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Hopkins & Punta Gorda – Belize – Information


DECEMBER 2016:





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OVERVIEW:

I made my way from Caye Caulker to Hopkins by water taxi and public bus.

In Caye Caulker, I stayed in a GRANDPAcking Standard hotel: the Axios Sun Apartments.

I got the Axios at a discounted rate of US$32 / night but a 9% tax and fixed US$15 Cleaning Fee where added to the base price. The result was US$40 / night.

I was thinking of staying on Caye Caulker for a couple of weeks. I took one look at it on my day of arrival and decided that 3 nights was going to be enough.

It was time to move on to Hopkins en route to Guatemala …


CAYE CAULKER TO HOPKINS:

Getting from Caye Caulker to Hopkins is easy. It’s a 40 minute water taxi ride to Belize City …

You can catch a water taxi from the Ocean Ferry Terminal.

The ticket is BZ$19 one way (BZ$29 return). There are 5 boats each day:

The boats are quite small and (unlike the San Perdo to Caye Caulker leg) this leg to Belize City can get quite full.

You may want to book your ticket in advance to make sure that you catch the boat that you want.

From the Ocean Ferry dock in Belize City, it is an easy 800m walk to the Novelo Bus Terminal.

Buses leave from here to Dangriga or Punta Gorda every hour. Both go via Belmopan to Dangriga. The bus trip to Dangriga costs BZ$10 and takes about 2.5 hours.

At Dangriga, you have several choices:

  • Catch another bus from Dangriga to Hopkins (10:30am or 5:00pm)
  • Catch a taxi to Hopkins (about US$50)
  • Stay on the James bus and get off at the Hopkins Junction (an extra BZ$4)
    • The junction is 5 miles from Hopkins
    • There are, usually taxis waiting (BZ$20)
    • Or you can try and hitchhike

ABOUT HOPKINS:

Hopkins is a Garifuna village on the coast of the Stann Creek District in Belize.

Hopkins is considered by some Belizeans to be the cultural center of the Garifuna population in Belize.

The village is separated into two parts; the Northside (Baila) and the Southside (False Sittee).

Hopkins is surrounded by the Maya Mountains and the Cockscomb Range inland, and the Caribbean Sea on its shore. The village was created in 1942 to replace the village of Newtown, which was devastated by a hurricane further up the coast.

Today Hopkins is a small but vibrant community of approximately 1,000 villagers. The people live mostly by farming and fishing, and more recently many have found work in the growing tourist industry.

The residents are known for their friendliness and genuine hospitality, and welcome visitors. Hopkins was recently voted “The Friendliest Village in Belize” by Belize First Magazine.


COMMUNICATIONS:

My BTL SIMcard worked well here and most of the time I had a strong 4G signal.


BEACHES:

My hotel (see below) was 500m south of where the main road enters town. From there, I walked the beach heading north, through town center, and back home.

This is what you find:


WHERE TO STAY IN HOPKINS:

I booked Hopkins the day before my arrival.

There are quite a few accommodation options in Hopkins. About half of those are shown on this map:

A simple, Twin room in a Hostel will set you back US$30 / night (ex taxes). A double room in a homestay or small hotel will set you back US$40-50 / night (ex taxes).


MY HOPKINS ACCOMMODATION:

I booked 3 nights in the Windschief. I booked directly on their website.


TRANSPORT:

You can walk around Hopkins on foot.

Bicycles are available for rent (but I’m not sure where you would go).


EAT & DRINK:

If you budget BZ$10 average per meal, you will be eating as cheaply as possible; any less than that, you will not be getting a balanced diet. Even at BZ$10, that would be debatable.

There is usually something going on in one of the bars around town. It might be live drumming, a live band, or a dance night.


YOUR HEALTH & SAFETY:

There is no reason to feel unsafe here. But, as always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.

Hopkins has mosquitos and sandflies. Bring suitable repellents.

There is some petty pilfering. You are advised to keep your things secured and doors / windows locked.


WHEN TO GO:

August through November is hurricane season in this part of the world, and the weather becomes more changeable and less predictable during these months.

The rainy season is June through October.

The high season is December through June as these are the months with the most temperate and driest weather.

High Season prices generally ‘kick in’ on 1st December; some earlier. The place starts filling up from Thanksgiving onwards. Christmas, New Year, March and April are particularly busy (and expensive).


HOPKINS TO PUNTA GORDA:

My next destination was Punta Gorda.

From Hopkins, you catch a taxi (BZ$20) back to the southern highway and flag down a passing James Bus. During the week, they pass the Hopkins Junction at 7:30am, 9:30am, 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm, and 5:00pm.

On Sunday there are fewer buses. They pass at 10:00am and 2:00pm. There may be others but details are hard to find.

The bus costs BZ$12 and takes 2.5 hours.

A search of the internet revealed that there were 2 boats each week from Punta Gorda to Livingston, Guatemala: Tuesday and Friday.

I arrived on a Sunday, so I pre-booked 2 nights at the St Charles Hotel.

I walked down the pier to discover that boats left for Livingston every day. The St Charles were kind enough to cancel my second night (at no charge) and I took the boat to Livingston the next day: Monday.


CONCLUSION:

Hopkins is not a ‘pictureque’ town. It is rustic. The beach is very average. But what it lacks in that respect it makes up for with its friendly people.

There are a few expats around too. Many are ‘snowbirds’.

Punta Gorda has very little to offer. You only go there if you are in transit.

TTFN


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