Charles Darwin described Belize in his 1842 book, Coral Reefs of the World, as “the most remarkable reef in the West Indies.”
Belize borders Guatemala, Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. When two American divers and nature enthusiasts traveled to Belize in 2000, they fell in love with the beauty of the beach town, Hopkins. They enjoyed meeting the people in this English-speaking nation. Belize is a melting pot of Creoles, Mayas, Mestizos, East Indians, Chinese, Mennonites, North Americans, Europeans and Central Americans.
With over 1,000 different live species, there are 500 types of fish and 100 different varieties of coral. Belize has the South Water Caye Marine Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world. the water is a pleasant 82 degrees, with visibility of at least 100 feet.
This couple from Virginia, bought some land in Hopkins and built a luxury 23-room resort and later added some tree houses, raised 12 feet off the ground in the jungle. They hired a talented group of staff members and opened their resort to guide guests on adventures throughout Belize that include hiking, exploring caves, swimming in waterfalls, learning about the Mayan culture, snorkeling and diving in the unique Blue Hole.
This Northern Hemisphere diving area has atolls and hundreds of mangroves and coral sand islands. It’s home to one of the world’s largest populations of threatened West Indian manatees, endangered sharks and marine turtles.
Staying at the Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort, I learned that this eco-friendly resort is committed to making a change to protect Belize by implementing a daily reduce, reuse and recycle program. When guests enter their beach front room or tree-house suite, they receive stainless steel water bottles as welcome gifts. Guests are encouraged to re-fill their bottles with purified water from the room and take the bottles on daily adventure tours. Snorkel and dive boats have an igloo filled with purified cold water, as do the travel vans taking guests to hiking destinations, exploring caves and learning about Mayan history. There are no empty plastic water bottles littering the ground.
Each room is air conditioned and has ceiling fans above king- and queen-size comfortable Savvy Rest organic mattresses made with natural latex foam. This is the first resort outside of the United States to use these mattresses. The beautifully tiled bathrooms offer luxury beauty products in wooden containers that are refilled daily. Rooms have views of the Caribbean Sea or of a jungle filled with a variety of colorful birds. Some rooms are spacious, with a kitchenette and outdoor hammock and whirlpool spa tubs on the deck.
This is a resort for relaxing with no televisions or Wi-Fi in the rooms. There is a single television in the library room and one computer with Wi-Fi. After meals in the main lodge, guests congregate in the library to check their smart phone messages.
In 2014, the resort added the Singanga restaurant on the second floor of the main lodge. It offers indoor and alfresco dining overlooking the pool and beach. The five-star menu features sustainable cuisine from the resort’s large and thriving garden.
Each week the staff puts together cultural presentations to educate guests about Belize. There is information about the Hamanasi Education fund; Hopkins Belize Humane Society and the World Pediatric Project. For guests who chose to offer a donation at the end of their trip, the owners of Hamanasi match the contribution.
Near the Activity Center are bicycles for guests to ride and explore the town of Hopkins. Daily excursions on the dive and snorkel boats take guests to over 15 different sites. All day excursions include a picnic lunch prepared by the Hamanasi staff.
To learn more about Hamanasi Adventure and Dine Resort, go to http://www.hamanasi.com.