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Belmopan-Tikal-Hopkins??

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Portland, Oregon...
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Belmopan-Tikal-Hopkins??

I have an 8 day trip planned for February for me and my 10 year old son. We are going to Belmopan first for a cave kayak tour with MGA based on fab reviews. Then to Tikal for a sunrise tour with Roxy, again, ditto. But from there, we want to just relax on a beautiful sandy beach. Maybe do some day hiking, maybe some snorkeling, but nothing too adventurous or taxing. First- is Hopkins the best beach destination for us? Second- what is the best way to get from Tikal to Hopkins? We will have almost four whole days to spend in and around a beach destination, but we will definitely be on a budget, so resorts are out of the question. Suggestions?

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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1. Re: Belmopan-Tikal-Hopkins??

Even though the beaches aren't gorgeous, I'd head to Caye Caulker. It has a great laid back, Caribbean feel and the reef is close so although you can't access good snorkeling from shore, the trips are fairly cheap. Here's one we loved:

http://raggamuffintours.com/hol-chan-snorkel/

Another advantage of Caulker is that it's much easier to get to and a quick hop (ferry/taxi) from the airport. There are early morning buses available from Flores to the dock. Loads of transportation hints here:

www.belizebus.wordpress.com

We love Hopkins, too, but the reef is way out there (12 miles?) so getting to snorkeling spots is more of an ordeal and more $$. It's an interesting village, though, and there are good places to hike in the area - Cockscomb Reserve and the Mayflower Bocawina site, for example.

I'd add a stop at the zoo.

I've pasted some my favorite Belize links below - a few pertain especially to traveling with a child. Please tell Roxy that Stacey says hi and misses her! Happy trails!

________________________

My photo collections with blog, travelogue, and review links: flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections/

My travel blog starting in 2012 (earlier ones linked with the photo collections):

http://hopefulistinlatinamerica.blogspot.com/

My descriptions and reviews on Trip Advisor:

tripadvisor.com/members-reviews/hopefulist

Guidebooks I like: Moon Handbook, Fodor’s Guide, and Explorer’s Guide.

Laminated wildlife identification cards: rainforestpublications.com/belizeFieldGuides…

A very cool checklist book for Belize for the young or young-at-heart: amazon.com/Play-Belize-Mesa-Somer/…

- - -

Budget to midrange lodging site: http://www.belizeexplorer.com

Great island and lodging downloads: http://www.belizefirst.com

Informative transportation blog: http://www.belizebus.wordpress.com

- - -

Shuttle recommendation: www.parrot-nest.com/belize-shuttle.html

Zoo: http://www.belizezoo.org

Great jungle camp in Cayo: http://www.belizecamp.com

Great budget lodging in Cayo: http://www.thetrekstop.com

Great value hotel with pool in Cayo: http://www.aguadahotel.com

Don't miss cave trip: http://pacztours.net/actun-tunichil-muknal/

Another, less-visited amazing cave option in Cayo: http://www.actunchapatadventure.blogspot.com/

Lodge with lots of adventures: http://www.cavesbranch.com

- - -

Roxy Ortiz - fabulous, fun tour guide: http://www.tikalroxy.blogspot.com

My favorite hotel at Tikal: http://www.tikalinnsunrise.com

Good choice in El Remate, Guatemala: http://www.30minutesfromtikal.com/

Favorite midrange places in Flores: http://www.corpetur.com

Good value budget option in Flores: La Mesa de los Mayas, mesamayas@hotmail.com

- - -

Great inn in coastal Garifuna town: http://www.hopkinsinn.com

Garifuna drumming center: http://www.lebeha.com

- - -

Apartment on the beach on Caye Caulker: http://www.staycayecaulker.com/sailwinds.html

Another Caye Caulker option: gocayecaulker.com/accommodations/maxhapan-ca…

Great day snorkeling trip: http://raggamuffintours.com/hol-chan-snorkel/

Portland, Oregon...
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11 posts
5 reviews
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2. Re: Belmopan-Tikal-Hopkins??

