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Hopkins Garifuna Culture

Best Ways to Experience Garifuna Culture in Hopkins, Belize

Hopkins is an ideal beach and jungle destination, filled with Garifuna culture. Learn to drum at Lebeha Drumming School or sample traditional Garifuna dishes such as Hudut and cassava bread from eateries such as Chef Robs Gourmet Cafe and Ella’s Cool Spot.

Hopkins offers numerous activities, from swimming and snorkeling at Southern Water Caye Marine Reserve to hiking at Mayflower Bocawina National Park and wildlife spotting at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.

1. Stay at a Garifuna-run hotel or resort

Visit a small Garifuna village to experience Belize’s vibrant culture and get to know its people better. These villagers have retained many traditional values despite being forced to adapt due to European settlement; evidenced in the food, music and dancing that surrounds them. Staying at a hotel owned and run by this community will also allow you to support its preservation.

Hopkins is home to several Garifuna-run hotels and resorts that provide guests with an array of services, including traditional dance performances by drummers at Hamanasi Resort on Thursday afternoons or learning Garifuna drumming lessons at Lebeha Drumming School. Purchasing your own Garifuna drum is an option as a way of supporting this community by keeping its culture alive.

One way to truly experience Garifuna culture is by dining at restaurants that specialize in Garifuna cuisine, which blends African and Caribbean influences. You should definitely try cassava bread, Machuca, Hudut sere and fried fish when visiting Hopkins on Garifuna Settlement Day on November 19th.

Make time to visit Xunantunich Mayan Ruins and El Castillo while in the area; both serve as cultural landmarks showcasing Garifuna heritage. Indulge in exploring Monkey River to spot exotic wildlife like iguanas and howler monkeys.

2. Learn to dance

As you drive through Hopkins, it may appear to be a quiet beach town; but once parked and walking the streets you’ll soon discover there is so much more than meets the eye. Colorful wooden homes line its streets while local eateries like Love on the Rocks and Ella’s Cool Spot draw both tourists and Garifuna residents alike. Hopkins Village also offers several bars and music venues which bring vibrancy into its vibrant community.

Drumming is a central element of Garifuna culture and you can gain more knowledge through an educational tour or class. Your hotel may offer this option or check out Driftwood Beach Bar and Fred’s Lime Tree for regular drumming nights with delicious food options.

Visit Lebeha Drumming Center and learn how to “punta” to the rhythm of primo and segundo drums while also gaining an insight into the Garifuna religion, which blends Catholicism with African beliefs. In addition, the center offers natural remedies made using traditional Garifuna medicinal plants.

GADI (Garifuna Dance and Music Institute), located in Hopkins, offers cooking and dance lessons as well as authentic dishes like Hudut (made of grated plantains and bananas cooked in coconut milk). Furthermore, there is an exhibit gallery housing musical instruments, floral costumes, and artifacts from Garifuna culture as well as cultural experiences like dancing, drumming and learning the language.

3. Take a drumming tour

Garifuna culture can best be experienced through music and dancing, so the best way to experience its vibrant soulful culture is on a drumming tour. Shows can be found at hotels like Lodge at Jaguar Reef and Lebeha Drumming Center; some tours may even offer lessons! Other popular activities in Hopkins include visiting Monkey River with its population of howler monkeys and iguanas as well as taking an all-day tour to ATM Cave for swimming – two iconic landmarks of Belize!

Hopkins wouldn’t be complete without tasting its local cuisine! Garifuna restaurants provide a selection of dishes inspired by Caribbean, African and Central American influences. Hudut is an incredible dish made of grated cassava and bananas cooked in coconut milk, or try Guava Pie as a delectable sweet treat that is popular at birthday parties and wedding receptions within the community.

While in Hopkins, be sure to visit a drumming center to enjoy professional drumming shows or workshops. Lebeha Drumming Center serves as one of the main hubs of Garifuna culture and welcomes visitors. Their drumming sessions will surely get your feet tapping!

The Lebeha Center, conveniently situated on the northern edge of Hopkins and easily accessible via car or foot, provides drum lessons so that anyone can become their own drummer! Plus you can purchase Garifuna-made drumming CDs in their shop. Donations are always welcomed and greatly appreciated or bring something small as a token of your gratitude if possible!

4. Visit a Garifuna community-based organization

Garifuna people — descendants of Africans and Indians in the Caribbean — possess their own distinct culture that includes music, cuisine, dance and language. One way to experience it is through visiting one of Hopkins’ community-based organizations dedicated to Garifuna preservation and education – these organizations provide visitors with hands-on interactions with local culture.

Lebeha Drumming Center of Hopkins provides drumming lessons for travelers interested in Garifuna music. Co-founder Jabbar Lambey offers basic drumming lessons using traditional Punta drums made of mahogany covered in deerskin, tuned with ropes. In addition, guests can attend performances hosted at this center located in Hopkins.

Many Garifuna organizations also provide educational and cultural experiences for visitors, such as cooking classes and language lessons. At Queen Bean in Hopkins, for instance, travelers assist Marilyn Dyanne Martinez and Victoria Yolanda Bermudez in preparing a traditional Garifuna meal of Hudut: green-ripened plantains boiled and mashed together with fish coconut stew and spices like garlic, ginger, nutmeg and habaneros seasoned with garlic, ginger nutmeg habanero peppers; also served are cassava bread bundiga which incorporates grated bananas/plantains into a pot cooked in coconut milk!

Travelers to Hopkins can learn a great deal about Garifuna culture simply by walking around and observing. Many shops carry authentic Garifuna goods, including bowls made from Belizean hardwoods, baskets, slate carvings and handmade dolls made by Garifuna artists. Another way to gain a glimpse of local Garifuna life is by attending festivals or celebrations; for instance in November Hopkins holds its Garifuna Settlement Day with parades and pageants!

5. Attend a Garifuna ceremony or festival

Hopkins, like other villages around Belize, embraces Garifuna culture as part of everyday life. From attending drumming lessons to visiting community-based organizations dedicated to this unique tradition – there are various opportunities available to you to experience this vibrant tradition and its vibrant community spirit.

Music is an integral component of Garifuna culture, and the best way to experience it is at a local concert. The Lebeha Drumming Center provides drumming lessons with co-founder Jabbar Lambey happy to teach punta drumming techniques. You may also catch Garifuna singers and dancers performing during November’s Mangu Festival or catch musicians performing at Driftwood or The Caribbean Reef bars.

Assimilate into Garifuna culture with an all-inclusive stay at Parrot Cove beachfront Resort. Travelers can select from among a selection of room options, including junior suites with private plunge pools and two-story villas that can host families of four.

Visit one of the Garifuna-run restaurants for an exquisite culinary experience. At Queen Bean, cooks Marilyn Dyanne Martinez and Victoria Yolanda Bermudez invite guests to help them prepare traditional Garifuna meals such as Hudut – green-ripened plantains mixed with boiled okra, garlic, habaneros peppers and coconut milk – or their signature dish Bundiga which combines fish and plantains for an irresistibly tasty package!

An unforgettable trip to Hopkins would not be complete without tasting its delectable cuisine. Look out for beach vendors offering up delicious gwetu, made of green plantains, condensed milk, coconut milk and nutmeg in tall Styrofoam cups or visit Herbal Healers Tea Bar & Gift Shop where Krishna Castillo and Desiree Baptist offer herbal salves, local wine and organic teas – or look for beach vendors selling gwetu in tall cups on the beach!