I visited Hopkins during my off-time while undertaking an internship in bird banding at the Toucan Ridge. I went with my fellow intern and friend, but traveling to Hopkins can definitely be done solo.
We visited Hopkins in the off-season, thus there was very quiet in town. Many backpackers visit Hopkins on their way from Guatemala or Honduras and are disappointed by Belize right away. I’d say that Hopkins was the least exciting place I visited, so don’t judge the country from just this one place.
Getting there and away
Getting to Hopkins is not the easiest, because the Punta Gorda (heading south, if you’re coming from Caye Caulker or San Ignacio) bus doesn’t stop in Hopkins. But you can get off the bus at the Hopkins junction, where you can catch a taxi that drives you to town. It’s not a cheap option if you’re all alone though (I believe a taxi is 20 BZD from the junction to Hopkins). You can also chose to walk the rest of the way, which is a few kilometers along a paved road with little, but you walk along an interesting wetland teeming with birds.
Getting from Hopkins is easier, but be aware that there are few departures each day, especially Sunday is a bad day for leaving Hopkins. On weekdays buses run more often, and from Hopkins you can continue your travels south to Punta Gorda or north to Belmopan and onward to Caye Caulker, Mexico or Guatemala.
Where to stay in Hopkins
We stayed at the lovely hostel, The Funky Dodo, which is closest to the bus station. My friend and I stayed in a small private room, but there are cheaper bunk beds if you are on a tight budget. There was well-functioning kitchen, and across the street you can do grocery shopping in a market that sells just about anything you might need. Down the road to the south, you can find a small stand selling fresh vegetables grown by local farmers.
Things to do around Hopkins
We visited Hopkins on Independence Day, and most of the restaurants were closed. The public beach in the city center was extremely polluted by plastic. This might be seasonal since the whole coastline of Mexico and Belize received a lot of dead seaweed, which lies on the beach to rot and smell.
We wanted a day on the beach, and knowing that the city center beach was polluted we hiked a few kilometers south to the Lodge at Jaguar Reef, hoping the beach had been cleaned. We had heard that if we had lunch at the Jaguar Reef (which was bit expensive, but you get what you pay for..) we could use their beach for free! The seaweed had been removed from the beach, and we could use their sunbeds and comfy hammocks.
On the way there or back you can stop by a big souvenir shop selling all from local artwork to soaps and beads.