We’d come from New York, New Orleans, Chicago, and Flores — three by plane, one by bus. It had been a long journey to get to a tiny fisherman’s village about three hours south of Belize City. But as we unloaded onto the sandy paths of Hopkins Bay Resort, any travel fatigue we might have been experiencing quickly melted away.
Yes. This? This would most certainly do for the first stop of our Baackes-Allen Belize Takeover.
Hopkins Bay Resort is a sprawling beach-front property at the far north end of the tiny village of Hopkins. It consists of freestanding villas arranged around two pools, the chic poolside Drum Bar, and the main gathering space, the Rhum Shack.
The Rhum Shack was something straight out of the glossy pages of a travel magazine, a whimsically designed backdrop for a winning social media profile picture around every corner. “This,” Olivia had declared, “is what Instagram dreams are made of.”
This is what colorful Caribbean dreams are made of.
Hopkins Bay Resort consists of freestanding villas arranged into private one, two, and three bedroom units with full kitchens. Book one bedroom and you’ll get the upstairs, book the two bedroom and you’ll get the downstairs, book the three bedroom and the entire villa will be yours.
We were in a two bedroom, two bathroom villa that angled out towards the sea, just steps from the edge of the water.
While the units are not quite as modern as the newly renovated bar and restaurant, they are incredibly spacious and well-appointed. We loved having two full bedrooms and bathrooms, a full kitchen and plenty of room to lounge. The weather was somewhat temperamental throughout our stay, and when it was drizzling we weren’t stuck going stir crazy in a tiny hotel room — we had plenty of room to spread out and read, relax, and watch movies on the living room’s large flatscreen.
I also really appreciated the in-room water jugs, which allowed us to refill our own bottles and keep consumption of plastic down. (Heading to Central America? Pack a reusable water bottle — I found many places, from hostels to high end hotels, offered free refills of clean filtered water!)
The real beauty of Hopkins Bay, however, lies outside the sprawling front porch.
Like any family vacation, ours was rife with silliness, from photo-bombed selfies to hammock hide-and-seek. Occasionally we also pretended to be normal, and laid by the beach.
But we had more on the agenda than swinging in a hammock all day, fun as that too can be. One of my favorite perks of Hopkins Bay Resort is that they offer free kayaks and free bikes to guests — great ways to see all the beauty Hopkins has to offer. One afternoon, we each grabbed a set of wheels to pedal our way up and down this one-road town.
We didn’t get far — literally right next door — before we stopped for lunch at Driftwood Pizza. This place is what people conjure in their minds when they’re daydreaming about a tropical Central American paradise. Dreadlocked musicians swinging in nearby hammocks, local kids inviting you to join a game of beach volleyball, and picnic tables strewn along a palm-lined stretch of sand.
Oh, and the delicious pizza didn’t hurt either.
Afterwards, we burned off our carb-fest by tooling around town a bit. Hopkins is teeny tiny, with just about 1,000 residents and one main dirt road. We loved passing by the brightly colored buildings and sweetly hand-painted signs, and didn’t pass a single person without receiving a friendly wave, smile, or greeting.
For a small village, Hopkins had an impressive array of places to eat. We ate the majority of our meals right at Hopkins Bay Beach Resort at the Rhum Shack, which served up breakfast, lunch and dinner, and features live music in the form of local Garifuna drumming one night a week (if you happen to miss that night, don’t fret — there are opportunities to catch it all over town!)
While the kitchen closed a tad early for our tastes, we loved everything else about this restaurant.
However, our hands down most unique dining experience took place right in our villa kitchen. Hopkins Bay offers something called a Garifuna Cooking Experience, in which a local woman comes over to cook regional specialties like Hudut while chatting about life in a laid-back fisherman’s village. While I can’t say Hudut is a new favorite meal, I still love everything about this idea — it celebrates local culture, provides a rewarding job in the community, creates a really authentic experience for visitors, and facilitates a genuine connection between travelers and locals.
Plus, it was hilarious watching my mom and sister try to use the human-size mortar and pestle.
Other local favorites eats were Love on the Rocks, a hot-plate restaurant, and, of course, Driftwood Pizza.
Our three days in Hopkins flew by — we all agreed we longed for four. Had the weather been better, we might have wished for even more! However, we did get a good taste of the area — one full day out on a fishing and snorkeling excursion (stay tuned for that post!), one full day exploring the resort and village, and two lazy half days before or after being in transit.
