Hopkins and Placencia are located in the South of Belize; both with their own vibe, atmosphere and characteristics. Both very different but both laidback and perfect to chill and start or finish your books and have a proper drink on the beach!!
Still being on my high from the Raggamuffin Sailing Tour, I arrived in coastal village Hopkins after a short shuttle from Dangriga with some fellow sailors (20B$). Everybody was dropped off at their booked accommodation in Hopkins. I was the last one and this way I could see that Hopkins was a very stretched town. On the south which is called Sittee Point, the more resorts and luxury hotels and restaurants; not my cup of tea. I booked a cottage style accommodation close to the beach more on the northern side of town. Hopkins is a good base to explore the cays, reefs and islands and land side the mountains and parks. In Hopkins I experienced the indigenous Afro-Caribbean culture of the Garifuna.
Driftwood Beach Bar & Pizza Shack: This cool Pizza restaurant at the beach is a popular party place for both travelers and locals too. I combined my delicious pizza with a dance on Saturday evening with live music and a lot of Garifuna dancing and drums. Read; twerking and shaking the booty with the Griga Boyz all night!!
Thongs Café: Owned by a German woman which serves a great breakfast, healthy juices and great coffee. Thongs has an European style vibe and you will meet fellow travelers here.
I booked the Belizean family operated Sandpiper Beach Cabanas (60US$ per night) at the North Side of Hopkins. I was happy with the Cabana and location, right at the beach and very tidy. There are only four separate cabanas which gave me a local feeling and the hammocks at the beach were perfect to read my book. Great spot for me; for the backpackers Funky Dodo is the place to be!!
I have to admit, maybe it was due to my ear infection and missing the boat and blue ocean around me, but I could not really find my way here in Hopkins. There was not a real city center and all was very small, stretched and remote. Hopkins is perfect to chill and recover, but two nights/1.5 days were enough for me!
Placencia is a real beach-holiday village located on a peninsula in the South of Belize. Mainly North American expats, retirements and tourist come to this popular holiday destination. Compared to Hopkins; Placencia is well more concentrated with a real center and Sidewalk with accommodations and restaurants. All has a very laid-back ambiance and the harbor housed sailing boats and access to the nearby islands for snorkeling.
I arrived by public bus from Hopkins in Placencia. I found it very difficult to find the right accommodations here in Belize. My plan was here in Placencia, not to book anything in advance but book it on the spot. The advantage is that you can check the rooms and negotiate the price of the room. Disadvantage is that you walk with all your bags in hot sun searching for a place to stay.…
I found a colorful private room with warm shower at Sea Spray Hotel right at the beach and right at the famous boardwalk of Placencia. Perfect clean place room with indeed a sea breeze getting in my room (110B$ per night). The beach chairs on the beach are perfect to chill and soak up some sun underneath the palm trees.
The Shak Beach Café: Perfect hot spot for a healthy smoothie and/or breakfast (F.Y.G. 12B$) with a nice sea view. The Shak is located at end of the Placencia Sidewalk close to the Pier.
Tip: The beach in front of the Shak is very relaxed, less wind and less seaweed on shore; perfect place to site and hang out.
Tutti Fruti: It was hot in Belize and the best way to cool off is to jump in the water (see above) and eat ice cream!! At this Italian place, you can select your favorite flavor out of many options (6B$ two scoops of ice cream).
Above Grounds Coffee House: This café has partnerships with small independent organic coffee farms in Guatemala; where they hand-pick, process and roast the coffee that is being served at this wooden place on the main road (South End). Good cappuccino (7B$) and chill spot to sit and watch people passing by.
Omars Creole Grub: This local simple shack of a restaurant offers the freshest seafood. The shrimp in coconut curry with rice and salad tasted good . It was very busy every night at this Bring your Own alcohol on the Placencia Road.
RumFish y Vino: This nice looking place with a great balcony serves the delicious conch ceviche. I loved the shell of the Conch (shell in Spanish) and the fresh in lime cooked was a treat for a late lunch in the warm weather.
Barefoot Bar and Tipsy Tuna Sports Bar are two bars with live music and DJ’s located next to each other at the main beach. Perfect for an easygoing afternoon; have a drink at the bar with happy hour (5-6/7) and enjoy the cooling breeze, dance and watch people!
This is just a selection of nice bars, cafés and restaurants. For every traveler there is something that will appeal. A lot more than in Hopkins in my opinion; but I still miss the Caye Caulker atmosphere. Placencia is way more classy and North American orientated and less Rasta Hippie style; what I liked in Caye Caulker!!
I arrived in Hopkins from Dangriga and left Belize out of Placencia via Punta Gorda to Lívingston, Guatemala. See below the tips and transport you can use to get to these destinations.
Hopkins – Placencia
There is a non-frequent bus running between Hopkins and Placencia. I was way too early (to make sure that I did not miss the only bus) at the bus stop in the center near the Police station. Officially the Sunday morning public bus departs at 9:15AM (6B$). I heard that sometimes the bus skips Hopkins and goes straight to Placencia.
Tip: Make sure you are on time and check the bus schedule especially in the weekend, when there are less busses running. You can take a taxi in Hopkins to the main Southern Highway; here are more busses passing by.
Placencia – Punta Gorda
The easiest way to travel onwards from Placencia to Guatemala or Honduras is via Punta Gorda. To get to the Southern Highway again you have to take the Hokey Pokey Water Taxi to Independence/Mango Creek (10B$).
Tip: Check the time schedule of the Hokey Pokey in advance to get to your next destination. First leaves at 6:45AM till 18:00PM. If there are enough people the leave earlier, mine left at 9:35AM instead of 10:00AM.
Take a taxi for 5B$ to the station in Independence and then catch the bus to Punta Gorda; departure 10:45AM and arrival 12:30PM for 9B$.
Punta Gorda – Lívingston, Guatemala
From Punta Gorda the boat leaves first to Lívingston and then to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. Tell the bus driver you need to get the boat and they will drop you off just before Punta Gorda (9B$ from Placencia); a 10 minutes’ walk away to immigration. Buy the boat ticket (60B$ one way) across the immigration office. The boats departs at 14:00PM and another one in the morning at 11:30AM; the trip to Lívingston lasted ±45min with a very fast boat.
Tip: Keep in mind that you have to pay 40B$ exit fee at the Belizean border. Of course you can change your last B$ at the local currency exchanger, that will visit you at immigration.