We did the Disney Cruise last Spring Break and it was a lot of fun. But, with twins girls at six and an eight year old brother, I thought they were old enough for a little adventure.
Profanity is not allowed on this website. So, let it suffice to say our visit was unfreakin' belizable. Awesome. Great. Fantastic.
I am suprized that the ratings do not rank it more highly for kids. Ours had a blast. Pools, a beach, jungle, geckos on the ceiling every dinner, what more could you ask for?
Actually, there's a lot more. The activities were incredible. The zip line course was fantastic - I was very impressed at the safety standards. The kids were apprehensive at first. By the end, they could conquor the world. Then, imagine plonking your child in an inner tube and sending them off into at river through a cave... they loved it and couldn't wait to swim at the end.
We did the Mayflower Falls hike. Beautiful, exotic, lush. It is a hike, no doubt. But, this is where you get an idea of how Jaguar Reef operates. The hike gets steep. You grab roots, rocks, rope - whatever. There were a couple tough places for the kids (and adults). Our guide, from the resort, was fantastic with the kids. In the toughest places, he just asked them to jump on his back and he climbed them up and down. I am fit and coordinated, but I was not going to get in a one-up competition with Manuel... he was a mountain goat.
I don't have to say much about snorkelling. It's Belize. It's incredible. We talked to a guide who gave up scuba. In 30 feet of water you can see everything you will ever want. Our snorkel guide stirred up a sting ray that was five feet across - our kids were blown away.
Fishing was, uh, different. I am a fisherman. An addict. I have fished a lot of places and this was a new one for me: I arranged for a 7am start. They showed up at 8am. They were expecting a half day - I had booked a full day. (Full disclosure: Jaguar Reef had a third party doing the fishing). We head out in a panga. The fishing tackle was cheap and ancient. Our first mission was to get bait. An hour and half later, we find it. The motor has cut off three times causing us to drift ashore. We run over the cast net.
Of course, the seas are building. But, the guide and his trusty second mate put us over a reef. It's rough. The equipment is terrible. They did produce one life jacket. The hooks are ancient and stored in an old coffee can. We absolutely kill it. 50+ fish. Snapper of every imaginable kind. A Cero Mackerel. My son was not paying attention to his rod and accidentially droped his baited hook in the water... it was gobled my a huge Remora - thrills a minute.
My "Tip Meter" had been on empty to begin with and as we slid onto the sand at the resort, my son leaned over and asked, "will you please give him a good tip..." It's all about the kids.
A nice segue. I brought the mackerel and a couple nice yellow tail and mutton snapper to the chef - the rest we gave to the guide. My wife is a health-o-holic, so I requested everything grilled.
Absolutely as good as anything I can get at home (Paula Deen lives just across the river). Jaguar Reef is pretty remote. How they get their ingredients is a mystery. Not sure, but I think the head chef is Raymond - just a great guy. I will call it like it is: my wife is a picky eater and the kitchen did a fabulous job of accomodating her requests. Fruit, chicken, ohhh and the breakfasts. Spend some time in the kayaks to avoid additional boyancy.
Be prepared; the resort is wonderful, but compared to American standards, these are not rich people. Hopkins is a beautiful village. The people are friendly. We took some school supplies and met with the principal of the local school. It was a great experience for my kids - and me. Unfortunately, the school was out on Easter break, but interestingly, we went to a classroom and there were two 70ish white women working on an upcoming school fair. I asked if they were teachers and they were both working for the Peace Corps. - very cool.
The accomadations were honestly nicer than I expected. I had prepared for a "roughing it" vacation. It's not so much an "eco-lodge" as a "chic-o lodge."
My only hesitation in recommending Jaguar Reef is that if it becomes too popular, I won't be able to get my next reservation...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Proud member of ViVA BELiZE, the leading Hotel Group and Adventure Company in Belize for the past 20 years. This beachfront resort is - An Untouched Paradise offering a unique Jungle and Sea Venture. It is an oasis of relaxation, with sunny skies, panoramic views of the ocean and just minutes away from the Garifuna Fishing Village of Hopkins. Other features of Jaguar Reef Lodge & Spa: -WINNER 2015 TripAdvisor HALL OF FAME Award -FULL Service In-house Spa -Longest & Finest Beach in Belize -Pool with Swim up Tiki Bar -Kids pool -Beachfront Dining -Water Sports & Land Adventure Tour Desk ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Jaguar Reef Hotel Hopkins
- Jaguar Reef Resort
- Jaguar Reef Lodge & Spa Belize/Hopkins