We got up at 4 am, checked out and took a taxi (5 minutes) to the airport. After a short stop in San Salvador, we arrived in Roatan (Honduras) around 10 am, and were picked up by our prebooked driver. Based on recommendations from travel friends we had decided to stay in West End, a small, laid-back beach town which is the island’s center for diving. Originally we planned to stay for 4 days, but we kind of fell in love with the place and the people and ended up spending 10 wonderful days here. It was also nice to be able to speak English again. Because of the island’s past as a British colony, this is the first language here.
Roatán is the largest of The Bay Islands, and is located on the edge of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the 2nd largest in the world. This makes it a great place for diving, with numerous great dive sites to choose from, just a few minutes from the dock. We were diving with a company called Reef Gliders, where we quickly became regulars, doing two dives most days. We also ended up doing our Advanced Open Water certification here, including peak performance buoyancy, navigation, deep dive, wreck dive and drift dive. So much fun (except the theory we had to read in the evenings)!
Especially the peak performance buoyancy where we learned to swim through hoops and really be in control under water made a huge difference on the rest of our dives. Navigation was also fun, and made us pay more attention to where we were going. We went diving with several different instructors, dive masters and DMT’s, and probably had the most fun with Kim, Hagn and Brian. Everyone at the shop were great though, giving us tips and tricks, suggesting dive sites and even changed the schedule for us a couple of times. Our favourite dives where probably the Aquila wreck (32 meter) combined with Pillar coral and Hole in the wall (34 meter), a cool swimtrough where we drifted to another site to see a very rare frogfish at the end of the dive. We had several other good dives with nice corals, king crabs, parrotfish, lionfish, trumpetfish, lobsters, large groupers, different moray eels, sting rays, flounders, a few sea turtles and so much more!
Another important reason for us hanging around this long was the wonderful place we were staying, and the great friends we made there. Roatan Bed & Breakfast is located in a charming house on top of a small hill 5-10 minutes walk from the main street. The owner, Barbara, is one of the sweetest people we have ever met, and she really spoiled us with large breakfasts, lots of margaritas and great company. Together with Blaine (a divemaster from the US) we found our home away from home, had loads of fun and pretty much turned into one big happy family (including Pepperoni the cat). We started each day drinking coffee in the balcony, had breakfast together in the kitchen and met again in the balcony in the afternoon to share photos and videos from our dives. A few other guests also joined us from time to time, and especially Kelley fit right in from the moment we met. Too bad she couldn’t stay longer.
We went out a few nights, having drinks at Blue Marlin, listening to talented local musicians at Monkey Island, singing karaoke (mainly Blaine and Hagn) and dancing at Lands end, drinking beer with dive friends at Sundowners, eating street food and jamming with the locals by the fire at the beach. But most nights we went home after diving to see the sunset from the roof terrace, sharing some beers, margaritas and Cuba Libre, laying on our backs watching the stars, sharing travel stories while waiting for the moon to rise, playing music and just having a great time.
On new year’s eve Blaine (who had some local friends from previous visits) told us that the party would be at Sundowners and that we should join him, which of course we did. We arrived fairly early, after a few strong margaritas with Barbara. A few beers later one of us found out that we had not eaten anything, so we went out for some street food (tacos). When we came back the party had really started with live bands and loads of people and we had a lot of fun. At midnight we were standing at the beach watching the fireworks, having a sigar and a lot of hugs going around. At 2 am the party and we started to be a little slower so we desided to go skinny dipping. We found a small beach by Reef Gliders, but the water was so shallow that we could barely swim. Still refreshing and fun though! We ended the party back home on the first floor balcony.
The last full day Barbara and Fredrik left the Bed & Breakfast for a haircut at 0930 (payment for wide angle photos of the guest rooms). This became a full day of driving taxi back and forth between the supermarket, bank and funiture shop trying to get a new mattress for one of the rooms. They came home with all the ingrediences for a great omelet breakfast our last day, locally produced organic chocolates, delicious ice cream and everything needed to make Bloody Mary’s. We really made the most of the rest of our time there, and even managed to convince Barbara to join us to the Blue Marlin in the evening. Lots of our dive friends were there, so we got to say goodbye to pretty much everyone. Our flight was leaving at 1215 pm, and we delayed the departure to the airport as long as possible so that we had time for one last “family breakfast” with these amazing people. It was really sad to say goodbye, but we have already made plans to meet everyone again. Can’t wait!