Hopkins VillageAs mentioned above, Hopkins itself is a small village with a collection of several beach resorts to the south of the main village, and several mom-and-pop restaurants and general stores in the village itself. The village, and much of Belize itself for that matter, reminded me of southern India, especially the coastal state of Kerala.
If you're not interested in lounging on the beach, you can charter a boat to take you out to the reef for fishing or snorkeling (or just acting lazy on a boat), or you can head over to one of to the parks nearby, Mayflower Bocawina National Park and Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Reserve. I will put up separate posts about those two places. You can also head up the road and explore...
DangrigaCompared to Hopkins, Dangriga is the big city. If you rented a car, there are a few gas stations in town to fill up, or if you don't want to fool with driving but are headed to one of the Hopkins resorts or the jaguar reserve, there is also an airport here. You can also hire boats to take you out to the cayes or reefs, or a water taxi to take you to Belize City, Ambergris Caye, or Placencia. We came here fairly early in the day, specifically to look for some garifuna handicrafts, which we were told could be found here. Much to our disappointment, there was nothing to be found. Apparently most all of the shops were closed on account of it being the off-season. I have to admit, the town is kind of dumpy looking.
On the west side of Dangriga, there is a small museum very much worth visiting, the Gulisi Garifuna Museum. You can't miss the sign, on the outskirts of town near the "Uno" gas station, on the Hummingbird Highway. The museum documents the history of the Garifuna settlement of the area, including the original migration of the Garifuna from Africa to the West Indies. A small gift shop is inside the museum, but as seemed to be the case pretty much everywhere, nothing was available for sale since it was the off-season. The entrance fee is BZD 10/USD 5 per person.
We then headed over to Billy Barquedier National Park for a quick hike in the jungle, about 16 miles west of Dangriga on the Hummingbird Highway. I had seen the sign for the "waterfall entrance" on the way over the day before, so we wanted to check it out. The weather had started turning just a bit bad along the way...
After a short but tough hike, I was starving, so we headed back to Hopkins to grab lunch, before our attempted, though ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to find the Nim Li Punit Mayan ruins down towards Punta Gorda. The weather continued to threaten, and while today wasn't so bad, it was a harbinger of things to come.
There are other sites to see in the immediate area that we didn't have time to explore. One is Davis Falls, the second highest waterfall in Belize. You'll see the turnoff at Mile 14 of the Hummingbird Highway, just past the citrus plant when heading west, but getting to the falls requires a 4WD vehicle, plus a strenuous 2-mile hike from the end of the road.
The other is Marie Sharp's Factory, located a few miles outside Dangriga off the Hummingbird Highway (you will see the sign a couple of miles west of the Southern Highway junction). Think the Belizean version of Tabasco sauce. I did wish we had more time here, because I would have liked to pick up a few bottles.