Monday, May 23, 2016

Hopkins; The 10 mile circle of all things Belize


There were many things that drew me to Belize 12 years ago when my wife and I decided it was time to leave the un -relentless Alaskan Winters behind. I've always been an end of the roader, yet one with Champagne and filet mignon tastes. Indeed Alaska supplied us with an extremely rural and wild setting whilst our fine dining restaurant there thrived selling only the finest dinners and wines.
    The allure of Belize to us was first and foremost its nearly perfect climate, especially on the coast. highs in the mid 80's lows in the low 70's almost year round with seasonal variances nudging that median temperature by 8 degrees in either direct.
    The Barrier reef, the second largest in the world and the largest in the western hemisphere not only make for great snorkeling, diving and fishing, but also protect us from a lot of the extreme weather and currents so that swimming can almost be like swimming in a lake.
   Add to that pristine jungles and a total human population of under 350,000, great seafood, fruit, produce Mayan organic farms and small boutique butchers and farmers and the cornucopia of reasons to make Belize our permanent residence and place of business was nearly synched. we would need to make our exploratory trip down and see how we like it for ourselves. this trip would take us to all of the main destinations of Belize and would decide on our next move. we hit them all and like Goldilocks, had our opinion's of them all (though we thoroughly enjoyed them all and do to this day, making them our permanent residence is another thing .)
Ambergris Caye and San Pedro... Much too busy, touristy and Americanized . A great place to visit and party, but also limited in any activities due to being an Island of course.

Caye Caulker...a little more our speed, but more catering to the back packer crowd and again on an island limiting the things there are to do.

Belize City.... Forget it, Big City in Central America and all that comes with it.

San Ignacio...Nice Spanish flavored City and great Mayan Cultural hot bed, but very hot and not close enough to the sea for us.

Placencia...11 years ago we could already feel the signs of it turning into another San Pedro, a little too busy for us small town folks, didn't really have a friendly, welcoming feel for us. We love to visit there  now for an afternoon.

Punta Gorda....Not really any Beach, too far from most places that we want to visit. Quaint and nice folks, but we really wanted some beach.

Hopkins...Behold Hopkins, just right for this Goldilocks. Now we get to the point: Hopkins has all things Belize in a 10 mile radius and the rest of the country is entirely available to us from  our central location on the coast in just about 2 and a half hours except the extreme North.

Here is what you can find in this 10 mile radius circle around Hopkins:

The Best Beaches in Belize
 
Closest on the mainland to the Barrie Reef


 Great fishing and snorkeling all around
 
 
 
3 Distinct and alive Cultures willing to share them with you:
This includes the Mayans From Maya Center where you can visit an organic Mayan Cacao farm and learn to make chocolate the Mayan Way and even make your own chocolate, Visit a Mayan Medicinal healer who will explain how many of todays medicines derived from Rainforest Remedies in use for centuries:
The Creole culture from Sittee River Village, just half mile West of Hopkins are always anxious to take you on a river trip that can show you how their ancestors got everything they needed to survive on the river and the surrounding fertile soil. they will even bring you on a night trip to Anderson Lagoon where you can visit a bioluminescent "Burn Waters" at night and spot crocodiles, night herons and all of the nocturnal creatures that abound around this quintessential jungle river.
 
The Garifuna of Hopkins....Where the young children still speak the African based language of the Garinagu, drumming abounds and their own distinct music of Paranda , Punta and ethnic blends can still be heard daily in the Village. You can take the Garifuna one on one immersion tour, learning the history, drumming, cooking and musical culture of these rich peoples who settled all over the Caribbean and Central America in small groups in the late 1700's. You can still get a traditional Garifuna meal at one of the over 30 restaurants in the village. Or watch an old fisherman making a dugout by hand for his sons to fish for the snapper and barracuda in the Hopkins Bay that will feed the village locals. 

But there is so much more in this 10 mile Hopkins circle of all things Belize: 3 national Wild life refuges lie in that Circle. The first is the Marine refuge of Southwater Caye Marine reserve, just a 15 minute boat trip to some of the best diving, snorkeling and fishing in Belize.
 
In addition to the Marine Reserve at Southwater, 2 National parks lay just 6 miles inland to form nearly 15,000 acres of rainforest that from our coastal location go west all the way to the Guatemalan border and together are home to 7 pristine waterfalls, all with in hiking distance. These 2 parks,  Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve and Mayflower Bocawina National Park  can provide great full time activities hiking to waterfalls and swimming under the falls, horseback riding, hiking to fantastic majestic view points, wild life and bird viewing opportunities and a plethora of flora that can be explained to you by seasoned guides. indeed 4 very distinct micro eco systems are at your doorstep from Hopkins. The coastal area, wetlands savannah, transition between the savannah and the mountains and the Mayan Mountain Rainforest themselves offer a diverse area for birding and hiking..
 
