Hopkins 2015 Mango Festival: Infectious Fun and Amazing Food in A Magical Village

The small village of Hopkins is known for a few things…the amazing location and long stretch of beach, the Garifuna culture and…the abundance of mango trees.

IMG_0967Walk down the main road of the village and some of the older trees are bursting with hundreds and hundreds of one of the world’s most delicious fruits.  The mango.

Here are some young mango entrepreneurs.


So when I saw that the local chapter of the BTIA was reviving the Mango Festival and making it bigger and better…I wanted to be there. (I posted a month or so ago:   5 Reasons to Be in Hopkins for the Mango Festival.)

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MANGOES!  And with games, food, crafts, music and the world renowned Garifuna Collective performing (many in their home village), I knew it was going to be a special event.

Photo by RoiJoy.com

Photo by RoiJoy.com

IMG_1037And it was…even more than expected.  Here are just some of my pictures.  And a few gorgeous ones from my friend Roi – a professional photographer (RoiJoy Photography) now living in Sittee RIver Point.  Follow him on instagram for some amazing photos around Belize.

Photo by RoiJoy.com

Photo by RoiJoy.com

We arrived and went right over to Chef Sean Kuylen’s CRAZY food rig…we had eaten at his Curve Bar the previous night and had been blown away.


A full blown kitchen…


Serving some amazing food.  Not your average corn dog style festival food.  The mango at just the right level of ripeness for each dish…green mango, tart and firm to ripe and sweet.  Sean, who grew up nearby in Dangriga, knows what he is doing with his local ingredients.


The jerk pork skewers, we had tried the night before – YUM…today’s pork pibil melted in your mouth.


Right next door were the lovely ladies from Flavors of Belize cookbook – Emaun and Tanya.


People were loving the turkey leg from the brand new Lucky Lobster…


Hopkins’ Bay’s Rhum Shack was selling out quickly…

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We bought a mango bar and mango popcorn from a lovely lady who swore she would never make this popcorn again.  TOO MUCH WORK!IMG_1009

We gawked at all the varieties of Miss Emma’s mangoes.

IMG_1010 IMG_1011I can’t get enough photos of mangoes.  In “instagram-speak” #MangoPorn.

IMG_1044We eyeballed her mango flans, crumbles, cobblers, mustards, pies, chutneys…my brain was spinning.  With a few sacks of mangoes…and jellies, chutneys…how many of these could we realistically bring back to San Pedro?


Miss Emma’s crew had also roasted a whole pig (yes…that’s a mango in his mouth) and was serving plates with mango sauce.


I bought some delicious cold coconut seaweed from the Seaweed Man.  Thickened with seaweed, flavored with nutmeg…it’s almost like egg nog…I love it.


Plus, like many things down here, it’s good for your back.  Your virility.

It was a warm day…thank goodness for all the tents.


These gorgeous ladies allowed me to take their photo as they cooled off in the shade of the old church.


There was a dominoes tournament at one end of the fest.  Slapping dominoes on the table seems critical.


And a volley ball tournie at the beach.


Photo by RoiJoy.com

Lovely lovely products…

Photo by RoiJoy.com

Photo by RoiJoy.com

and jewelry.  This by my friend at Kaj Expressions in Placencia.

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I met Chef Sean’s beautiful mother.  He was the youngest of 6.IMG_1026

Watched some couples trying to roll the mango without using their hands…oh my.

IMG_1030And then at 4pm SHARP – this event was pretty flawlessly organized – the Garifuna Collective performed.  Their joy is infectious…the music is just beautiful.

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This is their last show in Belize for a while…they are headed on a US tour.

This festival is fantastic.  If you enjoy mangoes, if you enjoy Belizean culture or food or music, you are SO going to want to attend next year.  And stay for at least a few nights…the bioluminescence, the disproportionate amount of great restaurants for such a small village, the gorgeous Sittee River, Mayflower Bocawina Park, the cayes, Cockscomb Jaguar Reserve, the birding, the people, the MANGOES…Hopkins is a very special spot.

And thank you SO much Roi for letting me borrow your gorgeous photos.  It was great to meet you.

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