The villages of Hopkins and Placencia Belize are home to a growing population of expats. Here we learn why…
A 3-hour drive south from Belize City International airport on the Scenic Hummingbird Highway, or a short 15-minute flight on one of Belize’s commuter airlines, can put visitors looking for the “true Belize” in some of the most spectacular areas of the country, if not the world.
The villages of Hopkins and Placencia are home to a growing population of expats, and there are many reasons other than near perfect climate, proximity to the U.S., and an English-speaking population that make these two locations some of the fastest growing expat areas in Belize.
Hopkins village has around 2,000 year-round residents and has developed into a premium tourist destination with over 50 restaurants and shops, large grocery stores, and access to five miles of fantastic beach. This make the Hopkins Belize real estate market a great place to live the beach lifestyle.
The Village itself, founded in 1942, is comprised of the very friendly Garifuna people, rich in a culture that is of African and Caribe (Arawak) origin. The electrical supply has only been available since the early 1990s. Hopkins is widely known as the friendliest village in Belize, with locals mingling with the expat population in an easy manner.
The physical characteristics are what sets Hopkins apart from many other destinations. A plethora of natural history surrounds this area. To draw a 10-mile radius around Hopkins, one would include three national parks and nature preserves. Just six miles south of the Hopkins Turnoff is the world’s only jaguar preserve, Cockscomb Basin National Park.
To the north, Bocawina National Park, is home to seven waterfalls in a 7000-acre wildlife paradise stretching west nearly to the Guatemalan border. Both parks are nestled in the Maya mountains and have established hiking trails and provide endless opportunities to see wildlife – including one of the densest populations of tropical bird species in the world.
The Sittee river, a quintessential jungle river, has its mouth just a mile south of Hopkins proper, allowing access in minutes to the world’s second largest Barrier reef. Expats looking for boating, fishing, snorkeling, and diving can still get property on the river, park their boats in their front yard, or utilize the Sittee River Marina. Hopkins is truly a boater’s paradise.
Fantastic local fresh water system, hi-speed internet, and cable TV all add to the allure of the Hopkins area and allow for a stress-free lifestyle with access to all that one needs to enjoy paradise.
Just an hour south from Hopkins on the Southern Highway brings you to the turnoff to the peninsula of Placencia, another fantastic area that expats have embraced because of friendly locals and stunning natural attributes. Placencia offers a little more in nightlife as well as fantastic access to the reef, either seafront, or the lagoon on the west.
Once a quaint fishing village, Placencia has grown in population to a mix of locals and expats, and it shares many of the same natural history as the Hopkins area, but with a slightly faster paced lifestyle.
A new Casino and the building of million-dollar seafront homes has not changed the friendly feel of the area. One can enjoy a fantastic sunrise over the Caribbean Sea in the morning and spend the day visiting pubs and artisan gift shops on the world’s longest continuous sidewalk.
Enjoy an excellent meal in fine dining restaurants that overlook the lagoon to the west and take in the sunsets over the Mayan Mountains.
You can stroll on the beach and swim in the azure waters to cool off, then grab a pina colada at one of the seafront bars and chill. In addition, you can plan a day of fishing for snapper, snook, and an amazing array of denizens of the deep.
You can arrange for a boat to take you a little south to the “monkey river,” where you can see howler monkeys in their natural habitat as well as crocodiles, manatees, and a myriad of birds like toucans and scarlet macaws.
Searching out Placencia Belize real estate in this area will give you lots of options for sea and lagoon frontage as well as small developments with canals and access to the sea. There are Belize condominium projects that you can purchase and enjoy and, when not there, management companies will rent them out for income opportunities.
There are several festivals in this lively community including a Lobster Fest and a sidewalk Music and Arts Festival. There are boats to take for scuba and snorkel to see one of the world’s largest concentrations of whale sharks, from January through April, as they come in to the giant schools of spawning mutton snapper. You can dive or snorkel with these gentle giants for a once in a lifetime experience.
All in all, the south-central coast of Belize is a hidden gem that affords a laid-back lifestyle with modern conveniences and endless opportunities to experience life in a tropical paradise surrounded by unspoiled nature. Local and ancient culture abound, with true beauty and a fantastic climate. This is an English-speaking country that offers ease of navigation and communication.
By Lyle Burke: In 2007 Lyle met Tony Marsico, a successful businessman, who with his wife built a thriving boutique Resort in Hopkins, Belize. Several years later Lyle and Tony decided to join forces to give Belize real estate tours. With their multi-cultural backgrounds this professional team will assist visitors in navigating the various Belize real estate market practices and legal systems. Please check out Lyle’s Belize Real Estate Discovery Tour.