Well, it all started because I had Island Fever (I needed to get off one island and go someplace else…that just happened to also be an island (go figure). I wanted to dive with Whale Sharks and according to Scuba Diving Magazine “Impromptu snorkel sessions between dives are when nearly all whale shark encounters occur in Utila — one of the few places in the world where the animals can be spotted year-round.” (Don’t believe everything you read). http://www.scubadiving.com/travel/caribbean-atlantic/5-top-destinations-diving-whale-sharks
So, without David’s knowledge (because he would have argued his way into going on a kiteboarding trip and I don’t kite board) – I started emailing with Utila and was about 2 minutes away to plopping down some change at a Utila Dive Resort that didn’t hold much appeal,when I decided to call another dive company, Blue Dive Adventures. They informed me that they had seen only one Whale Shark all month and I was too early and that Honduras did not allow people to dive with Whale Sharks (just snorkel). I had a brief moment of “now what?” I thought maybe we could just go anyway and enjoy the diving and culture.
I had a short window of time to pull this together, due to David’s teaching schedule…his spring break was right around the corner. I then, bumped into a post on Travel Advisor that read, “I’ve scuba dived all over the world, skip Utila there is trash in the water and while going for a swim, I had a turd floating next to me…go to Roatan” (this was confirmed by other travelers we met on Roatan – which was where ended up.) And we are glad we did!
First of all, Roatan is a direct flight from a variety of U.S. airports. (we flew in from Dallas). The Texans and surrounding lower state residents have a great, inexpensive place to go on a whim, year round. Out tickets were about $250 RT from Houston. I won’t comment on how much from Oahu (one of the drawbacks of living on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean).
West Bay seemed more attractive to me then West End as a place to stay – it’s where all the dive boats go out of, where the snorkeling is and apparently the east side of the island is so remote – some parts are only accessible by water and the roads and driving conditions are just what you would expect on a Caribbean Island – sketchy.
So, I chose a dive resort right in the middle of West Bay…about 200 Yards from the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system. David’s gonna tell you all about the resort in the following post. HINT:
Anyway, we loved the location. West Bay has the most beautiful beach and sunsets, however it is a very active place – so if you are looking to sit quietly by yourself under a palm tree – this is not the place. Plus about 4-5 days per week they drop the cruise shippers off and the beach gets very busy with loud music, sunbathers, vendors etc…you can even get a massage in an alley full of makeshift massage tables and get a rub down by a variety of locals (who doubtfully have any idea what a Massage License even is) – but whatever, some people were enjoying it.
We opted out of that activity and spent most of our time snorkeling and diving and relaxing on our front porch (oh, and the obligatory time at the beach bar, of course).
You can take a water taxi from West Bay to West end for five bucks. They “say” they stop running at 5PM – but that’s not really the case. We went to the West End and bopped around the shops, galleries and restaurants. We bought our own wine and went to a restaurant called “the Lighthouse” – which was unmemorable except for the view and staff. Apparently, the Thai restaurant is very good, however, we get a lot of that at home, so we didn’t try it.
There is a Pizza place that was very popular and a street vendor selling tacos that looked delicious and cheap. Also I ate at Creole Chicken one afternoon on my own and it was delicious. I got a half roasted chicken, creole style and red beans and rice for about $8. Of course I BYOB’d my own Port Royal (my favorite Honduran beer).
I poked around that evening at some of the shops and ran into an art opening (largely filled with expats). I was surprised to find some very unique and non-caribbean style artwork. Pieces I would have hung in my own home.
I had walked down from West Bay to West End that day, but was advised to not walk home in the dark. I was able to jump on a water taxi at 8:30 PM for $5. It was during that walk, I realized that West Bay was a more popular place to stay than West End because, there is basically no beach between the two or at West End itself. On the walk, I came across a lot of trash in the water which was largely filled with sea grass, making it an undesirable swimming place from point to point. I also came across many “resorts” between West End and West Bay that had closed and were dilapidated…the places looked as though they were once nice but as always – location, location, location. So, all in all West Bay is the place to stay in my opinion. I hope you enjoy or enjoyed it as much as we did!