04.12.2019 - 04.24.2019
WEST END AND WEST BAY
As I said in the last post, we are in love with Roatán. It has such a cool, chill vibe and is filled with fun, beautiful places and people. The Main Street of West End, where we are staying, fronts on the beach so the views from the bars and restaurants are awesome.
West Bay is also very nice but much more touristy. It's where the cruise boats take most visitors and is jam packed with beach bars, lounge chairs, and vendors. But it's a nice place to hang out on non-cruise-ship days and it has some awesome snorkel spots.
AMAZING ISLAND VIEWS
We rented a jeep one day and drove around the island.
The island is long and narrow and the center has a spine that runs along it from which you can see both sides of the island - from beach to beach. The roads down to the beaches from there are steep and winding and really fun to drive. Although, I can see why no one drives when it's raining!
The farthest north we got was the Garafuna village of Punta Gorda. It's a beautiful spot along the coast and was quiet the day we were there but I hear it can be a lot of fun when the Garafuna get their party on.
The reefs, beaches, and blue waters are around every turn and are stunning! It was a great drive. I even got to practice my stick-shift driving! We ended the day back at TranquilSeas in Sandy Bay, quickly becoming a favorite hang out!
A DIVERS DREAM
Roatan's fringing coral reef is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world, that runs from Mexico, down to Panama and amazingly surrounds the island completely. It's just off shore in many places so easily accessible for snorkeling from the beach and it also supports a ton of dive shops all over the island. Scott has been wanting to try diving for awhile now but due to some physical limitations (nothing serious!) I haven't wanted to do it. Enter Courtney! We hadn't seen this before but here they offer Discovery Dives, which basically teach you the very basic skills and put you in the water for a dive within four hours. It was the perfect opportunity for them to try it out.
Needless to say, they were hooked immediately and were able to dive again before Courtney left.
Now Scott is completing his PADI certification so he will be able to dive elsewhere.
Never fear for me! I ride along on the dive boat and snorkel the reefs, hang out with the captains, and generally enjoy the views of the island and reef from the water.
It also doesn't hurt that they chose the dive shop, Sun Divers, right next to our favorite bar, Sundowners on Half Moon Bay. Free beach chairs, the bar just up a short flight of steps, sandy feet and wet bathing suits welcome!
Just out front in the bay there is awesome snorkeling, a rope swing off a converted sailboat, the iSoar (double-entendre intended), anchored in the bay, and some of the best sunsets on the island. It's also the bar where we can watch the Caps in the NHL playoffs (so sad about last night!) and participate in a Sunday night Game of Thrones viewing party! No wonder it's our favorite.
Scott trying to "walk on water" like the locals!
TURTLES, FISH, AND CORAL
There are three turtles living in Half Moon Bay. Courtney and Scott saw one and I was able to shoot this video of one. Check it out! I could have watched it all day.
Swimming here is like swimming in a huge aquarium. It's hard to capture the breath-taking color and quantity of the fish and coral but here's a few. It's amazing to see how well the fish match their environments. Sometimes it's hard to pick out the fish in a photo! You'll just have to come here to see it in person for the true experience.
Some areas have deep canyons and the coral is different. The last photo has coral "pots" that are really cool!
A NATURE LOVERS DREAM COME TRUE
Agoutis, Lizards, and Birds - oh my!
Roatán is truly a tropical, jungle paradise. It is filled with tropical vegetation, birds, lizards, and animals of every sort. In our backyard, along with the roosters and chickens we have these little fellows, Roatán Agoutis, rooting around. They're sort of a giant guinea pig. (Note: this is a picture from the sanctuary.)
There are lizards of every sort. Besides the Anole from our last post, which are everywhere (running across our porch, hanging out in trees). There are the house anoles that live up in the house eating insects for us.
There are these amazing Black Spiny-tailed Iguanas that are only native to this area...
...and these Green Iguanas, that hang out sunning themselves on tree branches.
The most prevalent bird (of real interest IMO) here is the Velasquez's Golden-fronted Woodpecker - they are everywhere and noisy!
But I was also fortunate enough to see both migrating Swallow-tailed Kites and Eastern Wood-Peewees. The Kites were special because they are so rare that the eBird folks contacted me to make sure I wasn't making it up!
And then, of course, there are the huge parrots that we only saw with Courtney on our tour of the local Sanctuary. They truly are stunning and maybe one day we'll see them in the wild!
And last but not least the Toucan of Fruit Loops fame! I actually once saw this in the wild in Costa Rica.
Sloths and Monkeys!
But the highlight was seeing the Capuchin monkeys and the sloths at the sanctuary - opposite ends of the animal spectrum! The monkeys run around the cage and jump on and off of you while the sloths just hang on waiting for you to put them back on their branch.
We were lucky that a baby had just been born - so sweet!
BUT MOST OF ALL - SUNSETS!
West Bay and West End, as the names would suggest, face due West so every day is another amazing sunset. We just can't get enough of them! Here are a few favorites among the hundreds we've taken.
COURTNEY COMES TO ROATÁN
And last but not least, we were so happy to have Courtney come to visit for her Spring Break! She persevered through some really rough travel days and delays and we are so thankful. It was really fun to share the island with her and share new experiences - not to mention to have someone else to talk to! You've seen her in a lot of the photos above but here are a few favorites to end on a high note!