The weather didn’t cooperate with the kitesurfing plans in Roatán, but there was plenty to do!
Diving, sloth and fantastic food…and another Tara
ROATÁN, Honduras (Tara’s Travels) – While looking for a new place to relax and kitesurf, my husband came across Roatán, one of the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras. Wedged between Utila and Guanaja, Roatán is the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands, and it turns out getting there wasn’t too difficult. We booked American Airlines via Dallas outbound and via Miami inbound.
Roatán is known for its diving, cocoa, wildlife, kitesurfing and much more!
Most of the action takes place on the west side of the island, but we opted for a small eco-lodge on the opposite end. It was about an hour drive from the airport – the last 20 minutes along a rough dirt road – and WORTH the adventurous journey!
Camp Bay Lodge is run by an amazing family. Chris Bergler also runs Roatan Kitesurfing directly from the cottage. His wife, Marilou Lavallee, is a former rock star-kiter turned coach/masseuse/wellness guru. They have built a unique and peaceful place.
Do not expect nightlife and crowds. We ate all our meals at the lodge or headed 5 minutes to a little overwater bar/restaurant called La Sirena in Camp Bay. They had live music one afternoon and the setting is spectacular.
Our trip to Roatán was a great pivotal lesson. We brought all our kite gear (the ONLY time I will check luggage!) and landed with a ZERO wind forecast – for five days! We didn’t fly a kite once. But there was plenty to do, and we will definitely be going back.
Roatan is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world, the mesoamerican reef. At one time it was rumored that thousands of pirates lived on the island, so divers come from all over to explore and search for wrecks. Pangea Diving is a 2 minute walk from Camp Bay Lodge so we were able to pick up the boat right there. Richies ‘Tini’ Baley was our dive master. His mother works at Camp Bay Lodge and was one of the highlights of our stay. In fact, the staff at Camp Bay were amazing – all locals who cook special meals during the week and love that they have visitors from all over.
Mangroves are abundant in the eastern part of Roatán. We took a water taxi trip to Oak Ridge – a small fishing village considered the “Venice of Roatán” – one day.
Another day, Bergler organized a snorkeling excursion that included a visit to a small fishing village accessible only by boat. We enjoyed an authentic lunch of lobster, plantains and rice. That was delicious!
There are several places in Roatán where you can hold sloths. We ended up at Lair of Monkeys and Sloths by Daniel Johnson. It’s a very small place with capuchins, macaws, etc. The chance to hold a sloth was priceless. I hope our kids won’t be upset if we choose the sloth’s photo as our family photo this year!
Other places we visited
West End: It’s fun to park up and stroll down the little main drag along the waterfront for a delicious coffee and explore.
Roatan Island Brewery: Great fun stop for lunch and some interesting local beers!
Roatan Chocolate Factory: Although we didn’t do the tour, we did have good chocolate!
Punta Gorda: Punta Gorda is considered the oldest permanent settlement on Roatán. It was founded in 1797 when more than 3,000 Garifuna from the small island of Saint Vincent were blocked on the island by the British army. They ended up settling in Punta Gorda. Today, the small town on the beach is known for its culture and amazing food. There are musical performances during the week and an interesting cultural Center. I even met another Tara! She works at a fun restaurant called Yurumei. Enjoy a bit of culture by stopping here!