 
 
 
 
Mayflower national park in addition is home to our partners in adventure tourism and now has the longest Zip Line in Belize, Jungle Canopy walks and even opportunities to Waterfall Rappel.
 
All of these activities are available in this 10 mile circle, not to mention over 30 restaurants, a world class Spa, hiking and biking and 2 rivers to kayak, stunning sunsets and sunrises and amazingly friendly locals, but with in a just a more miles, the entire country is still open for you to see and still be back on the beach to enjoy a sunset cocktail and great diner overlooking the sea.
 
 
 
 
 
Indeed leaving at 7 am can bring you to the Ruins of Xuanantunich in about 2 hours, where your guide will give you an interpretation of the most excavated Mayan ruins in Belize. you can have lunch after wards and still stop at the St Herman's Cave on the way back to do a underground cave tube float and learn a little about the Mayan history with cave, which were believed to be the gateway to the Mayan Underworld .
 
Or depart to the South 1 hour and visit Placencia where we will take you by boat to the famous Monkey River where you will see Black Faced Howler Monkeys, Manatees and Crocodiles as well as a plethora of birds and flora.
 
 
You can continue south and we can show you a working Spice Farm, and the Southern Ruins of Lim Ni Punit and Lubaan Tun, just about 1.5 hours away.
 
Belize ...YES
Hopkins Absolutely, Welcome to the 10 mile radius of All things Belize, you'd better Belize It!




Monday, March 30, 2015

Foodie Tour Belize

Its that time of year again. time to start planning a great getaway after a long hard winter. If you are a Foodie and can travel in the first week of October, then our intimate Culinary Tour for 2015 is exactly what you are looking for. Scheduled for October 3-10th, let Tony and Angela show you the gastronomic Belize equivalent to an all out food fest.
Its roamantic
 

Visit local produce markets and farms

Enjoy world class cuisine in an unforgettable atmosphere

See how we bring it from farm to fork

Hands on cooking experiences with Chef Tony

Tasting Dinners

Private wine tastings

Seafood galore!

Recipe cards included

Fresh fruits from Belize!

Surf and Turf of course!

Contact us today! Only 6 couples will be taken for this amazing event!
Here is the itinerary :

Belize Culinary Tour 2015- Oct. 3-10

We are now taking reservations for our Belize Culinary Tour to be held for 7 days October 3-10th. Only 6 couples will be taken on a first come, first served basis. This is a package for Foodies that will be guided by Tony and Angela Marsico, lifelong Foodies. 1st class accommodations in our brand new Boutique Hotel Suites and travel in comfort in our fully air-conditioned deluxe shuttle.

Here is what you get:

October 3rd: Arrive Beaches and Dreams and get comfortable in your room. We will meet on the fabulous Roof top dining area for a sunset cocktail and appetizer reception as we go over our itinerary for the next 6 days. Down to the open air dining room on the Beachfront for a 4 course chef’s dinner and wine sampling. Enjoy the rest of the evening sitting on the dock and listening to the waves and breeze through the palms.

October 4th: 7 am: Belizean Style Breakfast of fry jacks, eggs and all the Belizean sides and lots of fresh Guatemalan Coffee.   8:30: We will depart for the South to go to a working Mayan Family farm to see how the past has melded with the present as we tour their organic gardens, harvest some of their ingredients, make corn tortillas and enjoy the Mayan Lunch we just helped prepare. See the Video here: https://vimeo.com/album/2457686/video/70444247. After this tour, we will head back where you will have a couple of hours to enjoy the beach and relax before we go to the Barracuda Bar and Grill for a Fresh Fish sampling dinner featuring 3 different local fish and 6 preparations. Tony will talk about the different characteristics of the fish and we’ll try 3 different wines with them and see how the wine changes the flavor of each dish.

October 5th: This is Chef Tony’s  Birthday : 7 am breakfast buffet with fresh fruit, yogurt, eggs and Angela’s breakfast pastry. At 8:30, we will set sail on the Catamaran Utopia for a full day cruising and Tapas dining. We can snorkel or fish and you will get to see the second largest Barrier Reef in the world. Tony will prepare a variety of seafood and smoked items and vegetarian and the feast will last all day. You can enjoy the local rum and beer if you like on this trip. We will return at around 4 and have a little down time before we meet again on the Roof Top for Tony’s Gastronomic Birthday Celebration featuring some authentic Jamaican Jerk items and Tony’s favorite desert: Angela’s fabulous Key Lime pie.

