~Roatan (Honduras)~

Trip Length: 7 Days

Activities: Snorkeling, Sailing, Deep Sea Fishing

Day 1 - Getting to Roatan

Roatan, one of Honduras’ Caribbean bay islands is truly paradise. With sand as soft as flour, water as blue and clear as the sunny skies, and endless activities to get into, you’ll find yourself looking to stay an extra month! And the food! There is something for everyone and if you love seafood as much as us, you could eat something unique and spiced to perfection for every meal.

Book a flight! For most flights you’ll find yourself making one connection but fly from Atlanta or Houston and you’ll be there direct! Transportation to and from the airport is typically included with your stay. *Tips are always graciously received*

Documents → Don’t forget your passport. Although a visa is NOT required, you need to show your passport at customs to enter.

 

Money – USD is accepted everywhere, however, the only ATMs that provide USD after arriving to the island are found in the airport. You have two options; bring USD with you or make sure to grab some before you leave the airport to your resort or hotel. Don’t fret though. You can also use Lempira; Roatan’s currency. Lempira is available at the ATMs found throughout the island.

Where to? We chose the area on the island known as West Bay. Here you’ll find several options for staying ranging from hotels, resorts, cottages and even an Airbnb. We stayed at The Grand Roatan Caribbean Resort. Nestled at the very end of the island and beach, this secluded, relaxing resort offers multiple pools + a hot tub, beachfront 5-star meals, chair-side service, umbrellas, excursions, and more! This is not an all-inclusive resort but does offer free breakfast each morning. *NOTE* This island is a cruise destination. The traffic on the beaches ebbs and flows like the waves over the sand as visitors arrive into port.

What to bring → Summer clothing of course! A lite sweater for the evening “chill”, a hat, plenty of sunscreen and your snorkel/scuba gear too!    

Wild Life – If you’re lucky enough to see one, stay quiet and snap a photo of the Roatan Island Agouti. Endemic to the island of Roatan, this furry oversized guinea pig is a site to see. Often nibbling on hibiscus, don’t miss them! They may even show up on your menu as ‘island rabbit’

 

Oh, and watch your step! The iguana will challenge you for space in the sun ☺

Day 2 - Soaking up some sun

The motivation behind your trip will steer your plans for each day. West Bay is known for its beautiful coral reef just 20 yards off the beach. Yes! You can swim to the reef and snorkel as many times a day as you’d like!

Fish – From barracuda to angel fish to squid, plan to see it all! No joking, HERE is what you’ll see. Prepare to be in awe and talking about all the beauty you saw beneath the water’s surface with child-like enthusiasm!

Pools and swim up bar – You won’t find a drink you don’t love here! I recommend introducing the Monkey La La into your beverages of the day. Who can pass up the island rum, with its perfect amount of delicious spice, ADD it to the fresh coconut water being sold on the beach. I dare you!

Massage – Don’t be afraid to chat up the locals selling items or services on the beach. The full body massage for $20 USD for 40 minutes under the shade of palm tree with the lapping waves brought relaxation to another level.

Activities - You’ll often find yourself strolling the beach after a nap in your beach chair...snorkeling really takes it out of you ;-) You’ll be approached by many locals roaming the beach offering all kinds of fun to be had. Get an idea of what you’d like to pack into your schedule BUT 1 piece of advice--- SHOP AROUND. Good deals are out there!

Eats - Feel like delicious island inspired food? You don’t have to go far. Take a stroll down the beach and the options are endless. We settled for an amazing seafood pizza covered in shrimp, clams, calamari and more! Cayuco Beach Bar did not disappoint :-)

 

Day 3 - Getting on Island Time

Step 1 - Swimsuit, Step 2 - Free breakfast and coffee in the adirondack chairs on the beach, Step 3 - snorkel, Step 4 - sunset catamaran cruise, and Lastly Step 5 - Beachers Bar and Grill for their famous coconut shrimp.

Beach chairs are always a plenty as well as the hot sun.  Each set of chairs has its own umbrellas and a plus is that the resort does NOT rent out chairs to visitors which keeps the grounds quiet and the beach out front with little activity (at Grand Roatan). **If you choose a different resort, check with them before booking to inquire if beach chairs are rented out to ‘cruisers’; people who stop on the island from their cruise ship for 5-6 hours. This can impact the island getaway feel.

You NEVER want to pass up a sunset catamaran cruise. Between $45-50 per person, the cost won’t cross your mind after the amazing experience you’ll have. There is music, fresh fruit kabobs, brews and other drinks, and clear beautiful ocean waters as far as the eye could see. Don’t hesitate to jump off for a snorkel at the Turtle Crossing Reef. You'll find yourself dwarfed by the underwater canyon made up of 50 foot coral reef walls. You may just get to see a 4 ft barracuda! 

Dinner - Beachers Restaurant - A short stroll down the beach from Grand Roatan, Beachers is a local staple. We were told the coconut shrimp was a MUST here! We verified this report but you’ll  have to test it for yourself!

Pull up a table or chill at the bar to get the scoop on the island from Richard; your friendly neighborhood bartender who will chat you up about the island’s people, hidden treasures of the area and the oh-so delicious Monkey La La drink. What’s that you ask? This drink will leave you wanting more! The perfect blend of Bailey’s, Kahlua, vodka, coconut cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce will have you feel’n the island vibes. *NOTE* Come here on Saturday and the place will be packed to the gills! Brion James and the West End Players band is scheduled to play. We hear Brion is one of Prince’s lead guitarists and prefers to play here drawing in the sun-kissed crowd ready for round two.

