguana.
You’ll frequently find colorfully-clad troupes performing drum and dance routines around town, and at the Lebeha Drumming Center locals will give you lessons or a private show for only $10. Or take the 10-minute drive to the Maya Center Village and learn about the traditional life of the region’s Mayan people.
Despite its small size, you’ll eat well in Hopkins and options range from traditional local fare to the best pizza in Belize at the Driftwood Beach Bar. The local dish of stewed chicken with rice and beans is available for $5 or less at patio-style stands around town. Or you can cook your fish on a Mayan lava rock right at your candlelit table at Love on the Rocks for $15.
A popular expat hangout on the beach is Windschief Beach Bar, where you can dance the night away. You can rent cottages on the beach with WiFi, some with kitchenettes, for $10 to $15 a night.
Hopkins is easy to get around, too, either on foot or by golf cart, with rentals starting at $30 for five hours.
Editor’s note: For more details on what to do in Hopkins and how to do it, see page 5 of your current issue of International Living magazine. If you’re not a subscriber, you can become one here and get instant access to the September issue.