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The morning of our last full day in Hopkins Bay, I woke up anxious. The previous day, our planned excursion had been rescheduled due to spotty weather. This was our last chance. I ran to the window, and flung open the curtains to tentatively clear skies.

Snappily-named Cook-Your-Catch snorkeling and fishing adventure, here we come!

Hopkins, Belize

We made our way to the Sittee Point Marina and set off through a lush maze of mangroves. We chatted to our tour guide, Kenny, as well as a couple from Michigan that were also on the tour. Then we hit the open ocean.

Unfortunately, the good weather didn’t last long.

Family Vacation to Belize

Kenny shouted over the crashing waves and motor to promise that things would calm down once we reached the barrier reef — Belize’s is the second largest in the world. And he was right. While the clouds stubbornly clung to the sky, when we reached shallower waters again, the boat returned to a calm bob.

And then it was time for the fishing part of the tour to begin. I have to admit, I’m not a fisherwoman — my sole experience with it were two short-lived stints (not) catching piranhas in the Amazon river basin. I actually don’t even eat fish. That said, the Cook-Your-Catch tour is a signature excursion at Hopkins Bay Resort, and I’m all about being open to new experiences. And if I get to laugh at my little sister shrieking and being totally grossed out by bait fish? That’s just a bonus!

Fishing Tour, Hopkins, Belize

Fishing in Hopkins, Belize

After an interesting demonstration of caste net throwing, in which Kenny collected our bait sprats, we were back out on the open ocean — an ever calmer one this time, thankfully.

Olivia got really into it — or at least got really into pretending to be really into it.

Fishing Tour, Hopkins, Belize

Cook Your Catch Tour, Hopkins

Cook Your Catch Tour, Hopkins

Victory! Okay, at least a little one. The fish just weren’t biting, which was more than okay with our contingent of the tour. The Ohio couple seemed a little more disappointed by the lack of a big catch, but me? I was secretly rooting for the fish.

Fishing Tour, Hopkins, Belize

Next up was snorkel time! This was the part I was really excited about. Our first trip to Belize twelve years ago was the first time I’d ever seen coral reefs, and I remember the experience vividly. Now a seasoned and passionate scuba diver, I couldn’t wait to see how the memory held up.

So in we swam.

Snorkeling in Hopkins, Belize

Snorkeling in Hopkins, Belize

Snorkeling in Hopkins, Belize

There’s no contest — this was the best snorkeling I’ve ever done. The reefs were vibrant and healthy, the fish were colorful and diverse, and the waters were calm and clear. I loved pointing out my favorite underwater friends and telling my mom all about them. She even stayed in for extra credit when Olivia and Kirsten returned to the boat.

Coral Reef in Hopkins, Belize

Hopkins Snorkeling Tour

Though I was the reluctant last out of the water, even I eventually turned in my fins. Kenny promised that what came next would be worth it.

Cook Your Catch Tour, Hopkins

And as we approached the edge of Bread and Butter Cayes, I had to hand it to him — he was right.

Hopkins Snorkeling Tour

Bread and Butter Cayes, Belize

Hopkins Belize Tour

This little private island paradise was all ours, at least for a few hours. As we swung in rainbow-hued hammocks and stared up at the clear blue skies, we marveled at how close we’d come that morning to cancelling. What a mistake that would have been! Eventually, as Kenny and the island’s groundskeeper prepared the freshest lunch a foodie could dream of, we explored the little spit of sand.

Cook Your Catch Tour, Hopkins

Hopkins Belize Tour

Hopkins Belize Travel Blog

Starfish in Hopkins, Belize

Bread and Butter Cayes, Belize

Hopkins, Belize

Talk about gorgeous! Turns out, there’s a tiny hut available for rent on the island. “Next time,” my mom daydreamed, “we’ll add on a night here.” Can you imagine waking up to this?

