Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Roatan Paradise

When it's been snowing on and off for five months and the temperature has not been above 40 F in that same period, it is time for a vacation to remember what it feels like to be WARM.  So take that, Winter ... I escaped to Roatan, Honduras!

I had never heard of this beautiful little island until a friend's aunt relocated there for the winter and invited us to visit.  We didn't even think about that offer ... immediate YES!  Plane tickets first, planning later.

Roatan is amazing.  I know that one big reason it was a fantastic trip was because we had "local" guides who already knew their way around, so we didn't suffer through the usual bumbling trial and error of trying to scope out the lay of the land and figure out the good places to eat and hang out and snorkel and all of that.  Not only has my friend's aunt already been there for a month or so, but she has met an amazing group of expats who have lived there for a year or more, so we were in good hands!

We stayed in a little community called Turtle Crossing, composed predominantly of rentals as far as I understand, near West Bay.  The small community pool was right by our little house.  All the houses have huge porches and decks and afford beautiful views of the coast, which is known as the Iron Shore because it is all lava rock.  No beaches on that side, but the lava rock formations look like a peculiar garden and there are public gazebos that give access straight to the water.

West Bay is the westernmost settlement on the island, with a lovely stretch of beach that provides fantastic snorkeling and other water opportunities.  We went snorkeling in the reefs near the point once and saw a parrotfish that was at least two feet long!  There are also heaps of great beachside bars and restaurants with delicious and inexpensive food and delicious and inexpensive drinks.  Most of them offer different specials every day, and varying forms of entertainment in the evening, from fire dancers to live music to movies broadcast onto a screen floating in the ocean.  We found ourselves eating lunch at Beacher's after morning dives, and enjoying dinner and drinks at Bananarama on more than one occasion.

We took a water taxi from West Bay to West End on our first night for a mandatory sunset viewing from a beach bar called Sundowners, and then walked through the little town to eat the most amazing rotisserie chicken at a place that is called Rotisserie Chicken, I think.  It's literally a few plastic tables and chairs on a deck around the kitchen, and the sign out front says "rotisserie chicken" and it was absolutely delicious.  Find it!

And the diving.  Wow the diving.  We did four dives total with the TGI Dive Center located at Infinity Bay resort (link) and they were all fantastic.  We did a reef dive, wall dive, wreck dive, and a phenomenal drift dive that carried us around the point of the island and ended in the open ocean down towards Turtle Crossing. Visibility was great, at least 80+ feet, and with the wetsuits on, the water was comfortable.  The gear is a bit old, especially the wetsuits, but serviceable.  We saw parrotfish and barracuda and a school of jacks and scorpion fish and groupers and of course all manner of the smaller colorful fish to be found on a reef.  Our guides, Luka and Ruben, were really friendly and helpful and awesome to dive with.  We hadn't really planned on diving more than the one morning, but it was too good to not take advantage of a few more while we had the time!!  I wish I could have stayed!

Of course, our day trip to Little French Key didn't make the leaving any easier.  This place is the beautiful stereotype of what probably leaps to mind when you hear 'tropical paradise.'  It's an island of white sand with groves of palms strung with hammocks, palm-thatched water-side bars and palm-thatched tables in the turquoise water, with colorful birds and a handful of monkeys (all rescued).  We snorkeled, we ate, we swam, we napped in hammocks, and soaked up the general splendor for one full relaxing day.  It was amazing.

Go to Roatan.  Christine will set you up for a wonderful, relaxing, WARM AND SUNNY experience!!  U.S. citizens, all you need is a passport that is still valid for at least six months!  No visas, although there is an exit fee of approximately $38 when you depart the country.

For me, it is now back to the cold reality of Spring and Winter struggling for precedence and Winter still winning more battles than I would like.  But at least I have a bit of a tan (at least for the next week) to remind me that two days ago I was happily swimming in a pool at 6am and it was glorious.

(All photos taken by moi, and belong to moi.  No reproducing them without my permission, gracias.  Unless you buy them at Shutterstock or Dreamstime.)

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