The following is a re-post of a piece I wrote for childfreelifeadventures.com a while back. Thanks to Whitney and Paddy!
One of the great gifts of being childfree is the ability to travel. As a couple, Amy and I have the mindset that if there’s an opportunity to go somewhere, either for pleasure or work, we’re in. The result it that we’ve been quite a few great places.
There’s one place though that we keep going back to…well, actually two but that’s a story for another day. This story is about Roatan, Honduras.
Honduras: Murder Capital of the World
Usually when we mention Roatan the first question we get is “Where’s that?” Typically we explain that it is in the southern Caribbean, one of the Bay Islands, along with Guanaja and Utila. These islands are possessions of Honduras. What happens next depends on how much you know about Honduras.
If the answer is “not much”, the next question is often about detailed geography, e.g. “Where exactly is Roatan?” Answer: West and a bit south of Jamaica. Sometimes the question is “How did we hear about Roatan?” Answer: Lance’s sister introduced it to us in 2007.
On the other hand, for people that know a bit about Honduras, their reaction is usually pretty striking. Mostly because Honduras is the murder capital of the world.
Roatan: Caribbean Island
Amy and I don’t let a little thing like sky-high murder rates get in the way of our fun. That’s mainly because most of those murders…actually, pretty much all of those murders…are happening over on the mainland. While the folks on the mainland are killing each other, Roatan and it’s native Garifuna population retain their Caribbean island charm and laid back-ness.
Top 10 Reasons to Go to Roatan
People love a good Top 10 list! Amirite? Here we go…
10. Easy to get to
Flights out of Miami, Houston, and Atlanta will get you to the island in just a few hours. Upon landing, clearing customs is generally quick and painless. From the airport you can reach pretty much anywhere on the island within an hour’s drive with the majority of tourist lodging being less than 30 minutes away.
9. Snorkeling & Diving
Roatan has some of the best and most healthy reefs left in this hemisphere. Even where there is pretty heavy traffic – including the occasional idiots who feel compelled to stand on the coral -the reef surrounding the island is in pretty great shape.
Public Service Announcement: Don’t be an idiot!
Don’t stand on the reef!
If you’re a rum fan, be sure to pick up a few bottles of Flor de Cana at the local market. Even if it is Nicaraguan, not Honduran.
We prefer the 7 year both for mixed drinks and for sipping straight up on the rocks. The 5 year is pretty great too, but a little rough for sipping straight. If you’re a fan of mojitos, pick up a bottle of Flor de Cana’s white rum.
If you’re a beer snob you may find the local offerings less than stellar. But for us it’s not about that. Beer on a tropical island is for staying hydrated. And nothing beats Salva Vida for that on a hot day! It’s a real life saver!
See what I did there?
6. West Bay Beach
West Bay Beach is a gem of a beach. It’s beautiful white sands reach for nearly a mile. This is probably the most touristy and built up resort area on the island, yet incredibly, the reef grows right up to the shore in areas and the wall is incredible if you swim out to it. It’s a perfect place to spend a day snorkeling and/or getting sun while always just a few steps away from bars and restaurants.
5. Cruise Shippers
So, Amy and I are not big fans of cruises. When we travel we actually like to enjoy the local scene, not bring a gigantic slice of ‘merica with us.
The joy we do get out of cruises is sometimes hanging with the folks off the boat. Why? Because they always seem so disoriented and rushed and generally stressed! After all, if they miss the boat, they’re screwed. They’ve got to down their beers as fast as possible, see the few feet of Roatan they’re allowed to, and then get back on board so they can do it again tomorrow on some other island they won’t remember very well!
For us, this is a fun reminder of how relaxed and chill we are.
4. The East End
Speaking of cruise shippers, sometimes you need to get away from them. There’s no better way to do that than a day trip to the east end of the island. Roatan is a long, narrow island with essentially one road running the length, so getting lost is almost not an option.
We sometimes drive our rented car or, more fun, rent scooters for the day. We stop along the way for food, beverage, and scenery. A few of our favorites stops are
- Marble Hill Farms: local jams and jellies (and drinks)
- Temporary Cal’s Cantina: food, amazing views, and drinks
- Paya Bay Resort: food, amazing views, private beach, and drinks
- La Sirena: food, amazing views, and drinks
Starting to detect a theme? Anywho…
Roatan has great fresh seafood. You can pick some up at local grocery stores, but even better, you can often buy right off a boat. Or, if you’re the fishing type, you can charter boats. Your options include small skiffs that will take you just offshore, past the reef, to deep sea fishing day trips like our friends at Ruthless Roatan Charters.
Another option is to get certified to hunt the invasive Lionfish (Pterois volitans) on the reef yourself.
One thing to mention…always follow the Responsible Seafood Guide to make sure you’re buying and eating in a sustainable way.
Watching the sun go down at the end of a long, hard day is a well deserved reward for all the relaxation, good food, and scuba diving you’ve put in. Right? Right.
We like to head out to our palapa on the end of our dock to watch the sunset and see the stars come out. There may be drinks involved.
Ahh, the sunrise! When we go to Roatan, we typically invite friends and family to join. Afterwards, when we ask people what their favorite thing about their trip was it’s almost always watching the sunrise from the deck while sipping coffee. It’s hard to argue with this.
Bonus: Roatan is (mostly) Childfree
Being that Roatan is a bit off the beaten path, there aren’t a lot of tourist families traveling with small children. The ones that exist are easy to avoid by picking the right places to stay. Hint….not the major resorts.
If you’re interested in trying Roatan feel free to reach out to us for more detailed tips!
Lance & Amy Blackstone