Though Kenny offered us another round of either snorkeling or fishing, we couldn’t bring ourselves to leave Bread and Butter. Instead, we popped the champagne we’d packed in our beach bags and toasted to a day of vacation well done.

Bread and Butter Cayes, Belize

Bread and Butter Cayes, Belize

Hopkins Belize Travel Blog

Eventually, though, the sun started to make its slow descent towards the horizon, and it was time for us to head home to Hopkins Bay.

Cook Your Catch Tour, Hopkins

This little slice of Belize was tough to wave goodbye to! While most travelers to the country head to the islands of Caye Caulker or Ambergis Caye to get their beach fix, I feel that the mainland coastal villages like Hopkins and Placencia offer a unique and slightly less touristy, less crowded alternative. The big benefits to traveling to this region of Belize are getting a taste of the local Garifuna culture, and from my admittedly limited experience, getting a better snorkeling experience at healthier and more diverse reefs.

Best case scenario? Do like we did and hit up both an island and a mainland coastal village! Throw in a jungle destination for good measure, and you’ve got the perfect three stop itinerary for the beautiful country of Belize.

Bread and Butter Cayes, Belize

Snorkeling Tour, Hopkins, Belize

Best case scenario? Pack a couple of crazies like these.

Family Trip to Belize

Are you more of a fishing or snorkeling fan? Stay tuned for our adventures in the jungle!

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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.

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82 Comments...
  • Jenia
    July 14 2015

    Absolutely stunning — your own private island, even if just for a few hours is so dreamy! I remember taking a 4 Islands Tour off the coast of Koh Lanta, arriving at “the Beach” island was one of the worst travel experiences for me, so many people and so little left of the beautiful beach. This looks to be completely the opposite — thanks for writing about Bread and Butter 🙂
    Jenia recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 14 2015

      I’ve heard that from a few people about “The Beach” tour. I loved that movie so much and it meant so much to me (it was basically why I went to Thailand the first time!) that I don’t think I want it destroyed for me, ha.

  • Sarah
    July 14 2015

    Oh my gosh. That snorkeling!

    I’d just die. Incredible!

    I’d just love a post of those pics!x
    Sarah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 14 2015

      It was unbelievable. Even better than what we encountered later in Caye Caulker!

  • Susan
    July 14 2015

    Well, isn’t that the cutest little island there ever was! What a special excursion, and such a pretty section of the reef! I used to be terrified of the ocean, but about two years ago in the BVIs I decided to give snorkeling a try and I fell in love with it. Fast forward to this year and I even tried scuba diving…in Belize! You inspired me to do so!
    Susan recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 14 2015

      That makes me so darn happy to hear, Susan! I actually, ironically, did not dive in Belize — ha. But I did do a lot of snorkeling!

  • Olivia Baackes
    July 14 2015

    READERS: How many chins can you count in photo 1??

    Winner receives a trip around the world courtesy of Meihoukai in Wanderland.

    • Meihoukai
      July 14 2015

      Is that chins on each of us individually or as a pair?

    • Mary B
      July 16 2015

      I count two chins, several hilarious neck wrinkles, and two beautiful young women who – especially given the photos of their lovely mother – need not ever worry about excess chins.

      (um, I would totally worry about them too, but it’s much easier to say to someone else.)

  • Camels & Chocolate
    July 14 2015

    That water, though! WOW. I need a Belize do-over.
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

  • Justine
    July 14 2015

    I was rooting for the fish too!
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 14 2015

      And thaaaat’s why I make a terrible fisherwoman, ha! Fun to see the local method for catching sprats though.

  • Kerry
    July 14 2015

    I would 100% agree with you the best way to see Belize is staying inland (which so many forgo) and then staying at one of the coastal villages. Belize was definitely one of the best snorkeling destinations I have been to thus far. Looks like you had an amazing family vacation!
    Kerry recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 14 2015

      We did! We are going to treasure this one until the end of time.

  • Jana
    July 14 2015

    I really really like your pictures! Could you maybe do a post sometime about what things you do with which program to improve them? Your pictures are always bright and friendly with amazing colors!

