We’re taking a break from Guatemala, Spanish lessons and culture overload by hanging out in the Caribbean on the Honduran island of Roatan. When we planned this whole trip, I looked at the map and couldn’t believe we’d be so close to the Caribbean without getting to it, so we included Roatan. Guatemala is a great destination, and we’ve had a wonderful family trip, but it isn’t regarded as having good beaches, so for me, a beach person, this side trip is essential. We’ll be here for three days.
We leave Antigua desperately early in a taxi to Guatemala City. From there we fly to Roatan through San Salvador. The latter looks like a nice, modern airport and we try get some local currency but they only have US $. We arrive in Roatan late morning and get a taxi to our hotel, Bananarama on West Bay.
We’re in a spacious upstairs cabin with a hammock on the balcony and a lot of room inside. It’s pretty simple but after our experiences with accommodation in Antigua seems almost plush. Certainly not the extreme rustic conditions we read about on Tripadvisor a few days ago. Best of all though we’re about a minute from the beach, and no shoes are even needed to get there. The beach is terrific, white and wide and of course the sea is amazing.
It takes us only a few minutes to start paddling about. Ilani and Liora are going diving, but that’s only tomorrow. Even food is right there in the form of a beach bar (Thirsty Turtle), which seems quite attractive at first (after a few days, the same choice of nuggets, chicken wings and fries will get a little tiresome). There are a number of hotels on the beach like ours but it’s very quiet. We’re loaded up with all sorts of creams and remedies for the expected onslaught of sand fleas but thankfully that never comes.
We’re in the water for hours. When we’re done, there’s nothing much to do other than eat at the Thirsty Turtle and walk around. There’s a tiny shopping area (I could not use the word ‘center’) up the road but it’s mostly closed. So we relax and go to bed.
Next day is the big dive for Ilani and Liora. He’s been nagging, planning, dreaming, studying leading up to this and all credit to my wife for agreeing to do it with him. I’m a little torn – I’d like to do it, but we only have three days at the sea and I feel I have to spend every waking moment swimming, which I do.
After a very poor breakfast, the divers go off while we go to the shops up the road. We find a really lovely coffee shop run by two retired American women and we get pastries and an iced coffee for me. Then we hit the beach and swim the whole day, interrupted only by a quick lunch.
The dive is apparently most successful and enjoyed by all. They regale us, but mainly themselves, with stories of what they saw, breathing, and other diving technicalities. They plan to do another dive tomorrow. I’m so proud of both of them and a little envious as well.
We decide to go into town – West End – for dinner. It seems like it will be fun, and we can’t really eat another meal at the Thirsty Turtle. One can walk to West End along the beach, but we get a water taxi which feels like a novel idea. West End is an interesting ‘town’. Essentially it’s a sandy street with a number of restaurants, hotel like establishments and bars on either side, mostly on stilts. For a sandy street there’s quite a lot of traffic, so one has to be careful. It only takes about ten minutes to traverse the whole street and realize there isn’t much there, but we find a good grilled chicken place and enjoy ourselves thoroughly. Later there are no water taxis around – it’s too dark – so we get a conventional taxi back.
Next day is much like the last. The divers are doing a small dive and we’re lolling about in the water all day. We rent a water scooter type thing for an hour (a very difficult exercise actually as we have to pay in cash and the single cash machine at the hotel next door is not working. But we work it all out and everyone’s happy. We get to go far out in the open sea (our instructor tells us to go straight and we’ll hit Belize) and I try getting the raft to hit 40 mph, but it’s a little scary. But Benjy and Dani have a blast.
The following day, Tuesday, we’re off from this great interlude. True, it hasn’t really been a cultural or learning experience; true we haven’t improved our Spanish or immersed ourselves in local custom; true we haven’t gotten to know Honduras. But nothing beats the glorious colors of the Caribbean and the incredible collective family memories we’ll always share from these few days.