Adventure Abounds in Belize
As you know, we are big fans of travel in Hawaii. Why do we love it? Not only are the islands insanely beautiful, they are also full of cultural experiences and food, some of the best beaches in the world, plenty of things to help you either chillax or spend your days enjoying the many heart pumping activities that abound on the islands. When it came to this year’s family getaway, I started looking at other places on our diverse planet that may offer similar things we look for in a family vacation, but with a different cultural experience. That is when I discovered the endless options for relaxation and adventure in Belize, and the travel adventure company:
I reached out to them to see what they had to offer for families, and what options were available for families with Celiac’s or other special dietary needs. It didn’t take long before we found the perfect package for our family adventure trip. We were going to be spending 6 nights in the Garifuna fishing village of Hopkins, Belize at Almond Beach Resort, and then 3 nights in a tree house in the jungle at Ian Anderson’s Cave Branch Adventure Lodge.
Hopkins is a small, coastal village of only around 1500 people, most of which are of the vibrant Garifuna Culture. They are known for their love of music, drumming in particular. We felt privileged to get to experience their culture and dance with them while in Hopkins.
We are big fans of beaches. In fact, I have even hilariously been called a stalker of beaches. But we were all super excited for our stay in the tree house. If we ever get the opportunity to visit Belize again, we will have to add a day or two so we can spend more time in the jungle. But first, the beach…..
Almond Beach Resort & Spa
One look at the above video and we knew this is where we wanted to go. After we were warmly welcomed, and given our welcome drinks (Dragon Fruit, Lime Juice, and rum for the grown ups, and without rum for the kiddos),
Andre gave us a tour of the resort and showed us to our room. We were staying in the Hummingbird Suite that included a large bathroom, bunk beds for the kids, a wrap around lanai, and a fully equipped kitchen with purified water.
The first thing our girls wanted to do after a long 24 hours of travel was jump in the POOL….
We were all pretty tired and could barely keep our eyes open. So instead of heading into Hopkins to get groceries, we decided to eat at the resort’s restaurant, The Paddle House. We discussed our dietary needs with the waitress. The chef told us to order anything we wanted on the menu, and he would adjust it to be gluten free. I was very grateful!!! My husband and I ordered the pork chops with mango sauce and cho cho, which looks like a pear, but is related to a squash. Our oldest daughter ordered the hog snapper with rice, and our youngest, the chicken with rice, though she was falling asleep at the table, so I don’t know how much she actually tasted…haha. Pleasantly stuffed, it did not take long for us all to be fast asleep.
In the morning, we rented one of the golf carts available at Almond Beach Resort and headed into Hopkins to get groceries at the market. If you are expecting a grocery store like we are used to in the states, you will be disappointed. But remember that we travel to experience how other people live, and I think going to a market is a great way to get a taste, literally, of local flavor. We stocked up on beans and rice, hard corn tortillas (there were no soft), some of the local hot sauce made by Marie Sharps, cheese, milk, juice, eggs, local jams, peanut butter, and rum. As I usually do, I packed a few loaves of gluten free bread, a lot of protein bars, trail mix, and a box of gluten free cereal. I was really glad I did because you will not find that in Hopkins. The next day, my oldest daughter and I checked out bikes from the adventure desk at the resort (they don’t cost extra) and headed in to find some fruits and veggies. This is also when we were reminded that Belize is a third world country and not everything that we are used to being able to get at home will be available here. Because of it being winter, there wasn’t a lot of options. We got some bananas, onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes and worked our meals around that.
The Adventure Desk….
is where all the fun begins. This is where you can check out kayaks, snorkel gear, paddle boards, beach toys and bikes all at no extra cost. You can also rent golf carts, either by the hour, or by the day. Renting Hobie Cats is also an option. And don’t forget to head to the spa and book a relaxing massage either in the spa, or on the pier.
It is at the adventure desk that you can book the incredible adventures that Belize offers. There are snorkel trips, dive trips, zip lining and waterfall rappelling, fishing, sunset river cruises, hikes to waterfalls, horseback riding, exploring caves and Mayan ruins, or learning to drum along with the Garifuna people. Many of the adventure trips include lunch and drinks, if it is a full day trip, or snacks for a half day. Some of the food was naturally gluten free like, plantain chips, rice and pineapple. But I was still glad I brought some extra protein bars and trail mix. The adventure trips we did while staying here were:
- Ziplining and Waterfall Rappelling at Bocawina Falls
- Scuba diving in the Southwater Caye Marine Reserve
- Snorkeling in the Southwater Caye Marine Reserve
I will do separate posts about those adventure trips soon. One thing I very much appreciate about Belize is that the people take pride in their beautiful country and work hard to preserve its natural resources. The diving I did in Belize was by far the best I have ever done in my life. I realize I haven’t even come close to diving everywhere in the world, but the health of the reef struck me right away. They are working hard to keep their reef system alive and taken care of. Being the second largest barrier reef system in the world means that is an enormous task. They have it figured out. There was an abundance of wildlife and coral and we were all in awe of the beauty under the sea.
Our stay at Almond Beach was fun, relaxing, and adventurous. We loved getting to know their hospitable staff. Each and every one of them always took a moment from their busy days to chat with us and take care of anything we needed. The beach was pristine, the water calm and the activities, abundant and so much fun. Remember if you ever need any help planning your own family adventures, please reach out to me. I love helping others plan their amazing vacations!!
In and around Hopkins, Belize
Coming soon!!! Our stay in the Belize Tree Houses…..