    Or is it just specific camera settings? I really wanna know and learn!!!

    Thanks so much!!!
    Jana recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 14 2015

      I definitely need to do a step-by-step editing post one of these days, Jana! So many have requested it. I promise I’m putting it on the docket 🙂

  • Maddy
    July 14 2015

    Gorgeous pictures, as always. This island looks idyllic! I am so jealous of the snorkel-and-relax adventures you constantly share. Reminds me of my one time snorkeling in PR and how much fun it was to be that close to real nature. 🙂
    Maddy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 14 2015

      You know me… there’s nowhere I’m happier than by the sea! It really is a treat.

  • Cait
    July 14 2015

    I have really loved your blog over the years, but now I feel like every single thing you do is sponsored. I get that you need to make a living, but not all of us can afford your private islands……I’m happy for you, but I also miss being able to find cool things to do everywhere in the world, and now I feel like this isn’t the place for that.

    • Meihoukai
      July 14 2015

      Hey Cait, I’m really sorry to hear you’ve been disappointed with what you’ve been finding here. This stay at Hopkins Bay was in April of 2015, and I actually had to look back at my calendar to see what my previous sponsored hotel stay was prior to that — it was in November of 2014, when I did a hotel review over my birthday in Koh Tao. In the six months in the interim, I paid for every hotel and hostel out of pocket (and crashed on a lot of couches!)

      And to be honest… this is the kind of trip I’ve always been blessed to take with my family, who save on stuff and splurge on experiences. The only difference in this case is that I was the one treating. If you’re looking for cool and affordable spots in Central America, I hope you’ve seen my coverage of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, where I hostel-ed and shoe-stringed it the whole way!

    • Arlene Johnston
      July 23 2015

      Cait, I’m Arlene, a rep from the Hopkins Bay Belize and I’d like for you to know that this is actually the right time for you have adventures like Meihoukai. Flights from the US are going for extremely low prices at this time and you can book at Hopkins Bay for as low as US$99/night/couple. Give us a call or email us and we promise you’ll have an unforgettable adventure as well.

      Cheers!

      • Mahmoud
        July 10 2016

        Hi Arlene,
        I am currently planning a couples retreat to Belize with my wife and like Cait (although a year later) I would love to enjoy Belize with my limited budget.
        We are planning to travel in September, what offers would you have available at that time?

        And Cait, your blog is awesome, it’s now my primary source of information for my trip 🙂

        • Meihoukai
          July 10 2016

          Good luck Mahmoud! Belize is amazing!

        • Mahmoud MAMLOUK
          July 10 2016

          I meant Meihoukai not Cait about the blog 😀

  • Ashley
    July 14 2015

    Your photos are beautiful (as always) Meihoukai! What a fun family vacay!!

    • Meihoukai
      July 14 2015

      Thank you Ashley! As you can see, we were not having a terrible time 😀

  • Ashley
    July 14 2015

    Bread and Butter Caye looks so picturesque! And the snorkelling looks unreal – the Belize Barrier Reef is one of my dream snorkelling destinations!
    Ashley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 14 2015

      Oh man, I can’t compare it yet to THE Australian Barrier Reef, but it’s hard for me to believe this is number #2!

  • Erika
    July 14 2015

    Oh my gosh, this is so beautiful! I really need to get to a place with tropical waters like this… California is just too muggy and cold to see anything cool!
    Erika recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      As much as I love the wild Pacific coast… there is something magical about these Caribbean waters!

  • Uma
    July 14 2015

    Belize is a special place on this globe … I could look at (and swim in) those waters all day!
    Uma recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      Tell me about it, Uma! I’m already planning Belize trip number 3… in my head at least 🙂

  • Stephanie
    July 14 2015

    That starfish photo!! SWOON!! <3

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      I know, right?! Such beautiful creatures, they don’t even look real.