Night Snorkeling →  Want to continue your snorkeling into the evening hours? No problem! Grab a headlamp from a local outfitter and your snorkel gear and experience another side of the ocean’s sea life. Night time is when lobster, eel and glowing creatures come out to show off their beauty. If you’re brave enough to jump in, the creatures are waiting!

 

Day 4 - Breakfast, beach chair, snorkel, repeat!

Another sunny day where the adventures are endless. After a full day of relaxation, fun or both hop into a water taxi and take the short jaunt by wooden boat up the beach to West End; ask for Captain Harvey with Three Sisters. This lovely spot on the island is a quaint little town with a variety of shops, bars, coffee stops, and you guessed it; more beaches!

“Where should we eat” we asked captain Harvey, a quiet boat captain seated at the back of his trusty, blue wooden boat with one hand on the motor. With a smile he spouted off a few options but confirmed by pointing a finger at a beach bungalow looking restaurant on the water. Thai food.

BEST Thai food you’ll ever have - Thai Blue Elephant sits beachfront to the West Ends beautiful cove. You maybe thinking, Thai food in Roatan!? Don’t think… Just eat! You won’t want to miss out on this delicious opportunity while you watch the sunset over the water.

This was the night we planned a deep water fishing excursion with Harvey that would leave us with stories of grand fish and torrential rain fall as we navigated the great waters of the Caribbean Sea off the island of Roatan.

 

 

Day 5 - Morning coffee with your new island pup. Yes Please!

Visits from friendly, local pups on the beach are normal. This morning I sipped coffee, shared some sweet bread and watched the iguana trying to hide in plain site on the volcanic rock sea wall with a sweet island dog. Our ‘to-do’ list for the day was coming along nicely ;-)

 

“Here he comes, I said.” A local islander singing the words each morning up and down the beach, ‘aaaayyyyy banana bread, aaaaaayyy coco-nut bread’ over and over, we had to see what the fuss was all about. Feeling that late morning hunger, we nibbled the fresh banana bread we bought that morning and asked what the secret ingredient was that made it so flavorful. According to the seller, ‘nutmeg’ was the key. :-)  

Only having a night vision of the West End, we wanted to take a closer peak at all the fun stuff under the afternoon’s sun. We hailed our water taxi and headed back up the beach via water for some shopping, cold drinks, and lunch.

 

Local Art - For one of a kind trinkets to bring home to your loved ones, we recommend stopping into the local art shop; Rusty Fish. From jewelry to magnets and other beautiful works of creativity, you’ll bring home a true piece of the island with the handcrafted items made of recycled goods found around the island.

SunDowners Beach Bar - From the top deck of this restaurant, you’ll find yourself sipping a Salva Vida and  munching on a fish sandwich looking out over the water. From here you’ll see an old sailboat anchored in Half Moon Bay which calls to your inner child. Outfitted with a rope swing, climbing wall and high dive platform, swim out to it for a bunch of fun. If you’re unsure of how to enjoy this jungle gym in the ocean, the local kiddos will show you how it’s done!

Iron Shore Bar and Grill After a long day roaming the island, dinner at the resort restaurant was spectacular. Lobster tail burgers, Garifuna Soup, and Tres Leches cake for dessert; we were more than satisfied. Accompanied by a local artist singing creative versions of 70s rock music to her guitar, the lite breeze blowing outside and the cool sand beneath your feet, the day was wrapping up just how we expected.

 

Day 6 - El Dia De La Pesca!

The day of fishing was upon us… albeit we weren’t scheduled to go deep sea fishing with Harvey until 3 pm but the excitement was palpable. We had seen the locals cleaning their catches on the pier, had eaten the fresh catches at local restaurants and maybe even seen these beautiful fish while snorkeling but today we were ‘guaranteed’ to catch a TUNA.

We had scheduled this excursion on a whim with Captain Harvey of Three Sisters Charters as he drove us back from West End in his water taxi. The price was unbeatable; $30 per person for 2 hours on the water. The boat was not fancy and its ability to hold up against the ocean waves, questionable, but she had adventure written all over her.

Welcomed by Captain Harvey and Demitri with big smiles and jokes, we boarded the boat ready for action. We headed south toward the point of the island. Flying over waves and chatting with our friends while 4 lines trolled behind the boat, we waited anxiously for the unwinding of a real. Before long we hit it big! I mean, our first HUGE tuna was on the line. Iridescent in color the black finned tuna pulled out of the water was a sight to see.

We continued north. Demetri, the best fishing guide assistant we could have asked for, filled us in on the history of the island, its different communities tucked into the mountain side, and where the languages, people, and cultures came from.

“Wow, look at that rainbow. It’s so bright” Then it all happened. The biggest squall of rain was on top of us; chaos ensued! The boat was thrown around, rain blurring our vision, we were instantly soaked, as Harvey remained calm and turned the little boat back into the storm. As the bow turned, the lines straightened and the rain let up, three lines screamed with the weight of tuna that hit the squid-shaped lures all at once! 4 tuna later, we pulled up to the pier, soaked but with permanent smiles across our faces, stories ringing from our mouths about surviving “a monsoon” out on the open water, and fighting 3 tuna back to the boat with rods twice the size of us. It was exactly how we imagined it and I’m sure exactly how Harvey had it planned out all along :-)

Tuna Steaks for Dinner → Demetri cleaned the 1 largest tuna for our group of 4 to share. Tossing some money to our chef at the resort, we had tuna steaks made up 3 different ways that evening; blackened, island style, and sesame-teriyaki.

A perfect end to our island get-away.

 

Thank you Roatan for your beauty, friendship, and adventure. We will be back!  

Brittany & Trevor Steffensen