You do not want to miss the opportunity to stay at Damian’s Sunrise Suite beachfront paradise.
This gaily painted beach house is immaculately maintained daily by his charming staff, Yolanda, Lorna and Rosita right down to the polishing of the patio doors.
The 2-bedroom home with a complete kitchen including full-sized fridge and stove is perched a mere 30 metres from the sea and overlords the pristine beach groomed ritualistically by Andre and Emmerson – the quintessential Belizeans – easy-going but quick of wit they are dilettantes of the sand and the sea.
The front patio is hosted by a lordly palm tree while the upper patio offers sensational views of the coastline.
As a distance swimmer, this is one of the finest oceans I have ever so unabashedly enjoyed (including the Arctic Ocean). At times, tumultuous, other times glassy and, during a short season, belted by sea grass it is a warm, benign experience (although I confess to having been stung by a jellyfish on occasion when the sea is glassy). Imagine, however, swimming without the LEGOLAND of parasailers, powerboats, cruise ships, fishing vessels, Seadoos. Imagine then, emerging from the sea to a beach where nobody has staked their claim in the sand. Lay, swing, sit wherever you like. A rare – very rare pedlar may pass you by but your Eckhart Tolle moment unfolds before you.
Palm trees applauded our morning ritual of watermelon and hard-boiled egg breakfast on our deck while we contemplated a leisurely stroll along the beach or to chat with the effervescent Kyra or Tyeshia (a.k.a. Tequila) for some snorkeling/diving adventure.
I advise to let the weather, rather than an agenda, dictate your day. It can be brilliantly sunny one moment and 10 minutes later torrential wind and rain will obliterate your deck. If you don’t like the weather. . . wait 20 minutes. Word of caution, the weather forecasts are invariably wrong. Resist the temptation to check and let the moment guide your desire for a jungle tour, a diving expedition, a local cooking school or a Mayan ruins safari.
More often, though, the lure of 2-Lane Hopkins was distraction enough for we city-weary travellers.
To describe Hopkins, Belize, in one word: non-commercial.
None of the clang and bang of pedlars, no timeshare Preachers, no insistent call to participate in what you came to escape. The Belizean people seem to understand that which their Northern counterparts have failed to learn. The tourist needs to find her own place among the palms, the sway of the sea, the playfulness of the wind, the peaceful sanctuary that is Hopkins.
Bumping along the street you may find yourself directed “Dis way. 2nd Lane turn right” to the Herbal Healer Tea Bar.
The town is a checkerboard of popsicle stick homes interspersed by colorful stalls, each one unique with a hand-painted sign, which offer savoury jerked chicken or freshly fried plantain chips and famously creamy Belizean ice cream while passersby on bicycles or families piled onto a scooter wave their cheery greeting in Garifuna fashion.
Travel in a group or all alone, this community is completely safe, harmless and embracing. And if you are a solitaire it inevitably comes to pass that a friendly hound with a welcome wag of his tail will follow in your footsteps along the soft sandy beach strip.
Word of caution: Ladies if you like to pack high-heels and sequined gowns please avoid this locale at severe risk of “Where’s-my-Spotlight?”
Back in our lovely beach house we enjoy a Scotch from our topside patio and listen to the peaceful swell of the waves which also lull us to sleep in our airy, immaculate bedroom where in 17 nights we have never seen so much as an ant.
Morning doves will coo us to wakefulness and goad us to walk the 200 metres to the Chinese grocery which stocks most everything one requires. Be sure to know your prices, though, as the checkout staff will overcharge if you don’t keep a vigilant eye on them. (Insist, as well, that they remove their hand from the scale when weighing your produce.)
In short, Damian and his crew are champion hosts and genuinely care that your stay is top drawer. We mentioned our slow shower drain on day one of our stay and before noon the matter was resolved.
There is no television however there is Wifi and if you bring your laptop you can enjoy Netflix.
If the sea does not entice you make the effort to walk 3 kilometres south along the beach or on the south lane and you will come to the #Jaguar Reef Lodge or #Charlie’s Bar BZ which invites non-guests to share in their pool if you buy a drink. Happy Hour is 2-4 daily and Charles will be happy to infuse you.
I give Damian, his wife and partner Nishi, and his crew four and a half stars! On a final note, don’t read Kyra the wrong way. When she rolls her eyeballs at you, you’re still in the good books. But say her name wrong and she will send you straight to bed without ice cream.