Hopkins is an interesting place. While the Drum Bar might feel like something out of a magazine spread, this is not a manicured all-inclusive in the Caribbean. When you need to get across town, you’re going to be dragging over potholes in a beat-up minivan packed with your cab driver’s kids. When you want to go souvenir shopping? You’ll be doing it out of a thatch-roof shack on the side of the road or via a ruthless beach vendor, rather than from a polished resort gift shop. Personally, I dig that. (Minus the beach vendor. Beach vendors make me want to scream and go sprinting into the ocean and hide under water breathing through a straw until they and their hand-thatched turtle figurines have moved onto the next unsuspecting tourist.) But, ahem. I do like things that are a little rough around the edges.
That said, we agreed that at Hopkins Bay had more of a condo vibe than a resort one — some standard resort amenities like a lobby, a gym, and a convenience shop were absent, and the staff is insanely sweet but service is somewhat lackadaisical. Still, who needs a lobby when you’ve got a big front porch, who needs a gym when you have an ocean to kayak on, and who needs a convenience store when your mom packs her own arsenal of rice cake snacks? If there are two words I’d use to describe Hopkins Bay Resort, they’d be family-friendly. And this family loved that.
Stay tuned for our snorkeling adventures in Hopkins!
Missed a post? Read all my Belize coverage here! Many thanks to Hopkins Bay Resort for hosting us and making our family trip so special. As always, you receive my honest opinions regardless of who is footing the bill.
Planning a trip to Belize for August 2015? You’re in luck! Hopkins Bay has a US$99 a night special, a full 60% off the rack rate, for August travel. That’s a serious deal.
Looks so nice! And I love your banana romper! How cute 🙂
Thanks Jennifer! Nabbed that on Khao San road in Bangkok!
This looks so cute! For whatever reason, I’m really craving lazy beach time these days which is VERY unlike me. In fact, it’s even got me considering a short stint on Koh Tao later this year with a couple of my favorite blonde lookalikes…
DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT…. Can you tell I like this idea?
ahhh, these pictures are BEAUTIFUL! and where can I find that banana romper!?!?
I snagged this one — and a matching watermelon version — on Khao San Road in Bangkok!
I LOVE that so many offer free, filtered water refills! Not to mention the bikes! This sounds like a lovely place to have a truly relaxing getaway. In South Africa, I was able to try the grinding process with the life-size mortar and pestle, so I totally understand how hard it is.
The water is an awesome perk. I wish more places in Southeast Asia would start to do the same!
These pictures are gorgeous, as always! So glad you all had fun… sometimes it’s nice to have a more relaxed space, less resort-like, but then some amenities are nice too. At least you get to run the gamut of experiences in your travels! 🙂
Indeed! With AirBnB and other house/condo rental places becoming so popular, this place is a really nice hybrid of the two experiences. Especially for people with young kids I can see how it would be nice to let them just kind of run wild in privacy, ha.
After seeing your pictures come up in your “Photo of the Week” when you were back in Belize, I’ve since looked up Hopkins Bay – maybe the perfect escape from frigid Canada this winter for me?! 😀
Looking forward to your snorkelling post! Were you able to snorkel the Belize Barrier Reef?! Please say yes!
Yes indeed I was! Stay tuned for the post tomorrow… I can’t wait!
These pictures are gorgeous!It looks like the perfect beach escape 🙂
Thanks Lorena! It was indeed.
When we were last in Hopkins we had a chance to eat at a little restaurant in town called Tina’s where you can eat a local dish called “Gibnut” and listen to “the best drummers in Belize”. It’s very much a local hangout. Really loved this little town.
That sounds awesome! With only three nights we didn’t have time to eat everywhere we would have liked to but I think we got a nice cross-sampling!
We never made it to Hopkins but got to experience the Garifuna culture in Livingstone. It looks like a nice beachy escape 🙂
I’ve got a Livingston post coming up! There are definitely similarities between the two communities.
Looks so neat 🙂 So nice to have this time with family. Belize looks fantastic!
It’s a dream. I’m not-so-secretly hoping this becomes a tradition for us!
You and your family look like you’re having an amazing time. I really like the concept of the Rhum Shack as it sounds slightly more “at home” and seeing your mum and sister bashing away at the local mortar and pestle must have been priceless.
Quite a delightful trip!
Thanks Victoria! Yeah, that was a hilarious night. Having someone come to our villa and not having to dress up and go out at the end of a long day was also the perfect vacation treat.
I love the sound of that Hudut meal, what a great idea!! Sounds like such a fun trip. It really makes a difference when you have accommodations that you don’t mind lounging around in sometimes, especially if there’s a chance of poor weather.
