True to form, the originally planned two-week stop has been stretched to twice the length.
Sometimes I wonder why we even make plans at all… We’ve been in Roatan for a month now!
I blame it on the weather…
Let’s just say we’ve been waiting for the perfect conditions to leave, and we’ve been particularly picky on what would be considered perfect …
It’s hard to tear ourselves away from this place: we’ve been spoiled senseless here at Barefoot Cay Resort and Marina and we took a liking to that…
It’s healthy every now and then to take a break from the cruising life; Barefoot Cay is the perfect place for a vacation, and it was time for us to enjoy a second honeymoon… I have about a thousand more excuses to justify our prolonged stay, but do I really need to?
I mean, come on, just look at this place and give me one good reason why we should leave!
Besides, we both fell in love with the resident Parrot of Barefoot Cay.
Chacarron Kennedy, a star in its own right, is the only bird I know who has its own Facebook page – and boasting a lot more friends than I have!
He has free reign of the Cay, but prefers to hang out on the trees surrounding the pool area.
Starting usually around 5:40 in the morning with his calls, he would delight and entertain everyone within earshot with his antics.
Totally camouflaged and comfortably perched on a thickly leafed Mango tree branch, he’d greet us with a British accented “Hello” followed by a “Pretty Bird!” that sounded almost like his own personal introduction.
Tom kept him happy by feeding him peanuts and occasionally slipping him a French fry (which he prefers over watermelon).
Aptly nicknamed St Francis for his affinity with any living animal – domesticated or not , Tom developed a strong bond with this feathered sweetheart.
Chacarron’s vast repertoire also includes a bone-chilling frightening manic laughter that had me looking over my shoulder more than once… But since he’s a cutie, he gets away with anything.
He sure made our days at the pool quite entertaining!
Contrary to popular belief, we haven’t just been dillydallying by the pool every day – not that there would be anything wrong with that!
We thoroughly explored the island with Ken Johnson, a local driver and knowledgeable guide, who took us from one end to the other and anywhere in between.
The two ends of Roatan couldn’t be more different. The West End is the busy, renowned party zone, quaint but extremely touristy, catering mainly to the younger crowds and aging hippies. Definitely worth visiting, but not quite our style.
Under the municipality of Santos Guardiola, The East End couldn’t be a starker contrast: it is much less wealthy than the rest of the island and a lot quieter.
There are no resorts here, no fancy developments, no tourism, and a lot less cash flow. This rugged, beautiful, primitive side of the island is lush with thick vegetation and so utterly quiet in places, you can hear yourself breathe! I’m told the scuba diving here is truly magnificent.
I cringe at the thought and I hope I’m wrong, but I fear it’s only a matter of time before this place, too, gets torn apart to make room for yet another huge resort…
Cruise ships stop in Roatan every week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and the island gets flooded with tourists. We learned fast that those days are better spent in the quiet cocoon of our resort…
It was fun to be tourists! We took a whole day excursion to Cayos Cochinos on a fast boat, a welcome change for us to see someone else in charge!
It also served as a reminder of how privileged we are as cruisers, being able to visit spectacular places in all privacy with our own boat… We tend to take it for granted at times.
I enjoyed the day, but it was definitely strange being part of a pack of tourists.
Tom insisted on visiting the dolphin research facility at Anthony’s Key Resort , a big resort on Sandy Beach on the West side of Roatan where tourists are welcome to visit and interact with these splendid creatures.
I was dead set against it: after enjoying the sight of thousands of dolphins roaming free during our travels, I thought it would be sad and pointless to observe dolphins in captivity, Marine World style… As it turned out, I couldn’t have been more wrong!
It was quite an experience. The dolphins are kept in very spacious and deep pens, and are taken out often into the open sea for roaming and frolicking. They have the option to return to the pens or just keep going in the wild… To my great surprise, they all choose to follow the lead boat back to the pens.
True, there were a few demonstrations for the amusement of the tourists of how well the animals are trained, but mainly to demonstrate these animals’ great intelligence. The emphasis here is definitely “Dolphins rule, humans observe”.
Any activity, from the photo op to the swim with the dolphins sessions were organized with the animals’ comfort in mind, limiting the amount of people to avoid stressing these wonderful creatures.So we watched, listened and learned. We swam and interacted with them, or rather let them interact with us as much or as little as they wanted.
Tom (St. Francis), spent the longest time in the water and was constantly surrounded by playful dolphins.
An 8 months old puppy particularly followed him around closely, occasionally bumping him on the sides to elicit attention.
Pity that taking underwater photos was not allowed, or I’d have some very fun shots of those two at play!
Me, well, I didn’t get much dolphin attention, but was quite content observing in awe.
This was possibly the highlight of our visit in Roatan, and an incredibly magical experience.
Roatan, boasting the second largest reef in the world - the Meso-american Barrier Reef – is also a haven for divers; in fact, most of the tourists visiting Roatan come here specifically to dive.
Like every other diver, I was itching to go so we organized a session with Barefoot Cay’s excellent Dive Center .
Unfortunately the dive had to be cut short, thanks to an old ear injury sustained a long time ago during a careless dive. The pain was unbearable, so I decided not to push my luck and abort the dive… How I hated to be the party pooper! Sadly, it seems that my diving days may be over. No matter, I’ll always have snorkeling!
Eventually the perfect weather window was forecast, we ran out of excuses to stay.
But we both already said that we’d like to return next year.
Yes, Roatan will do that to you… Make you itch to return.
But for now, we’ve seen enough.
We’ll leave Roatan and take a straight shot to Puerto Morelos, Mexico – should take us more or less 40 hours.
I’ll report from there in a few days.