Down to Hopkins for the weekend


hopkins beach
Jaguar Reef Resort in Hopkins.

We have been working hard around here and it was time for us to take a break and just relax for the weekend. So Hopkins here we come. Hopkins is only about an 80-90 mile drive from us, so in a couple of hours, you can be sitting on the Caribbean shore enjoying fresh seafood and having cocktails with little umbrellas in them.

hopkins swing
Hello Hopkins!

This being the slow season, we found a wonderful place, beachfront for about a 1/4 of what you would pay in the high season. The second story condo we got was part of Jaguar Reef Resort and it was huge, I mean bigger than our house, plus it overlooked the beach. I think the resort had 3 pools, at least 3 bars and they had all the happy hours figured out. The swim-up pool bar had happy hour from 2-4, then the hotel bar was from 4-6 and the dock bar was from 6-8. We did not spend all day doing happy hour, but then again we were on a mini-vacation.

hopkins pool2
Great way to spend the weekend.

While we were at the Dock bar enjoying the views two manatees came swimming by, a mother and what looked like here baby. This was the first time we had ever seen manatees in the wild and it was pretty exciting. Going on a tour to see manatees was high on our list of things we wanted to do in Belize, but this was even better.

 Of course, living up in the jungle seafood is fairly hard to come by, so we had to get our fill in while we could. We had shrimp, fish, and mussels but the one thing that stuck out was the lobster stuffed potatoes skins. Fried potatoes skins with lobster, shrimp, marinara sauce and topped with brie cheese. The only thing wrong with those was that there were only four on the plate.

Seriously…lobster and brie cheese in a potato skin.

We had brought with us two big ice chests with hopes of bringing back some lobster and fish for the freezer. After asking all around town with no luck we finally hooked up with Floyd. He was an elderly gentleman who said he has had a boat out for a couple of days and they should be back in a few hours. In that time we prepped the ice chest with ice and some cold beer in hopes that they had a decent catch. After sharing a beer with Floyd, here came the boat. As the boat was getting close Floyd started lining up palm fronds on the beach, it only took us a short time to figure out what he was doing. That’s right they were running the boat right up on the beach at full speed. One of the guys sitting in the boat fell all over when he hit the shore, we all laughed and then shared a couple more beers with them.

hopkins boat
This goes against all my boating experience.

Anyway, they had a good catch and we ended up with two big ice chests full of lobsters and fish. We got snapper fillets, whole smaller snappers that we will fry in the disco, a whole Hogfish for the grill (that is supposed to be amazing), some barracuda and of course a lot of lobster. We can finally have some friends over for some decent fish and show them how we used to cook it when we were in Mexico. As for the lobsters… we might share a couple with some friends, but we are still not sure about that.

hopkins lobster
Lobster, lobster, lobster!

Before we had found anyone with fish for us to bring back, we had lined up a trip on the river to do a little fishing. We had never been on the Sittee river before and we thought it would be great to see it by boat. We were up at 5 am so that we could be fishing by first light.

hopkins river1
The Sittee River at dawn.

What a beautiful river, we fished from the mouth to a couple of miles upstream. The banks are lined with mangroves and lots of other trees and birds. Captain Jack and his wife Fiona were our guides for the day and they were wonderful and very knowledgeable.

hopkins jack
Captain Jack and Fiona.

Usually, they will take tourists to do a little bait fishing for snapper and grouper along the mangroves and guarantee you will bring some fish home. At this point, our ice chests were already full, and Captain Jack could tell we were not novice fishermen. So we told him that we wanted to target Snook and Tarpon since neither one of us had ever caught one before. We did see a couple of tarpon on the surface and even some more manatees, but no fish. Just the boat ride alone was worth the trip just to see the river.

hopkins fishing1
Trolling the mangroves for tarpon and snook.

On the way back to the marina there is a small cut in the mangroves that goes into a big lagoon. Jack was telling us that from January to May the lagoon fills up with the bioluminescence and the whole lagoon glows at night. He said that there is a spot in the middle of the lagoon that is shallow and they will take you there to get into the water.

hopkins mangroves
The cut to the lagoon.

We did ask him “what about crocks in the lagoon” and he said that they don’t go in there. Not sure we believe him, as he was also telling us about one that comes to the marina every night that they feed. I guess if no one has ever been hurt while in the water with the bioluminescence then it will never happen, right?

hopkins lagoon2
Maybe we missed the sign that read No Crocs Allowed in the lagoon.

Jack was telling us that the river is navigational up to seven miles upstream, even at the marina which is a couple of miles in there are some boats in the 50’ range. He was also telling us that there is a small private island about a half-hour boat ride offshore. Where they will take you for a day of snorkeling, fishing and will do a beach BBQ of what you catch. This is definitely in our future, anyone else interested?

hopkins river2
The beautiful Sittee River.

It was a great three-day weekend getaway, especially if you go during the off-season when everything is a lot cheaper and less crowded. We would definitely recommend exploring the Hopkins area, I know we will be back for some more river fishing and a private island BBQ. Hope some of you will join us next time.

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