We recently returned from 8 days in Belize, split equally in Cayo and Hopkins. The only thing that we pre-booked before leaving was the first 2 nights at Ka'ana just past San Ignacio and an airport transfer to the resort through William Hoffman (we actually had Teddy Bear as our driver, and he was great). We loved Ka'ana...very luxury, incredible service...and we loved starting there so that we could get a feel for San Ignacio. We were able to get into town using cabs and set up tours in town (much cheaper than the resort) and try some local restaurants and bars. Ka'ana has excellent food, but felt a little deserted so we wanted to check out the vibe in town. We took a cab to Cahal Pech and found a tour guide on site. We also did the Barton Creek cave tour with Destiny tours (highly recommend if you are not going to do ATM). We then decided to move to the river and ended up staying 2 nights at Mystic River. This property is incredible. The owners are really striving for sustainablity...they raise chickens and goats (to make goat cheese) and grown their own organic vegetables for the restaurant. The "cabins" are very luxury...king sized beds, private balconies overlooking the Macal river, stucco walls and red tiled roofs and no need for mosquito nets! They will arrange any tour imaginable and offer tours that aren't offered in town, and they have their own horses and canoes onsite. We chose this location because we wanted to see Caracol and it happens to be along the way. We used Pacz tours for our Caracol trip and this saved us a ton of money because they picked us up from Ka'ana in the morning along the way to Caracol they let us drop our luggage at Mystic River and then returned us to Mystic River at the end of the tour. We loved taking the canoes from Mystic River down the Macal River to San Ignacio (3 hours). They arrange a driver to pick up the canoes in San Ignacio and drive you back to the resort, but we decided to stay in town for dinner and drinks and catch a cab back (that was an expensive cab $40).
We decided to head to the beach next and chose Hopkins. We thought that after 4 days of active tours we should go somewhere and chill. We showed up without reservations but were able to check into Belizean Dreams with no problem, and were actually upgraded due to availability. I have to say that Hopkins kind of sucks in July. We couldn't swim in the ocean due to all of the jelly fish. It was very windy so lots of trash was washing up on the beach (even though the resort was cleaning it up daily). The biting flies were horrible. The town of Hopkins in general has very little to offer besides a few local restaurants and a bar or two. It is very hot and has a ramshackle feel. On the plus side, we did take a snorkeling trip to the barrier reef that was one of the best I've ever experienced. Basically, the resorts send off their guests every morning on various tours all day, so if you are just hanging out, it is pretty dead and if you can't even swim in the ocean, what is the point?