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!