Thank you for replying so quickly, hopefulist. I've actually done quite a bit of research already based on your guidance with other posts as well as your blog. And, like most everyone else who's taken the time to check your blog or your links, I'm really grateful. You are incredibly thorough and informative. Here's the deal- I'm willing to take you at your word (and your gorgeous photos) that Caulker really is the place to be when it comes to relaxation and beauty. However- this is my first beach-y vacation ever. And I know that if I don't get to experience a real beach while in this beautiful country, I will feel disappointed. I want to walk on fine sand and wade into warm water. Is this possible on Caulker? The Lonely Planet guidebook seems to think that Hopkins would be where I'd be able to have that, not Caulker. And if Caulker is worth giving up that particular fantasy, so be it. Your thoughts?

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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10,854 posts
327 reviews
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3. Re: Belmopan-Tikal-Hopkins??

Well, when you put it THAT way... :-) There's no doubt for me that for beaches and walk out swimming, Hopkins is better. It's a matter of budget and timing; the 2 places where it loses are the transportation/distance getting there and to BZE for your flight home and access to snorkeling. You can head from Flores to the dock for $25 each if you can leave in the morning but to Hopkins is a combination of buses or shuttles that will cost significantly more and/or take significantly more time. If you can't swing the $50 taxi to Dangriga and flight to BZE, for example, you also might need your last night near BZE instead of the beachy place you choose.

Were you hoping/planning to get to the beachy place the same day you're doing the sunrise tour with Roxy? When does your flight leave BZE for home on your last day? Can you afford a hopper flight to get there? Let me know and I'll try to help you sort out the transportation pieces. Happy trails!

Hopkins
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4. Re: Belmopan-Tikal-Hopkins??

If you have not already booked your tours in Tikal and with MGA it would make things easier to do the Tikal tour first. MGA can, and does, do drop-offs in Hopkins for a fee. If you did not want to pay for the drop-off you can spend the night after your tour in Belmopan and take a morning bus to Dangriga, along the scenic Hummingbird Highway, in time for the 10:30a.m. bus to Hopkins. You can fly from Dangriga directly into the International Airport for your flight home.

Portland, Oregon...
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11 posts
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5. Re: Belmopan-Tikal-Hopkins??

Potlikka- I already booked both the Tikal and MGA tours, but MGA is being very helpful and we will be driving with them to San Ignacio after our cave tour. They also, apparently, are opening a jungle camp soon called Yaxche Jungle Camp with cabanas to stay in. We might go ahead and stay with them while in Belmopan.

Hopefulist- We are taking the Tikal tour with Roxy on Sunday morning and leave BZE on Friday at 4pm. Ideally, I would love to use the rest of the day on Sunday to get to the final location where we can settle until leaving for the airport on Friday. That leaves four days to fill- which makes me think that maybe you're right. Caulker might make more sense given that my son may get bored after a couple of days of beach time. But then, is it possible to take Roxy's tour (ending at 8:30am Sunday), get to Flores and then to BZE to catch a hopper to Caulker by that evening? Is that too ambitious?

Hopkins
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782 posts
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6. Re: Belmopan-Tikal-Hopkins??

Caulker is a good fun place for people in their 20's, typical backpacker demographic. I think your 10 year old son may actually find Hopkins more fun, with more options for the daylight hours - he can't be interested in bars??. Here is a link to a detailed trip report describing a visit to Tikal via Belize: www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa…

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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10,854 posts
327 reviews
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7. Re: Belmopan-Tikal-Hopkins??

How quickly you can move from place to place depends on whether you're planning to hire drivers ($$) or take public transit which can be slow; most of the buses stop along the route to pick up and drop off riders and you'd likely need 4 or 5 bus changes to get to Hopkins; sometimes you have to wait awhile in between and if your timing isn't right you'd need a taxi from Dangriga or from the highway into Hopkins Village, for example. If you can swing a private driver then no problem getting to either place; you wouldn't have to go to Flores. The buses that make the haul from Flores to the dock leave at 5am and 7am so they won't be an option for you unless you spend the night in Flores. It's a pretty cool town and Ixpanpajul is close if you decide to do that.

We enjoy both Caulker and Hopkins so it depends on your priorities. For me that will always include snorkeling and diving which is much more easily accessed from Caulker than Hopkins. Easier access to hiking from Hopkins, though, and it's fun to swim in the water there. There's also Garifuna drumming, something we enjoyed immensely in 2009. www.lebeha.com

The good news is you can't go wrong! Both Caulker and Hopkins would be good places to end your vacation.

8. Re: Belmopan-Tikal-Hopkins??

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