  • Fishing still doesn’t excite me, never has… can’t get enough of snorkeling though! And this place OM-gorgeous!! Are these pics all with your new camera? They’re amazing!
    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      Nope, this was back before the switch! I’m so behind (which is a good thing… it means I’ve been having a lot of blog-able fun!) that it will be a while before you start seeing new camera photos 🙂

  • The snorkeling and fishing photos are really cool. I didn’t know that you don’t eat fish so that was awfully brave of you to try and “catch” them anyway!

    I like snorkeling and have done so in both Egypt and Vietnam and I’ve been on a fishing trip too. You tend to think that it’s going to be extremely boring. But it isn’t. Mind you, my newbie fishing experience was in Poland. Nobody spoke English or German. And I was the only woman on board!

    I was given absolute respect though as I was offered cups of tea instead of bottles of beer LOL! ‘Love this post. 🙂
    [email protected] The British Berliner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      Those sound like some very cool travel experiences, Victoria! Good for you for pushing your comfort zone 🙂

  • Tamara
    July 15 2015

    That looks amazing! Would you say that it’s better than the snorkelling in SEA?

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      It’s hard to compare just one reef to an entire subcontinent, but I can say this was definitely one of the best snorkeling experiences I’ve ever had! It was the perfect combination of a shallow reef, great conditions, no other boats to be seen, and a really healthy and diverse reef. No other boats was key — normally a snorkeling spot this great would be slammed with people!

  • Chintan
    July 15 2015

    This is absolutely stunning.Pictures are awesome, star fish is super cool. Great! Meihoukai, have you done snorkeling before?
    Chintan recently posted..

  • becky hutner
    July 15 2015

    You ladies are gorgeous & amazing. It’s so touching that you make a point of planning these family adventures. Treasure them x
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      I absolutely do treasure every moment! I loved doing a ladies only trip and think we’ll have more of them in the future…

  • Marni
    July 15 2015

    Gorgeous snorkeling pictures! Bread and Butter Caye looks beautiful, but I’m with you on the fishing – I’d be rooting for the fish, too!

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      Ha, right? I know this is the best and most sustainable fishing imaginable but still… I’ve concluded it’s just not my thing 🙂 Still a very cool experience to offer guests, though.

  • That reef though! Just beautiful!
    Snorkelling for me, fishing for my boy…I think you’ve sold me on Belize 🙂
    Amanda | The Travelling Teacher recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      Go for it Amanda! Such an amazing adventure of a country 🙂

  • Katie
    July 15 2015

    I did a snorkelling trip from Caye Caulker and I would rate the reefs I snorkelled on par with the Great Barrier Reef – they were that good. Bread and Butter Cayes look amazing! I have a bit of an island obsession and tiny ones like this are my favourite
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      Snorkeling off Caye Caulker was amazing. In comparison I did find the reefs in Hopkins a bit healthier and more diverse, but that might just be the fact that we were the ONLY snorkelers in Hopkins versus hundreds in the water in Caye Caulker at the time!

  • Leigh
    July 15 2015

    Magnificent photography, as always!
    Leigh recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      Thanks Leigh! Not hard when there’s a backdrop this beautiful.

  • Paige
    July 15 2015

    I have the same bow and striped bikini top from VS! I get compliments on it alllll the time; I’m sure you do too.
    Your little private island for a few hours looked beautiful!

    Paige
    Paige recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      I do indeed! Tragically I left the bottoms behind on the beach in Guatemala… gutted!

  • Chalsie
    July 15 2015

    Wow, absolute paradise!
    I’m more of a snorkelling kind of girl. I’ve been vegetarian for a decade now, so I don’t think fishing would fit into my ethical eating habits. Fish also kind of freak me out… But I’m happy to swim near them!

    Chalsie x

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      I do feel like this is the very best kind of fishing in that it’s very sustainable — respecting the boundaries of conservation zones, line catching and taking only what is needed for immediate consumption — but yeah, I still squealed a lot and covered my eyes for most of it!

