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Honduras

Roatán, Honduras - A Caribbean Paradise


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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.
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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.
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AMAZING ISLAND VIEWS

We rented a jeep one day and drove around the island.
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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!
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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.
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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!
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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.
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So serious!
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Needless to say, they were hooked immediately and were able to dive again before Courtney left.
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Now Scott is completing his PADI certification so he will be able to dive elsewhere.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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Scott trying to "walk on water" like the locals!
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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.
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Some areas have deep canyons and the coral is different. The last photo has coral "pots" that are really cool!
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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.)
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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.
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There are these amazing Black Spiny-tailed Iguanas that are only native to this area...
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...and these Green Iguanas, that hang out sunning themselves on tree branches.
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The most prevalent bird (of real interest IMO) here is the Velasquez's Golden-fronted Woodpecker - they are everywhere and noisy!
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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!
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And last but not least the Toucan of Fruit Loops fame! I actually once saw this in the wild in Costa Rica.
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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.
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We were lucky that a baby had just been born - so sweet!
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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.
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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!
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Posted by mrb430 08:55 Archived in Honduras Comments (1)

Goodbye Panama, Hello Honduras


View 2019 on mrb430's travel map.

THE NEW YORK OF THE CARIBBEAN

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We arrived on the Caribbean island of Roatán, Honduras on Tuesday after enjoying a little over a week in Panama City. Just taking a quick look back, we really love Panama City for reasons both explainable and not. Panama City has that special something that NYC has, it's just an extra energy, an extra coolness, that makes you love it more than you probably should. I mean, it has no beaches, it can be dirty and chaotic, it's ridiculously hot and yet...we can actually see ourselves living there. It was an appropriate place to kick off our second year on the road.

THE CITY

Just look at this skyline and some of the iconic architecture.
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At night it is so impressive. Especially when they decide to shoot fireworks off over Casco Viejo.
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There's a beautiful park that stretches the length of the downtown with gardens and bike paths and awesome views back to the downtown.
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There's an amazing seafood market that supplies both individual customers and all of the restaurants with the daily catch.
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And there are outdoor restaurants all around it serving the freshest ceviches and seafood dishes.
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CASCO VIEJO

Add to that the historic area of Casco Viejo that rivals historic San Juan in Puerto Rico or Cartagena. It manages to be old and beautiful without feeling overrun by tourists - a great combination.
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THE CONVENIENCES

Finally, it has just enough of the modern American conveniences to make it easy. We went to the mall and bought a few clothing items we needed but had been unable to find. We went to B-Dubs to watch the final four and championship. We were able to restock some hard to find pharmacy items that had been confiscated (for those of you that read our Q&A, we are on our second pair of tweezers and third pair of cuticle snippers!) We ate tacos that tasted like Mexico, Italian food that tasted like Italy, croissants that tasted like Paris, and wings that tasted like America.

So, if you like cities like we do, make sure to put Panama City on your list and check out the apartment rentals in the Hard Rock hotel where we enjoyed the amazing views from the pool and roof top bar you see above.

BACK ON ISLAND TIME

But now we are in Roatán and back on island time. Our first impressions are really positive! We've been reading about Roatán in International Living magazine for years as a great place to retire so we are excited to finally see what all the fuss is about. And we're thinking w agree. It is a great combination of a Caribbean vacation island look, feel, and vibe with just enough Central America thrown in to make it interesting. Everyone speaks English. There are expats from around the world. It attracts both older and younger tourists so, unlike Bocas, we're not always the oldest person at the bar. There is live music and happy hour specials. If you're looking for somewhere less expensive than the islands you know but with all the fun, I think we can safely recommend you check out Roatán.

OUR HOUSE

We rented a nice house just up a hill behind West End. We rented it quite awhile ago and before we had perfected our checklists apparently because our first surprise was it has no AC! Luckily, it cools off enough in the evenings and the house if full of fans so we aren't uncomfortable. And it gives us a taste of what it really means to live like a local on a Caribbean island!
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As normal, we have a huge porch to hang out on, literally!
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And great neighbors!
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THE ISLAND

The island is insanely lush with huge tropical trees and ferns everywhere.
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It really has a lot of undisturbed areas full of jungle that are amazing to explore.

And it has great beaches, great beach bars, and good restaurants.
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And the snorkeling is world famous. Just look at the reefs surrounding the island we saw flying in.
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Yesterday we went snorkeling and saw TONS of fish just off the beach. The coral in close to shore is not impressive but the fish certainly were. More to come on this with pictures!

And tomorrow Courtney arrives to stay for a week. We are really excited to see her and show her around.

Keep up with us @arrradventures on Instagram.

Posted by mrb430 10:26 Archived in Honduras Comments (1)

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