Momlife / April 15, 2024

Hopkins Belize: An Honest Review from a Family Perspective*contains affiliate links

Our family of 4 (me, husband and 2 girls) loves a good beach vacation! We prefer to find new and upcoming places that aren’t super touristy. Hopkins, Belize fit that description and we were so excited for this Latin America adventure.

The year prior, we took the most incredible trip to Costa Rica with the same motto as above. Instead of going to the heavily populated area of Tamarindo, and spending $3,000 a person on airfare, we chose the less expensive and less crowded area of Manual Antonio. You can read more about that amazing trip here! Expect to read about how we played with monkeys, saw scarlet macaws while swimming in the pool, listened to a Toucan sing, and went on super fun excursions that were 10 mins from our hotel

So here is the problem with Hopkins, Belize…

Hopkins Belize beach


We took the same approach with planning our trip to Belize. The last thing I wanted was to stay around the port town of Belize City in a mega resort. So I picked the quaint town of Hopkins Belize. We stayed at the Jaguar Reef Lodge, and the accommodations were amazing! They had a super fun rope swing, jumping pads, hammocks, and net bed that looked right into the fish swimming in the ocean. The Big Dock was a local hangout spot that was part of our resort. I loved that you could see a little bit of everyone there! This was a highlight for the kids for sure.

hopkins belize waterfront


The food at our resort and in the town Hopkins, Belize was excellent. We loved eating the tostadas and tacos for lunch. The dinner menu at The Paddle House was pretty much the same each night. The food was very good. In town of Hopkins, Belize they had a few good spots. La Trattoria is good Italian food but make sure you call the restaurant directly to make a reservation.

Our hotel had major issues with confirming reservations for us. When we showed up, the owner screamed at us in front of the entire restaurant claiming that our hotel did not make a reservation. He told us to sit outside on the stone bench tables and freaked out when I asked for a chair to sit on. It was painful. Once we got settled and ordered, the kids liked the pizza and the pasta was excellent. JJ’s cool spot was a quaint place to eat on the beach with a cute ice cream place near by.

Everyone raved about Chef Robs Cafe and said it was the best food, but it was my least favorite meal. I preferred The Sea Bar and Woven Palm Restaurants. The beef in Belize is very fresh and good. All the food tasted fresh and the fruit was delicious. The Bahay Fiesta Bar was an asian fusion restaurant, and it was decent and very causal atmosphere. We had to last minute eat here, because again, the concierge at the Jaguar Reef told us we had reservations to eat at our resort but we didn’t. I guess the front desk never gave the reservation to the restaurant manger, so it was a scramble at 7:30pm to find somewhere to eat.

Hopkins Belize lunch spots


We did 3 excursions in Hopkins, Belize. One was supposed to be a jungle walk to a waterfall with the illusion there would be animals in the jungle (like in Costa Rica). We woke up early and drove the 45 minutes to the park. Unfortunately, we did not see a single animal. Not even a bird or a bug on this walk to the waterfall. The waterfall was small and cold. So my husband and youngest put their feet in, and I sat on a bench and watched. The jungle is pretty but zero wildlife in this area. Very boring excursion and not at all worth what we paid.

The other excursion was inner-tubing in a cave. Another early morning start and a 45min drive each way. We carried our inner tubes for 10 minutes through a jungle area. Then we walked down in the cave, and the guide sat us on in inner tubes and floated a few feet in either direction. That was that. It was dark and the cave pretty but super meh. The blue hole was the best part of this excursion. It was fun to swim in and really beautiful.

Snorkling from our resort was the best excursion. This was the kids first time, and they really loved it. It was super windy the week we were in Hopkins, Belize so the snorkeling was choppy. The reef was beautiful and we did swim with a sea turtle. I have snorkeled in way more beautiful reefs like Thailand and in Harbor Island, but this excursion was solid.


I found that most tourist in this area of Hopkins, Belize did dress for both lunch and dinner. It was resort causal but pretty much everyone had on something nice for dinner. Even out for lunch people wore nice coverups or a beachy dress for the women. The men also seemed to have on nice shorts and a collared shirt of some sort for both lunch and dinner. They can bring food out to your cabana if you decide to just stay on the beach.

I mean no one would look twice if you were not as dressed up, but I am explaining my observation. The shopping is super limited in Hopkins, Belize. They have grocery stores, etc. However, it was chilly when we went in March and not one store had anything warmer than a mens long sleeve shirt. So make sure to take a warm sweater or zip up in case a cold front goes through.

Shopping in Hopkins, Belize

As far as the shopping goes, I thought the trinkets were sort of cheesy and choose not to buy anything. That said, there were so many great beach vendors that will come up and tell you their people’s story. They have backpacks full of goodies like beautiful handmade jewelry so maybe shop with them.

what to wear in Hopkins Belize

In summary, Hopkins, Belize was a nice beach vacation but not somewhere I would go again. I’d much rather take our beach vacations in Mexica, Florida, or Hawaii. Did I mention we were all eaten alive by no see ums, mosquitoes and horse flys? My daughter had to take a Benadryl everyday to reduce the massive swelling in her face and feet (even with using bug spray!)

The people in Belize are friendly and English is a first language, so even the cultural aspect wasn’t much different than the US. We saw zero wildlife the entire time and the excursions were basic and nothing special. If you are going to spend the time and money on a vacation in Central America, for sure skip Belize and head straight to Costa Rica. My entire family agrees with me 🙂

moon over ocean in Hopkins Belize

Read more about our family travel adventures: Why a Costa Rica Family Vacation is Pure Magic, Punta Mita Travel Guide for First Time Visitors, January in Carmel is the Best time to Visit, Should You Take Your Family on a Summer RV Trip, 9 Must Have Travel Items Under $40.