  • Victoria
    July 15 2015

    BEAUTIFUL pics! I want to go!

  • Katie
    July 15 2015

    Best snorkeling you’ve ever done?! Coming from you, that’s high praise! Definitely adding this to my must-visit list! I’ll probably pass on the fishing, though – I’m not nearly patient enough for that particular sport.

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      I think the photos speak for themselves! Best part? NO OTHER PEOPLE! We had the reef to ourselves… how rare is that for a truly stunning snorkel site?!

  • tammyonthemove
    July 16 2015

    This place looks gorgeous. I don’t like places that are overrun by tourists, so it is nice to hear that there are still places left in Belize that are just as gorgeous but less visited.
    tammyonthemove recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      Belize is pretty interesting in that the vast majority of tourism seems concentrated on Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye… so head to the mainland beaches and you’ll pretty much have them to yourself! Love that about this country.

  • LC
    July 16 2015

    I am going to C. America next year and your blog makes me feel oh so excited about that trip.

    Speaking of THE G.B. Reef as I saw you did a bit earlier in your comments: YES, COME SOON. I shouldn’t think it would disappoint, even if its glory days are so sadly well and truly behind us. :'(

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      I know, I really need to get out there soon! I’m sure my time for Australia will come…

  • Janice Stringer
    July 16 2015

    Looks like a fantastic place and day. Both in and out of the water!
    Janice Stringer recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      It was. We are SO glad we didn’t cancel due to weather!

  • Camille
    July 16 2015

    I love both snorkeling and fishing! I had a great time once fishing from a pontoon off the island of Jeju in Korea and eating my catch as sashimi! But I have to say, the setting was nowhere as stunning as this!

    • Meihoukai
      July 16 2015

      That sounds like a pretty amazing experience nonetheless. I’m sure sushi fans the world over are drooling at the thought!

  • Leah
    July 17 2015

    My dad was always a fisherman so I was brought up fishing, but can’t really imagine doing it now. I don’t like to kill things or see things being killed I guess is what it comes down to!
    Leah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 20 2015

      I think I’m with you. If I had to hunt my own meat I’d be a vegetarian.

  • Ben Church
    July 17 2015

    I don’t Belize it! Our volunteers heading off to Belize will be very excited when reading this blog!

    • Meihoukai
      July 20 2015

      I see what you did there Ben 😉 Very punny!

  • Anne
    July 21 2015

    holy smokes, those are some darn good pictures! We love taking our grandchildren snorkeling when they come to visit us, here is to hoping they get the travel bug like you did when they get a bit older!

    • Meihoukai
      July 21 2015

      Oh man, I was bit big time 🙂 I’m sure with cool grandparents who take them snorkeling, they’ve got a darn good shot!

  • Kacy
    July 22 2015

    Definitely snorkeling, though I have wanted to try a few organized fishing trips. What an amazing, stunning day! I’m glad the weather cooperated 🙂
    Kacy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 23 2015

      Ha, eventually it did! But it certainly gave us a run for our money first…

  • Amy M
    July 26 2015

    What a beautiful trip!
    Spliced the weather cleared up and you didn’t miss out.
    Pretty much bookmarking most of your blog for future travels haha! xo
    Amy M recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 26 2015

      Glad to hear it Amy 🙂 You’re going to have one heck of a trip!

  • Kristen Ellen
    July 29 2015

    I’ve always enjoyed the diving/snorkelling angle of your site so was surprised to see pictures of people handling starfish? I thought the rule was look but never touch?

    • Meihoukai
      July 31 2015

      Hey Kristen, in cases where a guide picks something up briefly to show it to customers and give them an explanation (as in this case) I believe that it is okay — like a touch tank in an aquarium, for example. We were quick to take a look and snap a photo and put him back where we found him. I’ve always been under the impression that that wasn’t harmful — but I’m off to do some Googling to see if I need to correct my ways 🙂