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Arrival onto Roatan

Written on: Saturday August 11th, 2007

A journal entry from: Honduras, AUG07

I find the first day of a new trip to be fun!  Sure, you have to get up early to catch the flight.  Yeah, there may be time changes to deal with.  But the excitement and anticipation of what lies ahead is one of my favorite things!  And today Liz and I are both experiencing this as we head off to Roatan, Honduras, one of the Bay Islands in the Caribbean Sea.  And what makes this day all the more special is using frequent flyer miles for both of our tickets!  Free travel, baby!

Our flight was direct to Roatan, which saved us a half day of transfer time compared to the other option of flying to mainland Honduras.  This meant that by 3:00pm, we'd be on a beach.  Sure enough, after a taxi ride to West End, the sleepy little fishing town on the Western tip of the island (not to be confused with West Bay, which is a few miles South of West End), we made it to our surprisngly gorgeous room and changed into beach attire.

We stayed at Casa del Sol, http://www.westendroatan.com/casadelsol.html, a short stroll from the Half Moon Bay beach, which is the start of the main strip in town.  We could not have asked for better accommodations at this price.  Plus, the diving shop was right next door!  After much debate, we chose Seagrape dive shop, http://www.seagraperoatan.com/padi/diveshop-roatan.html to lead us into the abyss.  They were professional yet fun, and most dives had only 2-4 divers at a time, which was very nice.

We spent the mornings diving, after which we usually grabbed a tasy catch-of-the-day at our favorite restaurant, Mavis & Dixie's.  Oh my this was good!  Snapper, grouper and even tuna one day.  This was a spot at which we quickly became regulars.

The afternoons were spent exploring, either on foot or via a scooter from our friends on the beach.  One afternoon we tried to go across the island ot hunt for some caches, only to be poured upon after five minutes!  We took shelter at a nearby dive resort and learned a bit more about the area.  On the return we spotted a virtual cache and had the good fortune on coming across a few mango trees on public land.  Mmmm!  We brought back quite a few to snack on throughout this first portion of our trip.

We also took a few journeys to West Bay, the slightly ritzier resort town to the South.  The journey over on the scooter was magnifiscent!  Beautiful rolling mountains overlooking reef filled waters below.  Snorkeling at West Bay was far better than West End, but you had to be careful with your belongings while in the water.  There were several young men prowling around the area that looked suspicious.  We simply swam out 20 meters along the rock wall and stashed our bag in a wall opening: safe and difficult to get to.  Snorkeling here we found shallow pockets of hard corals as you swim out about 100'.  After that there is a dropoff to approx 40', which proved popular with large groupers and barracudas hunting the fish in the shallows.  We also saw tons of conch, starfish, the usual tropical fish, and octopus and a stonefish.  Not bad for the shallows of a popular area.

Evenings on Roatan were enjoyable, both with trying the different restaurants and watching the diversity of people.  There were formal dining places and laid back beach bars.  There were real estate junkies who not only bragged about how they swindled locals out of a few acres, but also how anybody who tried to mess with them will end up swimming with the fishes permanently.  There were characters such as Captain Ron, the ex-pat who had an interesting background of hard core hiking and climbing; the real estate guy with te blond friend, who we saw most days at Dixie's having a beer and getting way inside Liz's personal space; there was the unfriendly taxi boat driver, who apparently didn't like anybody that knew the REAL price for a transfer to West Bay; and there was Booty, our neighbor who came to Honduras for other reasons.

Roatan was laid back, fun and cheap.  Most of the people that we met traveling here were cool.  Most of the locals were cool.  Most of the ex-pats were...questionable. 

But all is good, as we now prepare to go to the mainland for some adventure, jungle style!