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Family Trip.What to expect in Hopkins, Snorkeling,Kayaking?

5 posts
Family Trip.What to expect in Hopkins, Snorkeling,Kayaking?

Cheers everyone! I'm headed to Hopkins August 1st - August 8 with my family, wife and a 6 & 8 year old. We are leaning towards renting a car and driving down from the airport, maybe stopping along the way for an attraction or two to break up the drive. We love watersports, the whole family knows how to kayak and snorkel, but we also love hiking, exploring and animals. We tent camp for fun so luxury is not a necessity.

We plan on a boating trip to the reef, but I was wondering if there are decent areas to snorkel right off land at or near Hopkins?

If there are rentals for kayaks or paddle boards?

Are gas stations easy to find, do they take credit cards?

I would welcome general advice or recommendations for the area.

Bonus questions for extra points: is there phone service (i have verizon international)? GPS (or should i print maps)? Should I pack a lot of bug spray? Weather to expect? Are there any cautions I should warn my kids about in the water when snorkeling (fire coral, jellyfish etc..) or land (fire ants, snakes)? Sorry about the question bomb, first time in the area.

7 replies to this topic
The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
Level Contributor
13,815 posts
331 reviews
1. Re: Family Trip.What to expect in Hopkins, Snorkeling,Kayaking?

I'll take on a few of these and hopefully others will chime in. No snorkeling to speak of off shore - any of that will require a boat trip. Consider a stop at the Belize Zoo, the Inland Blue Hole (and maybe St. Herman's Cave?) before arriving. For hiking, Cockscomb Preserve and the Mayflower Bocawina site. Definitely warn of deadly snakes and watch your kids - there are fer de lance in Belize (locals call them Tommy Goffs); probably fire ants, too, though I've not connected with either snakes or fire ants in our trips to Belize. I've read sand flies can be bad in Hopkins if the breeze dies away; try bringing strong bug stuff but any sort of oil works wonders (baby oil, vegetable oil) because they stick to it, can't bite through. Not sure how common mosquitos are there - they've been horrendous in Cockscomb and nearby Sittee River but we didn't suffer much from them or sand flies during our Hopkins visits.

Our experience with August weather is rain mainly at night unless there's a tropical storm or hurricane passing near (rare for August but in August 2012 impacted our trip); sometimes there's a mini dry spell in August. Generally it will be hot and humid, drink lots of water.

We really enjoy Hopkins. Don't miss an evening of Garifuna drumming at the Lebeha Center: www.lebeha.com Happy trails!

Yucatan Peninsula...
Destination Expert
for Yucatan Peninsula
Level Contributor
9,563 posts
2. Re: Family Trip.What to expect in Hopkins, Snorkeling,Kayaking?

> "wondering if there are decent areas to snorkel right off land at or near Hopkins?"

You can snorkel from shore, but it won't be very interesting. The reef is the best place, and that's farther out -- you need a boat.

> "Are gas stations easy to find, do they take credit cards?"

I don't know about Hopkins. There was one about 500 metres north of the junction of the Hummingbird & Southern Highways. And there would have to be at least one at Dangriga? I know there's one at Placencia.

Check out Bocawina for zip-lines and other rain-forest activities. Also Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary.

Weather -- it does rain at that time of year, and sometimes systems can strengthen into tropical storms.

Edited: 05 July 2018, 20:40
Hopkins, Belize
Level Contributor
125 posts
7 reviews
3. Re: Family Trip.What to expect in Hopkins, Snorkeling,Kayaking?

Since your family enjoys the water and water sports, may I suggest a day or two out at the cayes? The water is amazing and the family can snorkel right of the shore. Places like JoJoe's, include paddle boards and kayaks in their price so kids can play for a few minutes and stop rather than having to rent for two to four hours at a time. Tobacco Caye is a five acre island and since you don't mind camping works well because it's rustic with little water pressure and such, but fun to feel like you are at your own little island.

The zoo is a must as it's more like an education center. If you have an early morning flight out, it's nice to stay the day before at the zoo, do a night tour, do a morning tour while all the animals are feeding and out before it gets hot, then have an uneventful drive to the airport. They have hiking trails, kayaks, tubes,and more.

Stop on Guanacaste National Park just outside of Belmopan for a quick restroom break. Almost every time I have been the howler monkeys are howling. There is no long hiking involved or anything as it's right off the highway.

Country Barn makes another good stop to stretch ones legs, get a snack, and eat some ice cream. Inland Blue Hole to cool off. Citrus Products of Belize has a little juice stand and their juice usually has ice chips in it for a refreshing taste.

