The civil parish was, until 1974, in the county of Suffolk. It has an area of 5.63 km² and in the 2001 census had a population of 2,706 in 1,166 households. For the purposes of local government, the parish falls within the district of Great Yarmouth.
The village is best known for hosting the World Indoor Bowls Championship and for its tourist industry. It has a regular, if infrequent bus service to Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft and the village maintains a post office, two local convenience stores, a village primary school, and several amusement arcades, take-away food venues and a chip shop. It once had its own station Hopton railway station, linking it to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft but this now closed.
Hopton-on-Sea should not be confused with the village of Hopton which is still in Suffolk but near to the Norfolk town of Diss.There is also a British Holidays Caravan Park, named Hopton Holiday Village. There is also a Hopton near Wirksworth in Derbyshire