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140km (87 miles) S of Belize City; 127km (79 miles) SE of Belmopan; 53km (33 miles) N of Placencia

The word is out on Hopkins Village, and this area is poised to boom. If you want to experience this place before it becomes another Placencia, you'd be wise to visit before too long. Hopkins Village is a midsize Garífuna community located on the shore, 24km (15 miles) south of Dangriga. It is a picturesque village with colorfully painted raised clapboard houses. It is also my preferred destination for getting a true taste of and some direct contact with this unique culture. This is a great place to wander around talking with children, fishermen, and elderly folks hanging out in front of their homes. If you stick around long enough, you may be able to learn a bit about traditional Garífuna lifestyles. Fishing is still the main pursuit of many of the villagers, although tourism is rapidly becoming the main source of employment and income.

Hopkins Village is set on a long, narrow, curving swath of beach, which in addition to Placencia is one of the few true beaches in the country. This white-sand beach is usually quite calm and good for swimming. In recent years, several beach and dive resorts have opened on the stretch of sand south of the village, while in the village itself you'll find a hodgepodge of budget lodgings and simple restaurants. Sittee River Village is a few miles south of Hopkins and a mile or so inland, on the banks of the gently flowing Sittee River. This is a tiny little town, but it does have a hotel or two, as well as a good Internet cafe. Fishermen like the quiet riverside setting and access to both fresh- and saltwater angling.