Xaibel Shell Gas Station is the station Mister B is referring to and they have great food made several times a day and sell out. Waffle sandwiches, johnny cakes, coconut tarts, and bread pudding for a few Belize dollars. There is also another one 12 miles west of it and another before getting into Dangria--an Uno. They take credit cards but you have to go inside to pay. Your rental company will give you a map and the country's gas stations are marked on it. In Hopkins, we do not have a gas station but we have a fella named Stephen who sells gas by the gallon (for a premium) but one gallon will get you to Xaibell where you can fill up. We also have gas in Sittee River Marina, but it also is a premium price.

Entire family would enjoy going to Cockscomb and renting a tube to float the river.

GPS works. Verizon phone--need to go to Dangriga and go to the BTL office for a sims card for $22.50BZ. Smart services AT&T. Dangriga is 20-minutes away from Hopkins. ATM machine there too. (Our doesn't usually work for international travelers.)

Enjoy Hopkins!

5 posts
4. Re: Family Trip.What to expect in Hopkins, Snorkeling,Kayaking?

WOW! Amazing answers! love this forum! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer. We are so excited to visit Belize and your posts have added to the excitement! We have made some decisions based on your answers and I have a few follow up questions.

We are staying at Coconut Row in Hopkins and have a car rental for the week, should we do excursions on our own (to save money, things are adding up faster than I thought) or should we do it trough the hotel, for example, we want to do a river tubing trip, should we plan it with the hotel or is there a separate company that does it?

I've also read a lot about the Cayes that you mentioned and ideally we would love to do a overnight trip to one, or at least a full day trip, we are leaning towards happy go lucky tours but would appreciate any feedback on this choice or any info about recommended travel to the cayes.

Thanks again for all the valuable information!

Hopkins, Belize
Level Contributor
125 posts
7 reviews
5. Re: Family Trip.What to expect in Hopkins, Snorkeling,Kayaking?

Many of the tours you can do on your own and tour guides are not necessary--like Cockscomb, Mayflower Bocawina, the zoo, etc. As I mentioned, the family can drive to Cockscomb and rent tubes there to float the river and this is a very inexpensive tour--I can't remember exact pricing, but something like $10 park entry fee and $5 for an inner tube. Noawell's Fishing and Tours also does a great job too. I think Noawell was one of the first guides in the village and his sons are guides too. Also, if you do want to hire a guide (for hiking, etc.), it's better to book directly with them to have the best pricing. Have fun!

3 posts
6. Re: Family Trip.What to expect in Hopkins, Snorkeling,Kayaking?

How did your trip go? We are spending 4 nights in Hopkins and 5 on Ambergris next July with 2 boys - 11 and 9. We will be renting a car and driving to Hopkins. Any tips on car rentals, must see’s, etc? We will also be staying at Coconut Row so curious how you liked it there.

5 posts
7. Re: Family Trip.What to expect in Hopkins, Snorkeling,Kayaking?

Hi! Trip went great! Kids Loved it, we loved it.

We rental from crystal car rental, no complaints, they give you a cooler that we found very useful. There are huge speed bumps near towns so be careful when driving I pre-downloaded Maps on my cell phone and so my GPS worked perfect. Here is a list of the activities we did.

1. ZOO, we stopped by the Zoo on the way from the airport. a Must stop, place is great and I highly recommend the jaguar encounter. I will talk about it for the rest of my life. Food at the place was great.

2. Snorkeling the Reef, we arranged that through coconut row. Bring lotion towels, and maybe motion pills, it's quite a long ride on a small boat. But you may want to wait to do snorkeling if you are also staying at Ambergris caye.

3. Blue Hole National park- We visited the swimming hole, which is good for about an 1 hour if you want to swim and super close to Herman's cave, there we did hiking and the cave tubing. Bring Bug spray for any inland hiking trips.

4. Jaguar Reserve Nature Center - there we went on a hike to swim in a falls, we did the rookie hike and found it served us just great.

5. Placencia - one day there, it's like a little tourist town, definitely get the ice cream, Tuttifrutti Gelateria.

The kids love the water, so we spent a lot of time just swimming in the water in front of the Coconut row, we had a soccer ball and set up pick up games with the local kids, they had plenty of playmates, you can bring a soccer ball and then leave it the locals. You can't really snorkel right of the beach there, but that didn't stop my kids from playing in the water with their masks for hours on end.

Our two favorite restaurants were coconut husk (amazing) and drift wood pizza ( short beach walk from coconut row)

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