October 6th: 7 am Breakfast of Tony’s famous Tuscan style eggs. These are eggs poached and served in a light chicken broth with a hint of lemon and garlic and topped with Asiago cheese, A great way to start the day in the tropics.  There will be lots of fresh fruit always.  8:30 we will depart to a working spice farm for a 1.5 hour tour. We will see how roasting changes the flavor of many spices we use daily and see the spices on the various plants. After we leave there, we’ll stop at another farm and see one of the largest varieties of fruit trees in one place in Belize. We will also tour the botanical garden here before we have a multi course lunch prepared by the owner of the farm, who is also a very accomplished chef. We’ll get back around 3 and you can enjoy the rest of the afternoon longing around the pool or sunning on the beach. We will meet at 6 for a wine tasting and 8 course Chef’s sampler dinner with narration on the food preparation.

October 7: Garifuna Cultural Day: The Garifuna are and African based peoples that live in Hopkins and have their own cuisine with hints of African and Caribbean.  Late breakfast at 8am, then a free morning. At 11:30 we will go to a village restaurant for a traditional Garifuna Lunch. We will  go tot the Village Drumming center and learn about the distinct qualities of Garifuna Drumming and see some great drumming demonstrations. We will be back to the beach by late afternoon and meet on the roof top again for a surf and turf extravaganza.

October 8: Adventure day: After an 8am breakfast, you can choose any of our 3 choices for your inland adventure. Zip Line Belize’s longest Zip Line, Jungle Horseback riding, or Cave tubing. Lunch will be served on any of these trips and you will return for some relaxation in early afternoon.  Dinner in the dining room featuring Lobster Fest. Lobster prepared 8 different ways!

October 9th:  Cooking Lesson-After 7 am. Breakfast we’ll take a ride into the Dangirga Market and shop for some fresh ingredients for our Caribbean Tropical Feast . we’ll source the ingredients for a predetermined  party menu and then head back to the Barracuda Kitchen to learn how to prepare a fabulous festival of Caribbean Gastronomical delights perfect for entertaining.  You ‘ll get recipe cards so that when you go back home, you will be able to put on your own Caribbean Party in the middle of the winter. We’ll dine on the roof top for dinner again with all of the food we learned to make.

October 10th :After an 8 am breakfast, you’ll get your official Belizean Foodie T shirt and get ready to head home.  Depending on peoples departure times, we may be able to do a ground shuttle back to Belize City and stop at the zoo or else you will fly back to catch your outgoing flight.:     

 

Price per couple………….$3300 USD

What is included: All food, lodging, transfers, guide fees, activities,  wines during tastings, T-Shirt, Recipes and taxes.

What is not included: Gratuities and any extra alcoholic beverages.  You will get happy hour pricing on drinks during your entire stay.

Follow this link..... www.beachesanddreams.com

You'd better Belize It!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tours from Hopkins, Belize

The think about Hopkins, Belize and Beaches and Dreams is that we are so centrally located on the coast of Belize, that the entire country is at our front door so that we can visit virtually any of the vast destinations for tours on any given day.Fishing, Snorkeling, Diving and sailing on the sea right from our dock are options for marine tours. Cave Tubing, Zip Lining, Mayan Ruins, Rainforest Hiking, Birdwatching, Culinary Tours,  
and so much more are available for daily activities and our tour company at Beaches and Dreams
can help you explore all of Belize from a single destination and on a budget.




Our guides are personable local Belizeans who have a passion for what they do. Our fishing is extrodinary and we ofer all types:
fly Fishing, trolling, deep sea fishing and family fun trips that allow kids to drop fish on ultra light gear for 1-10 pound snapper, grouper, jacks, barracuda and a plethora of other fish. we love to have families and never put you with a giant group unless you are alrady part of that group. Snorkeling, and fishing can even be combined so that you and a significant other are the onoy ones on pone of our skiffs on a private full day trip wtrih fabulous shore lunch. I always tell a couple, you own the boat for the day. if you want to fish more, then fish more. If you are enjoying a spot for snorkeling with giant queen angelfish schools, then stay and do that. it is your once in a life time vacation and you shouldn't be at the whim of what others in a large canned group tour may want to do. We offer complete customized packages so that you can get an all inclusive Belize vacation just to suit you desires.

Two great parks are only a half hour away offering amazing jungle experiences like zip lining and waterfall rappelling. wild life abounds at Cockscomb Basin Jaguar preserve. this park has over 7000 acres of protected rainforest. Peccaries, Howler Monkeys, Deer, and all of the large cats of Belize all live in this park, which goes nearly to the Guatemalan border. Birdwatching in these 2 areas is some of the best in the world. Indeed Hopkins is surrounded by natual wonders encompassing many different eco systems in a 10 mile radius. Coastal Mangroves and Beach lead to a savannah wetlands that lead to the Mayan Mountains. The coast leads out to the worlds second largest barrier reef and unlimited island playgrounds.


Belize's natural wonders are all open to you fom a single destination.Explore Mayan ruins or go deep into the Earth at one of the cave sites on a once in a lifetime guided trip.....YOU"D BETTER BELIZE IT!