Roatan - A Caribbean Paradise

Trip Start Aug 16, 2003
Trip End Apr 21, 2004

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Saturday, March 6, 2004

After our escapades in La Ceiba, we were only too pleased to finally arrive on the island of Roatan. With no shortage of taxi drivers meeting the ferry and jostling to compete for business we were soon whisked away to West End Village, reputedly the prettiest place to stay on the island.

It was pitch dark when the cab dropped us off but we both still got a good feeling about the tiny, one street village which was built right on the white sandy beach. Having met the owner of the first place we chose to stay at, who was either very drunk or stoned, we swiftly decided to try somewhere else and were soon checking in to the Dolphin Inn. That evening we had a great meal at The Argentinian Grill, which, judging by the amount of people who had congregated there, was definitely the place to eat on the island.

Whilst Dan didn't mind staying where we were for the duration of our stay, the following morning I persuaded him to have a look around some of the other accommodation to see what was on offer. One of the last places we inspected was the Crystal Beach Resort which had nicely appointed, spacious cabins with big sun porches - and we agreed that at just $5 more per night, it represented far better value than our current lodgings. By midday we'd moved into our new cabin and had been to Coxen Hole and back to withdraw some more money from the one and only bank on the island.

We spent the afternoon snorkeling on the reef which was about 100 yards out to sea. Not long after I'd set off from the shore, while Dan was still putting on his fins, I suddenly spied a huge (well it looked huge under the water) white 'thing' with evil eyes and what looked like a massive 'wing-span' swimming at a tremendous speed straight towards me. Absolutely terrified and frozen with fear, I gasped and quickly popped my head back up above the water (I think my seriously flawed logic was that if I couldn't see it, maybe it wouldn't hurt me) and began counting the seconds down before this strange beast attacked me...

However nothing happened and a little while later I got brave enough to have another look under the water - no sign of anything - maybe I had simply imagined it?! When I recounted my story to Dan he found it highly amusing and I'm sure put it down to my over active imagination. Nevertheless I didn't feel particularly safe the whole time I was in the sea and I couldn't get the scary image out of my head. After about an hour of viewing a variety of different fish and all sorts of coral, we swam back to shore and it was with a certain amount of relief that I climbed back on to dry land.

We chilled out on the porch for the rest of the afternoon, enjoying the late afternoon breeze. I could seriously get used to this life - lazing in a hammock sipping Bacardi. Heaven!

The next day we managed nothing more strenuous than sunbathing, eating and drinking. We strolled around to Half Moon Bay (the beach adjoining West Bay) in the afternoon to investigate the possibility of taking a trip in supposedly the world's deepest tourist submarine. However upon discovering that it went down to a depth of 1,000ft I was a lot less keen, and when the price was revealed - a mere $500 - we both lost all interest!

Relaxing very easily into this lazy way of life and thoroughly enjoying the welcome break from a seemingly endless stream of bus stations, we decided to extend our planned stay on Roatan by a couple of days, and booked a few more nights in our cabin.

We returned to our old favorite, The Argentinian Grill, for our evening meal where the staff had to cope with no less than three consecutive power cuts. We were soon to learn that this is a very common occurrence on Roatan, as is the possibility that water cannot be guaranteed every time you turn on the tap! The fillet of fish I ordered turned out to be a whole red snapper, complete with staring eyes, so both Dan and I were actually quite glad of the power cut induced dimness!

After another delicious plateful of fresh fruit salad (primarily pineapple and watermelon) at our favorite breakfast haunt - the Italian run Pura Vida, we set off on a walk towards Flowers Bay on the other side of the island. We were both glad of the strong breeze which made the searing heat from the sun almost bearable, however we still found the steep, hilly roads fairly hard going at times. Once we made it up to the ridge, we had a great view across the sea on both sides of the island.

We managed to make the wrong choice when we came to an unmarked fork in the road, so rather than getting to Flowers Bay, we ended up arriving at West End Bay (about a 40min walk along the beach from where we were staying in West End Village) much earlier than planned. This was actually a blessing as it was almost too hot to be out walking anyway.

With acres of soft white sand, shady coconut palms and crystal blue water, it was quickly apparent why West End Bay is billed as the best beach on the island. We sneaked a sunbed out of one of the resorts lining the beach and settled in for a few hours of sunbathing (or more accurately - chilling out in the shade). Having hired some snorkeling gear we then took it in turns to swim out to the reef where we enjoyed seeing a variety of fish (unfortunately I don't know any of their names).

Our attempts to get a snack at the beach failed miserably as it appeared that unless you were a resident at one of the resorts, they didn't want to know. So by mid-afternoon we decided to walk back to the village via the beach. We had to cross a high bridge over a channel leading into the sea on our way back and it was here that we both got an excellent aerial view of an 'Eagle Ray' - I could now identify the 'monster' that had nearly 'attacked' me the other day - of course the one I saw was much bigger and scarier!!

Once we'd both doused ourselves in after sun lotion to soothe our bright red skin, we had a few drinks, while watching the sun sink very quickly, on the deck of 'Eagle Ray's Bar and Grill' which is located right over the water. At the end of the evening we had the horrible realisation that we couldn't pay for our meal as the credit card machine wasn't working and we'd run out of cash! Luckily the owner said she was happy for us to come back and pay tomorrow.

Dan very kindly let me have a lie in the following morning while he made the trip to Coxen Hole to get some more money out. Once we'd settled the bill from the previous evening we had a lazy morning, making use of the book exchange near our cabin. After an early lunch, we hired more snorkeling gear and wandered down to Half Moon Bay. We both went snorkeling together for most of the afternoon (with a short beer break) and probably saw the best array of fish that we'd seen so far. At one stage, Dan had just pointed out an octopus to me and we were watching it patiently, when two American women came barging in, seemingly from out of sight, (knocking me out of the way in the process) and of course scaring the octopus straight under the nearest rock! Neither of us was amused!

We spent our last day on Roatan sunbathing on the beach and lounging about on our porch (for a change), taking it in turns to fall asleep in the hammock. We had enjoyed a great week of relaxation and neither of us relished the prospect of rising at 4.45am the following morning in order to catch the early ferry out of Roatan and to recommence our travels.

Andrea and Dan

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