Time for clear heads and fresh air.
The adjustment has been hard, and we all need a break :-/ Spring break couldn’t have come at a better time. We’re three months into our new lives, and this feels like a good time to pause, look back, and see how everyone is doing… maybe decompress a bit with some adventure and carefree living; if only for a week or so.
Belize had been on my list of places to see for some time. So I busted out the passports and started doing the research. The boys will need some good solid structure to feel comfortable, so something resort-ish was what I felt was necessary; pool, food, activities, beach… all only steps from a bungalow. Almond Beach in Hopkins is what I landed on.
Heading inland from Belize City, we make our way through the capital city, Belmopan, down to Hopkins and Almond Beach. Instead of building new bridges, the roads were connected to the defunct rail lines to utilize their existing infrastructure. Clever, but tricky! One at a time only over these old railway bridges!
Here we are!
Almond Beach resort in Hopkins, central coast area, was a good mix of amenities, and proximity to local influence. Not at all a giant sprawling tourist mecca, but enough creature comforts to unwind rather carefree. Great pool, beach with pier for ocean swimming, snack shop by the pool for smoothies and ice cream, pool-side bar, excellent restaurant, and finally, on-site adventure planning!
Our first night in Belize included some local culture with a dance performance after dinner. The hotel restaurant was well above average for quality of menu and service. Almond Beach was just a half-mile or so down a dusty, dirt road from Hopkins, and the stretch was littered with a fine selection of local and ExPat establishments.
St. Herman’s cave and the Blue Hole
For our first adventure, we headed to St. Herman’s cave for some cave tubing, and finished at Blue Hole swimming area. We followed about a half-mile of underground river on tubes with a guide, through low passage ways, and massive high ceiling caverns with roosting bats. The swimming hole is where the waters of the underground river reach the surface. The passageway is blocked by boulders so you cannot pass from the cave to the surface through the water. The water here is breathtakingly clear and so refreshing to swim in, surrounded by the overhanging jungle.
Xunantunich Mayan Ruins
On Belize’s western boarder with Guatemala, across the Mopan river from San Jose Succotz, lies and extensive array of Mayan ruins waiting to be explored. After traversing the breadth of the entire country, you wait in line at the ferry point to board a hand-cranked ferry to get you across the Mopan river, to the base of the ruins. The drive is long and bumpy, so take care if you’re prone to motion sickness, just ask Collin!
Sittee River and Anderson’s (Bio-luminescent) Lagoon
This was easily one of the greatest contributing factors to my choice of location in Belize. I was aware of the bio-luminescent body prior to the trip, and was not going to miss the opportunity to get more familiar with it. This particular adventure was the clear winner when reminiscing of the best parts of the visit to Belize. The marina on the river was very close to where we were staying, so it was an easy excursion for everyone. The boat ride up and down the river offered a close-up perspective of the local river flora and fauna. The wildlife was mostly small mammals and birds, with an occasional crocodile. These crocs are a rather small species and were quite difficult to locate along the river. They are quite reserved and not at all eager to interact with human observers, but that didn’t make the prospect of swimming any less stressful ;-) Yes, I said swimming… Not in the river, but in the lagoon. However, access to the lagoon is via a natural channel through the swampy mangroves linking the river and the lagoon. The lagoon opens to the ocean, so its water is brackish, as it’s a mix of the salty ocean water, and the fresh river water… this apparently also keeps the crocs out of the lagoon.
Sleepy doesn’t even begin to describe Hopkins; and that’s not a bad thing. That kind of description might just fit the entire country for all I know, and that wouldn’t be bad either.