Have a vehicle, and looking for something offbeat to see? The remains of the Serpon Sugar Mill are certainly worth a visit. The park is located in Sittee River village, just a few miles south of Hopkins. You can also bicycle there.
The Serpon Sugar Mill is Belize’s first designated historic site. Built in 1865 by Americans fleeing the Civil War, it revolutionized the country because it was the first steam-powered device of its kind in Belize. For more than 30 years the mill produced thousands of pounds of sugar a month, far outpacing traditional methods of extracting sugar from sugarcane manually.
The mill is no longer functional, but its enormous cast iron remains are still on display, including the crusher, boiler, and other components.
Why You Should Visit
For most of its history, Belize was an agricultural nation, and all the harvesting, processing, and manufacturing of sugarcane into sugar was done entirely by hand. The Serpon Sugar Mill marks a key milestone in Belize’s history as an industrial nation. Although the mill has not functioned for more than a century, its resistance to the elements stands as a monument to the industrial might of the steam age.
Best way to experience it
Entry to the preserve is BZ$10. There is a small information center at the entrance of the park where you can hire a guide. It is possible to explore this attraction without a guide. The main appeal of the park is seeing the incongruous remains of an enormous industrial apparatus sitting quietly in the middle of the jungle. Despite its extreme age, the sugar mill has resisted disintegration remarkably well.
If you want to explore these areas on your own, without a tour, using public transit, this can be done — well, sort of. Read on!
Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve: To get to the Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve on your own: Take a bus — I recommend getting up early and catching the 7am bus — or — hitchhike to the highway junction. From there, take the first southbound bus 2 villages south to the village of Maya Center (itself worth a visit). In Maya Center, go to the women’s co-op to get your tickets for the park. Find a cab there, and negotiate a ride to the park (about BZ$20) –it’s 5 miles/8km from the highway. You could hike in, but it is a long walk — the first two miles or so are through plantations, but then you get into the jungle, so you’d be under cover and in some shade.Alternately, you could try to hitchhike to the park. This will work in the busy season (October-June), less so in the off season.Do the same thing in reverse to get back to the Funky Dodo–negotiate a time for the cab to bring you back to Maya Center, bus north to Hopkins junction, hitchhike back into the village. There are no services in the park, so make sure you bring water, snacks, and plenty of bug spray.
Mayflower Bocawina National Park: I hate to say this, but there is no good way to get to Mayflower on your own. While a bus can get you to the road that leads to the park, there is no village, and thus no taxis there, so you would have to hitchhike or walk in. Hitchhiking is very iffy, as tour buses will not pick you up. Walking is really not recommended, as it is a very long, 6 mile/10km walk, all through plantations, so there will be no shade. Your best bet is to rent a vehicle or motorcycle, hire a driver or join a tour.
*If you are thinking you could bicycle to either park, think again: The only bikes available in Hopkins are single-speed, coaster brake beach cruisers. No mountain or terrain bikes are available to rent in the village.
Make sure you plan some time to visit at least one of these parks, and the Funky Dodo staff is ready to show our guests How to get to the national parks from the Funky Dodo, by whatever mode they choose. See you soon! Book your stay now!
A small village in Central America, Hopkins Belize is home to a fascinating mystery. It is said that Hopkins was founded when a woman named Sirrian and her two young daughters arrived from Uganda, Africa. Sirrian’s Uganda roots were the basis of Hopkins’ original name: Yugadan. It is anyone’s guess what happened to Sirrian or her daughters because they disappeared from the record. While Sirrian and her daughters may be part of Hopkins’ origin myth, what is irrefutable is the arrival of Garifuna people in the Hopkins area around 1937 when Black Caribs, the Garinagu, escaped persecution they were suffering at the hands of the people of Honduras. They settled here and founded the vibrant fishing village of Hopkins.
Over time, few things have changed with the Garifuna people living in the Hopkins area because they treasure their past, their customs and folkways.
In 1942, a name change was proposed. Area leaders chose the name Hopkins to pay tribute to Bishop Frederick Hopkins who drowned nearby.
Now a popular hub for both Garifuna residents and tourists coming to stay in the area, no visitor to Belize should miss spending some time among “the friendliest people” in the nation. And of course, the best place to stay is right in the middle of the village, at the Funky Dodo! BOOK NOW!
Ultimate Destination Guide to Hopkins – Top 3 Things to Do, See, and Eat. There is lots to see and do in and around Hopkins, and you can find more detailed information here. But here is a short list of my top 3 things you “must” do:
Find a restaurant serving Hudut. Hudut is a delicious stew that contains plantains, fish, and coconut, and a local specialty that is not to be missed.
Hike the Tiger Fern trail in the Cockscomb preserve. Tiger Fern Trail is a 5.5 kilometer moderately trafficked out and back trail that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is accessible year-round.
Take a snorkel or dive trip to the Barrier reef. In 1996, the protected Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System was designated a World Heritage site. Charles Darwin described it as “the most remarkable reef in the West Indies” in 1842.
— Everybody raves about the sunrises to be seen in Hopkins — and, since the Caribbean is on the east side of the village, it’s pretty obvious why, even if you have to get up really early:
However, what I find even more spectacular are — the sunSET you can see in Hopkins Village!
If you head out on the main road toward the highway, get just outside of town, you can see spectacular sunsets over the wetlands, as the sun goes down behind the Maya mountains. A view many miss, but you should definitely take the time to catch this. Click here to see sunrise and sunset times in Hopkins, Belize so you can plan your photo moment.
— Best of all, from the Funky Dodo it’s only a short walk or bike ride to the perfect spot to see the sunset and get some amazing pictures. And if you like birds, you will see lots and lots of them as well.
Best local markets in Hopkins — Places to get what you need (shopping, groceries, gifts, souvenirs):
Even if Hopkins is a very small village, we have everything you need to make your stay enjoyable. Listed below are some of our favorite places to shop, but by no means are all the stores and gift shops listed here. Go for a wander, or get on one of our bikes and explore Hopkins! Get a feel for the Garifuna vibe, discover Garifuna, Mayan and Belizean culture.
There are also quite often pop up stands on the side of the road that sell a variety of items, from fruit and veg to barbeque chicken or pork.
Of course we are ready to answer any questions you might have, and help you to find whatever you might need. We hope to see you in Hopkins at the Funky Dodo soon!
If you have a chip card, the only ATM in Hopkins (Belize Bank) will probably not work for you. If you are coming through Dangriga, stop by the Scotia bank about two blocks from the bus terminal and stock up on cash before you get here.
In happier news, we have a credit card machine, and can take payments for your stay via MasterCard and Visa. We will have to charge a 6% fee for credit card transactions, however.
If you are driving to the Funky Dodo from BZ city (or anywhere up north): do NOT take the coastal highway. Yes, that’s how Google maps will route you, but don’t do it. The road is not finished and is unpaved and in terrible condition. Unless you have a high-clearance 4WD, you stand a good chance of breaking down, and there are no towns and very limited cell reception.
Take the HUMMINGBIRD HIGHWAY. It’s beautiful, and paved all the way down. Just be careful approaching the very narrow bridges (you’ll know what I mean when you see them).
Different topic: the ATM in Hopkins is still not working most of the time. Stop off before you get here to stock up on cash (Belmopan or Dangriga–Scotia Bank usually works)