Especially with a group of four like ours! I would have been sad if we’d have been in two separate hotel rooms and couldn’t all hang together the morning the weather was crap.
What a cute place, definitely keeping in mind for Belize.
Just wait till you see the next one 🙂
Great pictures, so rich and colorful giving you all positive vibration and energy
There was definitely plenty of positive energy in the air on this trip 🙂 Thanks Chintan.
I, too, totally dig your banana romper!! It was perfect for this occasion. 🙂 Belize hasn’t really been on my travel radar, but your past two blog posts have really piqued my interest!
It’s an awesome destination, especially for first time travelers to Central America from the US. It has a distinctly Caribbean vibe that sets it apart from the rest of the region, but English is the official language, it’s easy to get to, and US dollars are widely accepted.
It’s funny how you mention the pizza. The best pizza experience (okay, so maybe three since I kept going back) I’ve ever had was in Jaco, Costa Rica. It surprised me, but Pizza Hut/Dominos/Papa Johns could never surpass its deliciousness! Basically, Costa Rica ruined my appreciation for pizza.
By the way, I just found your blog a month ago after I learned I was at a place in my life where I could travel lots and still be financially sound. I love everything about your blog; it has lots of character and personality! You’ve inspired me to check out Thailand in the near(ish) future.
Thank you Jess! That is music to any blogger’s ears — you’ve made me smile! One of my favorite pizza places in the world is in Koh Tao, Thailand — so I understand your appreciation for one one in Costa Rica 🙂
A romper? Is this what you call a playsuit in America-land?
I really love that you take so many angles of the accommodation you stay at! It really looks spacious and homey 🙂
Romper, playsuit, onsie… we use them interchangeably, though I think romper is most common stateside 🙂
My favorite thing about this post might be the restroom signs. Srsly though, you always manage to find the cutest, most colorful places! Belize has been on my list for a long time & this all looks very up my street.
I thought those were HILARIOUS. Oh and Becky, just you wait until I write about our jungle lodge. Just you wait.
Hopkins looks so great! We never made it there, but spent a week in Caye Caulker.
I love the looks of the lounging areas in the Rhum Shack. I don’t think I’d ever get off the swing if I went there!
Posts on Caye Caulker coming up soon — I loved it. PS: Congrats on the Today Show! How exciting!
Thanks! It’s been a whirlwind. Can’t wait to see the Caye Caulker post!
Sounds like you have enjoyed this a lot, such experience sharing post help us to be experience without traveling
I love to share my experiences with my readers and bring them for a little virtual trip 🙂
I may need to unsubscribe soon, my travel list is growing too long! Looks gorgeous, and lovely that you got to share this with family!
Don’t do it, Leigh — we’d miss you too much! 🙂
That banana playsuit is so cute!
Sounds like you all had a great girls holiday – can’t wait to see what else you got up to! xo
Thanks Amy! I’m loving reliving and sharing this trip!
OK, but can we talk about why the banana romper never made an appearance in Tennessee, please?!?
ASK KATY ABOUT THAT KRISTIN.
This is what my dreams will now be made of 🙂 Someone take me there now! Love all the little details…the mermaid sign – so cute!
I know! I think those might just be the cutest and most clever bathroom signs I’ve ever seen. Swoon!
This place is a perfect spot to unwind and delight in some quality time with loved ones. It’s really wonderful to enjoy a beautiful beach and lots of foods to try on.
Can’t disagree with you there, Chella. We had an amazing time!
I loved your pictures, also the place which you choosed to discover, it’s mervelous destination, makes person exited to live there. In reality, i wished i could be there.
I wish I could be back there too, Riad! We have that in common 🙂
OK. This place looks sensational. You’re killing me with all of these tropical places. Killing. Me.
I’ll meet you in another one in October 🙂
This looks utterly gorgeous! And I love the idea of having someone come and cook for you and talk to you all about the local lifestyle and culture. Seems like such a great idea – I wish more places did it!
We loved it even more at the sister resort Ka’ana, where they had a cute little kitchen set up just for this purpose! Love!
My family and I are going to Belize in early May and just booked at Hopkins Bay thanks to your recommendation! Can’t wait to enjoy all the area has to offer. Any suggestions on the most efficient/affordable way to get to Hopkins from Belize City?
Hey Jennifer! That is so exciting to hear — you’re going to have SUCH a blast. I’m going to dig around in my email and look for the contact info of the driver we used. I’ll email it to you!