In mid-February I went to Roatan, one of the Bay Islands in Honduras, for a wonderful week with my dad. The weather was spectacular — warm, sunny and clear everyday. If there’d been a way to send for my cats, and I had no need for income from my desk job in Toronto, I might’ve stayed forever.
I thawed and recharged in the Honduran sun
We stayed at Cocolobo Hotel in West End
We stayed at Cocolobo Hotel, a small hotel and one of the nicest in West End. It’s reasonably priced and attracts mostly Canadian and American guests. The hotel is a 5 minute walk into town but just far enough away to be quiet at night so you can sleep in peace with your shutters open, enjoying the sounds of the ocean. My dad and I stayed in the ground-floor Oak Ridge suite, which has two double beds and is adjacent to the pool. The sea view was absolutely perfect. The hotel has a small but nice pool and I loved the floating chairs, which were perfect to read in. and it’s a friendly place where it’s easy to chat with other guests. Some of the folks staying own their units and come for long stretches. These are the people you want to meet! They know where to dine out, go snorkeling, shop, and park your rental car (which was surprisingly challenging).
The snorkeling is some of the best anywhere on the planet
Roatan has the second longest barrier reef in the world (after, you know, Australia’s) and it’s just off beach in many places. This means you can have a nice beach-side lunch at Ginger’s Restaurant, put on your snorkel and fins right there and be exploring the reef moments later.
A friendly guest at Cocolobo, who spends winters there, took me snorkeling in Half Moon Bay, pointing out all kinds of amazing curiosities to me. A bearded fireworm! French angelfish! A magnificent feather duster! Urchins! Parrotfish galore! Lobsters! Surgeonfish, damselfish, sergeant majors, clown wrasses, goatfish, grunts, butterflyfish!
Tempted to go back and take diving lessons
While I thoroughly loved the snorkeling, I also saw half the guests at Cocolobo go diving everyday. The Mesoamerican reef in Roatan attracts divers from all over the world. I definitely plan to go back to Roatan and am considering taking diving lessons next time.
Rash guards and dive skins
I wore a t-shirt-style rash guard and lathered myself pasty white with reef-safe, biodegradable sunscreen before setting out snorkeling. I nevertheless burnt my butt and the back of my legs. The pro tip is to wear a full dive skin so you don’t need to bother with sunscreen. Duly noted for next time. Also, rub baby shampoo in your mask to keep it from fogging.
But… limited time only because the oceans are dying
It’s occurred to me that diving is one of those ‘enjoy-it-while-it-lasts’ activities and time is running out. Warming oceans are causing devastating coral bleaching, among other problems. As a fairly regular visitor to St. Lucia, I’ve watched the abundance of fish there shrink drastically over the last 20 years. Roatan would be no different; I can only imagine the reef there was absolutely teeming back then. I wouldn’t say it’s teeming now, but it’s still magical. But I’d urge you to go soon if you’re at all interested.