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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And as we approached the edge of Bread and Butter Cayes, I had to hand it to him — he was right.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Best case scenario? Pack a couple of crazies like these.
Are you more of a fishing or snorkeling fan? Stay tuned for our adventures in the jungle!